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Class, raise your hands if present!
As if having their attendance marked, many politicians and local government units (LGUs) scrambled to greet the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) head, Eduardo V. Manalo, on his 68th birthday on Tuesday, October 31.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte, his close aide Senator Bong Go, and Senator Imee Marcos recently visited Manalo as one group to greet him a happy birthday, according to Go, who posted photos (err, his infamous groufies) of their visit. The visit took place on Saturday, October 28, according to broadcaster and INC member Anthony Taberna.
In early October, it was Vice President Sara Duterte and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who paid Manalo a courtesy call.
One government agency, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), posted a greeting for Manalo on X (formerly Twitter) at 10:17 am on Tuesday. After much criticism, the MMDA deleted this online greeting – but sorry, guys, we have receipts. See the screenshot below.
Here are the politicians and LGUs that greeted the INC executive minister on social media (at least those we had monitored), a number of whom even used official government channels:
- Senate President Juan Miguezl Zubiri
- House Speaker Martin Romualdez “on behalf of the House of Representatives”
- Senator JV Ejercito
- Senator Bong Go
- Senator Lito Lapid
- Senator Raffy Tulfo (through his show’s Facebook page)
- Makati Mayor Abby Binay, Makati 2nd District Representative Luis Campos Jr., and “all Makatizens”
- Victorias City Mayor Javi Benitez “and the City of Victorias”
- Persida Rueda Acosta, Public Attorney’s Office chief, and their lawyers and staff
- Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (tweet deleted)
Other politicians also bought advertising space, such as those who published full- or half-page ads on the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as monitored by our editor-at-large Marites Dañguilan-Vitug (see her Facebook post below):
- Senator Win Gatchalian
- Senator Bong Revilla
- Cavite 2nd District Representative Lani Mercado-Revilla
- Taguig 2nd District Representative Amparo Maria Zamora
- San Juan Representative Ysabel Maria Zamora
- San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora
It’s all for the mythical INC bloc vote – the claim that the voters among the church’s 2.8 million members vote as a bloc every election. In return for these votes, the winning candidates are believed to favor the INC in many ways. Shh, class, quiet….
Since ballots are cast in secret, there’s no solid proof that bloc voting happens. A 2016 exit poll by Social Weather Stations (SWS) even shows that only 77.2% of INC members voted for Rodrigo Duterte, whom the church had endorsed.
And because the INC announces its candidates close to election day, who knows if the 77.2% who voted for Duterte were already voting for him in the first place?
But well, the myth exists – and so do politicians who close their eyes, raise their hands, and believe.
Besides, in every class, there are the students… and there are the teacher’s pets. – Rappler