GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 October) – Outgoing City Mayor Ronnel Rivera formally launched his bid on Monday to become the first elected representative of the new separate congressional district here in the 2022 elections.
Rivera filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here around 3 p.m. under the Nacionalista Party, along with close allies who are seeking other elective posts in the city.
He is part of the group of candidates under a new local political coalition dubbed “Kasama Ko RCRI” that separately filed their COCs starting 11 a.m.
Rivera, who is on his third and last term as mayor, said he chose to seek the congressional post to continue serving the people of the city and pursue initiatives that will further accelerate the area’s development.
“There are still many things that we can do for the people and our city,” the mayor said in a statement.
He said he will continue the programs started by coalition ally South Cotabato First District Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles, who is running for mayor.
Rivera said among his development priorities is the implementation of additional support programs for the city’s thriving fishing industry, among them the establishment of training centers for skilled workers.
The city has long been part of the first legislative district of South Cotabato but will hold its first election as a separate district next year based on Republic Act (RA) 11243 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in March 2019.
RA 11243 named the city as the third district of South Cotabato but a bill is currently pending at the House of Representatives to declare the area into a lone district.
Rivera’s alliance with Nograles, who filed her COC for mayor under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino or PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, ended speculations that he was eyeing his wife Jane as a replacement.
Mrs. Rivera is instead seeking a city council seat under the Nograles slate, which has incumbent city councilor and former mayor Rosalita Nuñez as vice mayoralty candidate.
The coalition’s city council slate included re-electionists Jonathan Blando, Lourdes Casabuena, Jose Edmar Yumang, Vandyke Congson and Vivencio Dinopol, and former councilors Elizabeth Bagonoc and Ramon Milleza.
The other aspirants are Dadiangas West barangay chairman Edgar Acharon, Rivera’s executive assistant Joel Duterte, Mac Alejandre Tablazon, and Marilou Perreras Tan.
Nograles, who had served as city vice mayor for nine years, said she will focus on expanding the basic social services for residents and further fast-track economic development if given the chance to lead the city as mayor.
“We will continue with the city’s recovery efforts and make sure that it moves forward even amid the continuing (coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19) pandemic,” she told reporters.
She vowed to push for the upgrading and further expansion of the city hospital and the development of the growth areas in untapped portions of the city international airport complex.
Nograles said she will also make sure that the sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as public transportation and small businesses, would get the necessary help from the local government.
“Many lost their work due to the pandemic and we need to revive our economic activities fully. The health problem is still there and we don’t know when it will end so we have to also focus on addressing it,” she added.(MindaNews with a report from Richelyn Gubalani)