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Vote, campaign for pro-life bets

El Shaddai head prods his flock TV evangelist Mike Velarde and the White Vote Movement on Sunday urged Catholics to campaign for six chosen senatorial candidates on the basis of their opposition to the Reproductive Health Law. “You will not only vote for them but you will also campaign for them,” Velarde told members of his Catholic movement, whose leaders have vowed to deliver at least 7 million votes during the May elections. Velarde, who is also the spokesman of the so-called White Vote Movement to elect Catholic-friendly,  pro-life candidates during the May elections, is drumming up support for three candidates from the administration party and three bets from the opposition United Nationalist Alliance. These are Senators Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV, Reps. JV Ejercito of San Juan and Mitos Magsaysay of Zambales and former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar. The six were all present in the Paranaque gathering, which started with a 6:30 a.m. mass. Speaking before a crowd estimated at 200,000 inside the sprawling Amvel City, Velarde urged his followers to also ask their relatives, friends and acquaintances to support candidates endorsed by White Vote Movement. “But this endorsement is not necessarily compelling people to vote. We are not forcing them. We are just trying to sell candidates,” Velarde said. While some of the supported candidates did not place well in recent surveys, Velarde said public opinion remained volatile. Four other candidates will be endorsed in the coming week, Velarde said. With the White Vote Movement endorsement, Trillanes and Villar said they believed the “Catholic vote” would improve their chances of victory in May. Pimentel added that the endorsement was significant because the White Vote was an umbrella organization of all Catholic lay organizations. “The potential to be a big voting bloc is there. We’ll just look at how it develops,” he said. Bishop Teodoro Bacani, however, said that while Velarde was free to make his endorsements, the bishops could not do so. “We here in the altar cannot endorse. We just whisper to God whom we want, but for Brother Mike, he can shout. That’s his right,” Bacani said. On Saturday, Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates Villegas  issued a pastoral cautioning lay leaders against endorsing candidates because that is not a good idea. Villegas said the lay Catholic leader  should guide the flock entrusted to their care and not to dictate on them.
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