Iglesia ni Cristo backing BBM-Sara tandem | Inquirer News

Iglesia ni Cristo backing BBM-Sara tandem

The Iglesia Ni Cristo central church in Quezon City. STORY: Iglesia ni Cristo backing BBM-Sara tandem

The Iglesia Ni Cristo central church in Quezon City —FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) officially declared on Tuesday its support for former senator and presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, against their main rivals in the May 9 elections Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

The religious sect also endorsed Marcos in the 2016 vice-presidential election where he was narrowly defeated by Robredo, who is seeking the presidency this time.


The official endorsement of INC for the Marcos-Duterte team was announced barely a week before the elections on the primetime evening news program of the sect’s broadcaster NET 25.


A NET 25 television anchor made the announcement in Filipino, saying that “the unity of Iglesia is recognized by its members as one of the teachings of the Bible that should be followed.”

“The decision of the Iglesia leadership is respected by its members,” he said. “The politicians, meanwhile, recognize the help that the Iglesia unity may offer to their candidacy on election day.”

The INC also endorsed 12 senatorial candidates, most of them belonging to the Marcos-Duterte team—Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, Loren Legarda, Robin Padilla, Joel Villanueva, Mark Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri. They as well included Jejomar Binay, Guillermo Eleazar and Francis Escudero.

Voting as a bloc

The INC, which has millions of followers worldwide, is known to vote as a bloc, which prompts many candidates to woo the sect’s support for their campaigns.

Speculations of an imminent INC endorsement for Marcos started when the late dictator’s son chose to kick off his three-month campaign at the INC-owned Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan province.

But the Marcos camp downplayed this as “only a venue” and that people were “reading too much between the lines.”


The Christian group had been endorsing its preferred candidates in the homestretch of the campaign.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Its announcement was made a day after pollster Pulse Asia released its latest Pulso ng Bayan survey that showed Marcos and Duterte still leading the presidential and vice-presidential races.

‘Great honor’

The Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), the party of Marcos’ running mate, also thanked the INC for the sect’s “unity vote.”

In a prerecorded video aired after the announcement, both Marcos and Duterte thanked the INC for its endorsement.

Speaking in Filipino, Marcos said in the pre-taped statement that the endorsement by the INC was a “great honor that comes with a challenge to our capability to unify the country … unite Filipinos … and guide the citizenry through the crisis brought about by the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“We will strive to make sure that the confidence bestowed on us by the INC would result in real unity among nation-loving Filipinos and, without hesitation, face together challenges in paving the way for a bright tomorrow for our youth,” he said.

His spokesperson, Vic Rodriguez, said the campaign valued the support of the INC as much as it valued the support of “a great majority” of the Filipinos.

“This kind of trust and confidence will be the guide of presidential front-runner Bongbong Marcos and vice-presidential leader Inday Sara Duterte in leading the country should they win in the May 9 elections,” Rodriguez said.

Lakas-CMD party president and House majority leader Martin Romualdez, a cousin of Marcos, expressed his party’s “sincerest gratitude to the INC and its millions of members for supporting our candidates.”

“There are no words to describe our appreciation for their decision, and we cannot thank them enough,” he said.

Not sure winners

“Its announcement today, together with the expressions of support for the BBM-Sara tandem of other religious and sectoral organizations and local officials, seals what we expect to be the landslide victory on Monday of our candidates,” he said.

Not all candidates endorsed by the INC won in past elections. In 2010, it endorsed the tandem of the late Benigno Aquino III and former Sen. Mar Roxas, but only Aquino won.

Sara Duterte

Sara Duterte

In 2016, it supported the candidacy of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Marcos. Duterte won, Marcos lost.

During the 1986 elections, INC almost split its flock when it ordered its members to vote for Marcos’ father who was running against Corazon Aquino.

Despite the circular, almost half of the INC members voted for Aquino. Because of the sheer number of violators, the leadership could not excommunicate them and instead ordered them to write a letter of apology to the INC administration.

The late Eraño Manalo, who served as the INC executive minister from 1963 to 2009, was a well-known supporter of the dictator.

In other presidential elections, it supported Eduardo Cojuangco in 1992, Joseph Estrada in 1998, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.

According to the 2015 census, INC represented the third-largest religious group in the country, making up 2.6 percent of the total population of the Philippines.



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