Poe clarifies INC stand: 'I am defending the rights of everyone'
MANILA, Philippines – Criticized for her supposed defense of the politically influential religious group Iglesia ni Cristo, Senator Grace Poe clarified that she was speaking about the rights of everyone, regardless of faith.
“Let’s not belittle the importance of religion. Those people are only defending their faith. We respect that, and we should also respect their rights,” Poe told reporters on Friday, August 28, in Nueva Ecija.
Poe now said she is defending the rights of everyone, not only of the powerful religious group.
“'Kinalulungkot ko lang. Siguro iba ang pagkakaintindi ng marami, pero para sa 'kin dinedepensahan ko ang karapatan ng lahat, ano man ang relihiyon mo – INC, Katoliko, Muslim, o kahit grupo ng magsasaka,” Poe said.
(I am saddened. Maybe many may have misinterpreted [my statement] but, for me, I am defending the rights of everyone, no matter what religion you have – INC, Catholic, Muslim, or even farmers groups.)
Poe also reiterated the importance of dialogues for “transparency” and resolution.
While she has yet to declare her candidacy, Poe is widely believed to be running for president in 2016. The presidential polls front runner earlier said she is more comfortable to run with her friend and political ally Senator Francis Escudero.
Up to 1.37 million of around 52 million total Filipino voters, or 2.6% of the voting population, belong to the INC.
The group practices bloc voting, prompting many politicians to try to get on their good side during the election season. (READ: How potent is the INC’s vote delivery system?)
Poe received flak on social media for her apparent defense of the INC, which she said may have only been "misinterpreted."
“'Di po ito isang lakas ng isang grupo lamang, ito ay karapatan ng kahit na sino na magsabi ng kanyang saloobin basta lamang mapayapa at nasa framework ng batas,” Poe said.
(This is not the strength of only one group. This is the right of anyone to say his/her opinions in a peaceful and legal way.)
Poe’s sentiments echoed that of Escudero, who said he is only fighting for the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.
After receiving strong criticisms for her INC response, Poe's camp was seen doing "damage control." It, however, did not sit well with some. (READ: Grace Poe and How Not to Damage Control)
Inday Varona, blogger and journalist, questioned the actions of some of Poe's staff and supporters for allegedly misrepresenting earlier media reports.
To prove that journalists supposedly misinterpreted her statement, Poe's camp released the "full video" of her interview in Nueva Ecija. It wasn't the full video. Rappler uploaded the complete video.
"It is not just an error of fact or a tactical miss. It is an UNETHICAL act. It tries to mislead the public when we journalists were emailed a FULL transcript of that interview by your good office. Why don’t you just release as a note the transcript you sent us so that people can judge — based on the right information?" Varona said in her blog.
A citizen supporter of Poe, Leon Flores, eventually admitted that he uploaded the video, thinking it was the whole response. Flores then changed the video name to indicate it is only a "clip" of the interview.
Here are the two clips: