Visayan Bloc Still Backs Mar

Despite the reported internal conflict within the Liberal Party (LP), the Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives remains intact and will support administration party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II in the 2016 presidential race.

Iloilo City Representative Jerry Treñas,chairman of the 44-member group, said there is no truth to reports that the Visayan bloc bolted the administration party.

We are solid on the candidacy of Roxas, he said.

Reports on the falling out came after Negros Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez (3rd dist.), president and convenor of the Visayan bloc, was stripped of his functions as LP provincial chairman.

LP president Joseph Emilio Abaya subsequently appointed former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela as provincial chair, granting him the authority to nominate and issue certificates of nomination.

Coscolluela, who now works as Capitol consultant for trade and investments, has been designated by Roxas to run a parallel campaign for his presidential bid in the province.

According to Treñas, Benitez met with him in Iloilo City last Thursday.

“We talked and he had some issues with candidates in his district.

He told me is supporting Mar,” the Ilonggo lawmaker said.

Treñas added that there may be two or three members of the Visayan bloc who are not supporting Roxas, but he is certain that Benitez is not one of them.

Benitez, who has been rumored to support Senator Grace Poe, said Friday that he will meet with Roxas on Tuesday.

When he filed his certificate of candidacy Friday for his third and final term, Benitez was deemed as independent since he did not name a political party in his CoC.

“I am party-less”, Benitez said.

Benitez admitted that he knew only through the media that he is no longer LP chairman in the province because he did not receive a formal communication from the party.

He added that after meeting with Roxas, he may then be able to decide who he will support for president.*