Historic political merger realized; Benitez’s sacrifice acknowledged
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.*
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.
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.
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.