MANILA – The influential religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) is endorsing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for president and Senator Ferdinand ”Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for vice president in next week’s elections.
Members of the INC were told last night by the INC leadership to vote as one, after which they were given sample ballots.
In an interview with ANC, INC spokesman EdwilZabala would not confirm if their group had indeed endorsed Duterte and Marcos.
Duterte, the current front runner in presidential voter preference surveys, said he met with INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo last April 22.
Marcos, who is tied with administration bet LeniRobredo in the latest ABS-CBN survey conducted by Pulse Asia, met with Manalo last April 26.
An INC source told ABS-CBN News that an internal survey among INC members, which Duterte reportedly topped, was a key factor in the decision of the INC leadership to support the Davao mayor.
INC requires its members to vote as one, in accordance with the church’s beliefs and the importance it places on unity.
Social Weather Stations (SWS) president MaharMangahas, in an Inquirer column last September, estimated the voting strength of the INC in the May 2016 elections to be 1.7 million.
“[The] proportionate strength of INC voters was about four and one-fourth percent of the electorate in 2010. My guess is that it will be the same in 2016. Assuming population growth of 2 percent per year, a number of 1.5 million votes in May 2010 would become 1.7 million votes by May 2016,” Mangahas said in his column.
“This does not allow for either conversions to INC or withdrawals from INC. So I think that the claim of 2.0 million INC votes for 2016 is an overstatement.”
The INC leadership endorsed then Senator Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino in 2010, incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004, and then Vice-President Joseph Estrada in 1998. All of them won.
In the 1992 elections, the INC supported businessman Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, who ended up third behind Fidel Ramos and Miriam Defensor Santiago.
INC BLOC VOTING
Mangahas, citing its 2010 exit poll, said “Catholics went 43.4 percent for Noynoy Aquino and 28.2 percent for Erap Estrada, whereas INCs went 77.1 percent for Aquino and 12.0 percent for Estrada.”
“In the vice presidential election, on the other hand, Catholics went 43.8 percent for JejomarBinay and 39.8 percent for Mar Roxas, whereas INCs went 17.6 percent for Binay and 73.8 percent for Roxas. Roxas’ great 56-point advantage among INCs did not overcome Binay’s mere 4-point advantage among Catholics, since Catholics were over 74 percent of the voters.”
Reports about INC’s endorsement emerged following the release of the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey commissioned by ABS-CBN.
Duterte kept his 33% rating for a 2nd week in a row, in the April 26-29, 2016 survey.
Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas is in a statistical tie for second place with Senator Grace Poe.
Roxas got 22%, 11 percentage points behind Duterte and 2 points up from his previous rating, while Poe got 21%, a point below her previous 22% rating.
Vice President JejomarBinay polled 17%, a point down from his previous 18% rating.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago got a 2% rating for a second week in a row.
In the vice-presidential race, Camarines Sur Rep. LeniRobredo now shares the lead with Marcos after getting a 30% voter preference rating, which is 4 points higher than her rating in the previous ABS-CBN Pulse Asia survey conducted on April 19-24.
Marcos got 28%, down 3 points from the previous survey. Senators Francis Escudero (18%) and Alan Peter Cayetano (15%) didn’t see changes in their ratings. Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Gringo Honasan had 3% and 2% ratings, respectively.