By Jaime Pilapil
Block voting can deliver victory in Philippine elections. No wonder candidates hound religious groups incessantly.
In 1995, El Shaddai supported Erap Estrada who won handily against JDV.
Similarly, Gloria M. Arroyo in 2004 edged FPJ with the help of the Iglesia Ni Cristo and El Shaddai votes.
On the other hand, Fidel V. Ramos clipped his nearest rival Miriam Santiago by more or less 100 thousand votes without the help of religious groups. INC supported Dading Cojuangco who eventually placed third.
Party-lists put up by religious groups won seats in the previous Congresses like Buhay of El Shaddai and Cibac of Bro. Eddie Villanueva’s Jesus is Lord.
Needless to say, block voting is a lot more crucial in the Senate race.
Dominated by reelectionists, returning and BIMPO (Batang Itinulak ng Magulang sa Politika or sons and daughters of Senators) senatoriables, experts say only four seats are left for grabs by the lesser known candidates.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s group is worth four million solid votes, same with the INC. El Shaddai has around 3 to 7 million loyal followers.
Religious groups get political payback.
In 2004, Bro. Mike Velarde, owner and chairman of Amvel Land Development Corporation, a real estate company, received the single biggest housing loan from the government for the construction of Amvel Mansions, a 3000-unit residential project at the Amvel Business Park in Paranaque City.
Earlier, in 2001, under Erap administration, Velarde was paid P1.22 billion for the right of way to the proposed C-5 Road Project.
Blessings pour to religious groups after elections in exchange for the block vote.
Short of admitting its scorn over dictating to its members, the Catholic Church hierarchy, which has around 70 million followers, does not resort to block voting. However, with the aide of its rich faithful, bishops can topple Palace’s occupant just like the two EDSAs.
In this year’s elections, solid votes coming from religious groups are much desired and they can dictate the results.
However, if I am a candidate I will court the various party-lists, including the ones put up by religious groups.
We have more or less 20 party-lists in the present Congress. Multiply 20 by 200,000 that will give you a clear 4 million votes. Half of that is big enough.
Philippine politics is evolving and its dynamics is very fluid.
Surveys are unreliable, most of the times very tricky.
Votes coming from religious and party-list groups can debunk surveys. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org -30-