By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang is elated that several administration candidates have obtained the endorsement of El Shaddai Catholic charismatic group in the May elections.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace respects the religious group’s decision even as it recognized that voters would ultimately choose their new set of public officials in next week’s polls.
“Siyempre kung inendorse ‘yung inendorse mo, siyempre matutuwa ka. Natural lamang ‘yun [Of course if the people you endorsed have been endorsed by the group, you will be happy. That’s natural,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“El Shaddai has its own reasons for endorsing candidates and we always respect whatever endorsement other groups will provide,” he added.
If the candidate was not included in the El Shaddai’s list of preferred bets, Panelo also said there was no reason to “be sad or feel bad.”
“‘Yun ang demokrasya natin. Kung sino ang gusto mo i-endorse, you’re free to do so [That’s part of our democracy. If you want to endorse someone, you’re free to do so],” he added.
The El Shaddai group led by Bro. Mike Velarde recently endorsed 14 senatorial candidates, including 10 aspirants backed either by Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional party or the ruling PDP-Laban party, ahead of the May elections.
Among the administration bets backed by El Shaddai are re-electionist Senators Cynthia Villar, Aquilino Pimentel III, Sonny Angara, and JV Ejercito, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, former presidential assistant Christopher Go, and former police chief Ronald dela Rosa. Also supported by the religious group were former Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.
Re-electionist Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino, as well as Dr. Willie Ong, also earned the backing of the religious group.
Asked if the El Shaddai support would help secure the victory of the administration candidates, Panelo said he was unaware of any study on the impact of a religious group’s endorsement on the elections.
At the end of the day, Panelo said it would still up to the voters to elect their leaders in the elections.
“Ultimately Pilipino pa rin ang magde-decide if it will affect them or influence them or persuade them to vote one way or another with respect to senatorial candidates or members of Congress,” he added.