"HE IS not neutral at all."

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said this, referring to Representative Greg Gastaya, who used to be part of the Grupo Progreso (GP).

Leonardia, chair of GP, made the announcement in a press conference at the Forest Park in Barangay Taculing Friday afternoon, November 26, along with reelectionist Vice Mayor El Cid Famliaran and its councilors for the 2022 elections.

"We are now in the midst of the political season and our ground forces have continuously monitored, we had our ears in the ground (and) for us, it is time to make conclusions and to make our stand very-very clear," Leonardia said.

"This is about the so-called neutrality of Gasataya (and) we had accepted that before the filing of the certificate of candidacy (COC)," he said.

In fact, they even put Gasataya's picture in their poster because at that time they believed in his neutrality as acclaimed, Leonardia added.

The mayor stressed that for him and the rest of the GP, the declaration of neutrality is a sham and that, "we no longer believe it because it has been proven otherwise."

Gasataya earlier said that he is not taking sides and he will run as a neutral, adding that his decision was difficult to make.

It was made with the most important and sacred consideration in mind -- the lives of the people of Bacolod City, he said.

Gastaya emphasized that Leonardia and the latter's challenger former Negros Occidental Third District congressman Alfredo “Albee” Benitez are both his godfathers, whom he described as significant to his personal and political journey.

But Leonardia said that of all the colors, Gasataya used white in his billboard.

Benitez is identified with color white, while Leonardia's GP is known to have been using color red in their campaign materials and shirts.

"So the message is very clear, his true color came out. We had already stopped believing his claim because for us that's the biggest political deception that has accord here," Leonardia said.

He added that they want to relay to the people of Bacolod what is really happening, especially to their leaders and supporters who were confused because of the so-called "neutrality" position.

Gasataya could not be reached for a comment Friday, November 26, 2021.