(Updated) THE influential Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) has officially endorsed presidential candidate and vice presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., respectively, in the upcoming May 9 polls.
According to the Eagle Broadcasting Corp. (EBC), INC's official media arm, the Christian sect confirmed the reports supporting the candidacies of Duterte and Marcos.
"The Iglesia Ni Cristo is supporting Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte for president and Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., for vice-president in the May 9 elections," read a report by eaglenews.ph.
It said that the names of the presidential and vice presidential bets as well as 12 senatorial candidates were contained in the sample ballots distributed by INC to its members.
The INC also endorsed the senatorial candidacies of Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Tolentino, Martin Romualdez, Ralph Recto, Manny Pacquiao, Vicente Sotto III, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ping Lacson and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The articles also noted that top officials of the INC reminded their members to remain united in participating in the upcoming polls.
"In a circular letter read by INC ministers, INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo reminded all the brethren to follow God's teachings on unity when they go to the polls on May 9," it added.
For his part, INC spokesperson Minister Edwil Zabala ensured INC members will comply with the circular.
He issued the statement amid the claims made by its INC's expelled members that the INC officials have already trust of some of its member after it has been involved in several controversial issues.
"The people who have been very vocal in questioning the unity of the Iglesia Ni Cristo are people who have already been expelled from the Church. When they claim that the Church is divided, the facts do not support their assertion," said Zabala in the article.
"The fact that they have been expelled from the Church is one proof that the Church remains united because we are unafraid to follow the biblical injunction to expel from the Church anyone who would sow division," he added.
Duterte's camp welcomed INC's endorsement of his presidential bid.
In a statement, Duterte's spokesperson Peter Tiu Laviña thanked the INC and said that it is "a big boost to our campaign."
"This endorsement shows that Duterte's advocacy for real change has resonated to almost all our people and all our church formations affected by the rising crimes and drugs, continuing corruption and government neglect, poverty and sufferings of our people," he added.
Laviña then criticized the administration Liberal Party (LP) for its "empty boast" that it is now "in a momentum".
"The LP is claiming to be in a momentum, an empty boast but clearly laying the premises and conditioning the minds of our people on the grand fraud they plan to unleash with unbelievable results on election day," Laviña said.
Last Monday, President Benigno Aquino III held a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the bloc-voting religious sect INC in their headquarters in Quezon City and made a last-minute "political appeals" for his chosen successor Manuel Roxas II and his running mate, Leni Robredo. (With FP/Sunnex)