Victorias officials exit PDP over gubernatorial race rift

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY — Victorias City Vice Mayor Abelardo Bantug III and nine councilors have resigned from the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) following the party’s indication of nominating former Mayor Wantan Palanca to contest incumbent Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson in the 2025 gubernatorial race.

In a letter addressed to PDP president Rep. Jose C. Alvarez, dated April 23, 2024, which later circulated online, the vice mayor and the councilors announced their irrevocable resignations.

Bantug conveyed that, as informed by Atty. Jesus “Jayvee” Villanueva Hinlo, deputy secretary-general for Visayas of PDP, the party had resolved, if necessary, to back Palanca for the gubernatorial bid in Negros Occidental, pitting him against Lacson.

The officials expressed their disappointment in the letter, noting the lack of consultation with Victorias City’s PDP members and incumbents, saying, “The decision was made without consulting the undersigned PDP members and incumbent officials of Victorias City.”

They criticized the party’s leadership in Negros Occidental for sidelining inclusivity and consultation, essential principles they believe should precede decision-making.

Their resignation, as stated in the letter, takes immediate effect, as they articulated that the PDP’s direction no longer aligns with their principles of governance and public service.

In response to the resignations, Hinlo, also the PDP Negros Occidental Council president, commented that PDP is intent on bolstering its presence in the region.

Despite the conjecture surrounding Palanca’s candidacy, Hinlo emphasized, “We are still in our consultation stage. Mayor Palanca has not even accepted it.”

Hinlo affirmed his ongoing dialogues with party affiliates and residents about PDP’s local political trajectory, emphasizing the personal nature of candidacy decisions and indicating that Palanca has yet to decide on a gubernatorial bid.

When queried about PDP’s candidate fielding strategy for the upcoming 2025 elections, Hinlo said, “Not necessarily in areas where the governance of the incumbent is exemplary. In areas where there is the need for better government service, we hope to field our own PDP candidates if we are able to find those whom we believe are better leaders.”