No political talks until 2024, NegOcc guv says

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (Capitol Photo)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Thursday maintained his stand on not talking about politics until 2024.

Lacson told reporters that he has not talked to nor called Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez about politics amid reports that the latter’s son, Victorias City Mayor Javi Benitez, is running for governor in 2025.

“No, we haven’t talked about politics, remember I even asked the media not to ask me about politics in 2023 but I guess in 2024 if it is political then I guess we will have more talk with Mayor Albee,” Lacson said.

The younger Benitez, on the other hand, denied reports that he is running against Lacson in the 2025 elections.

The reports were triggered by Javi Benitez visiting fellow mayors and attending events in different local government units of Negros Occidental.

The younger Benitez said they are focused on planning and implementing programs and projects for Victorias City.

“If people feel that what we’re doing here can be replicated, then it’s a testament to our performance so far. That’s all there is to it, and we have still so much to do here,” Javi Benitez said.

Earlier, Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr, secretary general of the United Negros Alliance (UNegA), said their alliance with Love Negros remains strong.

“As far as I know, the coalition is still holding and getting stronger,” Escalante said, as he pointed out that Gov. Lacson helped them even though he is not a member of their group.

“The coalition is strong and I am sure it will carry up to the next election,” Escalante said.

Lacson, who is a member of the Love Negros Team, said he did not play favorites even from day 1 of his administration.

“We did not play favorites because we have a coalition, so we try to serve everyone regardless of political affiliation,” Lacson said.

He said he is also happy that UNegA-led LGUs don’t feel alienated.

Amid reports that incumbent Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer will run for a different post in the 2025 polls, the governor said it will be the choice of UNegA who they will field for vice governor.

The younger Benitez’s name also came out as a possible candidate, while the other one is Escalante.

During the 2019 elections, Love Negros, of which Lacson and Mayor Albee are members, and United Negros Alliance (UNegA), the party of the late Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr., fielded a common slate at the provincial level, which was also repeated in the  2022 elections.