GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 October) — Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao will reportedly file his certificate of candidacy Tuesday before flying to the US to start training for his December 8 ring date with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao will be joined by Sarangani Vice Gov. Steve Solon who is vying for the top executive post following the exit of Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez who is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection after serving for three consecutive terms.
But Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee said in a radio interview over the weekend that her husband, who is seeking reelection for the province’s lone congressional seat, will file his CoC on Friday.
Pacquiao will seek reelection and will reportedly run unopposed.
Solon, grandson of the late Rep. James Chiongbian, will likewise effectively be unopposed in the gubernatorial race.
Solon and Pacquiao have forged a political alliance after opposing each other in 2010.
In 2010, Pacquiao won over Solon’s uncle Roy Chiongbian for the lone congressional seat of Sarangani.
The boxing congressman failed in his bid to get elected as representative of nearby General Santos City in 2007.
The eight-division world boxing champion is currently the regional head of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and is believed to be eyeing a Senate slot in 2016 when he becomes eligible to run for a seat in the 24-member chamber of Philippine Congress.
Pacquiao will turn 34 in December but the minimum age for a senator is 35 at the time of the election. The 2013 midterm elections will be held in May next year.
Still up for grabs is the vice gubernatorial post that has been offered by Pacquiao to Dominguez, who has yet to announce his political plans.
Dominguez has repeatedly said he is more effective as a local government executive.
While Pacquiao will be running unopposed, several town mayors in Sarangani under his People’s Champ Movement (PCM) will be facing opposition as former Glan mayor Enrique Yap will be running against his younger brother James Victor Yap.
Former Maasim mayor Jojo Lopez, a close friend of Pacquiao, is making a comeback against incumbent Arturo Lawa while Kiamba mayor Raul Martinez will again face former mayor Rommel Falgui.
Maitum ABC president George MacPherson Perret will face Vice Mayor Lemuel Dacula. Perret will replace his wife Mayor Elsie Perret who is stepping down after only one term in office.
As of Monday afternoon, only one candidate has so far filed a CoC in Alabel town, local election personnel said.
Race is on in Gensan
Pacquiao’s brother Rogelio will also run for a seat in the House of Representatives in General Santos City, according to city councilor runnel Rivera.
Rivera, the number one councilor in General Santos City, will challenge Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio who is reportedly seeking reelection.
Rivera, also a member of UNA, and his slate will file their certificates of candidacies on Wednesday. He said Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas will be his running mate.
Custodio has picked former city councilor Eduardo ‘Boyet’ Leyson III as her running mate to face Bañas.
The line-up of Rivera for councilors will reportedly include former city mayor Rosalita Nuñez, former assemblyman Rogelio Garcia, incumbent councilor Dominador Lagare III, lawyer Art Cloma, Shandee Llido, former city councilor Zoilo Abing, Pacquiao lawyer Franklin ‘Jeng’ Gacal Jr., and several new faces who Rivera declined to further identify.
He cited continuing “raid” of his lineup and reports of political rivals convincing his slate to withdraw from the race as reason to withhold the names of his other candidates for councilors.
Meanwhile, Custodio and Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. will also file their certificates of candidacies on Friday.
“As usual, we will hold mass before proceeding to the Commission on Election offices to file our COCs,” Acharon said during the birthday party of banker Orman Manansala.
Acharon declined to reveal which position he is running for.
Earlier reports said Acharon and Custodio will be trading places and reclaim their former positions.
But former city councilor Minardo Avila on Saturday confirmed Custodio will seek reelection as city mayor while Acharon will try to keep his current post.
Acharon will be facing Roel Pacquiao for the first congressional district of South Cotabato and General Santos City.
All 10 incumbent city councilors belonging to Custodio’s local political party, Achievers with Integrity Movement (AIM), will seek reelection. They will be joined by former city councilor Avila who is aiming for a comeback and Calumpang village chief Cerilo Forones.
Among those seeking reelection are councilors Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Leyson IV, Margareth Santos, Beth Bagonoc, Nepthale Natividad, Virgie Llido, Dante Vicente and Vivencio Dinopol .
Meanwhile, lawyer Jose Villanueva, city election officer, said not one of the local candidates who have either declared or were rumored to be running for various posts in next year’s polls have showed up at the city election office to file their candidacies.
He said some supporters of local political groups came to their office but only to get copies of the CoC forms.
“So far, nobody has filed a CoC for any position. It’s quiet here all day,” Villanueva said a few minutes before the first day for the filing of the CoCs closed down at 5 p.m. Monday.
Citing reports from local political groups, he said most candidates would likely file their CoCs on Friday, the last day of the five-day period for filing of CoCs set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In South Cotabato, it will be a three-cornered race for the gubernatorial post as Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes will reportedly slide back to reclaim her former post as governor.
She will face incumbent Gov. Arthur Pinggoy, a former political ally in the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
Also throwing his hat for the top executive post in the province is Fernando Miguel, former Koronadal City mayor.
Pinggoy and Fuentes parted ways when the latter bolted the NPC and joined Lakas-KAMPI of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In 2010, Pinggoy ran for governor while Fuentes went back to Congress after both serving out their three 3-year terms as congressman and governor, respectively. Both handily won over their opponents.
Fuentes fielded former Subic Base Management Authority executive Ferdinand Hernandez against Pinggoy in the 2010 elections while Pinggoy had former governor Hilario de Pedro III as Fuentes’ rival.
Fernandez will now run for congressman for the second district of South Cotabato.
Pinggoy is considering Provincial Board Member Cecil Diel or incumbent Vice Gov. Elmo Tolosa as his candidate for Congress.
Fuentes is a longtime NPC member and is allied with the Aquino administration.
Pinggoy is likely the candidate of UNA in the province.
Comelec provincial supervisor Jay Gerada said Miguel filed his CoC before their office closed on Monday afternoon.
Gerada said Miguel and several supporters came to his office without any fanfare to formalize his bid for governor.
The camps of Pingoy and Fuentes confirmed that both officials and their slates will separately file their CoCs on Friday. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews and Edwin G. Espejo/contributor)