Fuentes wins South Cotabato gubernatorial race

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 May)—South Cotabato Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes (second district) won the hotly contested gubernatorial race, returning to the post she held for nine years, from 2001 to 2010.

Duque Kadatuan, Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial supervisor, proclaimed Fuentes winner at around 11:30 a.m. in a three-cornered gubernatorial derby involving incumbent Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. and former Koronadal City mayor Fernando Miguel.

Based on the final and official Comelec results, Fuentes garnered 117,855 votes followed by Pingoy with 111,214, and Miguel with 99,103.

Fuentes edged Pingoy with 6,641 votes.

It took the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) three days to declare the winning candidates at the provincial level after the polls closed on Monday.

Kadatuan blamed the delay on the defective compact flash memory cards of some of the precinct count optical scan machines.

Following her proclamation at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall here, Fuentes called for unity among rival politicians to further move the province forward.

The winning governor earlier in the day described the just concluded elections as the “worst ever experience for politicians” in the province’s 47-year history, having been allegedly marred by massive vote-buying and false promises.

“The challenge for our politicians now is how to change that culture of vote-buying so pervasive during the elections. Money and rice flowed during the election to buy support,” Fuentes said.

She did not name who were allegedly involved in vote-buying but is apparently referring to the camp of Pingoy.

Fuentes said that voters were also allegedly given P5,000 worth of grocery cards only to find out it has no funds.

But Pingoy, who ran under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), denied they engaged in vot- buying.

“That always happens during elections. Allegations of vote-buying done by the other camp always crops up,” he told MindaNews.

Pingoy noted that voters should come out to tell who has been involved in the buying of votes in the province.

He said he would not contest the results of the elections, adding, however, that there “are some who wants a recount of the votes in the first district.”

Fuentes noted that the May 2013 election in the province was also characterized by “broken ties among close associates whose alliances dated 20 years ago.”

Fuentes thanked Miguel for joining the gubernatorial race, stressing that had it just been between her and Pingoy, she would have lost the contest.

During the campaign, Miguel had endorsed Fuentes if people won’t vote for him.

Once she takes over as governor, Fuentes said she would sustain the programs of Pingoy that have worked for the people.

Fuentes claimed she won’t be “vindictive” against those who supported Pingoy’s bid.

However, she warned those who may have been involved in irregularities, particularly corruption, that she will go after them through the filing of cases.

Fuentes ran under the Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition slate.

Her party mates emerged victorious in the races for the first and second congressional districts.

Reelectionist Rep. Pedro Acharon retained the post by garnering 138,079 votes. He defeated Rogelio Pacquiao, brother of boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who got 130,377 votes.

In the second congressional district, lawyer Ferdinand Hernandez finally clinched the post after three failed attempts. He got 121,933 votes while his opponent, incumbent Vice Gov. Elmo Tolosa, Pingoy’s party mate, mustered 89,776 votes.

Cecile Diel, Pingoy’s ally, won the vice gubernatorial race with 134,412 votes, beating Ernesto Catedral, Fuentes’ running mate.

For the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the winning bets were Gly Mariano Trabado (UNA), Romeo Tamayo (NPC) and Jobee Baitus (UNA) for the first district and Vicente de Jesus (NPC), Ester Catorce (UNA), Grace Subere-Albios (NPC), Ervin Luntao (UNA), Agustin Demaala (NPC), Romulo Solivio (UNA) and Samuel Ladot (UNA) for the second district. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)