FINALLY, Bacolod City Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya, who is seeking reelection for his third and final term, joined Team Asenso of mayoralty bet Alfredo "Albee" Benitez.

This development was made public in a press conference at Bantug Lake Ranch in Barangay Alangilan, Bacolod City Sunday, January 16.

Benitez, a former congressman of the province’s Third District, said Team Asenso will campaign for a 16-0 win in the coming May 9, 2022 elections.

The group is composed of vice mayoralty candidate and former councilor Caesar Distrito and their 12 bets for councilors, namely, Celia Flor, Al Victor Espino, Homer Bais, Vladimir Gonzalez, Jayson Villarosa, Simple Distrito, Bart Orola, Pao Sy, Sonya Verdeflor, Claudio Puentevella and Patrick Lacson.

They will also campaign for Representative Joseph Steven “Carps” Paduano of Abang Lingkod Party-list.

Benitez said as early as October 2021, he has already said that his vote will go for Gasataya, but because of circumstances, they decided to back off because "daw kontra na siya [he seems not an ally].”

Over the course of events that have transpired, he said they realized that Gasataya belongs to their group.

“He is very welcome and, of course, we are voting for him,” the mayoralty aspirant said.

Gasataya, for his part, said he thanked all the members of Team Asenso for their support.

“As long as we see what direction we want for Bacolod City and for our people that is the reason why we join here,” he said.

The incumbent congressman added, “when I said in my statement last year that I will deal with it accordingly, I think this will speak for itself.”

Gastaya, a former member of Grupo Progreso (GP) of incumbent mayor Evelio Leonardia, earlier announced that he is “neutral” and will not support either the former or Benitez.

Meanwhile, 33 sectoral groups in Bacolod City signed a "manifesto of change" to support the mayoralty bid of Benitez instead of reelectionist Leonardia.

The groups, called Alliance Better Bacolod, are composed of laborers, consumers, persons with disabilities, urban poor, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer + (LGBTQ+) community, senior citizens, small fisherfolk, vendors and academe sectors.

The groups, in a statement, said they aim to achieve a comprehensive and progressive change towards a people-first-oriented governance.

"To be the cornerstone and catalyst for a proactive and dynamic partnership of all stakeholders for a better city of Bacolod," it added.

The alliance was led by lawyer Lisander Dilag, co-convenor businesswoman Carmeli Bantug-Zayco, and members Alan Gozon, Ted Macainan, Mario Eusebio, Anthony Teberio, Jose Lagoting, Monina Gulmatico, Jao Pastrana and Charlie Chavez.

"We will formulate policies from the different sectors and present them to the new administration," he said, adding that "it’s time to change the policy makers in Bacolod.”

Former barangay captain and LGBTQ+ community leader Charlie Chaves said they are firm in raising their voices.

Monina Gulmatico, representing the fisherfolk, said the present administration "made us slaves for many years. Why would we be afraid?" Gulmatico asked.

For Gozon, who represents the labor sector, "now is not a time to be neutral."

“We are not beholden to anyone. We are not being paid. Our intentions are clear for a better Bacolod,” he added.

The other camp earlier said the support for the GP tandem of Leonardia and Familiaran, their councilors and congressional aspirant Dan Atayde, an independent, continues to snowball as more barangay captains openly endorsed their candidacies ahead of the start of the campaign period.

They call the triumvirate Team "Abel," which stands for Atayde, Bing and El Cid.

“It was a coming-out party of sorts, probably the biggest shot in the arm not only for GP campaign but more importantly for the bid of Atayde,” the campa said, adding that eight more villages are vote-rich areas that account for close to 100,000 votes.