CORRECT me if I am wrong but for the first time Cong. Alfredo Benitez of the 3rd Congressional District of Occidental Negros got a bashing from, of all sources, the spokesman of his former political protégé, Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia. The assault against Benitez, popularly called “Albee” came out of Leonardia’s controlled publication which suggests that he or his family approved the piece. The paper, after all has become a political tool to enhance and protect the public image of Leonardia and lambast those who cross him. It thus became a venue against Benitez.
That the attack comes from a commentary makes it more credible that this has the blessing of the Leonardia. If the attack were from someone in the anti-Benitez camp published as news, it would be understandable because it would appear under the cover of legitimate reporting.
But the bashing against Benitez last week is an opinion that the editor can either reject and throw into a dustbin or edit to the point of a literary massacre beyond recognition.
However, from the looks of it, the entire anti-Benitez piece was published unedited. So, why would a writer known for closeness to Leonardia bash Benitez? Was not Benitez the financier of Leonardia and whose influence contributed considerably in getting Leonardia elected in 2016?
There had been talks that Benitez this time has refrained from supporting Leonardia. I insinuated this last year when Stephen Paduano, the party list congressman closely allied with Benitez began moves to run for mayor against Leonardia. Paduano, popularly known as Karap, would not have dared run against Leonardia without the congressman’s blessing or at least his tolerance. That attempt fizzled out and Paduano entered into an alliance with ABB mayoralty candidate Atty. Jocelle Batapa Sigue.
Benitez attended the opening salvo of the Paduano-Sigue campaign last week. He is not running for any post but he was there and explained that he is endorsing only Paduano and no other. That he made a disclaimer means that he knew that his presence can be misunderstood. He was honest about it but the apparently envious Leonardia apparently did not believe him because right after the event Leonardia’s spokesman questioned the congressman’s sincerity.
Wrote the spokesperson, “I cannot quite grasp what deeper reasons Albee had for doing what he did (attending the opposition rally).His mere presence there can only lead to the conclusion that he was in fact, a supporter of the ABB-MKK.”
Exactly that’s the reason Benitez issued a disclaimer, but then Leonardia’s camp did not believe at all. Is the Leonardia camp saying Benitez lied? It seems so but how many times have people refused to believe the truth? In fact, the writer posed a loaded question, “why deny it?” But that is what the congressman did because he had no “deeper reasons” to lie.
Granting that we believe the conclusion of the Leonardia camp that Benitez is supporting the opposition alliance, why should that infuriate him as to practically call Benitez a liar? Are they afraid that the support of Benitez would scuttle their plan to remain in power in Bacolod?
What they should now get worried about is because of this unfair and uncalled for tirade Benitez might as well decide not to make liars of them and come out openly to support the alliance.
I consider the tirade against the congressman as uncalled for because they also said that Benitez is positioning himself to be the leader of the province and “he cannot be a divisive factor but a uniting force.”
Indeed, but what has that got to do with the city affairs since the province has no jurisdiction over the city? Is there a phobia in the Leonardia camp that Benitez will poke his fingers in the administration of the city in the event BatapaSigue won the mayor’s seat?
Did Benitez intervene in the city affairs after he financially supported Leonardia in past elections? If he did, then the Leonardia camp should expose this “intervention” that can be a factor in the people’s rejection of his candidates. Or is this a rejected ingrate’s unrequited reaction?
They know the potential power of Benitez’ support so much so that they went into frenzy when he attended the alliance gathering. However, by making Benitez a liar, are they not forcing him to do exactly what they fear?