The mayors of Negros Occidental do not want to see the disintegration of the United Negros Alliance with a showdown between its top two officials for the gubernatorial post in 2013, they want a peaceful resolution to the dispute, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) said yesterday.
At a press conference at the Bacolod Pavillon Resort Hotel, Benitez, however, refused to say if he will support Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. or Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr. for UNA gubernatorial bet.
“The proper announcement will be done once we’ve officially convened to select the candidate for the governorship,” he said.
Alvarez has announced that he is the Nationalist People’s Coalition choice for governor, while Marañon has said that he will run for re-election in 2013.
UNA is a coalition of Negros Occidental candidates who are members of different national parties.
Benitez said a formal UNA selection process, based on previous practice, has to be followed in the choice of its gubernatorial bet.
The practice is that the congressmen meet to decide who the governor will be, and the governor then will be given the authority to choose his vice governor, he said. The congressmen also select the mayors of their district, and the mayors pick their vice mayor and councilors, Benitez added.
On claims that Marañon has more mayors supporting him than Alvarez, Benitez said “It is the congressmen, not the mayors, who chose the governor.”
The UNA members must adhere to the party selection process, he said. “If we allow everyone do what they want, there will be no order and unity, we will just be in a realm of chaos,” Benitez said.
It is in the best interest of everyone within the party to ensure unity, he said.
The governor remains the chairman of UNA, who convenes the party for the selection process, Benitez added.
UNA members must say if they want to adopt the equity of the incumbent policy or not, Benitez also said.
It ensures unity and peaceful selection, but on the flipside is, if a known person within the organization is not anymore acceptable and is not doing a good job, do we still act based on the equity of the incumbent? he asked.
One can abuse his position, and come election day say he cannot be kicked out because of the rule on the equity of the incumbent, Benitez added.
“That is a policy that I think should not be observed or followed strictly,” he said.
RATING OF GUV
On his rating of Marañon as governor, Benitez said “There are good points and strong points…The governor is maybe not to the expectation that we thought the governor will be in the province, but it has not been such a poor performance…he’s there, he’s okay.”
It has been alleged that Benitez, Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District) and Rep. Julio Ledesma IV (Neg. Occ., 1st District) will go for Alvarez and Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ., 2nd District), Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District) and Rep. Alejandro Mirasol (Neg. Occ., 5th District) will go for Marañon.
“I am part of a whole…the whole will make the decision on who it will be. At the end of the day, it is not personal anymore, this is something that has to do with how to preserve the greater good for the party,” Benitez said, when further pressed on whom he is supporting.
Whoever UNA endorses for governor will have an edge, said Benitez, when asked if Alvarez could defeat Marañon.
It has been rumored that close business interest involving ShoeMart is partly the reason why some top party officials want Marañon ousted, because it was AyalaLand that was granted the right to lease and purchase 7.7 hectares of provincial government prime land in Bacolod City, and not SM.
But Benitez yesterday said the dispute over who should be awarded the lease and purchase of the Capitol property has already been brought to the court for decision, “so it not anymore within us, let us leave the results to the court.”
Benitez, chairman of the Liberal Party in Negros Occidental, also said he was not aware that Marañon may be joining the LP when asked about it at the press conference.
On the possibility of former Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson running against him for congressman of the third district, Benitez said that is his option, this is a free world.
Asked if he expects a good fight, Benitez said “Let my performance speak for itself...It is but natural to be threatened but I am confident enough to say I have done my job.”
Lacson has yet to announce that he is challenging Benitez, but it has been noted that he has been making the rounds of the third district.*CPG