Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Jose Francisco “Kiko” Benitez filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) as a reelectionist on Monday, October 4, at the provincial capitol social hall.
Joining Benitez, who is gunning for a second term, was his older brother, Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez and nephew, Javi.
Albee has yet to file his COC for the Bacolod mayoralty race, while Javi has filed a COC to run for mayor of Victorias City.
Kiko won his first term unopposed in 2019, taking over from Albee who was then finishing his three-term stint.
Kiko was a reluctant politician, preoccupied with academics, literature, and running the family-owned Philippine Women’s University. Having studied for years abroad, he was also not as well-versed in local politics.
He earned his MA and PhD in comparative literature (minor in Southeast Asian studies) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated summa cum laude from his BA in comparative literature and cum laude in English from Cornell University.
The House of Representatives lists him as the principal author in measures seeking to expand the term of office for barangay officials and the Sangguniang Kabataan from three to five years; create a local government on-site, in-city resettlement program; provide lump sum retirement pay for barangay officials and workers; establish the Visayas Development Authority; and construct a coastal road linking the cities of Bacolod, Talisay, Silay and Victorias, and the municipality Enrique B. Magalona, all in Negros Occidental.
He is also chief author of the bill seeking to strengthen the government’s expropriation powers on lands for socialized housing.
The incumbent representative is seen as more progressive than Albee and has taken sides on human rights issues with progressive blocs in Congress.
He is known in his district for sponsoring competitive quizzes among schools and digital and mobile game tilts, and providing higher education webinars for teachers in the province. – Rappler.com