Freeman Region

Some Negros Occidental areas may become ‘free zones’ in 2019 polls

Gilbert P. Bayoran - The Freeman

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Some towns and cities in Negros Occidental may end up as “free zones" (zona libre) in the 2019 elections, if clashes between some members of the United Negros Alliance (UNegA) and Love Negros cannot be settled.


Provincial Board Member Salvador Escalante, secretary general of UNegA, disclosed this yesterday, adding that they are not losing hope that the unification of the two local political groups at the provincial level may also be replicated in the towns and cities of Negros Occidental.

The tandem of Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and former Representative Jeffrey Ferrer — as gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial bets respectively — under the unity ticket of UNegA and Love-Negros in next year’s polls, is expected to be officially announced soon by the two political groups.

Representative Alfredo Benitez, who is now on his last term as congressman of the 3rd district of Negros Occidental, said he is giving way to Lacson for the gubernatorial position.

Lacson confirmed that he had talked to those mayors who issued an appeal for Benitez to reconsider his decision not to run for governor. “But we were able to settle it,” he said yesterday.

“I am thankful to Cong. Benitez for giving way and allowing me to run for governor in next year's election. Benitez has committed to be a partner and help the province even in his private capacity, and I look forward to this partnership,” Lacson told the media.

Members of Love-Negros are also expected to meet Sunday to finalize their political plans for the 2019 elections. “I think we should settle it once and for all,” Lacson said.

Convening Love-Negros to hear the sentiments of its members shows the character of a true leader, Escalante said, referring to Benitez.

Escalante said the official announcement of Love Negros on Sunday, will be followed by a joint proclamation of UNegA and Love Negros bets. "They will be back to the 2010 scenario where politicians under UNA were unified in running the affairs of the province," he added.

While local officials will do their share in the unification of the two local political groups, Escalante admitted that they are finding difficulties to unite UNegA and Love-Negros in four to five towns and cities, which may be declared as "free zones" eventually.

Escalante said they are looking into Himamaylan City, where members of a family are expected to clash, the towns of Salvador Benedicto and Toboso in the first district, and Silay City in the third district. “We will see, but miracles do happen,” he said.

The Commission on Election has set the period of the filing of certificates of candidacy from October 11 to 17.



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