2022 Philippine Elections

Negros Occidental governor declares support for Robredo’s presidential bid

Marchel Espina
Negros Occidental governor declares support for Robredo’s presidential bid

IN THE OPEN. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson welcomes Vice President Leni Robredo at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City November 2021, months before openly endorsing her presidential bid.

Richard Malihan

'When we face our ballot on May 9, there’s only one question that we should ask ourselves: Who do we trust?' says Negros Occidental Governor Bong Lacson

BACOLOD, Philippines – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson declared his support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, calling her trustworthy.

Lacson, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, is among the few Negrense officials who have openly supported the candidacy of Robredo.

Majority of the provincial officials, led by Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and 28 of the 31 mayors in the province, came out on Wednesday, February 23, for Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator.

“If people asked me who I’m supporting or voting for, I confirm it (Robredo)…. That’s where I’m going right now…. I think it’s (my choice) is obvious,” Lacson told reporters on Monday, February 28.

“I said before, when we face our ballot on May 9, there’s only one question that we should ask ourselves: Who do we trust?” he added. “You don’t even have to explain if you trust the person. That’s the reason why I’m voting for any candidate.”

Legacies

Ferrer’s backing for Marcos Jr. is not surprising. His wife, Negros Occidental 4th District Representative Juliet Ferrer, is the granddaughter of the late Roberto Benedicto, a crony of the dictator and often blamed for the plunder and collapse of the sugar industry.

Lacson, meanwhile, is the son of the fiery sugar planter Manny Lacson who led marches in Negros Occidental against Marcos and Benedicto in the 1980s.

But the two top incumbent officials in the province are friends and formed a unity slate for local posts from the governor’s Love Negros coalition and the vice governor’s United Negros Alliance alliance for the May 2022 elections.

Their move means many incumbents are running unopposed and spared from the expense of a heated campaign.

Both of them are also backing the candidacy of pro-Marcos billionaire Albee Benitez for Bacolod City mayor. Lacson, Ferrer, and other officials in the province have given allies and even slate members the independence to choose their national bets.

Lacson said he respects the decision of the other local officials and will not convince them to change their minds.

The vice governor and majority of the local officials welcomed Marcos, his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and their slate to a grand rally in Negros Occidental’s capital city Bacolod last Wednesday.

But that event paled in comparison to Iloilo province’s mammoth rally for Robredo on Friday, February 25, the 36th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

ALLY. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson welcomes Vice President Leni Robredo in Sipalay City, December 2021. Photo by Richard Malihan

All of the five mayors and one congressman from Lacson’s home district, the 1st District, are for Marcos, including San Carlos City, the governor’s hometown where he was a former mayor.

Lacson previously joined Robredo during her visit to the province in December 2021 to give assistance to the victims of Typhoon Odette (Rai) in southern Negros Occidental.

Robredo and her slate are expected to arrive in Bacolod this March for a grand rally.

Lacson said he will join the Vice President’s campaign rally if he would be invited. – Rappler.com