Election fever is really heating up and here in Negros Occidental, social media pages urging former 3rd District Rep. Albee Benitez to run for a senate seat come 2022 sprouted last week.
There’s the “Visayas for Albee” that went online last February 25 which has now 775 followers and another “Albee Benitez – Senator 2022” which is a private page with 497 members.
Since then, the #RunAlbeeRun has been shared countless of times and even Negros Occidental Gov. Bong Lacson came out in the media a couple of days ago to strongly support the call for Albee to run for the Senate.
Why not? We will surely be at an advantage if we have a senator from Negros. Look at Iloilo. Their progress can be attributed to their progressive mayors, yes. But much of the development there was also because of the influence of Senator Franklin Drilon especially during his time as Senate President.
In an interview with Digicast Negros, Albee said he was informed about the campaign page Friday night but he does not know who is behind it, adding that running for the Senate post for 2022 did not cross his mind.
Hmmm. Albee has a lot of supporters in Negros Occidental, particularly in the third district which he has served for three terms and I will not be surprised if one of those supporters had a hand in this.
Perhaps it is also believable that running for the senate this coming election was not on Albee’s radar because it will be difficult to campaign under these circumstances.
Selling Albee in the Visayas is a no-brainer as he was formerly the chair of the Visayan bloc in Congress and still has considerable clout in that chamber. His younger brother, Rep. Kiko Benitez, who replaced him, is also very likable and can easily mount support for his brother if he pushes through with this campaign.
However, his problem will be Mindanao and Luzon which have a much bigger population and since he does not hold any national position now, he will need a big boost to even get his name up there with the wannabees, especially against the reelectionists.
Senator Migz Zubiri is also up for reelection and will have an edge, not only here in the Visayas and some parts of Luzon for his vital role in helping the sugar industry, but also in Mindanao where he has a mass base. Add to that those Senators up for a new mandate and those who have been away and want to make a come back.
In fact, SRA Board Member Dino Yulo said any additional warm body in the Senate that will support the sugar industry is a welcome development. Albee authored the SIDA law that safeguards our industry and for that, he deserves the support of Negros and other sugar-producing areas.
Dino was on point when he said that the last bastion of the sugar industry has been the Senate in the past few years, especially when we had that problem with importation and the HFCS, “one more warm body” will be good for the industry.
But will Albee make it in the list of those senate hotshots remains a big question. However, this election may also be a game-changer especially if campaigning will be relegated to online and networks. And with Albee buying in in one of the national networks and I have heard, has invested in some local media outfits in other parts of the country, this may just be his chance since he has massive resources as well.
Albee’s name was already floated for the Senate in the last election but that did not materialize after a video of the president went viral, speaking in disdain against someone that very much sounded like the former congressman.
On the other hand, someone else, not necessarily a supporter of Albee, may be behind this campaign as he has been called upon as well by the public to run for mayor of Bacolod. Floating the idea around that Albee is better off running for a higher post may be a solution for the present administration here to remove any strong contender for the mayoralty post.
Whether he runs for the Senate or a local post, I will support his candidacy because we do need a representation in the upper chamber. If he runs for the mayoralty post here, he is a strong contender and sometimes, we do need a strong challenge to jolt the present leadership to make good with his promises and performance.
I browsed through the Albee for senator page and if the former congressman and his people are serious about this proposal, they need to do something with that page.
It described him as a “billionaire and champion of the masses.” Another post says “Albee is a mega rich Filipino who is known to be very simple and directly listens to simple people.”
Those are facts and undisputable because Albee is really filthy rich. Listening to simple people can also be promoted visually because he has done that many times in the past and I am sure his staff has a lot of documentation that will humanize him.
But to stress that fact about being moneyed will not help endear Albee to the masses. The president romped off with 16 million votes because the masses thought (or were deceived?) that he was just one of them. So, to harp that Albee’s got billions will not help him.
It’s different with Senator Manny Pacquiao who is also worth billions because we all know his struggles and how he became mega rich. Thus, even if he is now up there in the billionaires’ league, people can still relate to him because he was one of them.
But Albee? Nah. He lived a well-life and was educated outside of the country and his experiences will never be relatable to the masses. They have to mount a different image of Albee if they want him to succeed.*