Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez (Negros Occidental, 3rd District) denied on Sunday, October 3, any part in the “hakot” system where residents of the third district of Negros Occidental are allegedly being brought to Bacolod City to register to vote.
The congressman’s brother, former Rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, is running for mayor of Bacolod City.
His political opponents have alleged that there has been a surge of out-of-town voter registrants in Bacolod City, although Bacolod Elections Officer Kathrina Trinio-Caña on Thursday said their statistics speak otherwise.
“I am outrightly saying and denying that I am sending voters to Bacolod,” Benitez said.
The congressman, who is running for a second term, said he needs the residents of third district to vote for him so his numbers will not go down.
His brother, who has been appointed president of the PDP-Laban Cusi Wing in Negros Occidental, has been issued a certificate of nomination by the party to run as mayor of Bacolod, he said.
The PDP-Laban Cusi Wing has granted Albee Benitez the authority to nominate the party’s candidates for Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
The congressman said his brother is running for mayor of Bacolod because of his sincere desire to serve the people of Bacolod.
His brother does not need to run for mayor of Bacolod but he chose to do so because he heeded the call of the people for help, Benitez said.
The congressman said he will support his brother in any way he can.
The move to disqualify his brother from registering to vote in Bacolod “speaks badly of those who are paranoid not to let the people choose”, the congressman said.
On accusations that his family is building a political dynasty in Negros, the congressman said “there can be no such thing as political dynasties if the electorate does not allow it”.
The congressman’s nephew, Javi Benitez, is also running for mayor of Victorias City.
“We put ourselves out there because of a sincere desire and belief for public service, it will be at the end the choice of the people,” the congressman said.
“Ultimately for my brother and myself, the bottom line is our capacity to serve and not just desire to serve,” he added.
“What the three of us have are sincere desires to help, sincere desires to serve and are offering ourselves to the citizens of Negros,” the congressman said.*