BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The verbal tiff between Army and rebel officials simmered down over the local press this week as armed clashes ebbed in the countryside.
In this urban capital , however, the political cauldron bubbled anew as the Electoral Registration Board dismissed the opposition of three Mandalagan village residents against billionaire businessman and former solon Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez.
ERB members lawyer and local election registrar Kathrina Trinio Caña, lawyer and civil registrar Hermilo Pa-oyon, and assistant schools division superintendent Gladys Amylaine Sales dismissed the petition filed by Hector Yula and Teodoro and Jonah Abao and also approved the registration of Benitez to Mandalagan.
“We respect and thank the ERB for the decision; we have complete faith in the Comelec-ERB process,” Benitez said in a brief reaction sent by his publicist.
“Now, I am a registered voter of Bacolod City. Bacolod, here I come!” he added.
Benitez had announced last week that he will be seeking the mayoral post here, putting him on a looming collision course with sitting Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who also heads the ruling Grupo Progreso party.
Mandalagan Three counsel, lawyer Marcus Aurelian Vaflor had no comment today when sought out by DNX.
He said they have yet to receive an official copy of the ERB decision.
The ERB decision settles the residency requirement of Benitez who needs to be a resident here for him to seek a local elective post.
As the political temper rises here, the verbal tiff between Army 3rd Division spokesman Pancito Cenon III and Ka Juanito Magbanua of the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army ebbed midweek after a series of exchanges over the local press.
The exchanges came after a series of armed clashes in two cities and a town pitting rebels and soldiers.
The first reported clash was in northern Negros Occidental on 15 July 2021 in the village of Malasibog, Escalante City where a suspected rebel was killed and two others were captured, the Army claimed.
Almost a week later, another clash was reported down south in the town of Candoni where the Army said it overran a guerrilla lair in the sub village of Guinobatan, Caningay village on 21 July 2021.
Five battles erupted on that day, the Army and rebels both claimed as soldiers ran after the fleeing Reds.
“We killed five soldiers in the first volley of gunfire when they entered the camp,” Magbanua told DNX.
Just a day after, another clash took place in the upland village of Tan-awan in Kabankalan City where the rebels claimed five soldiers were killed.
“We used a command-detonated explosive,” Magbanua said, a claim Pancito scoffed at.
“He should show proof, we don’t feel ashamed if our soldiers die, we are proud of it,” he said in retort to the rebel spox.