The die is cast

The breaking news that mayoralty candidate, Albee Benitez, is supporting the candidacy of presidential aspirant, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. generated so much interest in such a short time and was shared over a thousand times.

We all know that this election is very polarizing especially where Marcos and Vice President Leni Robredo are concerned, as the two are considered the frontrunners in the coming presidential election.

Many were not surprised by Albee’s alliance with the Marcoses because historically, his father was a close ally of the late dictator.

But many Albee-converts, especially those who are pro-Leni hoped that Albee will stay neutral especially when he stated during the debate-that-never-was, that he will be a party-man and will go with whomever his party, PDP-Laban, will endorse.

Well, as of Monday, February 7, PDP-Laban, at least the Cusi faction where Albee belongs, has not made any official statement. Some sources say though that they might really go the Marcos way because of the latter’s alliance with Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte.

What effect will this alliance have on Albee’s campaign locally? Surveys show that Mayor Bing Leonardia and Albee are neck-and-neck. I’ve seen some results where Albee actually is ahead of Mayor Bing but not substantially enough to claim he is safe.

Yesterday’s (January 7) announcement by Albee will certainly have a backlash and many of these are from pro-Leni supporters that he was able to convert to his side and who believed the “change” that he has been offering. Many felt that Albee’s decision showed the kind of politics he will play.

However, not everyone in Albee’s local team are accepting the alliance he made with Marcos. Councilor aspirants, Celia Flor, Sonya Verdeflor and Patrick Lacson are campaigning for Leni.

I talked to Celia yesterday and she admitted that she was “sad” by Albee’s decision but she was not surprised as she already knew his leanings.

“I am not going to let that affect me because it is clear that we are still focused on the same campaign, locally,” Celia said. She also clarified that even before she joined Albee’s team, she already manifested her choice to campaign for Leni.

“I respect Albee’s choice in the same way that he respected my choice from the onset and still respects it,” said Celia. However, she made it clear that there is no way she will go up any stage where a Marcos endorsement will be made. “I am Leni forever,” she added.

Patrick Lacson also posted on his FB wall a strong message of support for Leni.

“We all have our individual obligations to choose wisely for our Nation, for our community. Naive are those of us who claim any one of them running candidates are perfect, or have never sinned… But democracy and its essence, keeps us balanced..and its only purpose (elections) is for us to choose a candidate who we believe, can do a better job.. everyone’s individual right to choose, must be respected and we hope ours will be respected as well…salamat Mayor Albee Benitez sapagrespetomosaakon gin pili para presidente 2022.. I am for Leni,” Patrick posted.

Many comments on social media actually bordered on zero-votes for Albee’s team because of this new development, notwithstanding that there are candidates in his team that are actually for other presidential aspirants like KalawPuentevella who is for Manny Pacquiao.

However, while many were disappointed, there were also some who were elated by this news, especially the Marcos supporters.

Will a presidential endorsement really matter? There are many comments that said they may still go for Albee but will vote for their own presidential candidate. How many votes will Albee get from the Marcosians? Will this alliance eat votes away from Mayor Bing? I don’t have answers to all the questions except for the last and I seriously doubt a Marcos endorsement will matter among Bing’s voters.

Is Albee right this time? Surveys show that Marcos is leading the race but political analyst, Prof. Ramon Casiple said that surveys before the official campaign season starts is not reflective of how people will vote in May. Rather, surveys after the campaign season starts is what is more reflective of the poll outcome, said Casiple.

In the last presidential election, Albee also endorsed Senator Grace Po’s bid early on. She lost and President Duterte that surfaced late in the campaign won the election by a huge margin. Will his prediction be different this time?

What is interesting as well is what a little birdie told me just last week. This source said Mayor Bing may soon come out with a Leni-Sarah endorsement. Will the pro-Leni who were angry with Albee yesterday, convert their votes to Bing if such will happen? Based on the comments yesterday, many will.

Personally, I will go for the candidate whom I believe will be good for Bacolod, regardless of whom they will endorse for the presidential race. I’ve written about this before and I’ll say it again. There are candidates in Bing’s team that I will vote for and there are candidates in Albee’s team that I will vote for as well.

It is the same with my presidential choice. I am for Leni but I will vote for other senatorial aspirants who are not in her line-up. I am not going to vote straight, but rather, will vote for whom I think will be good for our country and for our city.*

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