Bongbong claims topping El Shaddai 'survey'

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde has not yet endorsed vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr.

Marcos himself made this statement after being seen on stage with the leader of one of the largest religious groups on a prayer gathering over the weekend.

Marcos said he has yet to receive information that he has been endorsed by El Shaddai.

However, he claimed a survey conducted among El Shaddai members showed him being the most-preferred vice presidential candidate.

"I did not know of any endorsement from El Shaddai, may ginawa lang sila na survey, at sa awa ng Diyos, tayo ang lumabas sa survey. Sa mga kasapi iyon, pero wala pa namang endorsement," Marcos said.

Thousands of members of the influential Catholic charismatic group gave a rousing welcome to Marcos when he attended the group's weekly Mass and prayer vigil in ParaƱaque that started on Saturday.

Marcos was invited by the group's leader, Bro. Mike Velarde, to attend the event to personally give his message and platform to the thousands in attendance.

Velarde said he invited other candidates, but those who came and shared the stage with him were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.

When Velarde and his wife, Belen, went up the stage during the mass, Marcos was the only vice presidential candidate present on stage. Marcos was accompanied by his wife, Liza.

Marcos, in his address before the crowd, stressed that ''national unity'' is needed so that the country can finally move on from the past, as he sought to downplay the criticisms against his father's dictatorship.

READ: Bongbong on Marcos era: What am I to say sorry for? 

"Matagal na po tayong pinaghihiwa-hiwalay dahil sa politika. Puro na lang tayo hidwaan, pero hindi po ito nagdulot sa atin ng kaginhawaan kundi lalo tayong nasadlak sa ating kinatatayuan ngayon. Kaya dapat tayo nang magkaisa hindi lamang para sa atin kundi para sa ating mga anak at kanilang magiging anak," he said.

CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS

The Marcos camp, meanwhile, claimed to have gained the support of the Catholic evangelical group Church Without Walls International. Led by Archbishop John Ayudtud, around 30 leaders from various congregations belonging to the church had a private meeting with the senator in his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Sunday to pledge their support for his candidacy.

Towards the end of the meeting, the church held a pray-over ceremony and laid their hands on the senator to pray for him.

Marcos thanked the group for their support, as he also cited that the concept of the Church Without Walls is similar to his message of national unity.

"All endorsements are important, every single endorsement is important" Marcos said.

Apart from Ayudtud, other church leaders present in the meeting were Archbishops Antonio Gallemit and Elias Soria, Bishops Nelso Go and Romulo Salcedo, Pastors Antonio Dela Cruz, Abner Salamo and Gerardo Manjares.

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