PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Sunday openly solicited the support of the religious group, El Shaddai, led by Bro. Mike Velarde for his Daang Matuwid (Straight Path) team in next year’s elections.
Speaking during the group’s anniversary and Velarde’s 76th birthday celebration held at the Amvel Business Park in Paranaque City (Metro Manila) , the President noted that El Shaddai’s support for him began when he first ran for senator.
“Sa susunod na taon, muli pong haharap sa sangandaan ang sambayanan. Nawa’y maging gabay tayo ng ating kapwa sa pagpili ng mga karapat-dapat na pinuno. Nananalig akong hindi tayo lilihis sa maganda nating nasimulan tungo sa pagkamit ng ating mga inaasam [Next year, the people will again be at the crossroads. May we serve as guides to others in choosing the right leaders. I am hoping that we will not stray from the reforms that we have started in order to fulfill our dreams],” Aquino told thousands of El Shaddai followers.
He warned that there will be others who will want to go back to the “old ways” and the people should be vigilant.
“Batid po natin: May mga haharapin pa tayong dambuhalang pagsubok, at may ilan pa ring magnanais na bumalik sa dating kalakaran. Sa lahat ng ito, ang malakas po nating sandata: panalangin, malasakit at pananampalataya [We are aware that great challenges lie ahead and there are some people who will want to return to the old system. Our weapons to fight all these will be prayers, faith and concern for others],” the President said.
The El Shaddai is an influential group like the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ]. With an estimated eight million members worldwide, the group has a command vote as members tend to go for any candidate endorsed by its leader.
Aquino was accompanied to the event by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (LP), and religious personalities.
Vice President Jejomar Binay also attended the event.
“Sa mahigit tatlong dekada ng pagiging Servant Leader ng El Shaddai, patuloy na nagsisilbing bukal ng lakas at inspirasyon si Bro. Mike sa milyun-milyon nating mga kababayan [In more than three decades of being a servant leader of El Shaddai, Bro. Mike continues to be the source strength and inspiration for millions of our countrymen],” the President said.
“Sa mga gaya nga po ni Bro. Mike, lalong lumalakas ang loob nating ituloy ang pagtahak sa daang matuwid, na kasama nating nananalangin, nagbibigay ng pag-asa sa mamamayan, at nananawagang laging gawin ang tama’t makatwiran [Because of people like Bro. Mike, we are determined to continue treading the right path. We join him and others in praying and in providing hope to others and in calling that we will continue to do what is right and just],” Aquino added.
He reminded El Shaddai followers and the people to stand up and move to continue the principle of good governance.
“Kung ang bawat isa sa atin ay maninindigan sa tama at makatwiran, kung ang bawat isa sa atin ay handa laging labanan ang mali at ang mga tiwali, kung ang bawat isa sa atin, uunahin ang interes ng mas nakakarami kaysa sarili, tiyak na lalo pang lalago ang mga naipunla na natin [If each of us stand for what is right and just, if we are always prepared to fight corruption and if we give priority to common weal than our own interests, the seeds we have sown will grow and flourish],” Aquino pointed out.
Some groups earlier prodded the President to run next year as Roxas’ running mate but the Palace said Aquino will retire from public service on June 30, 2016. The LP is yet to find a vice presidential running mate for Roxas.