The bloc-voting religious group Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) has officially endorsed the presidential and vice-presidential tandem Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte for the 2022 elections. This was after the announcement made on Net25, an INC-owned broadcast channel on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
Earlier this year there were already speculations that INC would possibly endorse the Marcos-Duterte tandem, one hint was when the Proclamation Rally of the BBM-Sara Tandem was held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan in which it is owned by INC. However, Marcos’ spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez denied affiliation and said that it was just the chosen venue.
“You’re reading too much between the lines. We have not said anything close to that. Ito ay venue lamang (this is only a venue),” he said in a statement in February 2022.
Iglesia ni Cristo is popularly known over the previous elections to practice 'voting bloc' amongst members, a group of voters that are strongly motivated by a common concern, and in the case of INC, voting based on their leaders’ preferences and is heavily wooed by both local and national candidates for possible endorsement.
Pulse Asia identified that INC comprises 3% of the voting population, and could equate around 1.5 to 1.8 million votes, according to 2013 data.
The influential religious group also endorsed the following candidates for senators: Alan Peter Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Guillermo Eleazar, Chiz Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, Loren Legarda, Robin Padilla, Joel Villanueva, Mark Villar, and Migz Zubiri.
INC said during the broadcast that the decision to endorse the tandem was according to their “thorough study and research”. Marcos and Sara gave thanks as Net25 aired their message.
"Ako po at ang aking pamilya, sampu ng buong alyansang nakapaloob sa Uniteam ay labis na nagagalak at buong pusong nagpapasalamat sa suportang inihayag ng kapatirang Iglesia Ni Cristo sa pangunguna ng inyong tagapamahalang pangkalahatan kapatid Eduardo V. Manalo," Marcos said.
In 2016, INC backed former Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for President where he won, while Bongbong Marcos for Vice President however, lost to Vice President Leni Robredo.
In 2010, INC endorsed both of the Liberal Party’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Mar Roxas. Aquino won, while Roxas lost to Jejomar Binay.
May 7, 2022, marks the end of the campaign period. The tandem is scheduled to attend various grand rallies this week in Tagum, Davao del Norte; Paranaque City; Guimbal; and Iloilo.