BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Work is now in the offing for the possibility that Love Negros and United Negros Alliance will support common candidates aspiring for national positions in the May next year elections.
This was revealed by UNegA secretary general Salvador Escalante, who is the mayor of Cadiz City, after a recent meeting with former Representative-turned provincial consultant Alfredo Benitez.
Escalante said that Benitez wants to reach out and meet with UNegA members.
“He wants Negros leaders to decide as one. To choose a common presidential candidate and senators. So we will have a voice.” Escalante said, apparently referring to Benitez.
In previous elections, UNegA and Love Negros supported different presidential candidates and senators in various political groups, which, according to Benitez, did not produce anything good for Negros, Escalante also said.
During the 2019 elections, Negros Occidental had more than 1.8 million voters, and the Comelec expects the number to increase.
During the meeting, Escalante said that Benitez committed to support all incumbent UNegA mayors. “That means no Love Negros candidate will run against incumbent UNegA mayors,” he added.
Except those who are already ending their terms in 2022, Escalante said that would entail a different set-up.
During the meeting, Escalante said it was decided to create a committee to strengthen the merger, which will be composed of Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon III who will represent UNegA, with Benitez and Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson for Love Negros.
Benitez is being urged to run for senator in next year’s elections, with streamers and tarpaulin being placed in strategic areas of different towns and cities, urging him to do so.
Asked if UNegA mayors are willing to meet their counterparts with Love Negros, Escalante said it will be no problem to them.
“Nothing is personal,” Escalante said, noting that political leaders in Negros Occidental had been together for so many years, except on 2013 and 2016.
“We had a semblance of camaraderie in 2019 and, hopefully, in 2022 we can return to the 2010 level of politics in Negros,” he added.
We want to work as one, we decide as one so we will have one voice,” Escalante said.
UNegA has 13 incumbent mayors and six board members while Love Negros has 17 mayors and nine board members, including ex- oficio members.*