By RICHA NORIEGA | GMA News Online
Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai endorsed the presidential bid of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, for the May 9 elections on Saturday.
Brother Mike Velarde, the head of El Shaddai, raised the hands of Marcos and Duterte at an event to show his support for the pair.
"It's time for us Filipinos to be united," Velarde told reporters, adding he endorsed Marcos and Duterte because of their youth and open-mindedness.
Marcos said he was "very grateful" for the endorsement.
"We are always very grateful to Brother Mike for all of his support and his help through the years," he said. "It's not surprising because, like I said, his is a message of love, while ours is a message of unity. [They] work very well together."
In a statement, Duterte thanked the religious group for its support.
“Maraming salamat po Brother Mike Velarde at sa milyun-milyong kasapi ng El Shaddai. Ang inyong suporta sa aking kandidatura pagka-bise presidente ng Pilipinas ay isang malaking tulong sa aking pangarap at mga gustong isulong kapag ako ay nahalal kasama ang ating presidential candidate--si Apo Bongbong Marcos," she said.
(Thank you, Brother Mike Velarde, and to the millions of members of El Shaddai. Your support for my candidacy for vice president will be a great help to my dreams and plans if I get elected along with our presidential candidate, Apo Bongbong Marcos.)
“Alam ko na ang pagkakaisa ay isang bagay na pamilyar at malapit po sa puso ng mga kasapi ng El Shaddai. Kasama ang pananampalataya sa Diyos, ang pagkakaisa ang dahilan bakit malakas at lumalakas po ang inyong samahan," she added.
(I know that unity is something that is familiar and close to the hearts of the members of El Shaddai. Along with faith in God, unity is the reason why your organization is strong and growing.)
Marcos' spokesperson Vic Rodriguez described El Shaddai's move as "another testament that the call to liberate the Filipino people from the fetters of disunity gets stronger by the day."
"We welcome everyone in this movement for national unity, even those who have different political leanings and beliefs, even our very critics, for only in the act of joining hands we may triumph over all challenges we face today and on the road ahead," Rodriguez said.
El Shaddai also announced its support for senatorial candidates, former Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar and former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Velarde said he would endorse up to 14 senatorial candidates.
The 90-day campaign period for candidates for national positions officially started on Tuesday. — VBL, GMA News