Dole chief: Manalo human rights fighter
Malacañang on Wednesday wondered aloud what the fuss was about the appointment of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) leader Eduardo Manalo as special ambassador for overseas Filipinos workers’ (OFWs) concerns, saying it was neither payback for INC’s support of President Duterte in the 2016 presidential election nor violation of the separation of Church and state.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that by appointing Manalo, executive minister of INC, the Duterte administration could tap the overseas network of INC and “proven capability of its organization to care for the welfare of our countrymen.”
“This is what we wish to tap,” Roque said. “That is the reason he (Manalo) was appointed,” he added.
Inspired by Kuwait
According to Roque, Mr. Duterte was driven to tap Manalo’s help by abuses being suffered by Filipino workers in Kuwait, a Muslim country where the practice of other religions, like INC, was heavily restricted.
Roque defined separation of Church and state as the government interfering in people’s religious freedoms or endorsing one religion over another.
Human rights advocate?
The INC is known to vote as a bloc and politicians of all stripes court its favor during campaigns.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he welcomed the appointment of Manalo.
“Considering his stature, his being a religious leader and a known advocate of human rights, he is very much welcome in the bureaucracy,” Bello told Inquirer in an interview.
“They have such a big congregation. He would surely be a great help in our effort to provide protection to our OFWs,” he added. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS
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