Pacquiao’s brother seeking House seat faces residency questions

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 October) — The congressional bid in Sarangani of senatorial aspirant and incumbent Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao’s anointed replacement, younger brother Rogelio “Roel” Pacquiao, is facing initial setbacks due to questions on residency.

Lawyer Michael Mamukid, Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Sarangani supervisor, said Tuesday the younger Pacquiao is not a registered voter of the province when he filed his certificate of candidacy for its lone congressional seat on Monday afternoon.

He said Roel, the incumbent chair of Barangay Apopong here and representative of the Liga ng mga Barangay in the city council, remains a registered voter of the city based on their records.

“We still received his COC since it is our ministerial duty as per our rules but we properly explained to him and his legal counsel the status of his registration,” Mamukid said in an interview over radio station Brigada News.

Roel filed his COC as official candidate of the People’s Champ Movement (PCM), the local political party founded by Rep. Pacquiao.

The PCM earlier chose Roel to seek the province’s congressional seat after Manny declared to run to join the senatorial race in the 2016 general elections.

Citing information received by the Comelec provincial office, Mamukid said the younger Pacquiao reportedly has a house in Alabel town in Sarangani but they have yet to verify it.

He said Roel applied last month for the transfer of his registration records to Alabel but stressed that the process is “not automatic.”

He said the application for transfer will still undergo hearings by the Election Registration Board as provided for in Republic Act 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.

Under RA 8189, the ERB will be composed of Alabel’s election officer as chair, and the most senior public school official and the local civil registrar or municipal treasurer as members.

Mamukid said the first ERB hearing on Rogelio’s case is set on Monday, Oct. 19, at the Alabel election office.

He said Roel and his legal counsel have signified to attend the hearing.

“The ERB will scrutinize the records that he filed and determine whether he is really a resident of the area,” he said.

He said any registered voter in Alabel may file an opposition to Roel’s application and would be properly considered by the ERB during the hearing.

Mamukid said they expect the ERB to issue its decision, which will be subject to appeal, within three to four days after the last hearing.

He refused to discuss the merits of the younger Pacquiao’s case but said the latter’s residency status poses some questions.

“When you say residency, ang official sa usa ka lugar like official sa General Santos City, ang imong residency dira is a continuing requirement (When you say residency, if you’re an official of a locality like General Santos City, your residency there is a continuing requirement),” he said.

Rep. Pacquiao earlier said Roel is qualified to run in Sarangani Province since he was born there.

Before moving to this city years ago, the Pacquiao family resided in Barangay Tango in Glan, Sarangani.

City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., a PCM stalwart here, said Roel is qualified to seek an elective post in Sarangani by virtue of his domicile.

In the 2013 elections, Roel ran but lost to incumbent Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. of the Achievers with Integrity Movement-Liberal Party in the race for South Cotabato’s first congressional district seat.

Another brother of Rep. Pacquiao, Labangal barangay councilor Alberto or “Bobby,” filed his COC for city councilor on Monday under the PCM slate here.

Bobby’s wife Lorelei is on her second term as chair of Barangay Labangal. (MindaNews)