SouthCot’s 2 top pols join gubernatorial race

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/13 Sept) – Two top political leaders in South Cotabato declared on Thursday to seek the province’s gubernatorial post in next year’s midterm national and local elections.

South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes and incumbent Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. formally declared to join the gubernatorial race and face each other for the first time, highlighting a bitter split months before the 2010 elections that ended their almost two decades of political alliance.

Former Koronadal City Mayor Fernando Miguel, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race, had declared in July to run anew for governor under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Fuentes, who was governor from 2001 to 2010, said in a radio interview that she decided to seek anew the province’s top post to better serve her constituents.

“I felt that I can be more effective and accomplish more for the province as governor than as a member of the House (of Representatives),” she said.

Fuentes made a successful comeback to the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections after completing her three straight terms then as governor.

She represented the province’s second congressional district for three straight terms before winning the gubernatorial race in the 2001 elections.

Fuentes, who will run under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said she will be joined by a complete provincial, city and municipal slates that comprise a mix of incumbent and neophyte politicians.

The NPC fielded former Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority deputy administrator Ferdinand Hernandez as gubernatorial bet in the 2010 elections but he eventually lost to Pingoy, then outgoing representative of the province’s Second District.

But the party took control of the provincial board by winning 5 of the 10 contested seats in the province’s first and second districts.

Meantime, Pingoy also declared on Thursday to seek reelection as governor so he can continue with the reforms he introduced at the provincial government.

“I’m opting for reelection so there will be continuity of the reforms and programs I initiated, especially in terms of the promotion of effective, transparent and accountable governance,” he said.

The governor’s declaration practically ended earlier speculations that he was planning to seek anew the province’s second congressional district seat, a post he occupied for three straight terms.

Fuentes and Pingoy were former close allies and partymates in the NPC, which dominated the local political scene since the late 90s. But “serious political differences” forced them to part ways before the 2010 polls, with Fuentes remaining with the NPC and Pingoy joining then administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)