Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd will likely persist in courting the endorsement of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) despite the perceived fallout between the two parties last year, Roxas’ allies said Saturday.
Dasmariñas Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of the National Union Party and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. made the pronouncement in the wake of reports that pre-election survey frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe met with top INC Minister Eraño Cordera this week.
“I would think Mar would also seek the INC’s support, just not out in the open. All candidates would court the support of all sectors of society, especially the INC,” Barzaga told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
The INC is a known influential religious group because it practices bloc voting—a scheme wherein INC leaders dictate on the flock who to vote for in national and local posts during elections.
It has been estimated that the INC is able to muster at least two million votes for a candidate seeking a national elective post.
In return, the INC reportedly lobbies for the appointment of its members in juicy posts in the government.
“Seeking INC’s support is a matter of tradition and necessity, whether you are trailing [in surveys]or in a close race. And right now, the race is too close to call,” Barzaga said.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey commissioned by ABS-CBN, Poe topped the presidential race with 28 percent, four percentage points ahead of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who got 24 percent. Vice President Jejomar Binay is a close third with 23 percent, while Roxas was pegged at fourth place with 19 percent.
“All the candidates would do that [seek INC’s bloc vote]. It’s a close fight so every vote counts,” Belmonte, the campaign manager of Roxas, said a separate text message.
Thousands of INC members in August last year held an assembly that virtually paralyzed parts of Edsa. The move was seen as a show of force against the Justice department’s probe of an illegal detention complaint filed by former INC minister Isaias Samson Jr.
Roxas was the lone Presidential candidate who spoke against the assembly of INC members.
Roxas got INC’s endorsement in the 2010 polls when he ran for Vice President and as the running mate of then fellow Sen. Benigno Aquino 3rd.
He, however, lost to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay by 700,000 votes despite leading all pre-election surveys.