BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
No one had asked Bacolod Councilor Al Victor Espino to leave the Grupo Progreso Party nor was there any effort to ease him out as what appeared in a news article, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said yesterday.
Leonardia was referring to the reported exit Friday of Espino from GP in an article published Saturday in a news website headlined, “Partyless Espino says he is heartbroken by Bing’s decision easing him out of ruling Grupo Progreso”, quoting him as the main source of the story.
In a press conference yesterday, Espino reiterated that he did not leave the GP but that he was eased out. He also claimed that the mayor told him that he has lost his trust in him during a meeting with the party.
“I respect him as a leader and as a political ally,” he said.
To set the record straight, no one in the GP moved to ease him out as it is claimed in the same interview, Leonardia said.
In a party meeting he and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran attended, Espino was also present, joining eight other incumbent Councilors Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, Simple Distrito, Carlos Jose Lopez, Archie Baribar, Israel Salanga, Dindo Ramos and Bartolome Orola, Sr., the mayor said.
Also in attendance were former Councilor-now-City Administrator Em Legaspi-Ang and party member Marlon Solidum, he added.
Leonardia said their meeting centered on moving towards the finalization of the party slate and the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October which is fast approaching.
Everyone was asked to speak. Those present reaffirmed their decision and commitment to run under the banner of the GP. They also reiterated their continued support to the party platform, policies and programs, he said.
Leonardia said the discussions were open and the atmosphere was cordial. And Espino happened to be the last one to speak. After he had given his piece he responded which started a long exchange of views and opinions.
As there was an apparent disagreement on certain sensitive matters, that was when Espino volunteered to leave while the meeting was on-going, he said.
The manner of his physical exit, in fact, was also cordial. There was even that friendly fist bump, Leonardia said.
“In closing, allow me to thank Councilor Espino for his involvement all these years that he had been with Grupo Progreso. The political circumstances, as it could happen elsewhere, may change accordingly though,” he said.
Again, his parting of ways with his party mates was his own voluntary act. As explained earlier, no one had asked him to leave the GP nor was there an effort to ease him out as what appeared in that news story, Leonardia said.
Meanwhile, Espino said he is even contemplating not running in the May 2022 elections. He would only run if there is a compelling reason that will again ignite his passion to serve the people of Bacolod City.*