Interior and Local Government regional director Evelyn Trompeta yesterday reminded barangay captains and Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen to be non-partisan, after they issued a manifesto of trust and confidence in the leadership of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia to continue serving the people of Bacolod beyond his term as mayor.
The manifesto was signed by 51 barangay captains and 55 SK chairmen in Bacolod City.
Trompeta said such activities are not prohibited, but they are discouraging them because of the non-partisan policy.
She said the filing of certificates of candidacy will be on October 1 to 5 yet.
Association of Barangay Captains president and Councilor Mona Dia Jardin, however, said that the manifesto signed by the barangays captains urging the Mayor to continue serving the people of Bacolod beyond his term as Mayor was done out of their own free will.
The manifesto does not say anything about endorsing or supporting Leonardia for any position, she added.
She said they were not forced to sign it but they did so freely because of their trust and confidence in the leadership of Leonardia.
Jardin denied speculations that there was money involved and that the barangay captains were given projects to compel them to sign the manifesto.
She said they believe that the Mayor deserves their trust and confidence to continue serving the people of Bacolod.
Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez, Jr., in an interview over ABS-CBN, said the barangay captains were being held hostage by the Leonardia administration because if they will not sign the manifesto, there might be a possibility that the release of the Pagcor assistance of P20,000 a month being given to them plus the P300,000 share in the Annual Investment Plan, might be jeopardized.
It is not surprising that they will sign the manifesto, he said.
In the same TV interview, Brgy. 18 Barangay Captain Madeline Diaz, one of the 10 who did not sign the manifesto, said that if Leonardia did that, Golez can also do the same.
Brgy. 15 Barangay Captain Anjo Ayco said he does not believe there was money involved, but he believes that the barangays should refrain from participating in such act because under the law, the barangays should remain apolitical or non-partisan.
Jardin said the manifesto was just an expression of a sentiment that was favorable to the Mayor. But there was no official endorsement made, it was purely an expression of their wish for him to continue his service to the people of Bacolod, she said.
Leonardia, meanwhile, said that for Golez to say that the 51 barangay captains and 55 Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen were held hostage into signing the manifesto of support for his leadership is an insult. He also said, “Look who’s talking.”
Golez should remember that when he was planning to run for mayor in the past years, he brought the barangay captains to his residence and made them sign a manifesto of support for him, Leonardia said. That was what can truly be classified as hostaging, he said.
He added that if 51 barangay captains and 55 SK chairman had signed a similar manifesto for Golez, he would not have complained, or say what Golez is saying.
Leonardia said Golez can ask these leaders if they received money, were forced to sign, or whatever had influenced them to express their trust in his leadership.
"I did not ask for it. It was freely given," he said.
Golez should respect the act of these leaders, he added.
Leonardia, meanwhile, thanked those who signed the manifesto, expressing their confidence in his leadership.
"I am very happy about it considering that 51 out of 61 barangay captains and 55 out of 61 Sangguniang Kabataan chairpersons signed it. And I find it timely that they issued such manifesto, since the filing of the certificates of candidacy is fast approaching,” he said.
This is relevant and significant because it will serve as an inspiration and guidance before they file their COC’s, Leonardia said.
It is humbling on his part to enjoy their trust and confidence, he also said, adding that it is something he will always treasure.
Leonardia said “Since 2004 when I sat as Mayor of Bacolod, I can say without fear of contradiction, that Bacolod is better off now. This can be confirmed by all the awards and recognition Bacolod has been receiving. As for experience, nobody can say that I lack that, having served the government, particularly Bacolod, for most of my life,” he added.*CGS