JIL's Bro Eddie calls for 'revolution of righteousness'

NEW 'REVOLUTION.' Bro Eddie Villanueva calls for a 'revolution of righteousness' on his group's 35th anniversary. Photo from JIL's Facebook page

NEW 'REVOLUTION.' Bro Eddie Villanueva calls for a 'revolution of righteousness' on his group's 35th anniversary.

Photo from JIL's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Over 3 decades ago, law student Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva saw a “bloody revolution” as the only way to free Filipinos from the oppressive Marcos regime.

Villanueva, then an atheist, later experienced a “spiritual” revolution, according to his group's website. He converted to Christianity – “the best way to emancipate the Filipino people from abject poverty.”

In 1978, Villanueva founded the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Fellowship. It began as a Bible study for 15 students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Now, the group said, JIL Church Worldwide has boomed to around 4 million members in the Philippines and 55 other countries.

Thousands of these members flocked to the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Friday evening, October 25, to mark their group's 35th anniversary. Their leader, now popularly known as Bro Eddie, called for another revolution – “of righteousness.”

“Let there be the so-called revolution of righteousness. The triumph of justice and righteousness must prevail, because, the Bible says, justice and righteousness are the foundations of God's throne," Villanueva said.

He made this call while protests rock the Aquino administration over the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. In a press conference on Friday morning, Villanueva said the government should abolish the pork barrel – but should provide alternatives for the poor.

His son, Joel Villanueva, belongs to Aquino's Cabinet as director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

THANKING GOD. Thousands flock to the Quirino Grandstand to mark JIL's 35th anniversary. Photo from JIL's Facebook page

THANKING GOD. Thousands flock to the Quirino Grandstand to mark JIL's 35th anniversary.

Photo from JIL's Facebook page

Villanueva said in his speech at past 9 pm, “Righteousness is synonymous to uprightness, to honesty, to integrity, to transparency, to accountability, to good governance.”

Filipinos should restore dignity “in all pillars of society," he added.

Villanueva – who twice ran as president and once as senator, but lost – also criticized alleged fraud in the 2013 elections. (READ/WATCH: Eddie Villanueva: Third time lucky?)

He ended up as the 19th placer in the 2013 senatorial elections, with 6.87 million votes. 

“Democracy was raped during broad daylight last elections,” the preacher quoted columnist Rene Azurin as saying. He also recalled former Commission on Elections commissioner Gus Lagman, one of the poll body's staunchest critics, telling him: “Bro Eddie, last elections (were) the worst elections in history.”

Villanueva said: “Let's pray na matapos ang corruption hindi lang sa pork barrel – matapos ang korupsyon sa election time, sapagka't ito ay mismong democratic rights ng sambayanang Pilipino ang ginagahasa.”

(Let's pray that corruption ends not only with the pork barrel – but also in election time, because it's the democratic rights of the Filipino nation being raped.)

Villanueva said change, however, should begin with the Church. He recounted the sins of the Church, including those of pastors who engage in “covetousness.”

HUGE GATHERING. JIL members fill the Quirino Grandstand on their 35th anniversary. Photo from JIL's Facebook page

HUGE GATHERING. JIL members fill the Quirino Grandstand on their 35th anniversary.

Photo from JIL's Facebook page

It was similar to a move made by another religious leader, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who recently apologized for the sins of the Catholic Church. (READ: Tagle says sorry for sins of Church.)

“Before we judge other people, before we judge the government agencies, let us first judge the Church. Let us first judge ourselves, because this is the rule of the Lord,” Villanueva said.

“The Church must first repent!” – Rappler.com 

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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