Malacañang is pleased with the decision of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai to endorse senatorial candidates being backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Eh siyempre, kung in-endorse iyong in-endorse mo di siyempre matutuwa ka. Natural lamang iyon (If a religious group endorses the same people you’re endorsing, of course you’ll be pleased. It’s natural),” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“If a religious group endorses the same people you’re endorsing, of course you’ll be pleased.”
Over the weekend, El Shaddai bared that it is endorsing candidates either from Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HMP), the regional party of Davao City Mayor and Presidential daughter Sara Duterte, or the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the party of the President himself.
The Duterte-backed senatorial aspirants endorsed by El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde are reelectionist Senators Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Koko Pimentel III, and Cynthia Villar.
The group also endorsed former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Bato dela Rosa, former Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, and former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.
Panelo emphasized that El Shaddai has its own reasons for endorsing candidates, noting the Palace would respect whatever endorsement other groups would provide.
“Iyon ang demokrasya natin eh. Kung sino ang gusto mong i-endorse (That’s our democracy. Whoever it is you want to endorse), you’re free to do so,” he said.
“That’s our democracy.”
Asked if the support of El Shaddai will be a big factor to help the Duterte-backed candidates win seats in the coming May 13 elections, Panelo admitted that it hard to say.
“I don’t know if there is a scientific statistical study on the effect of the endorsements of certain religious groups or persons. Mukhang wala pa eh (It seems that there is none yet),” he said.
Panelo said it will still be up to the Filipinos to decide whether these endorsements would persuade them to vote for a particular candidate.
“Ultimately, ang Pilipino pa rin ang magdi-decide kung (it’s still Filipinos who will decide if) it will affect them or influence them or persuade them to vote one way or the other with respect to senatorial candidates or members of Congress,” he said.
El Shaddai is also endorsing four other bets who are not members of Hugpong ng Pagbabago or PDP-Laban namely reelectionist Senators Bam Aquino (Otso Diretso), Nancy Binay (Nationalist Alliance), Grace Poe (independent), and Dr. Willie Ong (independent).
On March 27, Catholic and Christian lay leaders who are members of the People’s Choice Movement (PCM) endorsed all senatorial candidates belonging to the opposition.