PHOTO CAPTION: UNITED FOR BACOLOD. Different mayors of Negros Occidental led by Vice-Governor Jeffrey Ferrer accompanied former congressman Alfredo Benitez, currently Capitol consultant for economic affairs, as he filed his transfer of voter’s registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City./iNEWS
BACOLOD CITY–”It will be a super battle royale.”
This was how Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson described what many see as an inevitable electoral contest in 2022 between the incumbent mayor of Bacolod City and provincial consultant and former 3rd district representative Alfredo ” Albee” Benitez.
Lacson made the statement after Benitez transferred his voting registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City Thursday afternoon.
Lacson likened the future ‘clash’ to the time of the late Mayor Romeo Guanzon and Mayor Alfredo Montelibano, Jr.
“That’s how close it’s going to be,” he added.
He said he will support whatever decision Benitez makes for the May 2022 polls.
“Whether he will run for mayor of Bacolod City or senator of the Philippines, we will support him,” Lacson declared.
He said he will reveal his reasons for supporting Benitez after the latter makes his political decision.
Lacson doused speculations that Benitez might run against him in 2022.
“That was never seriously considered, as Cong. Albee has supported me from way back in 2016. I do not see any threat from a challenger coming from our party,” he explained.
The governor joined the provincial officials who gathered and gave support to Benitez at a lunch at the Social Hall of the Capitol and at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office in Bacolod City.
“Transferring my registration is keeping my options open,” Benitez said, as he already ruled out running for governor of Negros Occidental or as congressman of the 3rd district of the province.
As for the posters cropping up in key areas of Bacolod City urging him to run, Benitez could only wonder aloud.
“Why, indeed, are they on display?” he said, but adding, “The clamor, however, should not be ignored.”
GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT
Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said that United Negros Alliance and Love Negros will also support Benitez in whatever he decides to do.
He disclosed all mayors of Negros Occidental will have a meeting on April 23 to discuss the recent developments.
Negros Occidental Board Member Andrew Montelibano said that he is calling for the revival of the local Paglaum Party, which was started by his uncle, the late Bacolod City Major Alfredo Montelibano, Jr., to support Benitez, should he decide to run for mayor of Bacolod City.
For his part, Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr, who is the UNegA secretary-general, said that any position would Benitez fill in would be of use to Negros Occidental, including its capital city, Bacolod.
However, he thinks that Benitez will only be wasting resources if he were to run for senator, “as he is unlikely to win a Senate seat.”
He will be needed in Negros Occidental, Escalante added.
As for the possible running mate of Benitez should he decide to run for mayor of Bacolod City, Escalante said he was not inclined to believe (vice-governor) Ferrer will go for it, despite the call of some individuals.
Ferrer, meanwhile, said he has two weeks to decide to transfer his voter’s registration from La Carlota City to Bacolod City.
Also showing support for Benitez were members of the provincial board and Mayors Mark Andrew Golez of Silay City, Marvin Malacon of E.B. Magalona, Francis Frederick Palanca of Victorias City, Himamaylan City mayor Raymond Tongson, Don Salvador Benedicto mayor Marxlen de la Cruz, San Enrique mayor Jilson Tubillara, Moises Padilla mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo, Manapla mayor Manuel Escalante, Mayor Enrique Miravalles of Valladolid, Cadiz City mayor Salvador Escalante, Binalbagan mayor Alejandro Mirasol, and La Castellana mayor Rhumyla Mangilimutan.
Close ally Rep. Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Partylist, former Murcia mayor Sonny Coscolluela, and Bacolod businessman Vladmir Gonzalez were also present at the event. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNEWS-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)