GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – With his boxing career momentarily detoured, Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao is building and consolidating his political base in General Santos City.
It is his home city after all, and it is where he lost his first congressional bid in 2007. Political observers believe he has set his eyes on a political comeback here.
And so he continues building his base in General Santos. His two brothers and a sister-in-law won in the barangay elections on Monday, October 28, although an elder half-brother failed to win the chairmanship of one of the city’s biggest barangays.
Rogelio “Roel” Pacquiao was re-elected village chief in Barangay Apopong. Before this, he almost gave up his post to pursue the election protest he filed against South Cotabato Representative Pedro Acharon Jr.
The younger Pacquiao lost to Acharon in the May elections this year.
Another Pacquiao brother, Bobby, ran away as the number one village councilman in Barangay Labangal, where wife Lorelei was re-elected village chief.
Both barangays are heavily populated and are vote-rich.
The Pacquiao camp suffered setbacks, however.
Domingo Dapidran Belbestre, half-brother of Manny, lost to incumbent Calumpang village chair Reynaldo Salubre, who is allied with Acharon.
Pacquiao’s political ally, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, failed to get the majority number of the city’s 26 village chiefs. The numbers would have been to win the presidency of the city’s Association of Barangay Captains, to tighten their control on the the city council.
In 2010, Roel Pacquiao ran for ABC president that would have made him an ex-officio member of the city council. He lost to re-elected Barangay City Heights chairperson Lourdes Casabuena.
Pacquaio’s bosom buddy and former two-division world boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa has said the Filipino boxing icon once intimated to him his dream of becoming the mayor of General Santos City when they were still struggling professional boxers.
Pacquaio himself tested the political waters in General Santos City when he ran but lost to then re-electionist Representative Darlene Antonino Custodio (South Cotabato-1st District) in 2007.
It is the same position his brother Roel coveted in May 2013.
Frustrated in his first foray into local politics in General Santos in 2007, Pacquiao transferred residence in nearby Sarangani province, where he first won in the lone congressional district of the province in 2010.
He was re-elected in May this year after running unopposed, while his wife Jinkee was elected vice governor.
Pacquiao is set to return to the boxing ring in November against American Brandon Rios. He hopes to put a good show to erase the stigma of two successive defeats in 2012.
He needs to win against Rios to keep himself in boxing conversation and remain in the political limelight for a possible senate run in 2016 and a possible presidential bid in 2022. – Rappler.com
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