Poe on INC meeting: They asked me for ‘fairness’ only

Camille Elemia
Poe on INC meeting: They asked me for ‘fairness’ only
Presidential bet Grace Poe says her meeting with the bloc-voting Iglesia ni Cristo is not political and is only done out of courtesy

MANILA, Philippines – Nothing but fairness.

That’s what the religious group Iglesia ni Cristo supposedly asked from her during a meeting on Wednesday, March 30, presidential bet Grace Poe said.

“Wala, pagiging patas lamang. Wala silang hinihiling, wala rin naman akong nahihiling sa panahon na ito, sapagkat nagkakaalaman lang kami kung ano ba talaga ‘yung plano pa,” Poe said in a chance interview in Cebu City on Tuesday, April 5.

(Nothing, just fairness. They did not ask for anything, I did not ask anything at this point because we are just in the process of knowing the plans yet.)

The INC is linked to serious illegal detention charges, after expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr filed a case against church leaders before the Department of Justice.

Poe said her visit to INC political affairs chief Eraño Codera was nothing political and was only done out of courtesy. After all, she said it is her usual practice to visit various groups to relay her platforms of governance.

Case in point, Poe said, was her visit to other churches in Cebu during her rounds there.

“Para sa akin, lahat ng organisasyon nilalapitan namin para—kung bibigyan kami ng oras—pakinggan ‘yung aming plataporma… Hindi naman nangangahulugan na pupunta ka doon ay sigurado na ‘yon. Pero, at least, nagbibigay lamang ng kortesiya,” she said.

(For me, we approach all organizations so they could hear our platforms. It does not mean that we went there, that’s an assurance already. But at least, we are just giving courtesy.)

She also denied getting the endorsement of the bloc-voting religious group. There was not even a moment when she asked if INC could support her, she said.

Aside from her platforms, Poe revealed they discussed the history of the INC and its founder Felix Manalo. In an earlier media interview, the senator said they also talked about judicial reforms, including the proper handling of case documents.

“Well, ‘nung nandoon, ipinakita ‘yung kasaysayan ng INC—‘yung kanilang founder—tapos nag-discuss kami konti tungkol doon sa aking mga plataporma. Alam mo, meron din silang mga outreach para sa mga mahihirap, mga programang ganoon, pero ni walang pagtatanong ‘pwede ba akong ma-endorso?’ sapagkat nakakahiya naman yatang [tanungin] ‘yon,” she said.

(Well, when I was there, they showed me the history of INC and their founder. We discussed a bit about my platforms. You know, they also have outreach programs for the poor but there was no question of ‘can you endorse me?’ Because that is embarrasing to ask.)

While she denied getting the endorsement yet, Poe said she is open to accepting it, calling it a “big thing.”

Poe earlier drew flak for her stand on the INC’s mass protests in August 2015, when she said INC members were just ‘defending their faith’ against the DOJ’s supposed mishandling of the case. (READ: WATCH: Full comment of Grace Poe on INC issue)

INC members vote as a bloc, and politicians court its leaders to win an election. (READ: INC: From rag-tag sect to influential wheeler dealer?)

Up to 1.37 million of around 52 million Filipino voters, or 2.6% of the voting population, belong to the religious group. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com