FAREWELL SPEECH. Before he ended his stint as the chief executive of Bacolod City on Thursday noon (June 30, 2022), Mayor Evelio Leonardia honored his peers and supporters for “sticking it out” with him in his more than 30 years as a public official, including 18 years as city mayor. He held his last public engagement at the Government Center by administering the oath of Grupo Progreso allies, including Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and four city councilors on June 29. (Photo courtesy of Bacolod City PIO)

BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Evelio Leonardia, who ended his stint as mayor of this city on Thursday noon, has honored his peers and supporters for “sticking it out” with him in his more than 30 years as a public official, including 18 years as city mayor.

In his last public engagement at the Government Center on Wednesday afternoon, Leonardia was joined by his Grupo Progreso allies led by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, several village chiefs, and political supporters.

“You are the reason why I stayed this long [as mayor],” he said before turning over the leadership to first-time mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who will lead the city’s inauguration rites on Friday.

Before stepping down, Leonardia administered the oath of office of Familiaran and reelected councilors Israel Salanga, Cindy Tan-Rojas and Renecito Novero, and returning councilor Em Legaspi-Ang.

During the program, he also thanked the city councilors and barangay chairpersons for their role in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and for staying with him throughout his political career.

During the city’s 84th Charter Day rites on June 18, the City Council honored Leonardia for his contribution and service to the city.

The longest-serving chief executive after having been elected mayor for six terms, he has been described as “a servant leader [who] has impacted the lives of many in the City of Bacolod in ways that certainly are worth commending and remembering” in Resolution 441 signed by Familiaran.

He became a mayor from 1995 to 1998, 2004 to 2013, and 2016 to 2022. He also served as the national president of the 145-member League of Cities of the Philippines from 2019 to 2022. (PNA)