Bro. Eli Soriano Graces Benefit Concert for Maguindanao Dead
Members Church of God International Presiding Minister Bro. Eli Soriano expressed sympathy to journalists who are abused, threatened, and sometimes killed while fulfilling their duty as he related some experiences that mirror the impartiality of the Philippine justice system.
Speaking before the crowd who attended the Protest Broadcast 3 concert at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines on May 17 via Internet, Bro. Eli complained how he himself had fallen prey to a most undesirable collaboration between corrupt government officials and malicious religious “enemies of the Gospel he preaches”.
The award-winning host of the phenomenonal television program Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) mentioned his chief predicament: “Why is there no justice done unto me, when this government swore to do justice to every Filipino?”
The injustices he spoke of include the series of suspensions done to his widely-viewed program and to his person, lawsuits filed against him which were dismissed for lack of merit but were again brought for litigation by religious and government conspirators, stoppage of his public service efforts in the country, and human rights violations committed against the organization he leads, the Members Church of God International (MCGI). MCGI is locally known for its television program, Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path).
He expressed his frustration with the current government from which he received “the worst treatment for being truthful.” Bro. Soriano quotes, “I would like to believe with a senator’s statement that in the Philippines, there is a culture of corruption. I have lost hope with the incumbent administration. That is why I am appealing to the next president and the legislators who were elected. Never side with only one person. Side with the Filipinos [who put you to power]. I likewise appeal to you my countrymen. Get the essence of what I am talking about. I talk as an educated man.”
Still, Bro. Eli wished for the incumbent president’s health, well-being, and better performance now that she is elected to Congress.
Furthermore, Bro. Soriano denounced endorsements by purportedly religious king-and-queen-makers and bloc voters which are “incredible, bogus, and misleading people to believing that they are powerful, when they aren’t.” He pointed to the current poll counts which contradict the decree of these religious leaders who have promised politicians a substantial number of votes enough to catapult them to the highest seat in the government.
Bro. Eli presented a video of a Davao-based religious leader who decreed in February 2005 the former’s ruin in six months. He quips, “Thank God, it’s been five years since that decree, and look, I’m still alive.” The same religious leader decreed that the administration’s bet will be the next president. Unfortunately, the administration’s candidate conceded days even before the poll counts were finished. Bro. Soriano says, “Thank God that even in the defeat of these politicians, we prove which prophets are fraud.” He strenghtened this by citing Deuteronomy 18:22 which tells not to fear prophets whose words do not happen as such are said.
He also rebuked another church which practices bloc voting, that talks the doctrine of excommunication for its members who “break the unity of the church even in political matters,” calling it “unfair.”
Meanwhile, Bro. Soriano considered the importance of media in informing the people of events as they are, even how unpleasant these events may seem. He speaks of the slain media men, “The journalists who were killed in Maguindanao only wanted to get the news. Whoever is responsible for this crime must pay.”
On a lighter note, Bro. Eli, now on his third decade of Gospel broadcast, thanked UNTV 37 President Hilarion “Larry” Henares for the “gracious support provided by the station which was instrumental in bringing truthful and public-service oriented broadcast to the people, for advocating projects that promote integrity and justice, and for allowing him to tell the world that amidst all sprouting religious controversies and conflicts, there is a religion that cares.” He also thanked the patrons of the concert for their support to the worthwhile cause.
Bro. Eli amusedly admitted that he cannot anymore escape the title as a religious figure. He says his very name spells religion everywhere he went. The fact goes with his citing of Bible verses even at the concert during his 30-minute talk.
He ended his speech with a serenade telling great desire to see his brethren and countrymen if given a chance to return to the Philippines, under a more humane government.
The concert, which aims to raise funds for the families of the 57 innocent civilians and journalists killed in Maguindanao last year, was attended by an estimated 20,000 audience that had media practitioners, businessmen, foreign observers, and some newly-elected government officials.
(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)
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