GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 May) — After over two decades of dominance, the Antonino family here is finally yielding the city’s reins to an emerging leader who considers himself as still a “novice” in local politics.
Partial and official results from the Commission on Election (Comelec) here showed re-electionist Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio of the administration-backed Liberal Party-Achiever’s with Integrity Movement (LP-AIM) trailing top councilor Ronnel Rivera of the People’s Champ Movement-United Nationalist Alliance (PCM-UNA) in the mayoral race.
Rivera garnered 92,432 votes while Custodio only mustered 78,726 votes based on results transmitted to the city board of canvassers from 295 of the city’s 298 clustered precincts.
The three remaining polling precincts failed to transmit their results on Monday night due to problems with network signal, said acting city election officer Marlon Casquejo.
Rivera, who is a son of a local tuna fishing magnate, topped the city council race in the 2010 elections with a record number of votes despite running as an independent.
His candidacy received a major boost last weekend after he was endorsed by the bloc-voting Iglesia Ni Cristo, along with several other PCM-UNA bets.
The religious sect had supported Custodio and the AIM slate in the 2010 elections.
Custodio was seeking a second term as mayor after completing her three straight terms as representative of South Cotabato‘s first congressional district, which covers this city.
She is a daughter of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairperson, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and former city mayor Adelbert.
The Antoninos were in position either as mayor or congressional representative since 1987 or exactly 26 years.
Adelbert held the congressional post of this city and then third district of South Cotabato from 1987 to 1992.
Adelbert was elected city mayor in 1992 while wife Luwalhati took over his congressional post.
He lost his reelection bid in 1995 but made a strong comeback in 1998. But he resigned six months before his term ended in 2001 due to health reasons.
Luwalhalti held on to her congressional post until her term ended in 2001 and was replaced by Darlene.
Meantime, in the vice mayoral race, Rivera’s running mate, re-electionist Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles, is off to an overwhelming win with 106,588 votes while former councilor Eduardo Leyson III of LP-AIM only received 55,458 votes.
PCM-UNA has also dominated the city council race by taking seven of the 12 contested seats, ending LP-AIM’s dominance in the past four elections.
But in the race for South Cotabato’s first district congressional seat, re-electionist Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. is leading by around 5,000 votes over PCM founder and Sarangani congressman-elect Emmanuel Pacquiao’s brother Rogelio.
Acharon already received 86,715 votes while the younger Pacquiao got 81,333 votes in this city. The former is also leading the race based on partial and official results from the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan in South Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)