INC lineup for nat’l posts out

Confirms backing BBM, Sara; Endorses half of UniTeam senatorial bets

The Iglesia ni Cristo on Tuesday confirmed its endorsement of presidential and vice presidential candidates Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, respectively.

IGLESIA’S BLESSING. UniTeam tandem Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio stand with Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo as they paid a courtesy call on the leader of the influential religious group last month.

The independent non-Trinitarian Christian church, founded in 1913, also announced its endorsement of 12 senatorial candidates, including six from the Marcos-Duterte UniTeam, over its church-owned Net 25 television.

The 64-year-old Marcos, scheduled to hold the UniTeam’s miting de avance Wednesday in Davao, welcomed the endorsement of the INC in the May 9 elections, while vowing the UniTeam would continue to unify the country and help it immediately recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party thanked INC for deciding to support its chairperson Duterte-Carpio, 43, with just six days left before the national polls.

The INC also announced its endorsement of the following senatoriables: Jejomar Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Guillermo Eleazar, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, Loren Legarda, Robin Padilla, Joel Villanueva, Mark Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

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Of this dozen, Estrada, Gatchalian, Legarda, and Zubiri—all former or current senators—ex-Public Works Secretary Villar, and former movie star Padilla are on the official UniTeam senatorial slate.

Former Vice President Binay and Sorsogon governor Escudero are “guest” candidates of the UniTeam, while Taguig congressman Cayetano, fellow ex-senator Ejercito, ex-national police chief Eleazar, and incumbent senator Villanueva are considered independents.

With at least two million voting members, INC faithful are expected to follow the church leaders’ choice of candidates when they vote, in line with their strength in unity doctrine.

Marcos, speaking in Filipino, said: “Ako po at ang aking pamilya, sampu ng buong alyansang nakapaloob sa UniTeam, ay labis na nagagalak at buong pusong nagpapasalamat sa suportang inihayag ng kapatirang Iglesia Ni Cristo, sa pangunguna ng kanilang Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan Kapatid Eduardo V. Manalo.”

[My family and I, along with the alliances represented by the UniTeam, are extremely happy and wholeheartedly thank the faithful of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, as headed by their Executive Minister Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo, for their support.]

Duterte herself, also speaking in Filipino in a pre-recorded video with Marcos, said: “Ang pagpili sa amin ni Apo Bongbong Marcos bilang mga kandidato na kanilang sinusuportahan sa pagka-presidente at bise presidente sa darating na halalan ay isang malaking karangalan na may kaakibat na hamong nakatuon sa aming kakayahang mapag-isa ang bansa … mapagbuklod ang mga Pilipino … at maitawid and sambayanan sa krisis na dulot ng pandemya.”

[Choosing Apo Bongbong Marcos and I as the candidates they would support for president and vice president in the coming elections is a huge honor that comes with it a challenge, to test our abilities to unite the nation… bring Filipinos together… and guide the country past the crisis caused by the pandemic.]

Marcos, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer, assured the INC leadership that the UniTeam would not fail them in choosing them as the next leaders of the country.

House Majority Leader and Lakas-CMD party president Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez, the UniTeam’s campaign manager, added: “On behalf of Lakas-CMD, under which Mayor Sara is running for vice president, let me express our sincerest gratitude to the INC and its millions of members for supporting our candidates. There are no words to describe our appreciation for their decision, and we cannot thank them enough.”

“The INC is one of the biggest religious groups in the country. It is known to vote as a bloc. Its announcement today (Tuesday), together with the expressions of support for the BBM-Sara tandem of other religious and sectoral organizations and local officials, seals what we expect to be the landslide victory on Monday of our candidates,” Romualdez said.

The Leyte solon said Marcos and Duterte-Carpio spread and shared their message of hope, healing, unity, and patriotism during the entire length of the election campaign.

“With broad support from our people, including INC members, it will be easier for our candidates, should they win the vote, to deliver on their promise of uniting the nation behind its new leaders and the difficult challenges it will face ahead,” Romualdez said.

For his part, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson and chief of staff of Marcos, also thanked the leadership of INC for its support to the UniTeam.

“We value the support given by the INC as much as we value the support extended by majority of the Filipino people,” Rodriguez said.

Marcos and Duterte are currently leading in all the surveys in the country, including those conducted by the Social Weather Stations, Pulse Asia, OCTA Research, Laylo Research, PUBLiCUS Asia, and even the so-called “Kalye Surveys”.

In 2016, the INC endorsed then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte—father of the incumbent Davao Mayor—and Marcos, who was then running for vice president with Miriam Defensor Santiago as his running-mate.

Politicians traditionally seek the endorsement of the INC, which has been known to deliver the votes of its millions of members.

Old hands in politics said the INC also backed Ferdinand Marcos Sr., during the national elections in 1965 (against re-electionist Diosdado Macapagal Sr.); 1969 (against challenger Sergio Osmena Jr.); 1981 (against challenger Alejo Santos); and 1986 (against Corazon Aquino).

It was proven in recent elections that INC’s bloc voting could deliver victories for most if not all of its chosen candidates.

Previously, the Facebook group UniTeam BBM-Sara shared a YouTube video claiming the INC had already endorsed Marcos and Duterte, which was viewed over 110,000 times.

The UniTeam in February had its proclamation rally at the INC-owned Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

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