BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
It will be a three-cornered fight for the vice mayoralty race in Bacolod City with incumbent Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. filing his candidacy as an independent candidate for vice mayor yesterday.
Gamboa will be running against incumbent Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, who is running under Grupo Progreso led by re-electionist Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and three-termer councilor Caesar Distrito, who is running under the Asenso Bacolod unity ticket headed by mayoralty candidate Albee Benitez.
During a press conference yesterday, Gamboa was joined by other independent candidates for councilor of Bacolod City, namely Christian Weber, LR Contreras, Rico Villafuerte, Jiffy Jauod and Alan Arroyo, who have also filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs).
They have gathered together independent candidates to mount a credible campaign considering that they are up against two formidable parties with resources and machineries. But they have the freedom to choose whom to support in the presidential elections, as well as for local candidates for mayor and congressman, he said.
Also joining their group are lawyers Eduardo Padios and Cesar Beloria, Jr.
Gamboa said they are also expecting to be joined by two more prospective independent candidates for councilor – former barangay captain Bernabe Sibug of Barangay 7 and Carlos Lacson.
“I personally support Benitez. But with the new developments, I think I’ll reserve my right to choose on the day of the elections,” he said referring to the local candidates for congressman, mayor and councilors. He already has five independent candidates for councilors and will be choosing other candidates to complete the slot, he added.
Gamboa, who was allied with Abang Lingkod Partylist during the last two elections, said he was considered by the group to run for vice mayor. But he has set his position that this will be in the form of an alliance. And in the advent that Benitez will take him as his vice mayor, he told them that he was open but did not categorically say yes because he wants to see the composition of the group first.
He had said he will support Benitez. But with the current members he has in his party, with majority of them coming from the Grupo Progreso, he has begun to have second thoughts, he said.
Gamboa said he has no political aggrupation or party to contend with and has always been an independent candidate since he ran in 2010. The independent candidates joining him all have his respect.
There have been a group of businessmen who asked him to run for mayor just yesterday but he had already decided three months ago to run for vice mayor. People are now desperate to look for the right leader who can provide them real hope and real change, he said.*