“Mr. Eduardo Manalo was appointed because he has networks in different countries. They (INC) have six million congregations and have been working with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for a long time,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing. Philstar.com/File Photo

Duterte defends Iglesia head Eduardo Manalo appointment
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The appointment of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) executive minister Eduardo Manalo as special envoy for overseas Filipino workers’ concerns is not a political payback for supporting the candidacy of President Duterte, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Manalo was appointed because of his networks in other countries and not because of the INC’s endorsement of Duterte’s presidential bid in 2016. 

“Mr. Eduardo Manalo was appointed because he has networks in different countries. They (INC) have six million congregations and have been working with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for a long time,” Roque said in a press briefing. 

Roque said the INC has proven that it has the capability to care for Filipinos in other countries, including those who do not belong to the church. 

“This is not a political payback. Perhaps the recent abuses experienced by our OFWs may have prompted the appointment of Mr. Manalo,” the spokesman said. 

Roque said the appointment did not violate the constitutional provision on the separation of church and state.  

“The separation of church and state involves two things: freedom to belong to a religion and the guarantee that the state will not endorse a religion,” he added. 

Roque claimed that Manalo would not receive compensation as a special envoy. 

Manalo’s tenure started last Jan. 30 and will end on Jan. 29, 2019. 

INC, which is known for bloc voting, supported Duterte and vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the 2016 elections. 

The group has more than two million members and has presence in more than 70 countries. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III welcomed the appointment of Manalo as special envoy for OFW concerns.

“Considering his stature, religious leader, worldwide known advocate of human rights, he is very much welcome in the bureaucracy,” Bello said.

Two senior administration lawmakers commended President Duterte yesterday for designating Manalo as special envoy for Filipino migrants. 

House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas and Rep. Winston Castelo of Quezon City said it was a step in the right direction on the part of the administration to tap the expertise of someone like Manalo. 

“He is an excellent choice. He will add stability to the plight of Filipino migrants. The wide experience of Ka Eduardo and his influence around the world will help the Duterte administration fix the concerns of Filipinos abroad,” Abu said. 

Castelo cited the moral and spiritual integrity of Manalo, aside from his inputs to help solve the problems of Filipino migrants.

Manalo is the grandson of the late INC founder Felix Manalo and the eldest son of the late INC executive minister Eraño Manalo. 

Ka Eduardo was ordained minister in 1980 and led the local INC congregation in Cubao, Quezon City after graduating from the Evangelical College, now the New Era University’s College of Evangelical Ministry. – Mayen Jaymalin, Delon Porcalla

EDUARDO MANALO IGLESIA NI CRISTO RODRIGO DUTERTE
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