LIBERAL Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II is confident of winning the upcoming presidential election even without the support of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), whose around 2 million members vote as a bloc.
This comes a few hours after President Benigno Aquino III made an unannounced visit to the INC headquarters in Quezon City in an apparent move to lobby for the INC endorsement of his chosen successor, Roxas, and the latter’s running mate Leni Robredo.
Roxas cited that his allies on the ground remain intact with one week to go before the May 9 synchronized local and national elections, even if he is yet to top the pre-election surveys.
“I believe so [that I have enough support to win with or without the INC],” he said. “I feel comfortable. The ground is shifting in our favor. In the beginning we did not have a chance, now we are tied for second place, and that surveys did not include the debate and these hidden bank accounts [of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte].”
“You can call the governors, lawmakers, mayors…. In fact, I am very glad that they were even the ones calling me, telling me that they continue to be with us,” Roxas added.
He disclosed that he just concluded a meeting in Manila with Ace Cerilles, who leads the Mayor’s League in Zamboanga del Sur, as well as Mayor Tata Pulmones, of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Norte. Cerilles is mayor of Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur.
“Why would they come here, travel so far being from Pagadian and Zamboanga del Sur, only to leave us in four days? My point is that the coalition is solid,” Roxas stressed.
The Zamboanga Peninsula has 1.93 million voters.
Roxas also invoked the strong presence of LP in Cavite, with six of seven incumbent lawmakers, namely: Elpidio Barzaga, Francis Abaya, Alex Advincula, Luis Ferrer, Roy Loyola and Abraham Tolentino – all for supporting him and his running mate.
Cavite has the second-largest number of registered voters among the provinces in the country with 1.8 million.
Roxas again stressed what he described as untarnished record in government service.
“The past 90 days and the past 20 years of my career, corruption has never been attached to my name,” he said. “I’ve been all out in terms of being of service to people. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m not saying I did not make any mistake. What I am saying is that we’ve accomplished many things and I put my record up against all the others.”
It may be recalled that in Aug. 2015, thousands of INC members marched to EDSA-Shaw Boulevard, to ask the Aquino administration, particularly the Department of Justice, to junk the illegal detention complaint filed by the expelled church minister Isaias Samson against the INC Executive Council.
The mass protest left hundreds of passengers stranded, exhausted, if not agitated along the major highway, as well as vehicles choking EDSA.
At that time, Roxas, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, stressed that while all citizens had 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.
He had also said that the Philippine National Police was duty-bound to maintain the safety and general welfare of the public, including ensuring that opportunists did not try to take advantage of the situation for personal ends. LLANESCA T. PANTI