BACOLOD CITY – Officials here – from the village to the district – gave their two-cents worth on the interview by broadcaster Ben Tulfo of Mayor Evelio Leonardia related to a complaint over what was claimed to be a MassKara-related basketball game.
Lone District Cong. Greg Gasataya said in a post in his social media account that Leonardia had nothing to do with the event, the Probinsyano Basketball game held on 26 October 2019 at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum.
“May I just set the records straight; as far as I know, Mayor Bing is not part of the Probinsyano Basketball exhibition game in Bacolod contrary to what is being circulated in the social media,” Gasataya said.
The solon, a Grupo Progreso partymate of Leonardia, added “When the organizers reached out to me to ask for sponsorship, I was told that it was an undertaking of the Bacolod PNP together with the organizers from Manila.”
Village 13 chief Andre Familiaran, for his part, praised Leonardia as his “idol” and posted a photo of the mayor with the status message: “Ari ya ang Idol ko. Wala gka tay-og, wala na lingkang kag indi ma kuraw sang mga announcer nga ga pakamalaot sa iya. Gina pabugal ko gd ya sa tanan nga ikaw ang mayor ko.”
“Here is my idol. He was not shaken, jolted or fazed by announcers who condemned him. I am proud, most of all, that you are my mayor.”
Familiaran is the son of Leonardia’s running mate and incumbent Vice Mayor El Cid and is reputed as a staunch supporter of Leonardia who is the longest-serving mayor here.
The officials were reacting to posts on social media showing a video of an interview by the popular Manila-based broadcaster of Leonardia on his show, “Bitag (trapped in Filipino).”
The video, titled “Bacolod LGU, ginantso ‘Ang Probinsyano’ actors-players!” shows Tulfo interviewing a woman, alias Norma, who was wearing a grey hoodie and black sunglasses to protect her real identity.
Norma claimed she was one of the organizers of a basketball event here last 26 October during the MassKara Festival, and brought along a team of actors-players, Team Promdi to play against Artistahing Bacoleños in an exhibition match.
The team was not paid, she said, as she showed a blank, unsigned cheque bearing the name of Al Victor Espino, a councilor allied with Leonardia.
Despite her repeated follow-up with Espino, they remained unpaid, she added.
Gasataya, in his post, said “the activity was organized to support programs and projects of the local police and has nothing to do with the office of Mayor Bing.”
Leonardia, interviewed by Tulfo, said the game was a “personal project” of Espino and offered to help the complainant by telling Espino that Tulfo called him about the issue.
Tulfo said Leonardia has nothing to do with the issue but insisted that the one involved is “your (Leonardia’s) councilor” and that the mayor can do more than just relaying the issue to Espino as “the father of the city” as the event was for “the people of Bacolod.”
Tulfo went on to tell Leonardia about the role of the media and told him to do something about the issue before “it blows up in your face” to which Leonardia said “thank you, Ben.”
At the end of the interview, Tulfo told Leonardia to “get out of my face.”
He also commented after the interview: kayong mga nasa Bacolod nakikita nyo ang mayor ninyo walang katorya torya baka dilawan pa ang putok sa buho na to (You in Bacolod can now see your mayor who is uninteresting, he might even be a Yellow supporter).”
Leonardia is now on his second three-year term after winning the 2016 polls over then Mayor Monico Puentevella.
Leonardia is the only mayor so far to have served three full terms of three years each – from 2004 to 2013.
He first served as mayor in 1995 but was defeated in 1998 by Oscar Verdeflor, a political upstart.