Bacolod City, Negros Occidental— With the filing of Certificate of Candidacy for 2022 election fast approaching, a number of political allies of Mayor Evelio Leonardia under his local party, Grupo Progreso, are reported switching their support to another mayoralty candidate.
Councilor Al Victor Espino, a known supporter of Leonardia, confirmed yesterday that he was eased out from the GP team due to his association with former congressman Albee Benitez who previously expressed his interest to run as mayor of Bacolod.
But Leonardia in a statement was quick to deny that his party had kick-out Espino when they met last September3. The mayor said that everyone were asked to speak during their meeting and it was Espino who was the last to speak.
The atmosphere of the meeting according to mayor was cordial, but there was an apparent disagreement on certain sensitive matters and that was when Espino volunteered to leave.
Espino said he does not deny his closeness with Benitez as a friend but he stressed that politics and his affiliation to GP have nothing to do with it. He described himself as a loyal member of Leonardia’s group, even before GP was formed.
Leonardia thanked Espino for his involvement with GP through the years.
Aside from Espino, there are rumors that other members of the party are switching their support to the opponent of Leonardia. But when asked to comment, Espino said he cannot speak on behalf of the names that are rumored to move to another group.
Two allies of Leonardia, namely Congressman Greg Gasataya and former Councilor Caesar Distrito, were absent during the Friday meeting.
But Espino said Gasataya missed the meeting as he was with House Speaker Lord Velasco who was in the city. Gasataya on his Facebook posted a photo of him together with Velasco and 3rd District Congressman Jose Francisco Benitez. The congressman met with Velasco at The Ruins.
Meanwhile, Distrito missed the meeting as he was administering an exam at the University of St. La Salle. But the mother of Distrito, incumbent Clr. Simple Distrito was at the meeting.