GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 August) – He said he knows his decision to run for the city’s newly-created lone legislative district seat in the Oct. 26 special elections could end up at the Supreme Court, but former South Cotabato first district Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. pushed through with it on Wednesday.
Acharon filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) around 1 p.m. at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office here as the official candidate of local political party Achiever’s with Integrity Movement (AIM).
He was accompanied by several supporters, his wife Rose and younger brother, Vice Mayor Loreto Acharon.
In an interview with reporters, Acharon said he reflected on his options for several days and only made a final decision on Tuesday night.
“Finally, I have decided to push through and accept the nomination of my party. As a good soldier, I have to follow,” he said.
Acharon said his decision to run is about “adhering to the request and desire of our people, and my partymates.”
He said he is aware of the looming legal questions and disqualification cases against him but stressed that he is ready to face them.
Acharon only completed his third term as first district representative of South Cotabato and this city last June.
The elections last May for the district was suspended by Comelec due to its reorganization into two districts as provided for in Republic Act 11243, An Act Reapportioning the First Legislative District of the Province of South Cotabato.
The law carved out the city from the first district of South Cotabato and established it as the province’s third district. The municipalities of Tampakan, Polomolok and Tupi now comprise the first district.
Acharon’s critics earlier said he is barred from running for the post based on the three-term limit set in Section 7, Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution.
But he said his situation is unique since his term already ended last June and he is already a private citizen when he filed his COC.
“I’m running in another district and there was an interruption in the continuity of service. So I believe it is my right to run because I’m qualified,” he said.
Acharon believes his situation is a “landmark case” and will be “the first time in Philippine history.”
“I will be happy because this issue will be resolved once and for all. I just hope that Comelec and maybe the SC will be able to resolve this fairly,” he said.
City Councilor Dominador Lagare, a stalwart of AIM’s rival People’s Champ Movement (PCM), said the Constitution is very clear on the three-term limit for members of the House of Representatives.
He said the extension of a term, which in the case of Acharon will be his fourth straight in Congress, is a violation of the Constitution and is backed by jurisprudence.
“If we don’t allow that (extension) for a President, how much more for a congressman?” said Lagare, who is a lawyer.
Another PCM member, City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr. warned that it will be a huge risk for the city if Acharon wins the election as it will not have a representative at the House of Representatives in case the latter is eventually disqualified.
“It’s better for people not to vote for him to avoid that kind of situation,” he said.
PCM, a local political party founded by Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, has endorsed former Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles as its official candidate.
As of 3 p.m., two independent aspirants — Benjie Rivera and Abelardo Plaza — have filed their COCs at the city election office.
In the first district of South Cotabato, former provincial board member and Polomolok town mayor Isidro Lumayag filed his COC around 1 p.m. under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP).
He was accompanied by his daughter, incumbent Pomolok Mayor Honey Lumayag-Matti, and South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., the PFP national chair.
Former Tampakan town councilor Richard Ross Barroso and incumbent Polomolok Councilor Leo Cordova also filed their COCs as independents. (MindaNews)