Mayor Evelio Leonardia and his Grupo Progreso tagged the declaration of neutrality of their former ally, Rep. Greg Gasataya, as a sham and a political deception, saying that the solon’s actions the past weeks indicated he is clearly with the rival camp.
In a hastily called press conference at the Forest Park in Barangay Taculing, Leonardia, who formed Grupo Progreso in 2007, said the decision to officially cut ties with Gasataya was the consensus of the group in a meeting held shortly before they went public about their position.
He said Gasataya’s own actions were enough reasons that made them believe that he had already abandoned GP, the local political group that catapulted him as him as city councilor, vice mayor and Lone District congressman.
With Leonardia were Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and Councilors Archie Baribar, Renecito Novero, Cindy Tan- Rojas and Israel Salanga as well as ABC president Lady Gles Gonzales and SK Federation head Ayesha Joy Villaflor
Also present were GP candidates for the City Council former City Administrator Em Legaspi-Ang, Marlon Solidum, Ed Guillem, Dr. Chris Sorongon and former Barangay Captain Jonathan Diaz.
“This is the time to make a decision and make our stand very clear. This is about the so-called neutrality of Cong. Greg Gasataya. Before, we believed in his neutrality until lately, his actions, billboards and visits to the barangays are conclusive that he is not neutral,” Leonardia told newsmen.
His earlier declaration of neutrality is a sham, Leonardia said. “It has been proven that it is not real. It is political deception,” the mayor continued.
Gasataya’s actions on the ground, he said, are getting very clear that even loyal GP supporters and the Bacolodnons in general are getting confused because of his earlier pronouncements he will stay neutral.
“Our Grupo Progreso no longer believes in that because clearly, it is a sham,” he reiterated.
With the recent political development, Leonardia indicated that GP is now open to new political alliances.
He minced no words when pressed if the GP, consequently, will support the congressional bid of Danny Atayde against Gasataya.
“We are open to new alliances. We are open to everybody,” he replied.
Asked whether their move would mean that Gasataya is no longer a GP member, Leonardia said that should that happen it is because he (Gasataya) caused it by his actions.
He made it happen. He is responsible for severing ties with the GP, he added.
“We believed him earlier. In his declaration of neutrality, saying that he will do so until the end,” Leonardia stressed.
“We are in the midst of the political season and naturally, all of us observe and listen to our people on the ground. We, especially our organization (GP) continuously monitor the goings-on. We have our ears on the ground all this time, so for us, it is time to make conclusions, to make our stand particularly clear because our loyal supporters overwhelmingly had reported to us what is happening on the ground,” Leonardia said in his opening statement.
This is about the so-called neutrality of Congressman Greg Gasataya. Because we believed in what he said we carried him and even included his photo on our tarpaulin when we filed our certificate of candidacy, he recalled.
But recently, events and happenings showed, even in the tarpaulins, billboards, down the barangay, down the puroks, our ground people, made the conclusion that Congressman Gasataya is not neutral at all, Leonardia continued.
“For me and for the group present, the declaration of neutrality is a sham. We will not believe that now because it has been proven otherwise that he is neutral,” he pointed out.
He added: We had already stopped believing his claim because for us that’s the biggest political deception that had occurred here. We made it very clear so that Bacolodnons in general, will understand and know of the actual situation especially our leaders and our supports who were confused because of the so-called neutrality position that Cong. Gasataya declared.
If our leaders asked us (before) we said will be neutral since Gasataya said he is also neutral, he related.
“But this has proven to be very confusing and misleading. To set the records straight, to all our supporters, we are making this public declaration as the official stand of Grupo Progreso that we no longer believe the declaration of neutrality (of Congressman Gasataya). We feel that it is a sham and it is a political deception. We believe that is very clear. That is enough to deliver the message,” Leonardia added.*