Billionaire former congressman Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who officially became a candidate for mayor of Bacolod Tuesday, October 5, announced that he has put together a unity ticket composed of a diverse set of candidates who will together bring change to the city.
The Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) of his team were filed through his lawyer Andrei Saril to avoid crowding at the Bacolod COMELEC office amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Benitez said at a press conference at his residence at Mountain View Subdivision in Bacolod City held following a mass.
The “Asenso for a Better Bacolod” ticket is composed of candidates from the Grupo Progreso (GP) of Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the opposition, independents and the private sector.
Running as his vice mayor is former three-term GP councilor Caesar Distrito, Benitez said.
Their councilor candidates are incumbents Al Victor Espino, Bart Orola and Simple Distrito, formerly of GP, former vice mayor Thaddy Sayson, former councilors Homer Bais, Celia Flor, Kalaw Puentevella and Sonia Verdeflor, former three-term Negros Occidental board member Patrick Lacson, businessman Vladimir Gonzales, SK chairman Jason Villarosa and Pao Sy, daughter of the late councilor Elmer Sy.
“I sought a unity ticket, I wanted a unification of the old, the new, of the pro, the anti and independent. I tried to come up with a diversity of candidates who will represent our future…this diversity is what Bacolod is today,” Benitez said.
NO CONGRESSIONAL BET
His slate does not include a candidate for congressman. Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya of Grupo Progreso led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia earlier announced that he would stay neutral on the Bacolod mayoral race.
Gasataya who filed his COC Monday said he is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition ticket.
Benitez said whether Gasataya, a long time friend, stayed with Leonardia or goes neutral he feels that he is doing good and has performed well as a congressman so he will support whatever decision he makes.
“Wherever he is, Cong Greg will have my vote,” he said.
Benitez said the diversity in the candidates running under his slate shows that there will be no color-coding in governance, under his administration everyone will be equally served regardless of political colors.
“This is because our vision and platform are clear, this administration will be program-based. We will deliver basic services in a much easier way, we will make sure that each and everyone will not need to ask for what is rightfully theirs. We will make these changes so that the services of government will go directly to the people without any impediment,” he said.
He said his platform will focus on easy access to basic services such as housing, health, peace and order, infrastructure and education and all the others will come into place.
“We will be very detailed in what we intend to do so there will be no confusion on what we stand for. Our goals, aspirations, our vision will define this team,” he said.
Benitez also said “It is not enough to say I am not corrupt. You have to say I will l not tolerate corruption. If you see corruption, do not look the other way even if it will hit people close to you.”
He stressed that he will put his 101 percent to pursue what he thinks is right, there will be no compromises.
“I am the captain of the political ship, it will not veer to the left or right. It will go straight to change of governance for the good of the people of Bacolod,” he said.
Distrito thanked Benitez for giving him the chance to be his partner to effect the change many want for the City of Bacolod.
In answer to people who have bashed him for joining the Benitez team, Distrito said “my loyalty to the party ends, when my loyalty to my people in the city begins.”
Distrito said he decided to join the candidate who can give hope to the people of Bacolod and respond to what they want, which are health care, hospitals, markets, jobs and investments.
Rep. Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod partylist) described Benitez as a man who has shown that he is capable of bringing change.*