‘Son of God’ backs Philippine presidential hopeful.

May 4, 2010

Sun May 2, 11:25 pm ET

MANILA (AFP) – A self-proclaimed “son of God” in the Philippines has thrown his influential support behind outgoing President Gloria Arroyo’s chosen successor in next week’s election.

Television evangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, whose Kingdom of Jesus Christ sect boasts six million followers, endorsed ex-defence secretary Gilbert Teodoro during the group’s annual thanksgiving concert on Sunday night.

“Tonight let it be known, and to all Filipinos, that the Almighty Father has appointed the president for this nation. He is no other than Gilbert ‘Gibo’ Teodoro,” Quiboloy said in comments screened on GMA television.

“With this proclamation, I may either sink or swim, but I know this decision is best for the nation.”

Quiboloy is a controversial political power-player in the Roman Catholic nation, where religion plays a huge role in the daily life of its impoverished population.

He and other leaders of sects instruct their followers to vote as a bloc, ensuring that politicians respect them.

Presidential candidates in recent weeks have sought Quiboloy’s endorsement by visiting him at his sprawling Kingdom of Heaven base on a picturesque hill just outside of Davao city on southern Mindanao island.

He was to have originally announced his decision on his 60th birthday on April 25, but deferred it to Sunday, saying God had yet to give him an answer.

A statement from his sect said Quiboloy finally arrived at his choice after sleepless nights of praying to God, according to press reports.

Divine approval, however, could be too little too late for Teodoro, who according to surveys is virtually out of contention with only seven percent of the country’s 50 million voters supporting him.

The leading presidential candidate, Benigno Aquino, has nearly 40 percent support.

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