By Jimbo Gulle and Joyce Pangco Pañares | Manila Standard
Church bloc-voting potential 2 million votes to pad support
The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) is endorsing the tandem of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for president and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for vice president in the May 9 elections, multiple sources said Tuesday.
The INC leadership is expected to announce this officially with just six days left before Election Day.
With around 2 million voting members, INC churchgoers are expected to follow the church leaders’ choice of candidates when they vote.
Marcos and Duterte-Carpio are currently leading the presidential and vice presidential races, respectively, based on the Pulse Asia, Laylo Research and PUBLiCUS surveys conducted in April.
Previously, the Facebook group UniTeam BBM-Sara shared a YouTube video claiming the INC had already endorsed Marcos and Duterte.
The video posted by Robin Sweet Showbiz on April 11 was viewed 110,223 times, but the endorsement was not officially denied by the homegrown sect. INC’s official website also has not posted any political endorsement.
Marcos Jr’s spokesman and chief of staff Vic Rodriguez denied last month that the endorsement has been made.
The UniTeam on February had their proclamation rally at the INC-owned Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
In 2016, the INC endorsed the candidacies of President Rodrigo Duterte and Bongbong Marcos, who was then running for the vice presidency.
Presidential candidates traditionally seek the endorsement of the INC, which has been known to deliver the votes of its millions of members.
Candidates also seek the blessings of other religious organizations such as El Shaddai of Bro. Mike Velarde and Jesus Is Lord of televangelist-turned-congressman Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
Last month, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, the spiritual adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte, gave his endorsement to the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
Historically, the INC backed Bongbong’s father, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., during the 1965, 1969, 1981 and 1986 elections.
Since its establishment in 1914, the INC has been active in the political scene, particularly during the elections.
Based on several articles published by INC’s Pasugo, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and other media outlets, the religious group has proved time and again, that its bloc vote could deliver victories for most if not all of its chosen candidates.
INC has reportedly endorsed the candidacies of former Philippine presidents since President Manuel Quezon’s time.