Manalo’s INC: In pursuit of patronage politics under the guise of Evangelical Mission

Introduction to patronage politics and vested interest

Politicians in general are hostages to the vested interests of groups and individuals who are contributors to their election campaign. Consequently, this practice adversely affects government policymaking in many different ways. Choice positions in government, business concessions and even judicial preference primarily constitute the vested interests which are granted (as political payback) to political investors (campaign contributors) by the politically indebted politicians. Hence, vested interests of groups/organizations or individuals who are engaged in this form of patronage politics (which is the main source of corruption) are strongly entrenched in government.

A fitting example of vested interestCentral_temple

An example of vested interest group is the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) of the Manalo family which has the reputation of being a political church. INC may not be a financial contributor but its block voting scheme during election which every politician so desires and covets is more than enough leverage for that political church to satisfy its vested interest which the highest government officials can give under the purview of patronage politics. Moreover, the INC’s political intervention is not limited only during election. The INC on several occasions had undertaken discreet mass action participations by providing crowds in support to political power grab that failed most notably: 1) the late Arturo Tolentino’s oath taking action as the “legitimate” President of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel on July 6, 1986; 2) EDSA III protest on May 1, 2001 sparked by the arrest in April 2001 of then newly deposed President Joseph Estrada. Those INC involvements in destabilization activities can be interpreted into something like the INC is a political mercenary which utilizes its people in the furtherance of its vested interest.

The political message from a political church     1tqj

On 14 October 2013, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that the evangelical and medical mission of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) on that day has a political message, contrary to what Malacañang and the religious group itself claim. “There is a message behind the INC event today and if you are a politician and you don’t get it, you are a fool,” Santiago said in a statement.

Senator Santiago’s statement reinforces the common perception that the INC is indeed a political church which, by means of its course of action is able to deliver a political message only the fool politician would not be able to understand. However, further statement of Santiago does not sit well with reality when she implied that the INC is the paragon of discipline and virtue and that said activity may be construed as protest of sort to perceived corruption in government. Hello!

The government may be corrupt but does the Senator honestly believe that if a corrupt government yields to the whims and caprices of INC, would the latter not be pacified and cooperate with the same government to high heavens? As if Santiago is not aware of the kind of patronage politics the INC is engaged in when in truth and in fact, and she emphasized it, that the INC activity HAS A POLITICAL MESSAGE which is the very highlight of her statement. Isn’t it ironic that a supposedly religious church is better known for its political message than it is known for its spiritual or religious message?

In short, the INC’s recent activity is in accordance with its propagation of corrupt practice of patronage politics in the furtherance of its vested interest which is the INC’s need to be a political power to be reckoned with by the government.

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