Poe visits top INC minister
Sen. Grace Poe, the apparent front-runner in the presidential race, met this week with the political affairs chief of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to seek the support of the bloc-voting religious sect for her candidacy.
Poe met on Wednesday with INC minister Eraño Cordera, according to two sources who said they saw her waiting at the lobby of Cordera’s office, accompanied by Mike Defensor, a former Quezon City representative and member of the Cabinet of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The meeting lasted for an hour, the sources said.
Apart from Defensor, the sources said Poe was accompanied by several men, but it was only Defensor who was instantly recognizable.
Poe, who was in a white dress, reportedly arrived before Cordera and waited in a reception area where politicians seeking the support of the influential sect are usually seated.
Poe confirmed Friday night that the meeting with Cordera did take place but said she did not ask for INC’s support.
“It was simply a brief meeting marked by an exchange of ideas and views, and at no time was there any asking of support,” Poe said in a text message.
Poe denied that Defensor was part of her campaign team.
“While I appreciate the willingness of people to help me win the elections, I believe that his former association with a political administration is incompatible with my crusade for transparent governance and electoral reform,” she said.
The INC endorsement is much sought after by candidates because of the sect’s vaunted bloc-voting power of around 2 million voters. If the candidate wins, the political favor is returned, usually in the form of appointment of INC members to important government posts.
In August last year, the INC staged a four-day mass action in Manila to protest then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s handling of an illegal detention complaint against the sect’s leadership. Despite the outrage over the traffic jams caused by the mass action, the INC was given rally permits and allowed to hold their so-called vigil for four days.
READ: Iglesia ni Cristo protester at Edsa rally: ‘Wala kaming napala. Nagpagod lang kami’
The incident became some kind of test for the presidential aspirants.
Poe was criticized for being an opportunist when she took the side of the influential sect, saying its members were just “defending their faith” and “protecting their rights.”
Known supporters of another presidential aspirant, Vice President Jejomar Binay, also lent their support to the protesters.
In his Inquirer column, Mahar Mangahas, the president of Social Weather Stations (SWS) polling organization, said INC accounted for 4.25 percent or 1.53 million of the roughly 36 million votes cast for President and Vice President in the 2010 elections.
Mangahas estimated then that INC voters would number around 1.7 million by 2016.
In the 2010 elections, Mangahas said the SWS exit poll showed that 77 percent of INC members voted for President Aquino who was endorsed by the sect’s leader Eduardo V. Manalo, compared to 12 percent for second-placer, the incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
In the race for Vice President in 2010, Manalo picked Mar Roxas over Jejomar Binay and 74 percent of INC voters voted for Roxas, Aquino’s running mate, who lost to Binay. TVJ
INC ‘thinking’ members to defy group’s practice of bloc voting
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