PRESIDENT Aquino on Monday met with Eduardo Manalo, executive minister of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), in an apparent last-minute plea for Mar Roxas’ presidential bid, but the Liberal Party (LP) candidate struggling in voter preference surveys expressed confidence he could secure victory even without the backing of the powerful religious group.
In a statement released by Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Mr. Aquino said he sought the meeting at the INC central office in Quezon City with Manalo, head of the sect known for voting as a bloc during presidential elections.
“I thanked him for the support he and his brethren have extended to us. I enumerated the gains under daang matuwid (straight path),” Mr. Aquino said.
“Lastly I expressed the hope that these gains will not only be continued but built upon in the future,” he added.
Mr. Aquino has been campaigning intensely for Roxas, whom he said would continue his governance reforms.
Roxas, in the latest presidential surveys, was statistically tied with Sen. Grace Poe on second place, trailing runaway front-runner, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Interviewed by reporters, Mr. Aquino said he thanked Manalo for his support to his six-year administration but also when he was senator.
He also said he shared the “vision of what happens after I step down from power, and made the usual appeals and political appeals.”
“I have no complaints but to say thanks for all the support,” he said.
And with less than two months to go before he steps down on June 30, Mr. Aquino said his legacy was “the change in the attitude of people, from apathy to one of being more hopeful.”
Asked on his message to the people with May 9 just a week away, he said people had seen his reforms and it was up to them if they wanted this continued and strengthened even more.
“Let’s wait for the people’s judgment, what our bosses want,” Mr. Aquino said.
Roxas sought to downplay the meeting between Mr. Aquino and the INC leader, denying it was a last-minute attempt to get INC leaders to endorse his candidacy.
Speaking to reporters at LP’s Balay headquarters in Quezon City, the former interior secretary said an INC endorsement would be welcome but not crucial to win the presidency.
“An endorsement is freely given. I don’t know to whom they will give it. I am operating [on the notion] that it will just be a plus if it happens,” Roxas said.
“If there’s no endorsement, we cannot coerce them into siding with someone when they don’t want it. We’re just steady,” he said.
INC endorsed Roxas for the vice presidency against Binay in 2010, but he still lost by more than 700,000 votes.
Asked if he believed his support base was big enough to win without INC’s help, he replied: “I believe so.” – Philippines Report
Source Credit: INQUIRER>net