“Assuming that I lose because the public outcry for me to run was not true after all, then I’ll just return to where I come from.”
This was the straightforward reply of former 3rd District Rep. Albee Benitez to the question raised by Mercado Publico co-host Teresa Ellera, who asked him recently in a DYRL interview, what if he loses the Bacolod mayoralty race against the incumbent, Mayor Evelio Leonardia.
Benitez’s answer, political observers said, clearly implied that he is not a resident of Bacolod, contrary to his earlier claim when he applied for the transfer of his voter’s registration before the city Commission on Elections office that he resides in Mountainview Subdivision, Barangay Mandalagan.
“That simply shows he just tricked the people of Bacolod, the Comelec and the courts that he is a Bacolod resident,” said Grupo Progreso spokesperson and aspirant for councilor, Dr. Chris Sorongon, in reaction to Benitez’s remarks.
“It is not fair that Bacolodnons are being taken for a ride. People knew that Mr. Benitez is a resident of Victorias City having served as a three-term congressman of the province’s Third District. We are glad for his candid admission. We are happy that finally the truth came out of his mouth. He revealed the truth himself,” Sorongon continued.
The former solon, whose gambling businesses include e-sabong, casino and online gaming, is contesting Bacolod’s mayoralty seat against the multi-awarded Leonardia, a true-blooded Bacolodnon.
Ellera, who is co-hosting the morning program with veteran broadcaster Vic Mercado, asked Benitez: “What will happen to Albee Benitez, being a king-maker here in Negros Occidental, in case you lose the race against Mayor Bing?”
“If kung ang bati ko nga calling nila indi gali tu-od; for one reason nga indi ta magda-ug, mabalik ma lang ko ya sa akon gin-halinan,” was Benitez’s verbatim answer to Ellera.
(Assuming that I lose because the public outcry for me to run was not true after all, then I’ll just return to where I come from.)
He further added: “As I have said, wala ko ya galagas sang position; tani sang una pa sang 2019.”
If that is his contention, Sorongon pointed out, that he is not after any position, why did he run in Bacolod when he knows deep in his heart that he is from Victorias City.
“Mr. Benitez should not have taken the people of Bacolod for a ride. He should not have tricked us,” Sorongon emphasized.
The interview with Benitez, which was streamed on Mercado Publico’s FB Page, made the rounds of different social media platforms and shared by many netizens and political by-standers.
CALL FROM AN UNNAMED, OLD VENDOR
During the March 9 Debate Serye, the first face-to-face encounter of the ex-solon versus Leonardia broadcast live over DYHB Radyo Agong, Benitez claimed the turning point for his decision was that plea from an unnamed, old Central Market vendor, who allegedly called on him to run for mayor of Bacolod.
“That made me realize to heed the call of the people,” he replied when asked what compelled him to run.
According to the statement, the claim of Benitez regarding his decision to run for Mayor of Bacolod City irked netizens who made their reactions known on social media pages and platforms, asking the former solon to stop fooling them and return to where he came from.*