POLITICS SIMMERS EARLY IN NEGROS OCC. – 3rd district mayors endorse Albee for guv

By Dolly Yasa
on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

BACOLOD City – Midterm election is two years away but five mayors in the 3rd district of Negros Occidental believe that the early bird catches the worm.

This, as Mayors Frederick Palanca of Victorias City, Marvin Malacon of EB Magalona, Mark Golez of Silay City, Mayor Neil Lizares of Talisay City and Andrew Montelibano of Murcia all endorsed 3rd district Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez to replace Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.

The mayors expressed their support during the signing of a memorandum of agreement on the Asenso Metro 3rd Burial Assistance Program at the Nature’s Resort and Restaurant, July 3, 2017.

The burial assistance is one of Benitez’s programs for the 3rd district.

Benitez, who is serving his last 3-year term, sounded coy when asked for his reaction.

“I cannot say yes or no. Let us see. There are others who have suggested that I run for another position,” he said, reiterating his earlier statement that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez offered him a slot in the senatorial lineup of the ruling PDP-Laban in the 2019 polls.

Benitez said there are “a lot of things to weigh before a decision is made.”

“It is not an easy decision. Winning is not the only thing that should be looked at,” he said.

Benitez confirmed that his constituents “want me to be near them so I can be accessible to them.”

But Abang Lingkod partylist Rep. Stephen Paduano, a close ally of Benitez, said he prefers the congressman to run for senator.

Paduano also affirmed the endorsement of the 3rd district mayors for Benitez to run for governor.

“Personally I would advise him to run for a higher position for the sake of Negros and for him,” Paduano said.

Benitez said that the problem of Negros “is bigger than we all think.”

“Some are calling the sugar industry as the next tobacco industry or a sunset industry. Until we can diversify, Negros is still not in good shape,” he said.

Pressed on his successor in the third district, Benitez said “nobody in my family wants to enter politics.”

But he confirmed that his brother Dr. Francisco B. Benitez, Philippine Women’s University president, is being considered to replace him.

“Before anything else, whether it is family or anyone, what is important is that they will be accepted by the people of the district. Just because he carries my family name, he can easily (win the) seat. The next congressman should perform better than me. What should be considered is his or her capacity and skills,” he added.

When asked if he has discussed the matter with Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, who is also being groomed as a possible gubernatorial candidate, Benitez said he has not discussed the 2019 polls with the former.

Benitez and Lacson are stalwarts of Love Negros Team, a coalition of political leaders in the 2016 elections.