MANILA (UPDATE) — The religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on Tuesday formally endorsed former senator Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. for president and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for vice president in the May 9 elections.
"Pagkatapos ng masusing pag-aaral at pagsasaliksik, iaanunsyo ng Iglesia ni Cristo ang mga mapapalad na kandidato na kanilang tutulungan," the church said in a report broadcast on Net 25.
(After thorough research and studying, Iglesia ni Cristo is announcing the worthy candidates it is helping.)
It also announced support for the following 12 senatorial candidates:
- former Vice President Jojo Binay
- Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano
- former Sen. JV Ejercito
- former national police chief Guillermo Eleazar
- Sorsogon Gov. Francis "Chiz" Escudero
- former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada
- Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
- Antique Rep. Loren Legarda
- Actor Robin Padilla
- Sen. Joel Villanueva
- former public works and highways Sec. Mark Villar
- Sen. Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri"
"Ang kaisahan ng iglesia ay kinikilala ng mga miyembro nito na isa sa mga aral sa Bibliya na dapat na sundin. Ang pasya ng pamamahala ng iglesia ay iginagalang ng mga miyembro nito," a NET 25 news anchor said.
(The church's unity is acknowledged by its members in accordance with Biblical scripture. The members respect the decision of the church.)
Marcos thanked the church for its endorsement.
"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," he said in a statement.
(My whole family and I, as well as all members of UniTeam, are grateful for the support of Iglesia Ni Cristo and its leader, Eduardo V. Manalo.)
"Ang pagpili sa amin ni Inday Sara Duterte 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," Marcos added.
(It is an honor for me and Inday to be chosen as their candidate for president and vice president, and it comes with the challenge to unite the country and the people and to overcome the crisis brought by the pandemic.)
Marcos and Duterte-Carpio visited Manalo in mid-April.
Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, the rivals of Marcos, also did the same weeks before the INC announced its endorsement.
In the 2016 presidential elections, the INC endorsed then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Sara's father, for the presidency, and Marcos for the vice presidency.
While Duterte won the presidential race, Marcos, whose father's dictatorial rule of the country a few decades ago haunts his candidacy, lost to Robredo.
INC requires its members to vote as one, in accordance with the church's beliefs and the importance it places on unity.
It has been criticized for being contrary to freedom of choice and free will of the sects' members.
Political experts have said that this practice has become a handy tool for the INC to get concessions and favors from the government, in exchange for its command votes.
The group has over 2.6 million members in the Philippines, based on the last national census in 2015.
In 2016, pollster Mahar Mangahas estimated the number of INC voters at 1.7 million.
Because of the group’s capacity to deliver a bloc vote, Filipino politicians for half a century have approached the INC leaders for their endorsement.
INC in the past has endorsed Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, and Duterte for the presidency.
—with reports from Raffy Cabristante, Anjo Bagaoisan, and Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News
FROM THE ARCHIVES