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Indelible INC

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LAST THURSDAY, messages flooded my FB account, my mobile as well, about the Iglesia ni Cristo already bestowing its blessings on its chosen candidates for the local elections in Pampanga.

Abac na balen! So, I could almost hear the glorious ejaculation of those the INC anointed.

On the other hand…lament not, you the INC unblessed, there’s no disgrace in it. If it’s any consolation, mayhaps, even motivation, here’s a piece written here almost to the day three years ago – May 5, 2016 – on similar circumstances:

THE INC vote is out.

And the wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun…

Hold on to your hankies, guys. It ain’t over, as they say, till the fat…er, curvy, lady sings. And yeah, Elvis may still be in the building.

Keep the faith, hope against hope. There’s still two (or three?) more samba before E-Day. Only God – and Ka Eduardo, plus his Sanggunian – can be absolute if the pasiya leaked Wednesday is indeed the final decision.

2013 is not too remotely past to remember that a later pasiya superseded an earlier one, also a few days before the polls in Pampanga.

Cong. Tarzan Lazatin was the proclaimed choice for the Angeles City mayoralty race, only to be replaced by incumbent Mayor Ed Pamintuan in the final INC ballot.

In the fourth congressional district, the INC blessing for returning Cong. Rimpy Bondoc was withdrawn and conferred upon Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, aka John Lloyd.

So, asa pa tayo more. Hope springs till damnation strikes, as some wit says.

Okay, even granting a candidate’s deprivation of the INC vote is finally final, this isn’t any fool-proof guarantee of certain victory to the chosen one.

Aye, there’s as much hit as miss with the Iglesia vote. Pelayo losing miserably to Bondoc, just one of them.

In 1995, even absent the INC vote, Cong Oscar S. Rodriguez reclaimed the third district congressional seat from 1992 nemesis Andrea “Didi” Domingo. In his first run for the Mabalacat mayoralty race in 1992, then Vice Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales was all invincibility with the INC vote but still lost to the unassuming Dr. Cati Domingo. (Invincible indeed, Boking on paper then. What with the backing of two national parties contending the presidency: his opening salvo graced by Lakas-Tao with Fidel V. Ramos backstopped by incumbent President Cory Aquino; his miting de avance at the platform of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino spearheaded by Speaker Ramon Mitra.)

Why, Ramos himself was denied the INC blessing in 1992 but still won, albeit by simple plurality. The INC-chosen, Danding Cojuangco a poor third, behind runner-up Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The Senate is replete with as much winners as losers unrewarded with the INC vote. Top-ofthe-mind flash shows Sen. Lito Lapid in 2007, who, it is bruited about ceded his INC-preferred status to his son Mark then re-electing governor of Pampanga.

Notwithstanding the putative strength of the INC in the province, Mark, of course, landed dead last behind Comelec-proclaimed winner Among Ed Panlilio, and ultimate winnervia-electoral-protest Lilia G. Pineda.

In his first win, after two successive failures, for an Angeles City council seat, Jay Sangil landed No. 5 sans the INC ballot. In his next two victories, he was gifted with the bloc votes though he landed ranks lower than fifth.

So, it was reported that Councilor Amos Rivera failed to make the grade in the current INC list. So, what’s new? Rivera, in similar straits, won – with plenty to spare – in 2013.

In the last barangay elections, Rodelio “Tony” Mamac did not have the INC backing. The odds against Mamac, already formidable, were made even insurmountable by the open support given his rival by Mayor Ed Pamintuan, and, more telling, by a local conglomerate of political and business interests. Just the same, the retired bemedalled police officer kept his stewardship of Angeles City’s premier barangay Balibago.

With these sample instances, I am just saying candidates who fail to get the church’s endorsement need not necessarily be pronounced dead-on-the-spot politically. Deadon- arrival, neither.

The certainty of the INC vote – already suspect, is further cracked in the wake of the family feud that turned into internecine strife that rocked the sect in mid-2015. And apparently far from being settled.

BE THAT as it may, as my favorite attorney is wont to say, the INC bloc can spell, as indeed it has, the big difference in close-quarters contests.

While there were INC-unblessed bets who simply threw in the towel, and left everything to fate, there were too the intrepid never-say-die that crafted counterfoil to the INC advantage of their rivals.

For the moneyed, it is more of the usual – vote buying – albeit on wholesale, commensurate to at least 50 percent of the number of INC voters in the contested locality. Why 50 percent? It’s close-quarters combat, do the plus-minus equation and find out.

For the more moneyed, it’s “carpet bombing” in the last week of the campaign, and gulungan on election eve. Buy as much votes as one can, without counting the cost.

A caveat here though: Be sure the ones purchased are of the “honest” kind, re: voters who when bought, stay bought. And not up for any other auction.

Cognizant of this “fl aw” in the voter’s character, a candidate in elections past literary corralled the hundreds of voters he bought, 24 hours before the precincts opened, effectively denying his opponents the least chance to buy them back.

This too serves as a warning to the INCanointed not to be complacent. Desperate straits call for desperate measures.

My favorite mayor makes a template of this instance. After his bitter loss in 1992, Boking Morales never looked back – winning all electoral contests, and even after being declared loser in the early 2000s, he managed to stay put for all of 22 years as Mabalacat mayor, unseated only by a Comelec decree in 2017.

His secret of winning? The INC-backing notwithstanding, Boking never let his guard down, even upping the ante after the INC pasiya. And burying his rivals in avalanches of votes.

Yeah, no substitute for victory. INC or no INC.

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