Velarde declines Sin's invitation: Says he'd rather build bridges of understanding

By Genalyn D. Kabiling, Manila Bulletin, Tuesday 5 December 2000

Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of the eight-million-strong El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic Movement, will neither take the side of the Catholic Church nor the state on the issue of President Estrada's resignation.

Velarde said he and his flock would rather pray and try to build bridges of understanding between the administration and the opposition, between the church and the state, and between the rich and the poor.

In a weekly prayer rally last Saturday at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, Velarde emphasized that it would be better to stay neutral on the political crisis confronting the nation.

Kailangan natin ang bawat isa. Dapat natin ang magtulungan. Dapat tayong pumagitna, he told the El Shaddai flock.

The El Shaddai leader also encouraged his followers to pray for a peaceful resolution to the problems of the nation, including the impeachment trial of President Estrada at the Senate.

Velarde turned down the invitation of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin to join the prayer rally on Thursday, eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the Malate Church plaza in Manila.

Your personal participation as well as that of you group will mean so much for me personally and for the Church, Sin said in his letter.

Velarde, however, thanked the cardinal for his personal invitation to the El Shaddai to join the prayer rally.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God, he said, quoting from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

However, Velarde said, his members free to join the rally, free to follow their own conscience.

The El Shaddai will not join the campaign led by the Catholic Church to force President Estrada to resign, he said.

Velarde stressed that the group is not for or against Estrada, saying sinful people should not be abandoned but rather helped.

He warned that pro and anti-Erap protest actions would only aggravate the disunity and chaos among Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Teodoro Bacani appealed to the administration as well as the opposition forces to do away with black propaganda to achieve their personal interests.

If you want peace, if you want justice, then speak the truth, he said, following reports of widespread disinformation campaign to discredit the other group.

Pagka ikaw ay nakipagkompromiso at gumamit ka ng kasinungalingan, para makamtan ang katarungan at kapayapaan, nakikampi ka na sa demonyo at sinisira mo ang sarili mong mga layunin, he added.