By ALFRED GABOT,
Editor in Chief
MANILA – As former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte solidified further their frontrunning status for the top two posts of the country, Catholic bishops and Protestant church leaders endorsed Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo for president along with runningmate Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem got the support of the 2.5 million strong Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) led by Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo which is known for its solid bloc voting, bolstering their quest for president and vice president of the land.
The INC also endorsed most of the senatorial candidates of the Unity Team of Marcos and Duterte, namely, comebacking former senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Jose Estrada, reelectionists Win Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel Zubiri, actor Robin Padilla and former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Also endorsed for senator by the INC were former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and former Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar.
With the INC support and those of other groups, Marcos and Duterte expressed their gratitude and aired hopes that these will carry them to a historic victory.
At press time, Marcos and Duterte remain the frontrunners in the presidential and vice presidential races with over 55 percent support, compared to more than 20 percent support for Robredo and Pangilinan who said they expect to spring a surprise to victory on May 9.
In Pulse Asia’s last pre-election survey from April 16-21, Marcos Jr. continued to enjoy a two-fold lead over Robredo, as their scores barely moved from the previous poll. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they would vote for Robredo if the elections were held last month, while 56 percent chose Marcos.
Now third placer, Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, the youngest candidate at 43, also said he was positive of victory with the support of the masses and the poor and needy families.
Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso and Sen. Panfilo Lacson also said they will win the election judging from the thousands of people who continue to join their rallies.
The presidential contenders and their tickets have started holding their “miting de avances” or grand rallies in various parts of the country in their last-ditch efforts to win the voters.
In their grand rally in Ilagan City, Isabela attended by thousands of supporters, Marcos presented the leaders of several provinces in Northern Luzon to support claims that the “Solid North” of Ilocano voters remain solid for the Marcos-Duterte tandem. This was followed by a big rally in Iloilo which organized led by Rep. Janet Garin dispelled reports that Iloilo was solid for Robredo.
The Marcos-Duterte Unity Team has set its final rally in Paranaque on May 7, last day of the campaign; while the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket is slated to hold their grand rally at the historic Ayala Triangle in Makati City. Both teams expect their biggest rallies on the final stretch of the campaign.
Vowing to provide more services to the people, the tandem of Robredo and Pangilinan was endorsed by more than 1,000 members of the Catholic clergy composed of bishops, priests and deacons, said to be a first for the clergy to openly endorse candidates.
The church leaders who belong to the group Clergy for the Moral Choice said they endorsed Robredo and Pangilinan because they were “servant leaders”, who showed compassion towards different sectors and were untainted by any anomaly.
“Sa kanilang buhay, pribado man o panglipunan, ay taglay nila ang mga katangian ng tunay na pastol na handang mag-alay ng kanilang buhay para sa kawan, at hindi kailanman tatakbo, iiwas o magtatago sa mga hamong kaakibat ng kanilang paglilingkod-bayan,” the group said in a statement.
Robredo and Pangilinan earlier secured the backing of hundreds of nuns, lay leaders, and clergymen.
In making the endorsement, Most Rev. Antonio Tobias said the Catholic Church was no longer tied to being “non-partisan.”
The leadership of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), one of the country’s largest Protestant denominations, also officially endorsed the candidacies of Robredo and Pangilinan in the May 9 elections.
In a statement dated May 1, the church’s Council of Bishops said its endorsement of Robredo and Pangilinan is a result of its “collective discernment” after “having carefully and prayerfully studied all the present options” before them.
The declaration was signed by UCCP General Secretary Melzar Labuntog and 6 other bishops from all over the country, along with 14 emeritus bishops.
The UCCP leadership clarified, however, that they leave the final decision to their members whether to vote for the candidates they endorsed or not.
The PNP, meanwhile, said plans for security management on May 9 will stay the same, despite the retirment of PNP Chief PGen. Dionardo Carlos a day before the elections.
“Concerning po doon sa mga nakalatag na seguridad ay wala pong magiging problema when it comes to continuity po ng mga inilatag nating seguridad regardless… kung mai-extend po ba ang ating Chief PNP o maglalagay po ba ng OIC come May 8,” said PNP spokesperson PCol. Jean Fajardo..
The PNP has recorded 53 cases of election-related incidents across the country since the start of the election period on January 9.
PNP Directorate for Operations director, Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, said that of the number, 10 have been validated as election-related incidents (ERIs).
De Leon added that based on the Election Related Incidents Monitoring of the PNP from January 9 to May 2, 2022, there were 84 victims of the said ERIs. Among them include candidates themselves, government officials, and election officers.
These groups are the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM), First Community Cooperatives Foundation, Mindanao Women Advocacy, and IMK Leni para sa Bayan.
“My thought has always been that we are the dark horse in this 2022 elections. You won’t be the dark horse if you’re number 1 or number 2 but at number 3 that’s really the dark horse position. You’re not expected to win but you can expect perhaps an upset in frontrunners,” Pacquiao’s campaign manager Buddy Zamora said.
Marcos Jr. and Duterte remained the frontrunner among the presidential and vide-presidential candidates, respectively, in the latest survey of Pulse Asia.
Based on the survey conducted from April 16 to 21, 2022, Marcos obtained 56 percent of 2,400 respondents, which is the same rating he got from the survey last March.
Trailing behind is Vice President Leni Robredo with 23 percent, dropping 1 percent from the previous survey.
Senator Pacquiao grabbed the third place from Manila Mayor Domagoso. They respectively scored 7 percent and 4 percent in the latest survey.
Senator Panfilo Lacson was supported by 2 percent of respondents and remained in the fifth spot.
Results also showed Mayor Sara Duterte continued to enjoy a big lead with 55 percent as the most preferred vice presidential bet.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III is in the second spot with 18 percent, followed by Robredo’s tandem Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, 16 percent; Dr. Willie Ong, 3 percent; Manny Lopez, 1 percent; Buhay Party-list Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza Jr., 0.5 percent; former Akbayan Party-list representative Walden Bello, 0.4 percent; Carlos Serapio, 0.3 percent; and Rizalito David, 0.1 percent.’for a
“For all of us in the UniTeam, the most important survey is the election day itself, thus, we call upon our countrymen to be vigilant and let us make sure that the true and genuine will of the people shall be heard, be counted, and prevail,” lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ chief of staff and spokesperson, said in a statement. “The election is all about our future, as Filipinos of one race and as one nation.”
Marcos and Duterte both scored a wide lead over the other candidates across all geographic areas, socio-economic classes, and age groups.
In terms of educational attainment, Marcos is also the favored presidential candidate, getting a 49 percent score among voters with no formal education or have only reached elementary level; 52 percent among those who took vocational courses; 58% both among voters who completed up to high school and up to college; 60% among those who went to but did not finish high school; and 61% who underwent but did not finish college.
The survey was conducted by interviewing the respondents aged 18 and above, who are registered voters. The survey has a ± 2% error margin at the 95% confidence level.
After observing the final testing and sealing at a precinct in San Juan City, Pangarungan said that the voting process was “smooth.”
“Nakikita natin na ‘yong proseso sa election ay okay naman. Nakita natin ‘yong proseso dito, napaka-smooth o walang malfunction o anything,” he told reporters.