- Both former mayor Evelio Leonardia and new Mayor Albee Benitez did not show up at BCGC today
- City dad says turnover was “smooth” but documents were missing
By Mira Nicole Magbanua, Lysa Raquinel, Paula Villarosa with Banjo Hinolan and Rodney Jarder Jr.
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – It was a “smooth,” largely uneventful, turnover at the Bacolod City Government Center, formerly the New Government Center that former Mayor Evelio Leonardia called “my baby” as the official turnover mandated by law came and went noontime today, 30 June 2022 here.
Both new Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez and former Mayor Evelio Leonardia were not present today for their respective assumption and exit from the mayorship.
Lone District Cong. Greg Gasataya, who chairs the Transition Team, led Benitez allies and team members in entering the ceremonial hall of the city mayor in the third floor of the BCGC around 11am today as supporters of Leonardia’s Grupo Progreso, mostly wearing red shirts, crowded a PWD access ramp in front of the BCGC.
A small number of Asenso supporters, mostly wearing white, gathered in front of the BCGC, just outside the main entrance of the building.
Some policemen were deployed to the BCGC to provide security although local police operations chief, Lt. Col. Lester Leada, said Leonardia and Benitez were able to talk and could have told their followers to maintain the peace.
“There seems to be no threat,” Leada said earlier as the turnover was going on.
Gasataya said representatives of the previous administration led by Victoria Parreñas turned over the documents required by the Department of Interior and Local Government to ensure a smooth transition between administrations.
Re-elected Councilor Al Victor Espino, a member of the team, said there were some “missing documents,” however, although he did not specify yet what those missing documents are.
At the second floor, most of the offices of outgoing councilors were cleared to give way to new occupants.
Below, outside the main entrance, scores of people wearing red shirts gathered on the PWD access ramp as the transition team members arrived.
Some said they were former casual workers of the Leonardia administration.
“Wala (none),” Evelyn Verdolojo, 54, told DNX when asked what she expects from the Benitez government.
Verdolojo, described herself as a diehard supporter of the former mayor like Romelita Talabon, 66, who expressed her gratitude for Leonardia.
“Ikaw ang amon mayor nga indi gid namon malimtan asta siguro mapatay na lang kami (you are our mayor we will not forget until we die),” Talabon added.
She said she supported Leonardia since he became a councilor and was able to send her children to school because of the work he gave her.
It is not yet known, however, how many casual workers like Talabon and Verdolojo have been employed by City Hall although Espino said they have yet to go over the documents in some of the offices to know this.
For now, things appear to have went on smoothly at City Hall.
“As the head of the transition team, it is my obligation to ensure a smooth, orderly, and peaceful transition and I think we were able to achieve that,” Gasataya said.
Adolfo Infante, a supporter of Benitez, said he volunteered to direct traffic and help in security because he is a” diehard” of the new mayor.
The work begins for the new administration as Benitez takes over City Hall.
He will be inaugurated tomorrow with Gasataya and Abang Lingkod solon Stephen Paduano.
Around 11am, the supporters of Leonardia were mostly gone.
Some stopped by hawkers to buy refreshments.
Mary Anne Delicano, 51, a supporter of Albee Benitez saw them from afar.
“Goodbye,” she said.