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Mar to seek INC endorsement

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

BAYUGAN CITY, Philippines –– Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas will seek the support of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) even if he spoke against the group’s rally at EDSA last year.

“Of course, we will seek the help of different groups including the INC, but we will leave that to them because it is something given freely,” Roxas said.  

When pressed if he would meet with INC officers, Roxas said: “I would expect.” 

The INC is said to have around two million members that are known to vote as a bloc. It endorsed the presidential bid of then Sen. Benigno Aquino III and runningmate Roxas in the 2010 polls, which saw Aquino winning and Roxas losing to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

Roxas spoke last year against the rally in EDSA staged by the INC to protest what it perceived as the justice department’s interference in its internal affairs. The rally snarled traffic in the major thoroughfare.

Roxas called on rally participants to follow the rule of law and reminded them that the right to peaceful assembly should not cause inconvenience to anyone.

Earlier, presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe admitted that she paid a visit to the INC but claimed that she did not seek the endorsement of the group. Poe said the visit was meant to discuss her platforms.

Meanwhile, Roxas denied that the vote-rich Mindanao is “Duterte country” as supporters of the Davao City mayor are claiming.

He believes many voters are already convinced by the straight path or daang matuwid policy of the Aquino administration, citing as basis the warm reception given to him and his allies during their campaign sorties.

“I am confident that this (crowd) will translate to votes. I feel it. I feel secure because this is the truth,” the LP bet said after campaigning before a crowd of 10,000 people in Bayugan.

Mindanao has about 12.6 million voters or about 23 percent of the registered voters of the country.

When asked to react to claims that Mindanao is a bailiwick of Duterte, Roxas said: “You have seen the crowd and the warm reception they gave us. They waited for two hours just to see us. People are hugging us and kissing us. I am really inspired…this is the largest crowd I’ve seen.”

LP vice presidential bet and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo believed the huge crowds in their rallies dispelled notions that Mindanao is solidly behind Duterte. 

“You can see from the crowd turnout that Mindanao is not Duterte country. Mayor Duterte may have strongholds in certain parts of Mindanao but you can see that we also have genuine support here,” Robredo said.  

Duterte has been surging in pre-election surveys, ranking second behind Sen. Grace Poe in the latest Bilang Pilipino-Social Weather Stations poll.

Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay were tied at third place in the mobile survey, which had 1,200 respondents.  – With Paolo Romero

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