BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Billionaire businessman and former solon Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez has confirmed that he will seek the mayoral position of this highly-urbanized center of Negros Occidental province.
Benitez had been largely silent about his political plans since applying for a transfer of his voter’s registration here last May, this year.
On the sidelines of the hearing by the Electoral Registration Board yesterday, however, Benitez spilled the unexpected to local press at a famous chicken barbecue restaurant.
“I have seen and heard enough,” he told reporters who were barred from the local office where the ERB heard the petition filed by three Mandalagan village residents who claimed that Benitez is not a resident of Mountainview Subdivision, the upscale community Benitez claimed to be his residence.
“Bacolod City is drowning in corruption and is in want of good governance,” Benitez told DNX in a separate phone interview after his impromptu news conference.
He likened his decision to run to that of a stranger who saw a drowning person and decided to jump into the water.
“What would you do as a public official if you see a situation like that?” he asked.
Benitez became a representative to the Philippine House of Representatives for three straight terms or a total of nine years.
He reportedly did not declare this city as his residence.
The Third District is composed of the cities of Victorias, Silay and Talisay and the towns of Murcia and EB Magalona.
Bacolod belongs under a lone congressional district and is not under the political jurisdiction of the provincial government as a highly-urbanized city.
Benitez has been endorsed by mayors outside of Bacolod, as well as a league of local lawmakers to run as mayor of this city.
The ruling Grupo Progreso party had long dominated local politics, successfully winning 14 out of 15 local elective seats, including the top three ones, in the last 2019 polls.
Lawyer Marcus Aurelian Vaflor, counsel to complainants Hector Yula and the Abaos – Teodoro and Jonah – said Benitez’ declaration that he is running as mayor has sparked an influx of flyung voters to here.
“They claim to do it in good faith but they don’t intend to become domiciliaries or live here,” Vaflor told DNX.
Vaflor added his clients are not only opposing the transfer of Benitez but also those of more than 200 other applicants who want to become voters here.