After formally announcing its endorsement of former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as its presidential and vice presidential candidates, the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) also released the names of the 12 senatorial aspirants it would support in the May 9 elections based on a report on its official news site on Thursday, May 5.
1. Former Tesda Secretary Joel Villanueva
2. Former Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon
3. Senate President Franklin Drilon
4. Former Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan partylist
5. Francis Tolentino, former chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)
6. Rep. Martin Romualdez of Leyte
7. Sen. Ralph Recto
8. Rep. Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani
9. Sen. Vicente Sotto III,
10. Rep. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian of Valenzuela City
11. Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson
12. Former Sen. Miguel Zubiri
Their names are contained in sample ballots that are distributed to INC members all over the country, according to the report posted on www.eaglenews.ph.
The report said that in recent worship services, INC ministers expounded on the biblical doctrine of upholding unity in the Church – of having one mind and one judgment.
For the church members, voting as one body “is part of following the teachings contained in the Bible regarding unity, and not allowing divisions within the Church of Christ”.
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, according to the report.
INC spokesperson, Minister Edwil Zabala, said all true INC members have been peaceful and patient in waiting for whatever would be the INC Administration’s decision on whom they would vote for.
“The moment INC members receive that decision — since we are fully convinced about the biblical basis for upolding unity — we will abide by that decision,” said Zabala.
Duterte made a courtesy call to the INC Executive Minister on April 22, while Marcos Jr., also visited the INC Central Office on April 26. All five presidential candidates have sought the INC support in their respective courtesy calls to Brother Eduardo, according to the report.
Zabala also dismissed assertions by expelled INC members who questioned the INC’s unity.
“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,” Zabala said.
“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 explained.
The INC spokesman said “these ex-members are not expressing their observation, but a wish on their part.”
“And it is understandable because they are trying to squeeze the last few funds that they can from the shady politicians who so desperately want to believe that a divided Iglesia Ni Cristo will mean that they will win in the upcoming elections,” he explained.
Zabala said these ex-ministers were desperately seeking attention.
“It’s an act of desperation on the part of these expelled members as well as the unscrupulous individuals funding them,” Zabala stressed. “As far as true members of the INC are concerned, nothing these ex-members would say would affect their faith.”
Zabala said those who would not want to uphold Church unity was removed from the Church and that the INC has nothing to do with these expelled members anymore.
“Perhaps the public is not aware, but the ones who are divided are these people,” he said.
These people are simply bitter. They are expecting that they would be able to convince the members of the INC that they would support them. It came as a rude awakening for them to find out that the many facebook accounts that expressed support for them were made up mainly of bogus and multiple accounts emanating from a few individuals,” he added.