Son of El Shaddai founder named deputy Tesda director general
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed the son of one of the largest Catholic lay groups in the Philippines as second in command of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
A list of appointees released by Malacanang on Friday (July 19) showed the designation of Mariano Michael Velarde Jr., son of El Shaddai founder Bro. Mike Velarde, as deputy Tesda director general. Tesda used to be headed by the son of another religious group leader, now Sen. Joel Villanueva, son of Jesus Is Lord founder Eddie Villanueva.
The group, which has involved itself in politics despite a Church policy discouraging priests and other Church leaders from joining the political fray, has supported 10 candidates of Duterte for senator in the May 13 elections.
Although its sway on election preference by its followers was not mandatory like that of the bigger religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo, El Shaddai is often courted by politicians for support during campaigns and its endorsement is believed to have a high vote conversion rate.
The group, however, was noticeably silent in the face of Duterte’s furious rants against the Catholic Church, including one in which he called God “stupid” and a “son of whore” for testing man’s faith through the Original Sin.
The younger Velarde, who had represented the El Shaddai-backed party-list group Buhay, was appointed last July 10, according to the Palace list.
Duterte also named two new board members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), which was recently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the theft of hundreds of millions of pesos in health premiums through supposedly ghost treatments.
Marlene Padua and Alejandro Cabading were appointed also last July 10 as board members of PhilHealth representing health care providers and experts.
Pasig City Judge Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro was promoted as associate justice of the Court of Appeals.
The President also appointed Florida Dijan and Francisco Cruz as assistant interior and local government secretaries and Ricojudge Janvier Echiverri as interior and local government undersecretary./tsb
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