Amid the harassment that triggered the biggest urban disturbance not seen since EDSA 3, and how the Aquino government was harassing Iglesia ni Cristo, the church organization, despite pleas from the president himself, gave them the proverbial dirty finger by supporting instead their worst nightmare; Rodrigo Duterte and the late strongman’s son, Bongbong Marcos.
Rumors were earlier circulating that the church, known for its united and highly-coveted ‘kingmaking’ bloc voting, were already rooting for the Davao City Mayor, and even fake endorsements were being circulated. Now, the rumors can be put to rest, and rightfully so.
Officially confirmed by the church’s media arm, Eagle Broadcasting, their names are contained in sample ballots that are distributed to INC members all over the country.
For the senators, the INC is supporting the following candidates: Joel Villanueva, Dick Gordon, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Tolentino, Martin Romualdez, Ralph Recto, Manny Pacquiao, Vicente Sotto, Win Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson and Migz Zubiri.
In recent worship services, INC ministers expounded on the biblical doctrine of upholding unity in the Church – of having one mind and one judgment.
For the church members, voting as one body is part of following the teachings contained in the Bible regarding unity, and not allowing divisions within the Church of Christ.
In a circular letter read by INC ministers, INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo reminded all the brethren to follow God’s teachings on unity when they go to the polls on May 9.
INC spokesperson, minister Edwil Zabala, said “all true INC members have been peaceful and patient in waiting for whatever will be the INC Administration’s decision on whom they would vote for.”
He stressed that INC members are “all the more made stronger in faith, and will vote as one in unity with the Church Administration and with God Whose teachings the Church strictly follows.”
“The moment INC members receive that decision — since we are fully convinced about the biblical basis for upholding unity — we will abide by that decision,” he said.
Duterte made a courtesy call to the INC Executive Minister on April 22, while Marcos Jr., also visited the INC Central Office on April 26. All five presidential candidates have sought the INC support in their respective courtesy calls to Brother Eduardo.
Long before Iglesia ni Cristo endorsed Duterte, other church organizations have already expressed in one way or another, subtly or otherwise, forms of support to Duterte.
One of them is INC’s bitter rival, Ang Dating Daan. On the birthday of its founder, Eli Soriano, Duterte made a pre-recorded greeting. This made him popular among ADD members, and though the group does not practice bloc voting like their rival church, it seems apparent its members have started drawing parallels with Soriano and Duterte.
Another, of which Duterte is a good friend with, is Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name.
Quiboloy likened Duterte to David who slayed the giant warrior Goliath.
“It was in my heart for many, many months already. It was being formed and Lord God was showing the analogy of leadership that when God considers a man, he always considers what is in the heart of a man,” Quiboloy said.
Quiboloy’s flock boasts of an estimated 6 million members, roughly half of which are registered voters. He does not force them to vote Duterte, however.
One of the most significant gestures of support came from a former presidential candidate; Bro. Eddie Villanueva, founder of the 4-million-strong Jesus Is Lord movement, reported to be praying over Duterte for divine wisdom, guidance and protection.
It goes without saying that the Muslim Mindanao and Visayas holds Duterte in high regard, and many votes can be expected from the man from Mindanao.
It is also reported that the Tau Gamma Phi, one of the biggest fraternities of the Philippines will also support Duterte