|SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE raises the hands of his protegee Mayor Herbert Bautista and daughter Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.|
By JO ERLINDA G. NEBRES
QUEZON CITY – Actor and mayor Herbert Bautista may yet abandon his third and last term as chief executive of the wealthiest local government unit and city in the Philippines with an annual revenue of P15 billion, more or less.
This if he pursues a plan of his Liberal Party colleagues and mentors that he instead run for senator in the May 2016 elections under the ticket of former Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II, the LP standard bearer.
Already, a slot in the LP senate slate has been reserved for the popular actor-mayor, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., his former mayor and mentor for nine years while he served as vice mayor of Quezon City.
And Speaker Belmonte believes that given the right push, Mayor Bautista could easily win in the senate race, considering that he is now in the Top 20 among senatoriables, although he has not announced he was running for the Senate.
It was under the tutelage of Speaker Belmonte, then as Quezon City mayor, that Mayor Bautista gained political savvy, enabling him to win easily the mayorship when it was his turn to take over the post vacated by Belmonte when he ran for congressman of the fourth district of the city.
Belmonte became mayor of Quezon City when it was saddled with several millions of pesos, if not billions, of debts. With the support of other officials like then City Treasurer Dr. Victor Endriga, Quezon City’s debts were wiped out in no time and the city emerged as the country’s wealthiest city, surpassing the erstwhile leaders, Makati and Manila.
Belmonte’s legacy was passed on to Bautista whose vice mayor is Josefina Belmonte, the speaker’s daughter.
Speaker Belmonte who is LP Vice Chairman, said he believes Mayor Bautista has a high chance of bagging a Senate seat if ever he decides to run for higher office in next year’s polls.
Speaker Belmonte said that he is optimistic that Bautista can win in the 2016 senatorial race, considering his vast experience in the local politics.
“Well, I think Herbert has a good chance of winning,” said Belmonte.
The House of Represenatives leader said that though Bautista is already “quite popular” being an actor, his experience in running the local government of Quezon City for will definitely boost his chances.
“Mahirap magpatakbo ng (one of the) biggest city in the country, and then, on top of that, popular din siya (being an actor). He is quite well known,” said Belmonte, a former journalist and one of the founders of the National Press Club of the Philippines.
Bautista served as Belmonte’s vice-mayor from for nine years before the actor-turned-politician succeeded the current House leader as the local chief executive of the largest city in the Metro Manila.
The Quezon City Mayor is currently inside the Top 20 for next year’s senate race based on the previous surveys with 32.3 percent.
Belmonte believes that the numbers of his so-called “protégée” will surely rise once he officially decides to run for senator.
He said Bautista has a better chance of winning compare to outgoing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Francis Tolentino who is currently embroiled in a controversy after allegedly sending a group of sexy dancers during a gathering of LP officials in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
The ruling party is set to announce their complete senatorial lineup as well as its vice-presidential bet this coming October 5.