By Ryan Ponce Pacpaco | Journal News Online
THOUSANDS of El Shaddai followers on Saturday gathered at their House of Prayer in Parañaque to reaffirm their commitment in endorsing the BBM-Sara Uniteam.
To underscore their solidarity with the swelling ranks of Marcos supporters, members of the charismatic group distributed “prayer handkerchiefs” bearing the BBM-Sara Uniteam logo.
El Shaddai members believe that their handkerchiefs, which bear Psalm 91 from the Old Testament’s Book of Psalms, are powerful and help to keep them safe from harm.
“Isang magandang senyales po na nagkakaisa ang mas nakararaming Pilipino sa pagsuporta kay BBM bilang susunod na pangulo dahil ito talaga ang kailangan ng bayan para umunlad tayo,” said 73-year old Marcelino Encarnacion, one of the early members of the charismatic movement in Novaliches.
Adelina Angeles, 62, said she believes the decision of their leaders to endorse Marcos is providential and also borne out of love for the country, which had long been inundated by destructive politics.
“Sinasamahan ng dasal ang pananampalataya. Naniniwala kami sa aming leader na si Brother Mike at batid naming tama ang kaniyang pasiya,” quipped Rufina Santos, who, along with Aling Adelina, was among the first converts when the movement was formed in 1984 in San Dionisio, Parañaque.
The endorsement, however, was not bereft with controversy as Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani earlier resented to it and even tried to block it.
But Brother Mike Velarde and his followers could not be moved as they continued with their endorsement of the BBM-Sara Uniteam last February 12.
Bacani, the group’s supposed spiritual adviser, disowned the endorsement, saying that it was very wrong and was not cleared with other group leaders.
But Velarde stood firm in his decision and rebuffed Bacani’s rants.
“Matagal nang lumapit sakin ‘yang dalawang yan, lalo na si Bongbong, it’s time for us Filipinos to be united. After all napagbigyan natin yung mga kalaban ni Marcos nang maraming taon, diba?” said Velarde.
While Bacani said he respects Velarde’s right as a citizen to support a presidential candidate, he insisted that their members should follow the Catholic principle of freely choosing who to vote for, regardless of who priests and bishops endorse.
Regardless of the schism inside the movement, members of the charismatic group are rallying behind Velarde’s leadership and his decision to join the swelling ranks of UniTeam believers.
It is widely believed that the El Shaddai, which boasts of more than eight million members worldwide, delivers solid votes like the Iglesia ni Cristo, that could very well be the sink stone that could provide the major blow to the other presidential wannabees.