The influential Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai has severed ties with the pro-life Buhay Hayaang Yumabong Partylist (BUHAY) headed by vice presidential aspirant and Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza and Mel Robles.
Atienza and Robles are staunch supporters of Senator Manny Pacquiao and former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., respectively.
This was revealed in a resignation letter tendered to Atienza and Robles by former Reps. Rene del Monte Velarde and Michael del Monte Velarde Jr., second nominee for the 18th Congress and secretary general of the pro-life party-list group, respectively.
The Velardes are sons of evangelist Mike Z. Velarde, servant leader and founder of El Shaddai Ministry.
Atienza, a vice presidential candidate as Pacquiao’s running mate, has yet to comment at press time.
“As a result of their discussion on the 4th of June 2021, Bro. Mike decided to sever his support, association, and all organizational links with Buhay Hayaang Yumabong Partylist,” the Velarde brothers said in the letter.
“And we, the undersigned, collectively resign as officers and members of BUHAY PL,” they added.
El Shaddai members Jose A. Descallar, Buhay chief auditor, along with Enrique Zunico, Sammy Vincente Sales, Dawn Melanie Diaz, and Jose Ponciano Malonzo, also signed the letter– which was noted and signed by the elder Velarde.
With the mass resignation, El Shaddai ended its over two decades of partnership with BUHAY. The charismatic group’s support had ensured a series of election successes for the party-list organization that saw it winning seats in the House in each election it participated in.
In the letter, the Velarde group expressed its resentment over Atienza’s alleged refusal to honor an agreement he had with the El Shaddai leader in connection with the placement of Buhay nominees for the 2022 party-list election.
“Rep. Atienza seemed to have lost confidence and adherence to Bro. Mike’s discernment, decision-making, and stewardship for his flock, hence, Rep. Atienza’s resistance to honor the standing agreement in the nomination for the 1st seat,” the letter’s signatories stated.
“We can assume that if Rep. Atienza does not adhere to their agreement and to Bro. Mike’s discernment and decision-making on this matter, what can prevent him from totally disregarding Bro. Mike’s guidance as Head Servant on other issues and concerns on our advocacy and legislative agenda?” they stressed.
The signatories recalled that the partnership between the two organizations started “some 21 years ago” when Atienza, thru Robles, sought El Shaddai’s support in pursuing common advocacies of promoting and protecting “the dignity of life and Pro-Life principles.”
Atienza allegedly assured Velarde that the first nominee of BUHAY party-list will be the choice and “prerogative of Bro. Mike.”
However, during the 2019 national elections, Atienza requested that he be allowed to stand as the first nominee.
Bro. Mike reportedly granted the request and was allegedly assured that his choice will be named the first nominee in the succeeding elections, in observance of the original agreement.
This did not materialize as Atienza brought up the issue of nominating the first seat in a meeting with Velarde and BUHAY party-list officers. No agreement was reached then.