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Power move! Duterte picks INC head Manalo as envoy for OFW concerns

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(UPDATED) The head of a powerful religious group has been tapped by the government to promote the welfare of Filipinos abroad.

President Duterte has appointed INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo as “Special Envoy of the President for overseas Filipinos concerns” with a term from January 30, 2018 to January 29, 2019.

Manalo’s appointment was made amid the controversial abuses committed against some nationals in Kuwait.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque explained Manalo’s latest designation was not a political reward for the INC’s support for the President in the last elections.

Roque, in a Palace press conference last Thursday February 15, said Duterte chose Manalo because of the religious group’s vast network with Filipinos and its programs benefitting them.

“Hindi po ‘yan bayad politikal,” Roque said.

“Napatunayan na ang kakayahan nila ng kanilang organisasyon na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan sa iba’t ibang mga bansa.”

He said Manalo would not get paid for his ambassadorial work for the President. “Tayo po ang makikinabang sa kanyang network at hindi naman po natin siya popondohan sa kanyang trabaho,” he said.

He said Manalo’s appointment did not violate the principle of the separation of church and state. “Hindi po kasi ang separation of church and state dalawa po iyan. ‘Yung kalayaan na magkaroon ng pananampalataya at kasiguraduhan na ang estado mismo ay hindi mag-eendorso ng isang pananampalataya,” Roque said.

The INC led by Manalo has been widely believed to have supported the presidential bid of Duterte in the 2016 elections.

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