By Ellen Tordesillas
Iglesia ni Cristo’s list of senatorial candidates to be endorsed is interesting and intriguing.
Crossing party lines, INC’s list includes seven from Team PNoy (Sonny Angara,Bam Aquino,Alan Peter Cayetano,Grace Poe,Loren Legarda,Antonio Trillanes, and Cynthia Villar) and five from United Nationalist Alliance (JV Ejercito,Richard Gordon,Nancy Binay,Gringo Honasan and Jack Enrile).
An INC member said the day after the list was reported in media, a high ranking official of the church told them that it’s not final and changes may be made before the Monday election. That should keep the suspense among those in the list as well as those who want to get the endorsement that would be crucial in their getting into the Magic 12.
According to reliable survey groups like Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, of all the religious groups, it’s only the INC that has proven to deliver command votes. There has been no proof of command votes delivered by El Shaddai, Jesus is Lord ( JIL was not able to make its leader, Eddie Villanueva, win in his past presidential bid. He is now a senatorial candidate and is not rating high in surveys) and other religious groups.
Although Filipinos are predominantly Catholic which boasts of 45 million voters, there has been no proven “ Catholic vote”. In this election, however, Catholic groups launched “Team Patay and Team Buhay” and the White Vote Movement, which endorsed candidates who opposed the Reproductive Health Bill.
Aside from Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III , Trillanes, Villar, Mitos Magsaysay, and Ejercito, the White Vote Movement has added the names of Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay and Miguel Zubiri, all of UNA, to the list of senatorial candidates they will endorse.
Command votes are votes that are dictated or heavily influenced by a group, a community leader, bigtime businessmen and warlords.
At this stage of the campaign, command votes would be crucial in determining one’s inclusion in the Magic 12 for senatorial candidates who are in numbers 10 to 16 in the surveys.
The latest survey by Pulse Asia, conducted April 20 to 22, 2013 said those whose rankings are still fluid are Zubiri (10th to 16th places), Honasan (11th to 16th places), Enrile, Jr. (11th to 16th places), Hontiveros (12th to 17th places) and Magsaysay, Jr. (12th to 17th places). They would be the ones who would be seriously make affected by INC’s estimated 1.5 to 1.8 million votes.
For the frontrunners, an INC endorsement is important to be number one, especially if the senator has higher ambitions in 2016.
Some say that the INC endorsement is overrated noting that the religious group shrewdly endorses those who are almost sure winners based on the surveys, except for one or two. In 2007, INC did not endorse Trillanes who did not figure in the rankings in the early part of the campaign. Imprisoned and with no organization to protect his votes in the canvassing, Trillanes came out number 11 with 11 million votes.
INC’s list for Monday's elections does not include any candidate ranked below number 17.
It is, however, intriguing why re-electionist Chiz Escudero, who is number two in pre-election surveys, is not included in the list.
There must be some other reasons.