April 26, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential and vice presidential tandem Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Monday paid a courtesy call to Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) executive minister Eduardo Manalo.
In a forum at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City Monday noon, Escudero confirmed they met with the church leader at the INC Central Office in Diliman, Quezon City around 9 a.m.
He said the meeting was “short” and lasted for less than 20 minutes.
Escudero said they only shared to the INC leader their plans for the country and did not talk about support for the elections.
“Pinag-usapan lang ang mga issues at programa pero walang commitment,” he noted.
Escudero said it was Poe’s first time to meet the leader of INC, whose members are known to practice bloc voting during elections.
Poe has already met with the INC’s political affairs chief Eraño Codera late last month.
Presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also went to the INC Central Office last Friday to discuss with Manalo his programs that he will implement if he is elected as president.
A day after Duterte’s visit, Vice President Jejomar Binay also met with the INC leader to seek the church’s endorsement.
Last Tuesday, Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas also made a courtesy call to the INC leader.
Politicians regularly troop to the INC to seek the support of the influential religious group, whose more than two million members are said to vote in a bloc based on the advice of the church’s top leaders.
Escudero also confirmed meeting with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name congregation, and Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of the El Shaddai, a few weeks ago.
The Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name have reportedly more than a million worshippers, while the El Shaddai, which is the biggest Catholic charismatic renewal group in the country, have over three million members.
In the next two weeks, Escudero said he and Poe will focus on meetings with their allies nationwide, making public appearances less than before.
When he was asked about his reactions to the surge in popularities of Duterte and vice presidential rival Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Escudero said survey are “only snapshots at a particular moment” and that the numbers may still change.
He said those who are leading in surveys should never be too confident, while those candidates lagging in surveys should never be discouraged and just campaign harder.
The Senator noted that the real and most accurate numbers, which matters the most, would be on election day.
Meanwhile, Escudero attributed Duterte’s surge in the surveys “to the rise of anti-establishment” support or those against the current administration. – AIB