Pacquiao to run for Congress

The 26-year-old Pacquiao said he will file his certificate of candidacy before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Koronadal City on March 29 under the Liberal Party (LP)-Atienza wing.

Pacquiao said he made a decision to vie for a seat in the House of Representatives instead of seeking the city’s mayoral post after a series of consultations with his party mates, local leaders and his family.

“My decision to run for congressman is anchored on my desire to help improve the living conditions of the people in the first district (of South Cotabato),” he said in an interview over dxES Bombo Radyo this morning.

South Cotabato’s first congressional district, which has a voting population of close to 400,000, covers this city and the vote-rich municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan.

The boxing star was born and raised in this city but traces his roots in Tampakan, where his father Rosalio hails.

If elected, Pacquiao said he will primarily push for the implementation of more tangible development projects in the area by serving as a bridge between Malacañang and his constituents.

“My programs will focus on providing more jobs and create more opportunities for our youth to get a good education,” he said.

Pacquiao said his personal agenda is inclined towards helping more children to finish schooling, an aspiration he failed to achieve because of poverty.

Despite failing to finish the elementary grade, Pacquiao, whose ambition is to become a lawyer, has acquired college eligibility after passing the placement examinations given by the Department of Education.

Meantime, Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who is seeking reelection under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, immediately accepted Pacquiao’s declaration to challenge her in the coming elections, saying she has long prepared for such scenario.

Custodio said she earlier received reports that Malacañang had been working to introduce a strong challenger for her in May.

“They can’t make me sway from my position that they wronged the people in the last elections, so now they will try to get rid of me from the House (of Representatives),” she said.

But Custodio said she is confident that her constituents will not turn their backs on her in the coming polls, stressing she has put up a strong performance in Congress despite being a member of the minority bloc.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, NPC provincial chair, earlier said her party will put up a bigger campaign in the province’s first district should Pacquiao decide to run for an elective post.

Fuentes said her party considers Pacquiao as a very strong candidate, mainly because of his popularity and wealth.

Last month, Pacquiao intimated his desire to seek an elective post, either as mayor or congressman.

He initially held meetings with leaders of the administration-backed Lakas-Christian and Muslim Democrats and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Kampi but later on decided to join LP on an invitation from his “political adviser” and patron Manila Mayor Lito Atienza.

Pacquiao was reported last year to have decided to run for mayor of Kiamba town in Sarangani province where his wife Jinkee hails. Last December, it was rumored that he might decide to be the running mate of mayoral bet Ali Atienza in Manila. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)