'United Vi­sion'

His­toric po­lit­i­cal merger re­al­ized; Ben­itez’s sac­ri­fice ac­knowl­edged

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY TERESA D. ELLERA

THE two ma­jor po­lit­i­cal groups in the prov­ince, the United Ne­gros Al­liance (Unega) and the Love Ne­gros, made an­other break­through in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of the prov­ince through its merger that was of­fi­cially sealed yes­ter­day with the nom­i­na­tion of their com­mon can­di­dates for the top two pro­vin­cial po­si­tions - the tan­dem of Vice Gov­er­nor Eu­ge­nio Jose Lac­son and former Fourth District rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jef­frey Fer­rer.

Third District Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Al­fredo Ben­itez made the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of the merger and nom­i­na­tion of Love Ne­gros of Lac­son as the of­fi­cial can­di­date for gov­er­nor while Gov­er­nor Al­fredo Marañon Jr. made the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment on the back­ing of Unega of Lac­son’s nom­i­na­tion and nom­i­nated Fer­rer as the of­fi­cial can­di­date for vice Gov­er­nor.

“What we are do­ing will be vi­ral all over the coun­try. That we will have a peace­ful elec­tion and hope­fully they will repli­cate this. We are fac­ing a lot of prob­lems and I’m sure with this unity, it could lessen to the prob­lem,” Marañon said.

He also cited Ben­itez for his “sac­ri­fice” to unite the prov­ince. “Al­bee could have run for gov­er­nor and many of you urged him to run but be­cause of his at­ti­tude of be­ing a states­man, that he is not just think­ing of him­self but for the good of the prov­ince and coun­try, he sac­ri­ficed his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture for the good of the prov­ince,” he said.

He also cited Fer­rer’s sac­ri­fice that he could even have a re­match with Lac­son but he opted to ac­cept the chal­lenge for the unity in the prov­ince.

Ben­itez, for his part, said the merger sce­nario started af­ter him and Marañon talked. “We de­cided to have tan­dem of ‘Dou­ble A,’ Al­fredo Ben­itez and Al­fredo Marañon, in the pri­vate sec­tor,” he said, adding that “pub­lic ser­vice does not re­quire po­si­tion. He said they can still help their con­stituents and the prov­ince even if they are not in an elec­tive pos­si­tion.

He said the merger will not be pos­si­ble if not for the de­ci­sive stead­fast, and vi­sion of the Gov­er­nor to put us all to­gether in this room and speak in front of ev­ery­body.”

“The prov­ince will now have a united lead­er­ship and united vi­sion,” he said.

He also said that of­fi­cials in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal led by Gov­er­nor Roel Deg­amo have also set­tled their dif­fer­ences and mended their ways. “The whole Ne­gros Is­land has a united ticket mov­ing to­wards 2019.”

“It’s hard to talk about unity if you can’t do it in the com­mu­nity,” he said, adding that “unity is trend­ing now.”

Board Mem­ber Sal­vador Es­calante Jr., sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Unega said.

“This is a very his­toric event in the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of our prov­ince.

Jan­uary of 18 years ago, United Ne­gros Al­liance (UNA) was cre­ated and nine years ago we again re­newed our vows in a procla­ma­tion rally at Bredco and now here we are show­ing our in­ter­est for the merger and unity.”

“This merger could not have hap­pened if not for the sac­ri­fices of many of us. We ac­knowl­edge the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice of Con­gress­man Al­bee Ben­itez. He could have de­manded that he should be the can­di­date for gov­er­nor and even as sen­a­tor but he opted not to run in any po­lit­i­cal ex­er­cise this 2019 but cre­ated one vi­sion, one voice, one Visayas which is geared to­wards har­ness­ing the whole eco­nomic might of the en­tire Visayas re­gion which en­tails a great sac­ri­fice,” Es­calante said.

He also ac­knowl­edged Marañon’s lega­cies that now put Ne­gros as the num­ber five prov­ince in the whole coun­try in terms of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic achieve­ments and cited some projects like the P4 Project amount­ing to P1.7 bil­lion and the re­al­iza­tion of a brand new Pro­vin­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tion Cen­ter amount­ing to P900 mil­lion.

The event at the Na­ture’s Vil­lage Ho­tel and Re­sort was at­tended yes­ter­day by all the in­cum­bent may­ors in the prov­ince ex­cept for Moises Padilla Mayor Mag­daleno Peña and his son, Pulu­pan­dan Mayor Jose Miguel Pena.

Aside from Ben­itez, other con­gress­man who was present wassec­ond District Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Leo Rafael Cueva.

For his ac­cep­tance, Lac­son first ac­knowl­edged the sac­ri­fice made by Ben­itez. “We waited un­til the last day Al­bee made the de­ci­sion,” he said.

He also re­vealed that it was as early as Jan­uary 2017 that Ben­itez told him that he need not have to have a po­si­tion in 2019.

“That he was al­ways open that I should run for gov­er­nor but I have waited up to the very last day that he made the an­nounce­ment and fi­nal de­ci­sion. So thank you for the sac­ri­fice and be as­sured that you made the right de­ci­sion but I would like to re­mind Cong. Al­bee that he promised to help Ne­gros in his pri­vate ca­pac­ity to bring in in­vest­ments in the prov­ince which is very im­por­tant. We need out­siders in­vestors to help Ne­gros,” he said, adding “we need the help” of Ben­itez and Marañon on this.

There are many skep­tics about the merger, he said, “many say that this is only for con­ve­nience and the re­spon­si­bil­ity is up to us right now to prove it. What is im­por­tant is we made the first step. So let us co­op­er­ate and be re­minded we are in pub­lic ser­vice be­cause we want to help our prov­ince. Part­ner Jef­frey, soon we will be meet­ing and rest as­sured I will lis­ten to your sug­ges­tions for the good of the prov­ince. Let us work for the good of the prov­ince,” he added.

For his part, Fer­rer said he has been flex­i­ble and that he has ac­cepted his de­feat with Lac­son whole­heart­edly de­spite that he only lost to him by 11,000 votes out of about 1.3 mil­lion vot­ers in the prov­ince in the last 2016 elec­tions.

He said that he has learned a lot es­pe­cially of the re­al­i­ties that in pol­i­tics, there is no per­ma­nent friends and op­po­nents.

Mean­while, Lac­son con­firmed that they will file their Cer­tifi­cate of Can­di­dacy with Fer­rer, mem­bers of the board and con­gress­men on Oc­to­ber 16.*

TERESA ELLERA

LEAD­ERS and mem­bers of United Ne­gros Al­liance and Love Ne­gros dur­ing the an­nounce­ment of a uni­fied ticket in the 2019 polls at Na­ture’s Vil­lage Re­sort in Tal­isay City on Wed­nes­day.

CARLA CAÑET

From left: Board Mem­ber Sal­vador Es­calante Jr., former Fourth District rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jef­frey Fer­rer, Gov­er­nor Al­fredo Marañon Jr., Third District Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Al­fredo Ben­itez, and Vice Gov­er­nor Eu­ge­nio Jose Lac­son.

CARLA CAÑET

ALL SMILES. Vice Gov­er­nor Eu­ge­nio Jose Lac­son (right) and former Fourth District rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jef­frey Fer­rer will run for the top two pro­vin­cial posts in 2019.

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