Thousands of members of the influential Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai gave a rousing welcome to Vice Presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. when he attended the group’s weekly mass and prayer vigil in Paranaque Saturday night.
Marcos was invited by the group’s leader, Bro. Mike Velarde, to attend the event to personally give his message and platform to the thousands in attendance.
Aside from those in the Amvel compound, around a million more witnessed the event as it was shown live via the government Channel 13, DWXI 1314 radio station and live internet streaming.
Velarde said he invited other candidates, but those who came and who shared the stage with him were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
When Velarde and his wife, Belen, took to the stage during the mass, Marcos was the only Vice Presidential candidate present on stage. Marcos was accompanied by his lawyer-wife, Liza.
Marcos, in his address before the crowd, reiterated his advocacy for national unity as the single most important factor to move the country forward for future generations.
“Matagal na po tayong pinaghihiwa-hiwalay dahil sa politika. Puro na lang tayo hidwaan, pero hindi po ito nagdulot sa atin ng kaginhawaan kundi lalo tayong nasadlak sa ating kinatatayuan ngayon. Kaya dapat tayo nang magkaisa hindi lamang para sa atin kundi para sa ating mga anak at kanilang magiging anak,” he said.
Marcos was met with a thundering applause following his speech and was mobbed by members when he left the compound at around 2 a.m.
Benita Carillo, 64, a native of Tarlac who has been a member of El Shaddai for many years said she was supporting Marcos because of his own achievements as Governor of Ilocos Norte and as a Senator. “Pinakita niya ang pagiging independent nya lalo na noong impeachment si Chief Justice Corona at nung pinag-uusapan ang tanim-bala sa Senado. Marami na rin siya nagawa sa Ilocos Norte katulad ng windmills kaya sa kanya ang boto ko,” she said.
When asked about the possible endorsement of El Shaddai, Marcos said he does not know of any endorsement but said he would be honored if it is given to him. “Wala pa akong alam na may endorsement ang El Shaddai pero kung ako ang mapili ay isang malaking karangalan,” he told reporters after the event.