In GenSan, it’s Antonino vs Pacquiao in 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 July) — The Antoninos and the Pacquiaos will have a rematch of the 2007 elections.

Only this time, it will be Rep. Manny Pacquiao’s brother Rogelio (Roel) Pacquiao who will try to beat General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio.

Custodio is no longer seeking reelection in the city and has reportedly made arrangements with Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr (1st Dist-South Cotabato) to swap places.

In 2007, Custodio, then the 1st District of South Cotabato representative, defeated Manny Pacquiao who dipped his hands in local politics for the first time.  Pacquiao lost heavily despite spending almost all his savings from boxing.  Sources said he spent close to P140 million in his failed bid.

In 2010, Pacquiao ran in nearby Sarangani province and won handily over Roy Chongbian to become a member of the House of Representatives.

Roel also ran and won as village chief of Apopong in General Santos City several months later.  Sister in law Lorelei Pacquiao, wife of Bobby, also won as village chief of Labangal.

Roel nearly won as president of the Association of Barangay Councils in the city by a close 12 to 14 votes.  A win would have installed him an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council).

Custodio reportedly cited family pressure as her kids are already growing up in Manila where her husband Benjamin Custodio is also based.

The Antoninos only established residence in General Santos City after the fall of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

In 1987, Cusodio’s father Adelbert Antonino became the city’s first congressman in the post-Marcos era.

Since then, the Antoninos have maintained tight grip of the House seat until 2010 when a close ally Acharon took over following the end of Custodio’s three consecutive 3-year terms.

Acharon has neither denied nor confirmed reports he would swap places with Custodio.

But he said her presence in Congress will be an added boost for the city.

“Darlene and President (Noynoy) Aquino are former colleagues in the House of Representatives and are political allies.  She can lobby for more projects for the city,” Acharon said.

A former Acharon aide however confirmed the switching when the former city mayor visited New York early this year.

Acharon himself will also be facing a stiff challenge from City Councilor Ronnel Rivera who topped the 2010 contest in the local legislative race.

Rivera is the third son of Rodrigo Rivera Sr. whose family owns the largest diversified company in the city. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews)