Powerful Philippine religious sect's evangelical event shuts down Manila
MANILA (AFP) - More than 1.5 million people converged on the Philippine capital Manila on Monday for a powerful Christian sect's evangelical event, causing traffic chaos that shut down large parts of the megacity.
The gathering of the secretive and politically influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) forced all schools and some government offices to close. The Supreme Court, as well as some basketball games in the highly popular college league, were also suspended, while Manila's governing authority urged private employers to give their staff a paid day off to avoid the traffic.
"We really apologise for those who were inconvenienced. Maybe they can just pass this off as a minor sacrifice to help their countrymen," Iglesia ni Cristo spokesman Edwin Zaballa told AFP.
The Iglesia ni Cristo, which is believed to have about three million members, held the event ostensibly as a medical and charity mission, with its followers giving aid to residents of huge slums.