SoCot congressional race heats up

Lawyer Jordan Reyes, a former mayor of vote-rich Polomolok town in South Cotabato, launched his bid for the first congressional district of South Cotabato last Sunday here under the newly-launched local political alliance Koalisyon ng Bagong Alyansa.

South Cotabato's first district covers this city and the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan.

Reyes, a mayor of Polomolok for 12 years, is a long-time stalwart of the administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

He will be going up against boxing icon Manny Pacquiao of the Liberal Party-Atienza wing and incumbent Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio of the Nationalist People's Coalition-Achievers with Integrity Movement.

"I'm not worried (about them). I'm going to give them a good fight on May 14," Reyes told reporters.

Reyes's hometown Polomolok has the second biggest voting population in the district at close to 70,000. This city has an estimated 280,000 registered voters while Tupi has 25,000 and Tampakan about 18,000.

The former mayor has allied with the youthful City Councilor Shirlyn Nograles, who declared to challenge reelectionist Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. Nograles landed number one in the 2004 city council fray.

Also expected to join the mayoral race is former city councilor and Pacquiao's lawyer Franklin Gacal Jr. Former mayor Rosalita Nuñez has reportedly agreed to become Gacal's running mate.

Ryan Rivera, son of fishing magnate Rudy Rivera, is reportedly considering challenging Acharon again for the mayoral post under the administration-backed Kampi.

Meantime, Commission on Elections provincial supervisor Paisal Tanjili said not one among local politicians who were aspiring for provincial level posts in the May 14 elections have filed their certificates of candidacy as of today.

He said several candidates have signified to file their candidacies on March 29, the deadline set by the Comelec. The filing of candidacies opened last January 15.

Incumbents Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, first district Rep. Darlene Custodio-Antonino, second district Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr., Vice Gov. Eliordo Ogena and the 10 members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, all under the opposition Nationalist People's Coalition, have declared to file their candidacies on March 29.

Pacquiao will file his candidacy on the same day.

The administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in South Cotabato has yet to announce their gubernatorial candidate.

Former governors Hilario de Pedro III and Ismael Sueno would be seeking the second district congressional seat and the vice gubernatorial post, respectively, under the administration party.