ARE the political operators of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia behind the candidacy of a challenger of Bacolod Lone District Representative Greg Gasataya?

Gasataya alleged receiving verified information from their political leaders and supporters that these personalities who are known to him have orchestrated and have been working tirelessly to promote another congressional candidate.

Gasataya, who is a former member of Grupo Progreso (GP) led by Leonardia, said he has received this information even before the filing of certificate of candidacies (COCs) in October, but they did not hear anything from him.

Leonardia earlier claimed that despite Gasataya’s pronouncement that he is “neutral” and is not supporting him nor his challenger, former Negros Occidental Third District representative Alfredo Benitez, the lawmaker decided to use the color 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.

Gasataya said political color coding is too petty for such “a hasty conclusion of political deception,” adding that he has always been consistent with his position of being neutral between Benitez and Leonardia.

Gasataya expressed his gratitude to both Leonardia and Benitez, who are his godfathers, for their invaluable contributions to his personal and political life.

Leonardia and the rest of the GP branded Gasataya’s declaration of neutrality a sham and that, they no longer believe it because it has been proven otherwise.

Gasataya said, "while it is true that I did not express my support in favor of any mayoralty candidate consistent with my position, it does not necessarily follow that I will also have to decline any form of support coming from either party who wishes to do so.”

"For me, political deception is projecting that you honor my neutrality while your key political leaders on the ground are acting otherwise,” he said.

“Should [the mayor] and or his proxies endorse another congressional candidate on the basis of these false accusations of political deception against me, then he will be left with no other choice but to deal with it accordingly," Gasataya said.

He said, for now, he will stay focused on the many things still needed to be done for the welfare of the people of Bacolod.

“As incumbent officials, may we not forget that we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Gasataya also expressed his gratitude to GP leaders and supporters who assured him of their full support openly and through text messages. He also thanked Benitez for reiterating his confidence in his performance, competence and character as the congressman of the Lone District of Bacolod.