MANILA (3rd UPDATE) —Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai will be supporting 14 candidates in this month's senatorial elections.
The list, announced on Saturday, is made primarily of candidates from Hugpong ng Pagbabago, with a mix of some independent and opposition candidates.
Asked why the candidates were selected, El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde said: "Yung lumapit malapit sa'min, sa lahat ng panahon hindi lang panahon ng eleksyon.
He also believes they have answers to the country's problems, such as poverty, drugs, and jobs - among others.
They are the following:
- Cynthia Villar
- Bong Go
- Bato Dela Rosa
- Grace Poe
- Imee Marcos
- Nancy Binay
- Koko Pimentel
- Francis Tolentino
- Sonny Angara
- Bong Revilla
- Jinggoy Estrada
- JV Ejercito
- Bam Aquino
- Willie Ong
The group endorsed 12 candidates in the 2016 national elections.
Some of the candidates in the past month have shared the stage with El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde in prayer vigils.
Ong, who said he is enthusiastic about the endorsement, hopes his health-care advocacies will encourage everyone to consider voting for him.
Go and Ejercito also thanked Velarde for the endorsement.
‘Buhay’ and ‘death penalty’
Buhay Party-list’s Lito Atienza, the faith group’s representative in the lower chamber, said he was not surprised that the list was mainly made up of administration-backed candidates who have expressed favor on the revival of death penalty.
Atienza said that despite the opposing endorsement and his personal opinion on the matter, members must discern for themselves.
“Binibigyan lang sila ng guidance. Diskarte na lang nila ’yun," he said.
El Shaddai has more than 6 million members. In the past, while the group is known to endorse candidates, they never engaged in bloc voting.
When asked about his position on the death penalty, Revilla paused for a while and said: “Saka na lang natin pag-usapan ’yan.”
Revilla said in his previous interviews that he supports the capital punishment's revival.
Go, meanwhile, said he appreciates the support he got from Velarde. His main message is that if he wins, he will continue Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality. Go said he supports death penalty on drug-related crimes.
—With reports from Doris Bigornia, Kevin Manalo, and Jeff Hernaez, ABS-CBN News