2022 PH local races

Bacolod vice mayor stays with Leonardia group; ex-councilor says Benitez offered him post

Inday Espina-Varona
Bacolod vice mayor stays with Leonardia group; ex-councilor says Benitez offered him post

GRUPO PROGRESO. Bacolod City Vice Mayor El Cid Montilla Familiaran is staying with Mayor Bing Leonardia's Grupo Progreso despite the departure of his good friend and Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya.

Courtesy of Bacolod City Vice Mayor Familiaran

Bacolod City Vice Mayor El Cid Montilla Familiaran dismisses the possibility of abandoning Mayor Bing Leonardia, his longtime ally

“I’m staying with Grupo Progreso.”

Bacolod City Vice Mayor El Cid Montilla Familiaran told Rappler on Wednesday, September 29, that he would stay on with Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia’s Grupo Progreso (GP) slate, dashing rumors of a possible breakaway from his long-term affiliation.

Familiaran’s statement came on the same day as former three-term city councilor Caesar Distrito announced that Leonardia’s main rival for the  2022 polls, former Negros Occidental 3rd District representative Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, had offered him the vice mayoralty slot. Distrito, who is also part of GP, said he is still thinking about the offer.

Reports of Familiaran leaving the dominant political coalition in this city started when he and Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya went around the city last week in shirts showing only their faces and names, minus the red and green colors of Leonardia’s slate.

The congressman on Thursday, September 30, bolted Leonardia’s coalition, announcing a run for his third term “as a neutral.”

As his photo with Gasataya made the rounds, Familiaran dismissed the possibility of abandoning Leonardia, his longtime ally. 

“No, I won’t do that,” he told Rappler in a phone interview on Sunday, September 26. “I could never do that.”

But Familiaran told Rappler then that he was still debating reelection, saying he was worried about the possible crush during the filing of certificates of candidacy from October 1 to 8.

Live

LIVE UPDATES: Filing of certificates of candidacy for local positions in the Visayas – 2022 PH elections

LIVE UPDATES: Filing of certificates of candidacy for local positions in the Visayas – 2022 PH elections

A city councilor who asked not to be named said Familiaran, a former No. 1 city councilor before winning his current post in 2016, had insisted he would rather leave politics than jump to another slate.

If Distrito runs, it would be one popular incumbent against the other. 

Familiaran won by a large margin in 2019, receiving 126,238 votes in the final count over the 91,821 votes of Jude Thaddeus Sayson.

Distrito, a lawyer, emerged as the top choice for city councilor during a June 2021 pre-election survey by Aksyon Radyo Bacolod, getting the nod of 57.5% of respondents.

He was No. 2 councilor in 2016, his last term, and was the city council’s floor leader, the chairperson of the committee on budget and finance, laws and ordinances, and urban planning and development.

“Former congressman Albee Benitez, who declared his intention to run for mayor in the city of Bacolod, had asked me to be his running mate,” Distrito announced on his official Facebook page. “I also had a series of long talks with Mayor Bing Leonardia” about the invitation.

“I am seriously thinking about it. I will consult my political leaders and supporters and will also pray and seek divine guidance as to what decision to take, whether to run as vice mayor or will just seek my fourth term as councilor,” he added.

He said among the people he would consult are his mother, Councilor Simple Distrito, Barangay Captain Rosinie Distrito, his brother, and “a personal friend, Congressman Greg Gasataya.”

Distrito said Benitez had presented a program focusing on “health care for all Bacolodnons, including establishing a city hospital.”

He also said Benitez discussed solutions for the city’s housing backlog, “infrastructure and road network improvements, the complete renovation of the three major public markets, the solution to the perennial flooding of city streets, [and the creation] of business and job opportunities like industrial zones.” – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.