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TV evangelist seeks the presidency

By Maria Althea Teves

Jesus
is Lord (JIL) Church founder Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva will once
again seek the highest post in the land “in the name of the Lord.” 

In the 2004 elections, Villanueva was the first evangelist to run for
president. His party, the Bangon Pilipinas Movement, presented
Villanueva as the righteous leader to usher in “new politics.” He was
badly defeated.

In 2001, the Social Weather Stations estimated that the JIL’s voting
strength was 307,000 or only 10% of its claimed membership. Today, JIL
has 4 million members, Villanueva said. Both the SWS and Pulse Asia
surveys show Villanueva’s poll rating at 1%.

He started off with 0.3% in the July 28-August 10, 2009 survey of Pulse Asia but climbed to 1% during the next two surveys.

In the series of SWS surveys conducted since September 2007, he started
off with 0.5%. In the middle of the series, he scored lowest with 0.1%
and took him a year to consistently move up in the standings until he
reached 1% in the September 2009 survey.

Villanueva said in GMA 7’s presidential forum “Isang Tanong” that his 1% will be higher when the formal campaign period begins.

Analysts say his TV talk shows at QTV, Zoe TV and GMA 7 would not help
him get votes: “TV exposure does not translate to votes,” Benito Lim, a
Ateneo de Manila political science professor, said.

Baggage

The murder charge against Villanueva’s son, Bocaue Mayor Eduardo
“Jonjon” Villanueva Jr., is an issue that continues to surround the
self-proclaimed “chosen President of God.”

It was “in the name of the Lord” that Villanueva appealed to the
administration to dismiss the case filed against his son in 2007. This
is in relation to a soldier’s death in the shootout between the army
and the Villanuevas in his hometown of Bulacan on May 4, 2007. Eleven
died on that day alone.

“God’s prophet” cried foul and said that this is the administration’s
way of harassing him for asking President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to
resign from her post following the 2005 “Hello Garci” scandal.

In 2005, Villanueva and his television network Zoe Broadcasting
Network, Inc. were sued for not paying back Vintage TV (VTV)
Corporation the amount of P20 million after their memorandum of
understanding was mutually rescinded. He was later on dropped from
charges filed by VTV Corporation with the appellate court in 2008.

Villanueva evaded arrest in 2005 after a graft case was filed against
him by Benito Araneta, cousin of first gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Villanueva entered into agreement to turn over the management,
programming and marketing of Zoe Broadcasting to Araneta’s
Entertainment Network Ltd. Araneta issued checks to Villanueva that
totaled P15 million before finding out that Zoe broadcasting made
previous agreements with VTV Corporation.

This was months after 200,000 JIL members rallied and asked GMA to step down.

The misdeeds of one of JIL’s prominent members somehow reflected
negatively on Villanueva. Early 2009, Securities and Exchange
Commissioner Jesus Martinez was accused of receiving house and lot
gifts from Legacy Group founder Celso delos Angeles.

Martinez, in 2001, was a 3rd nominee of the Citizen’s Battle Against
Corruption (CIBAC), JIL’s anti-corruption party-list. CIBAC only
gathered enough votes to accommodate 2 seats in Congress.

In the heat of the Legacy Scandal,
Martinez was disowned by the CIBAC party-list. CIBAC representative and
JIL founder’s son Joel Villanueva said that Martinez is not even a JIL
member and has not been active after the 2001 elections. 

Artistas and Josiah’s army

In the 2004 race, Christian showbiz personalities formed the “Bangon
Artista” organization to support Villanueva. Big names—including
matinee idol Piolo Pascual, former MTV VJ Donita Rose and singers Gary
V. and Kuh Ledesma—publicly testified to Villanueva’s goodness and
righteousness.

Villanueva’s campaign leaders called their electoral campaign “Oplan
Josiah.” It was inspired by King Josiah of Judah who campaigned against
pagan worship and idolatry.

Similar to Josiah’s story in the bible, Villanueva presented himself as
someone who wanted to fight against “moral bankruptcy” and corruption,
but in the Philippine setting.

Oplan Josiah’s strategy was similar to multi-level marketing or
“networking.” They planned to recruit 7,000 Christian Church leaders
who would recruit 7 volunteers; those 7 would recruit 7 more and so on.
They hoped to get a total of 16.8 million votes come election
time—higher than Estrada’s presidential win in 1998.

But this did not happen. Despite boasting of the then-3 million strong
JIL, Villanueva only got 1.9 million votes, according to the final
Congressional canvass. He did not even win in his hometown of Bulacan
where he placed 4th (out of the 5 candidates) with only over 100,000
votes.

But this was to be expected. Pre-election surveys conducted by the SWS
on the registered voters’ preferred presidential candidates from
January to May 2004 showed that his highest poll rating was 4%.

Beyond the Church

Villanueva blamed “wholesale, nationwide cheating” for losing. But,
campaign analysts said that Oplan Josiah limited its campaign to
Christian groups.

Political analyst Ramon Casiple said that in order to win in the 2010
elections, Villanueva should not present himself as a religious
candidate.

Voters, he said, do not vote based on a candidate’s religious beliefs.
Even though Villanueva presents himself now as a morally upright
candidate and not a religious leader, Casiple added that the public
could not be blamed for associating Villanueva with the JIL.

Casiple said that in past elections people voted based on: 1) how
platforms could help them in supporting their families, 2)
recommendation of others and 3) media popularity which Villanueva’s
camp failed to consider.

The seven E’s platform

Villanueva disclosed his 7 E’s platform during his declaration of candidacy at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan.

He said that should he win, he will:

  1. Empower the Filipinos;
  2. Emancipate the Filipinos;
  3. Educate the Filipinos;
  4. Elevate the standard of living;
  5. Energize the economy;
  6. Eradicate corruption; and
  7. Establish peace in the land.

Days before his declaration, The Inquirer reported that should he win,
he would postpone the appointment of Secretary of National Defense
(SND) and he would act as SND to overhaul the Armed Forces. He would
demolish and destroy “the apparatus of corruption and all forms of
injustice.” 

During his declaration, he mentioned that he will create more state
colleges and universities and increase the education budget. 

Creating “economic growth centers” in each province will also be a priority. But he did not explain what these centers are.

Separation of Church and State

When Villanueva was studying bachelor of laws at the University of the
Philippines , he said that he learned that separation of Church and
State meant that the government has no say in the ecclesiastical duties
and functions of the Church. He finished his law studies but failed to
take the bar examinations because he devoted his time to activism
during the Marcos regime.

He said that the separation meant that the government respects the
religious freedom of the people and not prohibiting Church leaders to
run.

He cited former US President John F. Kennedy’s experience as the first
Catholic president of America : a Catholic bishop asked him to favor
Catholics. To which JFK responded that he is a full-blooded democrat,
his religion is secondary to him and that he will favor only what is
favorable to all.

“I am a full-blooded democrat, religion cannot intrude in establishing a humane and just society,” the evangelist said. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)

SOURCES:
http://www.newsbreak.com.ph and Newsbreak Magazine stories
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
http://broeddie.ph
http://www.bagongpilipinas.org
Various news reports
GMA 7’s “Isang Tanong” Presidential Forum

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