Cha-Cha Key to Bro. Mike's Endorsement - abs-cbnNEWS

MANILA - The key to Bro. Mariano “Mike” Velarde’s endorsement in the May 2010 presidential race is Charter change (Cha-cha).

In an interview with abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak, the leader and founder of the El Shaddai charismatic movement said presidential aspirants should commit to push for charter change if they want his support in the presidential race.

Velarde stressed he is opposed to any attempt to tinker with the Constitution before the May 2010 polls, but is “amenable” to charter amendment after the 2010 elections.

The next president, he said, should commit to push for charter change through a Constitutional convention (Con-con).

“Whoever is elected should be ready to give way to a new charter,” Velarde said.

Velarde himself has tickled the public’s mind by saying it is his “dream” to become President someday.

Miracles of Forever

In his newly published book, With El Shaddai Miracles of Forever, Velarde said: “My dream and ambition while I was growing up as among the poorest of the poor in Catanduanes was to take up law and enter politics and be the President of the Republic of the Philippines. For I thought then that it is through politics that I can deliver the poor from their undeserved sufferings and poverty.”

Before his 70th birthday last August 20, he indicated that he might contest the 2010 presidential race. A survey has been conducted to determine if El Shaddai members, reportedly numbering between 3-5 million, would support Velarde’s attempt.

But retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, the spiritual adviser of the El Shaddai, said after a few days that Velarde is no longer running, citing the adverse reaction from members.

Velarde said being a President “is still a dream but then I cannot just announce anything or enter into anything because there are many things to consider.”

Politics and faith

He said their members, and some bishops, are worried about the future of the El Shaddai ministry if he joins politics.

“In general, members do not really want (me to run). The common interpretation is that one cannot mix politics and calling at the same time,” he said.

He said he has not decided anything yet, although he stressed that, “I don’t want to commit a blunder at this time.”

He said that “personally, I don’t want to enter politics,” but could do so if “there are compelling reasons.”

Hoping for someone

Given a choice, he said he would just like “to make a choice among them but there are so many things we have to consider. I just hope somebody will come up before November 30.”

November 30 is the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidates seeking to run in the May 10 synchronized polls. The deadline was moved to an earlier date due to the need to prepare early for the automated polls.

Velarde said he would want the next president to commit to change the charter and agree to become a “transition leader” while the Constitution is being revised.

If possible, he would want the elections of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention be synchronized with the polls so that charter revision can go full blast after the elections.

Leaps and bounds

From a Quezon City-based Bible fellowship, the El Shaddai movement has grown by leaps and bounds through the years. It recently observed its 25th anniversary.

The Catholic charismatic group, which is credited with stemming the crossover of many Catholics to the Protestants and born-again Christian movement, has also become a political force to reckon with.

Politicians and candidates fight tooth and nail to get the endorsement of El Shaddai leaders, particularly that of Velarde. Like the bloc-voting Iglesia ni Cristo, El Shaddai members are believed to vote for whoever Velarde endorses.

Endorsements

In his book, which he described as a sort of “confession,” Velarde said he endorsed the candidacies of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Arroyo.

Ramos, he said, was the first presidential candidate to seek El Shaddai support.

He also said that Estrada and Arroyo sought the movement’s support, in 1998 and 2004, respectively.

“The support of the El Shaddai was widely perceived to have influenced the results of these presidential elections, simply because most of the El Shaddai followers belong to the masses.”

by Aries Rufo, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 09/12/2009 12:40 AM

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