After beating him in his first political attempt, he bounced back. That was 2007. Eleven years later, Manny Pacquiao, now a Senator, made sure that his tormentor, the Antoninos, will not be in the political scene, at least until 2022. Former congressman Adelbert Antonino, his daughter Darlene (also former Congresswoman and Mayor), even their staunchest ally, Cong. Pedro Acharon, Jr. are not running for the May 2019 polls.
The used to be well-oiled Antonino founded political group which lorded General Santos City and South Cotabato (1st district) for more than 20 years, the Antonino Independent Movement a.k.a. Achievers with Integrity Movement (AIM) decimated, even losing some of its political assets to the Peoples Champ Movement (PCM), the local party established by Pacquiao.
The fighting Senator established PCM after he bounced back three years after his lopsided defeat to the hands of Darlene for the coveted congressional post. So dominating today that PCM raided AIM and got three of its key people, General Santos City councilors Elizabeth Bairoy-Bagonoc and Lourdes Casabuena and Reynaldo Forones, a long-time AIM party leader.
Perhaps so demoralized that they lost Bagonoc, Casabuena and Forones, Darlene who was earlier reported to seek again the congressional position, did not file her candidacy, even also affecting their supposed Gensan mayoralty beat, Cong. Acharon, also former city hall occupant, didn’t. AIM merely organized a line-up of recycled bets, which pundits believed had no match to that of Pacquiao’s PCM.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera, a Pacquiao ally is seeking his third term against Jay Omila, a known sportsman who earlier failed in his two attempts as city councilor. Atty. Loreto Acharon, the brother of Pedro is seeking the Vice mayoralty seat but he too has failed in an earlier attempt. Acharon is facing Association of Barangay Council (ABC) Pres. City Councilor Lorelie Pacquiao, the sister-in-law of the Senator. Ryan Rivera, the brother of Mayor Rivera, considered maverick of the Rivera family who owns the chain of RD pawnshops, RD Fishing Corp., Penbank and a lot more of diversified businesses, is also seeking the vice mayorship but his chances is considered far fetch as he failed to organized a line-up. Ryan submitted a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).
More importantly, the vaunted PCM is intact with nine incumbent councilors in its fold. PCM also fielded a formidable candidate for the congressional seat to be left by Acharon in the person of incumbent Gensan Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles who is facing Atty. Arturo Cloma, a former city councilor. So, from being whipped by the Antoninos in the past, Senator Pacquiao is now lording the former tuff of his tormentor.
That notwitstanding his political control of the nearby Sarangani province where he became two-termer Congressman before he won as Senator in 2016. His younger brother, Ruel, is seeking another term as congressman of the province while his another key ally, Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon is running for his last term. Another brother of the Senator, the husband of Lorelie, Alberto (Bobby), an incumbent Gensan councilor, is running as party list congressman for OFW Family Club founded by the late Ambassador Roy Seneres. Bobby is the first nominee while their new recruit, Bagonoc is second. The son of the late Ambassador, Roy, Jr. is the third nominee of the group.
All told, Manny Pacquiao is tightening his grip in Gensan and the 1st congressional district of South Cotabato, the erstwhile turf of his tormentor, the Antoninos. The bonus, would be two of his brothers could be in congress while a sister-in-law could be the Vice Mayor. What a grip, indeed. That is vintage Manny Pacquiao, whose grit in the boxing ring is also known the world over. Losing and bouncing back and now he is again a world boxing champion preparing to have a fight or two for the megabucks. In politics – he is now the undisputed champion in what used to be the turf of his tormentor.
(Tonton Antogop, who used to write for the Cebu Daily News, is an active member of the Political Officers League of the Philippines (POLPHIL). He posts his incisive views on politics in his Facebook account. We have invited him to contribute to Politika.PH) — Anol_Cebu.