BAYUGAN CITY, Agusan del Sur: Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd has confirmed his possible meeting with Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) leaders for a possible endorsement of his presidential bid this May.
Roxas’ allies namely Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Dasmariñas (Cavite) Rep. Elpidio Barzaga earlier said an INC endorsement is something that Roxas would still go for even if the latter had a run-in with the politically influential religious group.
Last year, Roxas hit INC’s protest actions wherein church members blocked EDSA to protest a government probe of an illegal detention complaint filed against church leaders.
Back then, he said while all citizens have the right to be heard and to peaceful assembly, the exercise of these rights cannot impinge on the rights of others or cause inconvenience to anyone.
“I would expect [to meet with the INC leaders],” Roxas told reporters late Tuesday night.
INC is a known powerful sector during the polls because of its vaunted practice of bloc voting wher the INC leaders dictate on the flock who to vote for in both national and local elections.
In exchange, the religious group reportedly applies strong lobby for its members to be appointed to juicy government posts.
“Of course, hinihingi natin ang tulong ng iba’t ibang grupo, kasama ang INC pero yun ay hinahayaan natin sa kanila dahil yun ay kusang bininigay [We are seeking the help of various sectors, including the INC. But the endorsement is for them to decide on because that is something that should be voluntarily given],” Roxas said.
In the 2010 polls, the INC supported Roxas’ vice presidential bid and the presidential run of Roxas’ running mate, then-Sen. Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Also back then, Roxas and Aquino led all pre-election surveys over their rivals.
Despite securing the INC endorsement, Roxas lost to then- MakatiCity (Metro Manila) Mayor Jejomar Binay by 700,000 votes.
Six years later, he is yet to top any pre-election poll for the 2016 presidential race, ranking third or fourth.
Also in Bayugan, Roxas denied reports that he met with active and retired police generals in a posh hotel in Quezon City recently.
“No. That’s not true. I haven’t met with any such people,” Roxas, a former secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said.
The Philippine National Police is under the supervision of the DILG.
LLANESCA T. PANTI