Women power: Rep. Custodio, 2 other women vie for GenSan top post

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 Dec) – A political neophyte, a comebacking politician and two other outgoing elected officials are gunning for the mayoral seat here in the May 2010 synchronized local and national elections.

Lawyer Jose Villanueva, city election officer, said the four mayoralty candidates, three of them women, were fielded by a local coalition, an emerging local political group and two other national political parties that made the Tuesday midnight deadline for the filing of candidacies for next year’s polls.

“It’s a four-cornered fight for the mayoral race and we’ve been expecting this to happen based on the previous declarations made by various political camps here,” he said.

Leading the list of the mayoral aspirants is outgoing South Cotabato (1st District) Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio of local coalition Achievers with Integrity Movement or AIM, which has dominated the last four elections in the city.

Custodio, who is currently on her final term in Congress, filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) Tuesday accompanied by her running mate Councilor Jose Orlando Acharon, 10 city council slate and outgoing Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr., who is eyeing to become Custodio’s replacement in the House of Representatives.

The People’s Champ Movement (PCM), a local political party earlier founded by boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, fielded Vice Mayor Florentina Congson as its standard bearer and picked former number one councilor Shirlyn Banas as her running mate.

Former Mayor Rosalita Nuñez is again making a comeback under the PDP-Laban coalition and picked former Sultan Kudarat and city police director Benhur Mongao as her vice mayor.

Completing the list is Lakas-Kampi mayoralty candidate lawyer Loreto Acharon, a brother of the outgoing mayor Pedro Jr. and Custodio’s running mate Jose Orlando.

Acharon, who is joining the political fray for the first time, did not pick any running mate but fielded a complete city council slate that included his elder brother Honesto, reelectionist Councilor Dominador Lagare III, former city police director retired Senior Supt. Alfredo Toroctocon and ABS-CBN reporter Sannie Sombrio.

“I’ve been asked many times in the past by a number of people to serve them through an elective post and I declined them. But that clamor remained and I think it’s the right time to do that,” Acharon said before filing his COC.

It may be recalled that Mayor Acharon had tried but failed to influence his brother from continuing with his political plans and instead support the AIM coalition, which has linked up with the opposition Nationalist People’s Coalition in the first and second districts of South Cotabato and the Liberal Party in this city.

Meantime, in the race for the first congressional district seat of South Cotabato and this city, at least three more veteran politicians have made it to the deadline for the filing of COCs Tuesday midnight.

Challenging Acharon are outgoing Councilor Ramon Milleza, former councilor and now Pacquiao’s legal counsel Franklin Gacal Jr. and former Assemblyman Rogelio Garcia. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)