Three Bacolod councilors, who are close political allies of Mayor Evelio Leonardia, failed to attend his birthday celebration at the Forest Park Resort in Bacolod City yesterday, fueling speculations of a rift within Grupo Progreso.
But Leonardia and the councilors doused speculations, insisting that there is no rift.
Councilor Al Victor Espino admitted that he and councilors Dindo Ramos and Homer Bais intentionally did not go to Leonardia’s birthday party to avoid former Bacolod Vice Mayor Renecito Novero, who attended the event.
The names of the three councilors have been floated as possible vice mayoralty candidates of Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, who is said to be eyeing the mayoralty post in 2013, under the Grupo Progreso and of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Novero, who is also a member of the NPC, is reportedly running again for vice mayor of Bacolod, together with Sayson, and Leonardia, who is the chairman of the party in Bacolod and who may run for Congress.
“We cannot bear to be in the same place with Novero, who verbally attacked the entire Grupo Progreso in the 2010 election”, Espino said.
“I cannot be part of a group willing to trade political principles for convenience”, Espino added.
He added that they stood by Leonardia, especially on issues regarding the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corporation port revised reclamation agreement while Novero stood by Simplicio Palanca, who is the president of BREDCO.
Bais, Ramos and Espino were at the latter’s resort in Murcia town, Negros Occidental, yesterday but they clarified that they are not withdrawing their support for Leonardia and Sayson.
Asked for his reaction, Leonardia appealed to his political foes not to use this issue to sow intrigue among their group.
Leonardia stressed there is nothing final yet as to the list of candidates of NPC and if there are names coming out, that remains to be speculative.
Sayson said they are still looking into probable candidates for their slate and that they will announce it soon. He said they will choose a vice mayoralty candidate who can best represent the SP. He added there is no rift within their group.
Novero, who ran as congressman under Grupo Serbisyo in 2010 together with Leonardia’s political ace rival, Monico Puentebella, said he and the Mayor remained friends although they belonged to separate groups.
Novero ran for councilor under Leonardia’s slate in 1995 and as congressman in 2007.
Novero said that so far, he and Leonardia have not talked about politics yet although he said he is open to the possibility that he may be chosen as the vice mayoralty candidate of NPC.
Novero said he will respect the decision of the majority, but if he will be selected, he said he hopes that other party members would respect it.
He also said that if he will run with Leonardia and Sayson, he will ask incumbent councilors Sonia Verdeflor, Archie Baribar, El Cid Familiaran and Elmer Sy to join him.*APN