BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Rep. Greg Gasataya is now an official member of Team Asenso of Bacolod City mayoralty candidate Alfredo “Albee” Benitez.
The declaration was made yesterday by Benitez in front of 33 sectoral groups under the Alliance for Better Bacolod (ABB) who signed a manifesto supporting him and the entire Team Asenso.
Benitez said that Team Asenso will be now composed of “Fantastic 4” that includes him, his running mate, former Councilor Caesar Distrito, House Minority leader Rep. Stephen Paduano and Rep. Gasataya, as well as the Magic 12, composed of councilor aspirants under their group.
In the May 2022 elections, Team Asenso will campaign for a 16-0, he stressed.
Gasataya thanked the entire Team Asenso for the warm welcome.
Asked why he supports Benitez, Gasataya replied “we have a common direction for the betterment of Bacolodnons, that is not based on political color, more so how to improve the Bacolod economy, amid the pandemic.”
The Grupo Progreso led by incumbent Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia earlier cut its ties with Gasataya, whose declaration of neutrality they described as a “sham” and a “political deception.”
“When I said in my statement last year that I will deal with it accordingly, I think this will speak for itself,” Gasataya said.
Because of circumstances, Benitez said Gasataya decided to come out as neutral last year, after making an announcement that he will vote for him. But over the course of series of events that has transpired, Benitez said he (Gasataya) felt that he belongs here, more than the other side, which the other side also felt.”
“He is very much welcome here,” the former solon stressed.
Asked on his reaction that some barangay captains opt to support Group Progreso (GP), Gasataya said “we are not forcing anybody. If you want to join us, it should be a commitment to serve from the heart.”
Benitez, on the other hand, thanked the support of 33 multi-sectoral groups who heeded his call of “change” for Bacolod City.
The ABB led by its convenor, Atty. Lyzander “Bong” Dilag, and co-lead convenor Carmeli Bantug Zayco, signed a “manifesto of change” to support the mayoralty bid of Benitez during its launching at the Bantug Lake Ranch in Brgy. Granada, Bacolod City.
The sectoral group is composed of representatives from sectors of labor, consumers, PWDs, urban poor, LGBTQ, senior citizens, small fisher folk, vendors and academe that aims to achieve a comprehensive and progressive change towards a people first oriented governance. “To be the cornerstone and catalyst for a proactive and dynamic partnership of all stakeholders for a better city of Bacolod,” they also said.
Dilag said their group wants a “constructive engagement” during the May 9 elections.” “We will formulate policies from the different sectors and present to the new administration,” he added. “It’s time to change the policy makers in Bacolod,” he stressed.
Labor group Allan Gozon said that “now is not a time to be neutral.”
“We are not beholden to anyone. We are not being paid. Our intentions are clear for a better Bacolod,” he stressed.
Paduano, who is seeking another term as Abang Lingkod party-list group, said that former Rep. Benitez will not tolerate corruption, if given the chance to become a mayor of Bacolod City, even to his allies.
The 12 Team Asenso councilor-aspirants who attended the activity were Celia Flor, Sonia Verdeflor, Al Victor Espino, Jude Thaddeus Sayson, Homer Bais, Vladimir Gonzalez, Jayson Villarosa, Simple Distrito, Bart Orola, Pao Sy, Patrick Lacson and Kalaw Puentevella.*