PHOTO CAPTION: Former Congressman and current Capitol Consultant Alfredo Benitez (right, facing) met with incumbent mayors of rival United Negros Alliance (UNegA) last week to discuss plans for UNegA and Love Negros to support common national candidates in 2022. (Photo: Patrick Lacson FB)
BACOLOD CITY–The current alliance of the United Negros Alliance (UNegA) and Love Negros is further strengthened with a plan to support common candidates in the 2022 national elections.
Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. confirmed that members of UNegA met former congressman and now Capitol consultant Alfredo Benitez last week.
“He called me and asked if he can meet the mayors under UNegA,” the mayor said.
According to Escalante, Marañon, who he noted was particularly close to the late governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., wants Negros leaders to “decide as one: choose a common presidential candidate and common senators, so as to have a singular voice.”
In the past, the two parties fielded different candidates, which, Escalante said, did not produce anything good for Negros.
He added that Benitez committed to supporting all incumbent UNegA mayors.
“That means no Love Negros candidate will run against incumbent UNegA mayors, with the exception of those who are ending their terms in 2022 as that would entail a different set-up,” he added.
During the meeting it was decided to create a committee to strengthen the merger, Escalante said.
It was agreed that the committee would be composed of Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon III for UNegA, and Benitez and Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson for Love Negros.
Asked why there would only be four committee members, Escalante explained that this will require them to consult the general assembly.
“That is a democratic approach to a democratic problem such as an election,” he quipped.
He went on to disclose that a general assembly to be attended by all the members of the two political parties is presently in the works.
According to Escalante, when Marañon asked the UNegA mayors if they were willing to meet their counterparts in Love Negros, “We unanimously said ‘no problem’. After all, nothing is personal.”
He pointed out how the political leaders in Negros Occidental have been together for so many years, excluding only 2013 and 2016.
“We had a semblance of camaraderie in 2019, but hopefully in 2022 we can return to the 2010 level of politics in Negros,” he said.
UNegA has 13 incumbent mayors and six board members while Love Negros has 17 mayors and nine board members, including ex-officio members. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNEWS-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)