The Manila Times : 28 Negros mayors back BBM-SARA

24 February 2022

By Eugene Y. Adiong | The Manila Times

BACOLOD CITY: Chief executives of 28 local government units in Negros Occidental have expressed support to the candidacy of UniTeam presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

This was affirmed during a meeting on Wednesday, February 23, in Bacolod City.

Valladolid Mayor Enrique Miravelles, president of the League of Municipalities in Negros Occidental, said that 19 mayors attended the meeting but a total of 28 are backing BBM-Sara.

San Carlos City Mayor Renato Gustilo, meanwhile, said that the entire first district of Negros Occidental, composed of two cities and three towns, "is all out for the UniTeam."

In San Carlos City, Gustilo said, all elected officials including village captains agreed to support Marcos and Duterte-Carpio in the May 9 national and local elections.

"And we have decided to support BBM-Sara," said Gustilo, adding that even Rep. Gerardo Valmayor and former congressman Julio Ledesma 4th have expressed support to the UniTeam.

"This is a free country," the mayor said in reaction to claims by some sectors that Negros is "pink country," referring to the campaign color of Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo who is also running for president.

"Anybody can support any candidate they want. This is the call of BBM that this is a united team like in San Carlos City where we have a Team Unity," he pointed out.

He added every time Marcos runs for public office, the people accuse him of corruption and human rights violation.

"How many yellow presidents did we have but failed to jail any of the Marcoses?" asked Gustilo, referring to the political color of the Liberal Party.

However, Gustilo said that the group "respects the choice of Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson to support Vice President Leni Robredo for president."

Marcos and Duterte-Carpio arrived on Wednesday to lead a grand rally in Bacolod.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, husband Mike Arroyo and son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo also arrived in Bacolod along with the UniTeam contingent.

"I cannot give the votes as the people of Negros are intelligent voters. I bring them (Marcos and Duterte-Carpio) here so that they can talk to the people of Negros, who are very intelligent voters," Macapagal-Arroyo said.

"My role is to introduce them to our supporters here because Negros Occidental has always made my father win and made me win by a big margin from the beginning."

Arroyo said Marcos' wife, Liza Araneta, is from Bago City.

"So, I am a daughter-in-law of Negros Occidental, especially from Binalbagan and BBM is also a son-in-law of the province, " the former president said.

Also seen at the meeting were Rep. Gerardo Valmayor (first district), Rep. Francisco Benitez (third district), Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer (fourth district) and Rep. Marilou Arroyo (fifth district).

Also present were Rep. Stephen Paduano of the Abang Lingkod party-list and former congressmen Alfredo Benitez and Mercedes Alvarez.

Marcos and Duterte-Carpio did not grant any media interviews but joined the caravan with supporters.

Cabinet member joins Masada crusade

Meanwhile, the Marcos Sara Duterte Alliance or Masada has found a new ally in a Cabinet member who officially joined the nationwide crusade endorsing the two candidates.

In a press statement reaching The Manila Times, acting Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Bernie Cruz said he has joined Masada to support Marcos and Duterte-Carpio in the coming May elections.

In a meeting with Masada national lead convenor Energy Undersecretary Benito Ranque, Cruz said that he is joining the Masada crusade to continue the gains of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte whose term ends in June 2022.

Ranque said the commitment of Cruz will bolster the snowballing support to the UniTeam.

Described by his peers as a man of few words but a person of action, Cruz served as DAR undersecretary for Foreign Assisted Project Office before he was appointed DAR acting secretary.

Cruz has set up the Masada Operation Center in Makati and will also set up a Masada Headquarters in Zambales province.

On its official Facebook page, Masada said the alliance is a force to reckon with as the North meets the South, the strength of the two powerhouses plus all the parties, groups, sectors, and individuals that support it combined.

WITH REPORTS FROM LEANDER C. DOMINGO