MANNY PACQUIAO

Paquiao political dynasty shaping up in SarGenSan

PACQUIAO DYNASTY. Congressman Manny Pacquiao will bid for re-election as he files his certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office Tuesday, October 2, at the National Offices Building inside the Capitol complex in Sarangani. With him is wife Jinkee who is running for vice governor of the province. (Cocoy Sexcion)

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

Three Pacquiaos are running for top posts in the 2013 elections in what is seen as a step to a looming “political dynasty” being crafted by boxing icon Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao himself is seeking reelection. His wife Jinkee is running for Sarangani vice governor, while brother Rogelio, is gunning for the South Cotabato First District congressional seat.
Pacquiao’s People Champ Movement, which has teamed up with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance, has collared politically strong Chiongbian family, one of whose members, Roy Chiongbian, he defeated in the 2010 Sarangani congressional race. The Chiongbians are known for their hold of politics in Sarangani. The Pacquiao party is fielding Sarangani Vice Governor Steve Chiongbian-Solon in the gubernatorial race.
And there is a shade of political vengeance as Pacquiao spreads his wings into the General Santos City political arena.
He has tapped Councilor Ronnel Rivera, a son of fishing magnate Rodrigo Rivera Sr., to run against incumbent Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio. Antonino-Custodio beat Pacquiao in the 2007 mayoral race in GenSan.
The boxing champ’s brother, Rogelio, will be running against former mayor and now South Cotabato Rep. Pedro Acharon, Jr., Antonio-Custodio’s partymate under the Liberal Party (LP) and the Achievers with Integrity Movement, a local party founded by Custodio’s father, former city mayor Adelbert Antonino.
Both Acharon and Antonino-Custodio come from political clans. Acharon’s father Pedro Sr. and brother Antonio also served as mayors of the city. The Antoninos belong to the old rich families in the country who built their fortunes on logging in Mindanao. The Antoninos also own prime real estate property in Metro Manila and Davao City.
Acharon and Antonino-Custodio are facing their most serious challenge so far with Rivera and the Pacquiaos reportedly willing to match their resources.
Pacquiao was reported to have spent at least P120 million in his 2007 failed bid to unseat the then congresswoman Custodio. Pacquiao also reportedly spent at least US$6.6 million or P336 million (at the time the exchange rate was P51 to a dollar) for his 2010 victory in Sarangani.
Under the old election rules, candidates are only allowed to spend P5 per registered voter. In 2010, the city only has a little more than 181,000 registered voters.
After his defeat to Custodio in the city’s mayoral race in 2007, despite reportedly spending about P120 million in campaign funds, Pacquiao formally registered as a voter of Kiamba, Sarangani.
Pacquiao has claimed he lived in Sarangani before his foray into politics.
In 2010, he ran as representative of the province’s lone district and won against Roy Chiongbian, brother of then outgoing Rep. Erwin Chiongbian.
Roy has questioned Pacquiao’s residency but failed to have him disqualified.
Pacquiao’s victory against a Chiongbian, a political family with a reputation for tight grip over Sarangani, came as a surprise to many people.
But then, his supporters credited Pacquiao’s “charisma and pro-poor” outlook for his victory. With MindaNews report

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