People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao has conquered the boxing ring. Today, he is out to conquer the Philippine political arena in a campaign that could usher in a new dynasty in SOCCSKSARGEN.
After absorbing a TKO loss to Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio in 2007 for the right to represent the first district of South Cotabato, Pacquiao staged a comeback through the backdoor in a manner of speaking.
He ran for Congress in 2010 and won, not in South Cotabato, but in Saranggani province, the hometown of his wife Jinkee. Pacquiao is running for reelection in 2013 unopposed.
But Saranggani is too small a kingdom for the widely popular, considerably influential, extremely wealthy and very ambitious boxer.
His eyes set on capturing the Senate in 2016 and perhaps the presidency in 2022, Pacquiao has started to build his mass base outside his jurisdiction but within his region.
He is fielding his wife Jinkee to run for vice governor of Saranggani, whose running mate, Vice Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon of the politically entrenched and monied Chiongbian clan which the boxing champion crushed in the 2010 elections.
Aside from Jinkee, Pacquiao’s brother Rogelio, a barangay captain in one of the villages in General Santos City, will run for Congress as representative of South Cotabato against incumbent Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr., a former mayor of General Santos City and ally of the Antoninos. (An in-law of Pacquiao is also a barangay captain in General Santos).
Pacquiao’s conqueror, Darlene Antonino-Custodio will run for re-election as General Santos City mayor. She will be up against first councilor Ronnel Rivera, son of a fishing magnate and Pacquiao’s handpicked candidate. Team Pacquiao in General Santos is composed of political rivals of the Antoninos.
Clearly the 2013 elections will be a showdown, some say a proxy war, between Pacquiao and the Antoninos. It is expected to be a very expensive political exercise — a battle between old money (Antoninos and the Acharons) and new money (Pacquiao and Riveras et al) — with the resource-rich Soccsksargen as the prize.
Will Pacquiao succeed in building his own dynasty and pave the way for his journey to the Senate and perhaps Malacanang?
Broadcast journalist Jorge Carino investiages “Pakyawan” in politics in next week’s “KampanyaSerye,” a teleserye-like documentary that tackles and probes the stories behind campaign promises and rhetorics to bring out the issues that matter to the electorate and show the competencies of aspiring leaders.
It is part of ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2013 coverage that was launched one year before the May national elections and aims to educate voters who are set to elect a new batch of leaders.
Watch Jorge’s five-part report in ”TV Patrol” next week.