The business of religion always comes with power, influence, and a lot of money.
The Philippine government is run not just by the politicians, but by influential religious groups lobbying around boasting their leverage, especially in the coming presidential elections.
Philippine politicians are nothing but puppets of these religious leaders and their organizations. No wonder why crimes committed by some of these leaders are often overlooked by the government. Their influence is more than the politicians’ power.
Let’s take a look at the top ten richest and most influential religious leaders in the Philippines.
1. Glicerio “Jun” Santos Jr.
Many Filipinos do not know who this person is, but unknown to them, Jun Santos is the most powerful religious figure in the Philippines. He is the general auditor of the controversial and Guinness-obsessed Iglesia Ni Cristo, and president of more than a dozen Felix Y. Manalo Foundations. His wealth is more than anyone can imagine. His influence in the Philippine government is second to none. Abuloy pa more! (Santos died last April 02, 2021)
2. Mariano “Mike” Velarde
The leader of El Shaddai comes in second. Although Mike Velarde is not media-friendly, his wealth speaks who he is. Mike has an estimated net worth of more than 200 million pesos.
3. Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva
Eddie Villanueva might have failed to become a Philippine president, but his influence remains strong and his wealth remains big. Villanueva has an estimated net worth of more than 200 million pesos.
4. Eliseo Soriano
Soriano might be in exile, but he is the most popular and controversial person on this list. Soriano is a known critic of the Iglesia Ni Cristo and has more than 100 million pesos in his bank account.
5. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
Everyone knows who Cardinal Tagle is. He was and is still one of the most powerful Catholic leaders in the country. It is hard to estimate his wealth, but his influence precedes him.
6. Eduardo V. Manalo
The embattled leader of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is still a powerful person despite being overshadowed by Jun Santos in terms of wealth and influence. INC members believe that Eduardo is still their leader, but the current situation says otherwise. Manalo is responsible for the near demise of a 100-year legacy.
7. Apollo Quiboloy
Quiboloy is a televangelist and the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. He is the richest religious leader in the Southern Philippines with an estimated net worth of 100 million. He is a friend of Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
8. Eugenio “Bo” Sanchez
Bo Sanchez is a religious leader and bestselling author. His influence through print and broadcast media is hard to surpass. He has an estimated net worth of 30 million pesos.
9. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio
The former priest and former governor of Pampanga is still one of the most powerful people in the North. Ed may have not enough money to make on this list, but his name speaks otherwise when it comes to influencing.
10. Daniel Razon
Most people would think Daniel Razon is just a reporter, but no. He is a deputy leader of Ang Dating Daan, second to his uncle Eliseo Soriano. Although he is still seen on TV, Daniel is a secret millionaire with an estimated net worth of more than 20 million pesos. To those people who want to become rich and powerful, you have two options. Either you become a politician or build your own religion. /Jake Nepomuceno – Makati City/