With less than a week to go before the national polls, President Aquino motored to the Iglesia ni Cristo headquarters in Quezon City for a closed-door meeting with INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo yesterday.
The presidential visit, which took officials and employees of the INC Central Chapel on Commonwealth Ave. by surprise, came in the wake of rumors that the influential block-voting religious sect has chosen to support Vice President Jejomar C. Binay and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. for president and vice president, respectively.
The INC is expected to distribute tomorrow and on Thursday the “circular” that contains the names of local and national candidates that its leadership want the faithful to vote for.
Asked by the media what the purpose of the visit was, Aquino said he merely thanked Manalo and the religious sect for supporting his government.
“Talaga naming nadama natin ang suporta throughout the administration and even before I have been in office,” said Aquino.
The Chief Executive admitted that he also took the occasion to make “usual appeals and political appeals.”
A source close to the INC leadership said the President was apparently seeking a consideration of the reported decision of the INC Council to endorse Binay and Marcos.
However, nobody among the multiple sources in the INC leadership has any information as to what Aquino had made to Manalo as a last ditch appeal in choosing whom to support.
Of the five presidential candidates, Aquino’s bet, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago have been given the least chance of getting the INC nod, the INC insider said.
Aquino has also been very outspoken in campaigning against the election of Marcos, son of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos who is considered a mortal enemy of the President’s father, martyred Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.
Over the weekend, the Marcos camp reportedly leaked to the media “A-1” information that the senator had been endorsed by the INC. This was quickly denied through a statement the INC issued.
With or without the endorsement of the INC, Roxas is confident of winning the presidential elections next week.
Roxas said his strong backing from their local allies, as well as the mobilization of the so-called Silent Majority, will help him propel to victory.
Roxas’ opponent, Sen. Grace Poe, said she is prepared to accept whoever the INC endorses for president.
Poe said she respects the INC leadership’s prerogative to endorse candidates in the upcoming polls even if she is not the choice. (Ben R. Rosario, Aaron B. Recuenco, and Hannah L. Torregoza)