Saturday, May 8, 2010

El Shaddai leader opts not to endorse a bet

By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:48:00 05/09/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Churches (organisations), Eleksyon 2010, Elections

Original Story:

IN AN UNEXPECTED TURN, EL SHADDAI leader Bro. Mike Velarde has decided to stay “neutral” in Monday’s presidential elections and has asked his followers to “vote according to their conscience.”

“He will not endorse anybody,” Light Rail Transit Authority Administrator Mel Robles, president of El Shaddai’s party-list group Buhay and Velarde’s former spokesperson, told the Inquirer last night.

Velarde, leader of the Catholic charismatic group which counts around five million members, has opted to allow his followers to follow their conscience when they vote, Robles said shortly before Velarde presided over El Shaddai’s last prayer rally before the elections.
Asked why Velarde suddenly declined to make an endorsement, Robles said the El Shaddai leader wanted to be in a position to help in case something went wrong in Monday’s automated polls.

Hope nothing happens

“He would like to reach out to everybody if something bad happens,” Robles said.

Asked if the group expected a failure of elections, Robles said, “Whatever it is, we hope nothing untoward happens. But if something happens then he can reach out to all sectors to help.”

He said Velarde decided on his stand last week.

Velarde attended a national security meeting in Malacañang on Friday, which was presided over by President Arroyo for whom he serves as a religious adviser.

But a sample ballot being given out at the prayer rally in Parañaque City showed that the ovals beside the names of 12 senatorial candidates, mostly from the Nacionalista Party, had been shaded, indicating the probable choices of Velarde.

The candidates are Bong Revilla, Pia Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile, Lito Lapid, Tito Sotto, Francisco Tatad, Ramon Mitra, Susan Ople, Gilbert Remulla, Joey de Venecia III, and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

No LP candidates chosen

No candidate from the Liberal Party was chosen and no ovals in the president and vice president categories had been shaded.

Velarde had been expected to endorse Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar, whom he invited to an El Shaddai gathering in Hong Kong earlier during the campaign.

During an Easter Mass attended by the other presidential candidates, Velarde also gave indications of favoring Villar, a long-time friend and business associate.

Villar endorsement

His endorsement of Villar was expected in last night’s prayer rally but, according to Robles, the El Shaddai leader opted not to endorse any presidential candidate this time around.

This was a departure from past presidential elections, when Velarde endorsed the candidacies of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 1992, 1998 and 2004 elections, respectively. (See what went before)

A Velarde endorsement had seemed likely, especially after the bloc-voting Iglesia ni Cristo endorsed the LP ticket of Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Roxas II.

Showing that he still retained an El Shaddai following, Estrada topped a mock election held among over 2,000 members of the sect last week.

Estrada wins mock poll

Robles said Estrada led the pack, followed by Villar, Aquino and administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro.

Estrada’s running mate Jejomar Binay also won the mock polls, followed by Roxas and NP vice presidential candidate Sen. Loren Legarda.

In the El Shaddai mock elections, Robles said, about 40 percent of the votes for the national positions were “invalid” because the members “over-voted.”

He said this indicated that voters still needed further training on how to use the automated system. He added that El Shaddai had been training members on the voting the last three months.

Original Story:

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