Three more Genuine Opposition (GO) candidates and one independent have been included by Brother Eddie Villanueva's Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Movement on the list of candidates to be endorsed to its members for the May 14 elections.
In a press conference in Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan, Villanueva announced that he is endorsing the senatorial bids of GO's Loren Legarda, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Villanueva also endorsed independent candidate Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.
In an interview over ANC, Legarda acknowledged the importance of Villanueva's endorsement because of JIL's at least five million members. However, she said that being prayed for by five million people is a better blessing.
"It's very important not only because it's a political endorsement but more than that the blessing that comes with it and the prayers of the five million strong movement. Imagine five million people praying for you and imagine Brother Eddie blessing us," Legarda said.
She added: "I think that weighs more heavily than five million people voting for you."
Last month, Villanueva announced that he is endorsing the candidacies of GO's Manuel Villar, Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Francis "Chiz" Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Villanueva had said that winnability was not included in the criteria for endorsement of JIL and other evangelical groups.
Villanueva said the candidates chosen by the evangelical groups' screening committee fit the criteria of being "God-fearing, with a good character, competence, courage and compassion for the poor."
"[Winnability] was not [on] the list of standards given by the [screening] committee but maybe wisdom dictates that it should also be considered after they pass the biblical parameters," Villanueva said.
The screening committee, composed of representatives from JIL, Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM), Bangon Pilipinas Movement and the Intercessors for the Philippines, questioned the candidates about their stand on corruption, transparency and accountability as public servants.
The candidates were also questioned about their stand on a government agency's plan to convert a portion of a 65-hectare property along Roxas Boulevard into a casino and entertainment complex.
Villanueva said the members of the administration-backed Team Unity who are seeking their endorsement will also undergo the same screening process.
JIL is one of several religious groups that openly endorse candidates during elections. The PJM, an umbrella organization of more than 10,000 Protestant churches led by JIL, endorsed Speaker Jose de Venecia in the 1998 presidential election. De Venecia, however, lost to Joseph Estrada.
Villanueva ran in the 2004 presidential election but placed last in a field of five candidates.
Other religious organizations that endorse candidates include the Iglesia ni Cristo and the El Shaddai Movement.
The Catholic Church does not endorse candidates but enumerates qualities that a voter should look for in a candidate.
(First posted 5/3/2007 at 3:13:27 p.m.)