Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia and his challenger former Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez tackled issues ranging from flooding, waste disposal to traffic woes in Bacolod City in a close to 4-hour face-to-face debate hosted by DyHB RMN at Ikthus Bacolod Wednesday, afternoon.
Leonardia said “We are a tested and proven team, it is a question of promises versus performance”, as he cited the various recognitions given the city government during his administration.
If re-elected “we will do better than our best, the best is yet to come”, he said.
Benitez said he is running for mayor of Bacolod to bring change and strengthen the relationship between government and the people.
“It’s about time you recognize that Bacolod can be great again, it can be a super city. The time is now. Change is here and I’ll be here,” he said.
Supporters of Leonardia and Benitez gathered outside Ikthus to cheer their candidates at the debate that was moderated by DyHB RMN station manager Jeony Bigay.
Benitez stressed the need for waste segregation so recyclable waste can be put to productive use, and to introduce waste to energy technology.
Government should handle garbage collection, it should not be privatized, Benitez said.
Leonardia said a third sanitarily landfill is being prepared for Bacolod.
They were opposed to the waste to energy project proposed by Benitez before because under that system all the waste of the third district would be brought to Bacolod and there were no clear cut guidelines from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Leonardia added.
Benitez said it was not decided then where the incineration plant would be and it was not envisioned to be in Bacolod.
The records that we have are that they would bring the waste to Bacolod, Leonardia replied.
Leonardia also said it is difficult to implement waste segregation in big cities like Bacolod.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FLOODING
There should be an honest to goodness reduction of carbon emissions from vehicles and factories, said Benitez, who stressed the need to go green.
He also stressed the need for a proper plan to handle disasters by creating an efficient organization to address these concerns.
Benitez blamed flooding in Bacolod on poor urban planning, and the building of infrastructure that have clogged drainage systems and outlets to rivers.
Floods are a generic problem worldwide, it even floods in Victorias City, Leonardia said.
Leonardia said Bacolod is one of the most competitive cities because one of the requirements of the Department of Trade Industry is a city must be resilient.
He also said the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has always been a consistent awardee for its performance.
Leonardia said traffic is a sign of progress, but it is being addressed based on recommendations contained in a study by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
There should be a rationalization of vehicular movement to reduce traffic, Benitez said.
Benitez said he is against the privatization of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) because utilities should be handled and managed by government to give efficient and affordable service.
He is not in favor of CENECO’s privatization but he is open to the possibility, Leonardia said.
Both said they are against the privatization of the Burgos, Libertad and Central markets.
Leonardia and Benitez both said they are in favor of the creation of two congressional districts for Bacolod City.
The mayor said it is about time because Bacolod now has a population of 617,996.
Benitez said it should have been done long time ago, Congress was just waiting for a city ordinance in support of the redistricting.
Leonardia said he is in favor of the modernization of public transportation and the phase out of old vehicles but they also have to listen to the operators and drivers.
It is a national law that has to be implemented, what is needed is proper transition so the drivers can cope, Benitez said.
Both said they oppose the imposition of death penalty for public officials found guilty of corruption involving more than P50 million.
We value human life, so I am no to any form of death penalty, Benitez said.
The death penalty should not be imposed, it’s the stand of the Catholic Church and he is a Catholic, Leonardia said.
Leonardia said he is against political dynasties because when he is finished with his term, it will end there.
Benitez said he is in favor of political dynasties, all candidates are elected by the people who should have the power and authority to decide whom they want.
Benitez said he is not in favor of barkers, the medium is the message. When it was explained to him that the barkers being referred to are people who call for passengers to ride in public utility vehicles, Benitez said that is their livelihood because they probably have no alternative or option.
Leonardia said we know barkers need a livelihood but they have to have the consent of the drivers to do so.
Leonardia said he is not in favor of the sale of the Manokan Country and the Vendors Plaza but he is open to a joint venture or any other deal that will improve and change the landscape in that area that will be beneficial to the vendors.
The Manokan County is a tourist attraction that should be enhanced, upgraded and developed to draw more tourists, said Benitez, who is not in favor of its sale.
Benitez is supporting Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for president but did not say who his vice presidential bet will be.
Leonardia said he has not decided on whom to support for president, but is for Davao Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio for vice president.*