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Aquino makes ‘political appeals’ in meeting with INC

Rappler.com
Aquino makes ‘political appeals’ in meeting with INC
(UPDATED) President Benigno Aquino III meets with Iglesia ni Cristo executive minister Eduardo Manalo a week before the 2016 elections

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – With just a week to go before Filipinos prepare to elect his successor, President Benigno Aquino III met with Eduardo Manalo, leader of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), on Monday, May 2.

The INC, which has 1.37 million members, is known for its practice of bloc voting. The winning candidates, in turn, reportedly give INC members special treatment once in office. (READ: INC lobbies for key gov’t positions)

Aquino, who himself was endorsed by the INC during the 2010 elections, told reporters that he thanked Manalo for the religious group’s support.

The two met at the INC Central Office in Quezon City.

First, nagpapasalamat muna ako dahil talaga namang nadama natin ang suporta throughout the administration, and even before I have been in office,” he said. “Tapos parang sharing also the vision sana of what [happens] after I step down from office, usual appeals and political appeals. As usual, maganda ang pagkatanggap sa atin ni Ka Eduardo.

(First, I thanked him because I really felt the INC’s support throughout the administration, and even before I have been in office. I also shared the vision of what happens after I step down from office, usual appeals and political appeals. As usual, Ka Eduardo warmly received us.)

Aquino did not elaborate further on the “political appeals” that he made.

In a brief statement released later in the day, the President said he sought the meeting with Manalo.

“I asked for the meeting. I thanked him for the support he and his brethren have extended to us. I enumerated the gains under ‘Daang Matuwid.’ Lastly I expressed the hope that these gains will not only be continued but built upon in the future,” he said.

From April 19 to 27, the presidential candidates, in this order – former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago – had taken turns visiting the INC Central Office.

Recent scandals involving the church, however, have cast doubt on the practice of bloc voting. (READ: Will scandals erode Iglesia ni Cristo bloc vote?)

With the candidates in the homestretch of the campaign, the President reiterated his appeal for voters to elect leaders who would continue his administration’s reforms.

Aquino’s anointed bet Manuel Roxas II has yet to top voters’ preference surveys, while Roxas’ running mate Leni Robredo recently surged to the top of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll.

“‘Yung tinatawag nating ‘Daang Matuwid’ – nasasainyo kung ipagpapatuloy ito at lalo pang mapapalakas. So ang dulo, parati naming sinasabi, boss namin ang taong-bayan. Hihintayin namin ang hatol ng taong-bayan kung ano ang gusto ng mga boss natin,” the President said.

(What we call “Daang Matuwid” – it’s up to you if it should continue and be strengthened further. In the end, as we always say, our bosses are the Filipino people. We will wait for the judgment of the Filipino people, what our bosses want.)

The INC is set to release its list of candidates close to election day. In February this year, according to The Standard Poll done by Laylo Research StrategiesPoe was the INC members’ most preferred presidential bet. – Rappler.com

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