SOUNDS interesting, and yet misleading.
Some prominent political figures and known operators in local politics claim that a so-called united opposition is shaping up to field candidates to fight incumbent Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia in next year’s elections.
The name of former third district congressman Albee Benitez, now consultant of the provincial government, also a known gambling mogul and political kingmaker, has been dragged, bragged and hyped, in public by his political operators and allies to be the opposition’s main bet vs Mayor Bing.
Apparently, nothing is new this far in the so-called united opposition. It is not as broad, solid and with a deep bench, as publicized by its political operators and partisans.
It is composed mostly of former politicians and loser candidates of the displaced MKK group of former congressman and mayor Monico Puentevella, backed by Albee’s political acolyte, Stephen Paduano aka Carapali Lualhati, a self-proclaimed leader of the now-defunct RPA-ABB, a breakaway group from the mainstream CPP-NPA, and now Abang Lingkod partylist representative.
Even if there would be born-again opposition from the administration “kapitans and kagawads” or among Mayor Bing’s councilors, as a result of massive pay off, which is not new in trapo politics by the way, I would still not consider it a broad opposition – but recycled and therefore weak opposition. Most “kapitans” and “kagawads” are political stooges of their patrons, and often make choices on the basis of personal benefits rather than public interests.
Only when it would be joined by new faces and thinking voices from the ranks of the organized basic sectors, intellectuals, MSMEs and the business sector, whose agenda is inclusive development could it become a truly broad opposition.
It is a united opposition with no solid and superior reform agenda and programs. Except for riding on some resentments and negative sentiments on the way the City handles the pandemic protocols of which they offer no better solutions, at most, they will cash in on recycled old graft and corruption issues already dismissed by legal courts and by public opinions, including the pettiest of social issues.
If it were to have one solid and superior agenda it should be a program for the comprehensive, inclusive, resilient, climate change, disaster-risk and pandemic-adaptive local economy development of Bacolod.
It is a united opposition of the same old faces with new make-ups, garbs, honed in Facebook and TikTok culture, and no deep bench. People have matured that they can already differentiate the recycled and fake from not.
The only new spicy element in the opposition bench is Albee. If at all he commits to challenge Bing, what comprehensive development agenda does he have for Bacolod when he is not from Bacolod in the first place and one who is more recognized for his richness and kingmaker stature, than his development platform.
People ask, being a business and trade consultant of the provincial government, what has he brought to uplift the province from the morass of bourgeoning poverty, landlessness, economic backwardness and environmental crisis?
The shadowy united opposition is being bragged as if it is the ultimate antidote that could bring an end to the reign of Mayor Bing.
Unfortunately, by most indications, it does not have a superior agenda, does not have broad and solid base support, does not have a progressive ticket. Such requisites are vital and decisive, more than money and machinery, if it were to defeat the incumbent Mayor who has put up a clearer and dynamic development platform and programs, attracted investments to propel local economy development, encouraged CSOs and POs participation in governance, breakthrough good governance practices, and survived the city and its people through the pandemic despite his administration’s weaknesses and shortcomings, just like most LGUs dealing with a new crisis.
If at all the so-called united opposition gets Albee to lead their team in challenging Bing, and adopt a right formula, there could be a battle royale in Bacolod. But challenging is only one, winning is different. Winning involves lots of requisites, equations and even moment-to-moment supervision of changing conditions and scenarios.
Without Albee, everything that the opposition aspires for will be sidelined to the dust bin and fun-seeking TikTokers, and their hope of regaining power will crumble to perdition.
I am not saying Mayor Bing is indestructible. He has a number of fatal weaknesses and shortcomings, and his team is not a perfect one. But he has an agenda, programs, projects and mechanisms that continue to enhance reforms, touch lives and transform communities albeit slow, and something one cannot just erase by painting him bad.
What I am saying here is a universal lesson long posited by Socrates - you don’t achieve change by focusing on destroying the old but on building the new.
Just a perspective.