DESPITE the open declaration of his allies and supporters that he will challenge Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia in the coming May 2022 elections, former Third District representative Alfredo "Albee" Benitez did not make the confirmation after he officially transferred his voting registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City on Thursday, April 22, 2021.
Benitez said now that he is a registered voter of Bacolod City, he only has two political options left and that is either to run for mayor of Bacolod City or senator of the country.
Benitez said he still has until October to decide.
"You cannot ignore the clamor. You may wonder why there are many tarpaulins around the city bearing the message 'Run Albee Run.' That's the first question. The final decision will be known this October. But we made the first step by transferring my voter's registration," Benitez said when asked if he is running for mayor of Bacolod City.
Benitez's son Javi, who accompanied his father at the Comelec Bacolod, said, "Today, I accompanied my dad as he transferred his registration from Victorias City to Bacolod City. Even though Victorias is known to be our hometown, my dad and our relatives also grew up in Bacolod -- Mt. View subdivision to be more specific," he said.
"He is moving because he cares. As simple as that. It means he will be a voter and not necessarily a candidate for any elected position in the city. The province of Negros Occidental has Bacolod City as the capital and when Bacolod progresses, then so will the province. There'll be a spillover effect that will affect neighboring cities, districts, and ultimately, the province. It's hard to discount the fact that we are connected despite the separation of both, legislatively," he added.
"Whatever he chooses to do, politically, the family will support. If he does decide to run, Bacolodnons should expect good and honest governance, economic development for the city, and the good-hearted kind of leadership that his constituents in the third district have felt," Javi said.
Benitez's registration in Bacolod City started with a lunch gathering at the Capitol with Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, Minority Floor Leader Stephen Paduano, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and some mayors.
Benitez then proceeded to the San Sebastian Cathedral for mass and went to the Commission on Elections office.
Paduano placed the crowd that accompanied Benitez at 2,500, which he said voluntarily went there.
"Those who went there included vendors and supporters from different barangays in Bacolod City. Even if we made the appeal that supporters should only stay at home because of the pandemic and we need to observe social distancing and be quiet, they were unstoppable," Paduano said.
Supporters were mostly wearing white shirts, chanting "Run Albee Run." those inside the Bay Center beside the Comelec office chanted, "Mayor Bing!"
Ferrer and Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante, meanwhile, declared that Love-Negros and United Negros Alliance are also united and will fully support Benitez's bid in Bacolod City.
Escalante even advised Benitez to run for mayor of Bacolod City and discourages him from running for senator.
Ferrer reiterated that Benitez has made his first step for his plans in Bacolod City.
Not only Ferrer is being eyed to tandem Benitez in Bacolod City, as Businessman Vladimir Gonzales who also was among those who joined Benitez on Thursday also said he is available to run beside him as vice mayor.
Benitez has not revealed yet any possible line-up if he decides to run in Bacolod City
Another noted personality who joined Benitez was former Murcia mayor Sonny Coacolluela, who said he also transferred his registration in Bacolod City just to vote for Benitez. Also present were his former political rival Board Member Andrew Montelibano and Barangay Tangub Punong Barangay Noli Villarosa.
Lacson and Ferrer have also confirmed the gathering of 31 mayors in the province to discuss Benitez's decision.
The meeting will be held at Nature's Village Hotel and Restaurant in Talisay City Friday, April 23.