Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia has lost three councilors to former Negros Occidental 3rd District representative Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Bantug Benitez, his main rival for the 2022 elections.
At a press conference late Saturday, October 2, former councilor Caesar Distrito announced he had accepted Benitez’s offer to be his running mate. Distrito introduced the 12-person council slate of Benitez, who did not appear at the press conference.
There has been no reaction yet from the Leonardia camp.
Councilors Simple Distrito, the former councilor’s mother, Al Espino, and Bart Orola, all belonged to Leonardia’s Grupo Progreso (GP). Another member of the slate, Pao Sy, is the daughter of the late councilor Elmer Sy, who was also with Leonardia.
Caesar ran in 2016 under Leonardia and bagged the second-highest number of votes, after incumbent Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, who was also wooed by the Benitez camp but stayed on with GP.
The other members of the Team Albee councilor slate are: Kalaw Puentevella, Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Homer Bais, Vladimir Gonzalez, Patrick Lacson, Jayson Villarosa, Sonya Verdeflor, and Mark Mayo.
Mayor is chief of staff of Bacolod Representative Greg Gasataya, who earlier announced he was running for a third and last term as “a neutral.”
Leonardia’s GP won by a landslide in 2019, bagging 14 of 15 positions, including the lone congressional district seat. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago backed Leonardia, who had 81,000 votes over his nearest opponent. Familiaran won by more than 34,000 votes over Sayson, a former vice mayor who ran and lost the mayoralty race in 2013. – Rappler.com