THE influential religious group Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has purportedly chosen to endorse seven senatorial candidates from Team PNoy and five from rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the coming May 13 midterm elections.
A well-placed source from the political arena disclosed that the INC reportedly picked Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Grace Poe, presidential cousin Bam Aquino, ex-Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar and re-electionist Sens. Alan Cayetano, Loren Legarda and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV of Team PNoy and San Juan City Rep. JV Ejercito Estrada, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, vice presidential daughter Nancy Binay, re-electionist Sen. Gringo Honasan and former Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon of UNA.
“These names are the candidates who got the backing of the influential religious group,” the source told this reporter.
But nobody among the senatorial candidates whom this reporter contacted for confirmation would comment, stressing they have yet to receive any word from the INC which traditionally maintains its silence and keeps confidential the names of the candidates they would be supporting until after the official announcement had been made.
The source also revealed that sample ballots of INC were already sent last week for distribution to its members in various provinces in the countryside after arriving at the final list of candidates they would be backing.
But an INC official who refused to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter said “the names may change unless it is officially announced during worship service in various locales of INC.”
The INC official said the religious group will make a formal announcement during one of the worship services this week regarding the senatorial candidates they would be supporting.
INC ministers will read to the faithful members the list of their candidates in the coming elections.
Among the names mentioned, Escudero, a survey frontrunner and Team PNoy senatorial candidate, was surprisingly not included.
“The list puzzles me why Senator Escudero who has been endorsed during the 2007 senatorial elections was excluded? It raises doubts on the list,” another source, who refused to be named for obvious reason, stressed.
Pimentel, another Team PNoy senatorial candidate who is faring well in various popularity surveys, was not included either while Gordon, who failed to reach the so-called Magic 12, was reportedly included in the INC list.
Honasan, Enrile and resigned Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, another senatorial bet of UNA, are fighting neck and neck for the last 12th spot in some recent surveys.
Traditionally, the INC’s endorsement is one of the most anticipated endorsements in the country’s elections.
The influential church group has been proven voting as a block and has an estimated command votes between five to eight million because of their doctrine on unity and a practice that cannot be found outside INC.
It is considered the largest religious group that originated in the country and also the largest independent Christian church in Asia.
The INC has also been cited as one of the largest and most powerful churches in the developing world.
It was learned that candidates sent letters to the INC and even met with the top leaders of the religious group at the church’s Central Office in Commonwealth, Quezon City for endorsement. “In some cases, candidates are also introduced to other ministers in the church assigned in different regions,” the source said.