FPJ, SUSAN MEET WITH IGLESIA NI CRISTO'S MANALO

MANILA, April 3, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Paolo Romero - Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife, Susan Roces, had a low-key meeting yesterday with leaders of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in an apparent attempt to smooth the ruffled feathers of the influential religious group and secure its bloc votes in the May 10 elections.

Sources said Poe and his wife met with INC executive minister Eraño Manalo at the INC central temple in Diliman, Quezon City for about an hour.

KNP sources said Poe was apparently "summoned" by Manalo Thursday night, forcing the actor to skip some of his stops in campaign sorties in Iloilo so he could be at the 9 p.m. meeting.

"It was just an initial and exploratory meeting," a source said. "There were no (INC) commitments yet" that the INC would support Poe come election day.

KNP campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III said Poe "has to attend some meetings" — the reason he gave for Poe’s sudden return to Manila.

The meeting between Poe and the INC leadership took place in the wake of the brouhaha triggered by a statement issued by KNP media bureau chief Rodolfo Reyes, who said the INC bloc votes and support from the influential Catholic charismatic El Shaddai group would merely be "icing on the cake" for Poe because of the actor’s popularity.

Reyes has since denied issuing the statement, saying he was misquoted.

The INC, which has been known to vote as a bloc, can reportedly deliver two million votes to any national candidate it supports. The El Shaddai can easily muster over a million votes for a chosen candidate.

Other sources, however, said Poe was summoned by Manalo to explain Reyes’ statements.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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