2022 PH local races

Albee Benitez brings down Bacolod City mayor Bing Leonardia

Marchel Espina, Joey Baldonado
Albee Benitez brings down Bacolod City mayor Bing Leonardia

BILLIONAIRE MAYOR. Former Negros Occidental 3rd district representative Albee Benitez arrives at the Bacolod City government center on Tuesday morning, May 10, for his proclamation as winner of the hotly-contested mayoral race.

Ronnie Baldonado

(1st UPDATE) Mayor Leonardia is the city’s longest serving mayor, with a total of six terms

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office proclaimed billionaire Alfredo Abelard “Albee” Benitez as the winner of the city’s heated mayoralty race on Tuesday morning, May 10, a day after the elections.

The final Comelec count showed Benitez, the former representative of Negros Occidental’s 3rd district, with 171,893 votes over re-electionist Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia’s 107,447 votes.

However, Leonardia’s running mate and incumbent Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran of Grupo Progreso (GP) was able to defeat Benitez’s running mate, former councilor Caesar Distrito. Familiaran got 128,895 votes to Distrito’s 103,236 votes.

Distrito was formerly a member of Leonardia’s GP bloc but accepted Benitez’ offer to join his Team Asenso bloc in October 2021.

Reelectionist Representative Greg Gasataya (Bacolod lone district) also secured a seat for a third term, winning with 185,470 votes – more than double the 80,591 votes of rival Dan Atayde.

Gasataya, another former member of GP, announced his party-list switch in January this year after previously declaring neutrality. 

The mayoral race for Negros Occidental’s independent capital was hotly-contested. Benitez faced challenges against his residency status but prevailed.

Benitez endorsed presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. but allowed members of his slate the freedom to choose their national bets.

Leonardia was running for a third and last term. He is the city’s longest serving mayor, with a total of six terms.

Despite both camps gunning for a 15-0 win, Team Asenso Bacolod ultimately prevailed with 8 out of 12 seats on the city council, while GP managed to secure 4. 

This marks a huge decline from GP’s 14-0 win in the 2019 senatorial elections.

Former Vice Mayor Thaddy Sayson got the highest votes for the council at 134,635; followed by incumbent Councilor Israel Salanga with 123,237; incumbent Councilor Cindy Rojas with 122,629; former councilor, City Administrator and Emergency Operations Center executive director Em Ang, with 116,953; and incumbent Councilor Al Espino with 115,197,

Businessman Vladi Gonzalez came in next with 113,145; incumbent Councilor Renecito Novero with 113,046; Sangguniang Kabataan leader Jason Villarosa with 111,027; former councilor Kalaw Puentevella with 108,950; incumbent Councilor Simple Distrito with 107,030; former councilor Celia Flor, 103,768; and Pao Sy – daughter of the late Councilor Elmer Sy whom she later replaced in the council last February 2022 – with 98,978 votes.

The city has 327,403 registered voters. Of these, 289,524 voted on May 9, according to Comelec figures. – Rappler.com

Joey Baldonao is a Rappler Mover in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental