Leader of lay Catholic group in the Philippines backs Marcos
The leader of an influential lay Catholic group in the Philippines has drawn the ire of clerics by endorsing former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and “first daughter” Sara Duterte as President and Vice-President respectively. presidency in the next national elections.
Brother Mike Velarde, founder of the El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Fellowship International, popularly known as El Shaddai, declared his support for the presidential favorite and his running mate during a group prayer rally in Paranaque City in Manila attended by thousands of people on February 12.
The group is the largest charismatic group in the Philippines with over 8 million members.
As such, politicians are seeking Velarde’s support in hopes of securing a huge bloc vote.
“We are united in mind and heart when it comes to voting. For sure,” Velarde told the crowd during the rally.
He said he favored Marcos Jr., the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and Sara Duterte, daughter of current President Rodrigo Duterte, because of their campaign promise to unite the nation torn apart by corruption and the pandemic. of Covid-19.
Marcos supposedly dreams of unity. But he and his family have no remorse for what they did during martial law [under his father] and looting
Marcos’ spokesperson praised Velarde’s support.
“We welcome everyone in this bid for national unity – even those with different political leanings and beliefs, even our critics – because only by joining hands can we triumph over all challenges. we face today and on the road ahead,” Vic Rodriguez told reporters on February 13.
The endorsement, however, seemed to take some members of the lay group by surprise and saw its spiritual director, a Catholic prelate, criticize Velarde’s decision.
Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches called Velarde’s endorsement “unofficial and erroneous.”
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“The approval was not the approval of the whole El Shaddai group. It was a personal endorsement from Bro. Mike Velarde,” the Bishop said in a video message posted online.
“He is the founder and servant leader of El Shaddai, but he is not El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Fellowship International Incorporated. It’s wider than Bro. Mike himself.
The bishop also faulted the group’s founder for supporting a candidate without consulting with clergy within the organization.
Many Filipino clergy are suspicious of Marcos Jr. due to his alleged failure to acknowledge the abuses committed by his father’s regime during the martial law imposed during his reign.
Bishop Bacani said Velarde had the right to support whoever he wanted, but that was his personal choice, not that of the organization.
“Marcos supposedly dreams of unity. But he and his family have no remorse for what they did during martial law [under his father] and looting – billions they have taken from the country’s public coffers. So the endorsement is fake,” he added.
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