Is this Iglesia versus Catholics, Protestants, Muslims?  

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

This is not a jihad or a religious war. But what is happening this time is an unprecedented polarization of forces between the Iglesia Ni Cristo, reportedly with less than two million registered voters and the Catholics with its 88 million faithful. The separation between Church and State is being put to an acid test. Tomorrow's choice is between truth and systemic falsehood, between right and wrong, between saving the nation or another six years of damnation.

It is touted that INC members strictly follow the dictates of their leaders, that is why trapos line up to please the Iglesia and politicians do anything and everything to earn its much-coveted endorsement. But can the INC really make or break candidates? Is the much-feared power and assumed clout of this group really true? I remember that in 2016, INC endorsed Marcos. But we all know that Robredo defeated him convincingly. Marcos did all to protest and question Leni's victory. But the Supreme Court upheld Bongbong's defeat at the hands of Leni. Marcos Sr. was ousted by a widow. Marcos Jr. was defeated by another widow.

This election, the declaration by Ka Eduardo Manalo that the Iglesis Ni Kristo is supporting Marcos again and Sara Duterte plus the two sons of Erap, Binay, and other multi-millionaires for senators, has triggered the declaration by more than 1,400 Catholic bishops, priests, deacons, and Church-mandated organizations, all over the country that they are supporting VP Leni and Senator Kiko in tomorrow's crucial elections. A number of other religious congregations and sects also followed and declared that they have chosen to side with the right one, Leni and Kiko.

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the biggest Protestant denomination, through its Council of Bishops and ministers, pastors, and lay leaders, and many other religious groups joined the various Muslim groups in making the moral choice, which is for Leni and Kiko. The Muslims led by Imam Ali Abdul Madid declared that the six million Muslim voters are being asked to vote for Leni Robredo. I know the governor of Basilan, Mujob Hataman, is for Leni too, and many in BARMM and all over. Leni and Kiko in fact visited the Golden Mosque in Quiapo and met with the Islamic religious leaders and their members.

While more and more sects and congregations have jumped to the Leni-Kiko bandwagon, a social media post surfaced in FB and other digital platforms, allegedly coming from a group of Iglesia Ni Cristo youth leaders and members who reportedly declared that they are apologizing to Ka Eduardo because they for Leni and Kiko. The young Iglesia members said they are not joining the block voting for the list from the central office, because supposedly they are voting for Leni and Kiko. This is, of course, subject to verification at this very volatile time, where the stakes are high and the teapot is boiling high about 24 hours before voting time.

The records show that as of 2015, the Catholics comprise 79.53% of all Filipinos, numbering no less than 88 million, compared to the Iglesia with only 2.64%. The Muslims command 6.01% of the population and the evangelicals constitute 2.42%. It is admitted, however, that most of us do not vote along religious lines but along regional affiliations. In the past, the INC always endorsed presidential candidates like Marcos Sr., GMA, Erap, and Duterte. But many became presidents sans the INC support, like Cory Aquino, FVR and PNoy.

Tomorrow's election is very important. The Filipinos should make a moral choice, a conscientious judgment and a very strategic and far-reaching decision. If we commit another monumental faux pas, we are bound to suffer another six years of bad governance. May the Holy Spirit then give us wisdom and discernment, as we make this most crucial choice. The nation cannot gamble on another Marcos again. Leni is the only right choice.


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