Who wants to fight Pacquiao?

Edwin G. Espejo
Champion boxer Manny Pacquiao will seek re-election in 2013 as congressman of Sarangani, while politics heat up in nearby General Santos City where his brother also plans to run for Congress

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Re-electionist Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who will file his certificate of candidacy on Tuesday, October 2, is expected to run unopposed. His brother Rogelio also wants to be congressman, as representative of this city.

After he files his candidacy, Pacquiao will fly to the US to start training for his December 8 fight against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao will be joined by Sarangani Vice Gov. Steve Solon who is vying for the top executive post following the exit of Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez who is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election after serving for three consecutive terms.

Solon, grandson of the late Rep. James Chiongbian, will likewise be unopposed in the gubernatorial race.

Solon and Pacquiao have forged a political alliance after opposing each other in 2010.

In 2010, Pacquiao won over Solon’s uncle Roy Chiongbian for the lone congressional seat of Sarangani after the boxing congressman failed in his bid to get elected in nearby General Santos City in 2007.

The eight-division world boxing champion is currently the regional head of the United Nationalist Alliance and is believed to be eyeing a Senate slot in 2016 when he becomes eligible to run for a seat in the Upper House of Philippine Congress. 

Pacquiao will turn 34 in December but the minimum age for a Philippine Senator is 35 at the time of the election. The 2013 midterm elections will be held in May, at which point he will still be under the required age.

Still up for grabs is the vice gubernatorial post that has been offered by Pacquiao to Dominguez.  Dominguez however has yet to announce his political plans. 

Dominguez has repeatedly said he is more effective as a local government executive.

While Pacquiao will be running unopposed, several town mayors in Sarangani under his People’s Champ Movement (PCM), will be facing opposition as former Glan mayor Enrique Yap will be running against his younger brother James Victor Yap.

Former Maasim mayor Jojo Lopez,a close friend of Pacquiao, is  making a comeback against incumbent Arturo Lawa while Kiamba mayor Raul Martinez will again face former mayor Rommel Falgui.  Maitum ABC president George MacPherson Perret will face Vice Mayor Lemuel Dacula.  Perret will replace his wife Mayor Elsie Perret who is stepping down after only one term in office.

Brother’s battle

 Pacquiao’s brother Rogelio will also run for a seat in the House of Representatives in nearby General Santos City, according to city councilor Runnel Rivera.

Rivera, who topped the councilor race in General Santos City, will challenge Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio who is reportedly seeking re-election.  

Rivera, also a member of UNA, will file his certificate of candidacy on Wednesday, October 3, along with his slate.

Rivera said General Santos Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas will be his running mate. Incumbent Custodio meanwhile has picked former city councilor Eduardo ‘Boyet’ Leyson III as her running mate to face Bañas.

The line-up of Rivera for councilors will reportedly include former city mayor Rosalita Nuñez, former assemblyman Rogelio Garcia, incumbent councilor Dominador Lagare III, lawyer Art Cloma, Shandee Llido, former city councilor Zoilo Abing, Pacquiao lawyer Franklin ‘Jeng’ Gacal Jr, and several new faces who Rivera declined to further identify.

He withheld the names of his other candidates for councilors because of a continuing ‘raid’ of his lineup and reports of political rivals convincing his slate to withdraw from the race.

Meanwhile, Custodio and Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. will file their certificates of candidacies on Friday, October 5.

“As usual, we will hold mass before proceeding to the Commission on Election offices to file our COCs,” Acharon said during the birthday party of banker Orman Manansala.

Acharon declined to reveal which position he is running for.

Earlier reports said Acharon and Custodio will be trading places and reclaim their former positions. But former city councilor Minardo Avila on Saturday. September 29, confirmed Custodio will seek re-election as city mayor while Acharon will try to keep his current post.

Acharon will be facing Roel Pacquiao for the first congressional district of South Cotabato and General Santos City.

All 10 incumbent city councilors belonging to Custodio’s local political party, Achievers with Integrity Movement (AIM), will seek re-election.  They will be joined by former city councilor Avila who is aiming for a comeback and Calumpang village chief Cerilo Forones.

Among those seeking re-election are councilors Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Leyson IV, Margareth Santos, Beth Bagonoc, Nepthale Natividad, Virgie Llido, Dante Vicente and Vivencio Dinopol

South Cotabato 3-way race
In South Cotabato, it will be a three-cornered race for the gubernatorial post as Rep. Daisy Avance Fuentes will reportedly slide back to reclaim her former gubernatorial seat.

She will face incumbent Gov. Arthur Pinggoy, a former political ally in the Nationalist People’s Alliance.

Also throwing his hat for the top executive post in the province is Fernando Miguel, former Koronadal City mayor.

Pinggoy and Fuentes parted ways when Pinggoy bolted the NPC and joined Lakas-Kampi of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In 2010, Pinggoy ran for governor while Fuentes went back to Congress after both serving out their three 3-year terms as congressman and governor respectively.  Both handily won over their opponents.

Fuentes fielded former Subic Base Management Authority executive Ferdinand Hernandez against Pinggoy in the 2010 elections while Pinggoy had former governor Hilario de Pedro III as Fuentes’ rival.

Hernandez will now run for congressman for the second district of South Cotabato. 

Pinggoy is considering Provincial Board Member Cecil Diel or incumbent Vice Gov Elmo Tolosa as his candidate for congress. Fuentes is a longtime Nationalist People’s Coalition member and is allied with the Aquino administration.

Pinggoy is likely UNA’s candidate in the province. – Rappler.com

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