“The Lord made me do it”.
Ah, the all too familiar excuse “religious” leaders use when they want a piece of another pie, that is politics.
Mike Velarde, leader of the Catholic sub-sect El Shaddai wants to be president in 2010. He’ll be joining other so-called “religious” leaders who chose to delve into politics, people like “Father” Ed Panlilio the current Governor of Pampanga and Televangelist Eddie Villanueva. Velarde said that it has been his dream to become president of the Philippines,
El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde on Wednesday revealed that he wants to run for president in 2010 and is “consulting” with the core members of the worldwide charismatic movement on his plan.
Velarde said he wants to get the approval of the religious group’s supposed seven million followers in the country because without their support, his dream may not materialize.
“My entering politics lie in their hands because we believe that the voice of the people is the voice of the Lord. That dictum is not just for any people. It should be for the voice of the people of God,” he said.
“I am in the process of consulting our members nationwide and worldwide what to do in the 2010 elections,” he added.
But if Velarde is banking on his supporters to ensure his victory he needs to think again. Traditionally, the Catholic vote in fragmented at best.
A political analyst doubts El Shaddai’s estimated 3 million following would deliver the votes in the event that its leader, Mariano “Brother Mike” Velarde decides to run for president next year.
Professor Edna Co of the University of the Philippines’ National College for Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) said the Catholic church — under which the El Shaddai is a sub-sect — has no tradition on bloc voting unlike the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC).
Co said while El Shaddai members are more solid and bonded compared to the rest of the Catholic church and its other sub-sects, a politcal mechanism is needed to consolidate support and deliver votes for Velarde or his chosen candidate.
She also said that even if there are attempts to introduce bloc voting in El Shaddai and other similar movements, it would take some time before this is embraced by its followers.
“Sa kasaysayan kasi ng botong Katoliko, wala namang puwedeng masasabing isang solidong Catholic vote. So sa kalagayan ng El Shaddai, palagay ko, mahirap magkaroon ng kaagad na translation into votes, hindi katulad nung sa Iglesia,” she said.
Co said it’s different with the INC because it has practiced bloc voting from the start, and its ideology stresses unity of the flock.
“Hindi kasi religious following yung basis talaga. Kailangan pa rin ng isang political machinery, kailangan ng isang political education at saka yung isang pagkumbinse dun sa mga miyembro ng mga religious sect,” Co added.
Whether a “higher” power delivers the presidency to Velarde or the other two “Godly” candidates is to be seen. One thing is sure, there will be a lot of drama as these three and the other candidates uses every advantage to get to that post.