GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 July) – Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez and Rep. Manny Pacquiao have formalized their political alliance by agreeing to trade positions in 2013.
During a meeting at Pacquiao’s farm in Malungon Wednesday, all seven town mayors of Sarangani also backed the brewing union between erstwhile political rivals who fielded separate full slates during the 2010 local elections.
In a text message, Dominguez said, “We both agreed to swap positions.”
Dominguez is on his third and last term and would have to contest Pacquiao for the lone congressional seat of Sarangani to keep his political career alive.
Pacquiao is on his first term and is still eligible to run for two re-elections but his still active boxing career has forced him to skip sessions and unable to personally keep track with the deliberation at the House of Representatives.
Pacquiao is believed to be eyeing for a higher position and his American promoter has floated a possible run at the presidency.
But he won’t be eligible for the Philippine Senate in 2013 and will have to wait until 2022 to be able to run for the presidency under Philippine election laws.
Dominguez however said “the governorship will be a good training ground to serve his people directly…. It will also be a good training ground for him for his future political plans.”
Pacquiao lost in his first foray into politics in 2007 when he challenged then Rep. Darlene Antonino for a seat in the House of Representatives representing the First District of South Cotabato.
He reportedly spent more than P140 million (US$2.5 at 2007 exchange rate) in losing to Antonino, who is now the mayor of General Santos City.
In 2009, he transferred his residence to Sarangani, which allowed him to run against the Chiongbians, an old political family responsible for the creation of the province in 1992.
Pacquiao and his slate won by landslides, winning five of the town mayoralty races.
His People’s Champ Movement (PCM), established as a local party for the elections, also won majority of the seats of the provincial board but failed to unseat Dominguez and his vice governor Steve Solon.
Pacquiao however ran a high-finance campaign that cost him more than US$6 million, according to a foreign journalist who covered his campaign trail.
It was not immediately made clear which local party will survive in the union between Dominguez and Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s PCM was allied to Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party while Dominguez’s SARRO supported the candidacy of Lakas’ Gilberto Teodoro.
Dominguez was appointed Lakas national president but resigned shortly before May 10 elections. (Edwin Espejo / MindaNews contributor)