Monday, February 15, 2010

Velarde gives Villar virtual blessing

February 15, 2010 06:22:00
Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Original Story:

HONG KONG—Surrounded by hundreds of followers wearing orange shirts and skirts, El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde Sunday virtually endorsed Sen. Manuel Villar for president during a prayer rally on Chatter Road at Central district here.

Velarde stopped short of declaring the popular Catholic charismatic group’s support for Villar, standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party (NP), saying the group would make a collective decision on Easter Sunday. He added that the group would “vote as one.”

In his speech, Velarde hinted that he was one of those who had encouraged Villar, an old friend, to run for president.

“During the process when I was still thinking of running, I had a friend and I told him, ‘I am not running. You run.’”

Velarde also referred to Villar’s wife, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, as “Madame First Lady.” Three large posters of Villar and vice presidential candidate Sen. Loren Legarda were prominently displayed below the stage.

Villar was the only presidential candidate invited to the rally.

“Here in El Shaddai, whoever remembers us will be accepted. So if ever somebody asks you why the other candidates were not in Hong Kong, tell them they did not remember us,” he said.

“Those who remembered were the ones who came. So before we proceed, I want to introduce to you our guest who remembered us and who is with us in celebrating Valentine’s. He is a man who has a heart for OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) so he remembered to be with us,” Velarde said.

Both Villar and Velarde met when they began their careers in real estate. Villar reportedly supplied Velarde with sand.

Velarde confirmed their friendship, saying he had always wanted to be president since he was a “little boy” but decided to give way to his “friend.”

“Many were asking me, ‘Bro. Mike, why don’t you run? We heard you were running.’ Let me reveal to you what I promised God. When I went through a quadruple bypass in 1998, I said ‘God, if you will extend my life. I will serve You and no one else for as long as I live,’” Velarde said.

“God knows my dream since I was a little boy was to become president of the Republic of the Philippines because I wanted to live in Malacañang. But you know a dream and a calling are two different things,” he quipped.

“So with that commitment I said, ‘Lord, I’ll forget about my dream to become president. I will not enter politics but You are going to make my candidate win,’” Velarde said.

“For us in El Shaddai during elections, we don’t really endorse. We just vote. So we have promised God we are going to vote as one this election...we are going to examine all the candidates for president and vice president,” he said.

Velarde gave many other hints that Villar was his choice for president.

“Say money,” Velarde said to the applause of the crowd. “Who wants money? OK. I have good news for you. The Lord said ‘Don’t worry about Manny, he can take care of himself.”

Abelina Soliman, an El Shaddai member from Saranggani province who works in Hong Kong, said she and other members wore orange to show their support for Villar.

“We’re orange for Manny Villar. All the workers and attendants are wearing orange for Manny,” she said, adding that it was the members who collectively chose to wear orange.

Velarde noticed this during his preaching, but said that El Shaddai members should still evaluate all the candidates.

“Ngayon ang tingin ko sa inyo, mukhang nagpapahalata (As I look at you, I think you’re trying to show your preference). You are trying to show your colors this very early,” Velarde said.

“But without favoring anybody, we know that our guest today has a heart for (Filipinos) in other countries. He is approachable…(but) we will choose until Easter Sunday. By that time, I will know and all of us will know (whom to vote for). Maybe those of you here in Hong Kong already know,” he said, to the cheers of the crowd.

In an interview Saturday night, Villar said he valued the support of his friend Velarde even if it was just “implicit.”

“That is important...that endorsement even if it is not a formal one,” Villar said.

“We have known each other for a very long, long time. A very long time. Maybe even before El Shaddai was formed, we already knew each other,” he said.

Villar said Velarde supported him because many of his members were also supportive of him.

Villar dismissed allegations that Velarde supported him because the evangelist also benefited from the controversial C-5 road extension project.

“We all know those accusations are mere inventions. I don’t see anything wrong with that project so I don’t see any problem for anyone linked to that,” Villar said.

“That project is something to be proud of because it benefited six million of our countrymen directly and maybe another six million indirectly. (My critics) are trying-hards….They should change their tactics,” he said.

Original Story:

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