Back in March, President Rodrigo Duterte signed R.A. 11243 that reapportioned the city of General Santos out of the 1st Congressional District of South Cotabato and made it a lone legislative district in its own right, and the 3rd district by number in the province. At the time the reapportioning was done, it was mere months left before the 2019 Senatorial Elections, wherein new representatives for the Congressional Districts would be elected. However, the election for a new Representative for GenSan was postponed until later this year, in October. A 3-day filing period for candidacy was scheduled this week, and some familiar faces showed up.

The Philippine News Agency has it that a number of veteran politicians have filed their certificate of candidacies to become the first Representative of the newly-reapportioned Lone District of GenSan, or South Cotabato 3rd District. Two big names were on the COCs received by the local offices of the Commission of Elections (COMELEC). They are Pedro Acharon Jr., former Representative of SOCOT 1st District, and former city Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles. Acharon, as always, is running or the Achievement with Integrity Movement (AIM) party, while Nograles is touted as the official candidate of Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s People’s Champ Movement (PCM).

Former Vice Mayor Nograles finished her COC filing by 3 in the afternoon Tuesday, August 27, and she had major support for company, re-elected Mayor Ronnel Rivera. The following day, August 28, Rep. Acharon filed his own certificate, accompanied by his wife Rose and brother, incumbent GenSan Vice Mayor Loreto Acharon, along with a group of supporters. The two veteran candidates have a particular connection, in that Nograles was supposed to run for the 1st SOCOT District seat that was vacated by Acharon in June following a 3-term service, only for elections for the position to be suspended last May.

In fact, Pedro Acharon Jr. is running into opposition for his GenSan District Congressional bid, citing that he has served as a Representative for 3 terms as limited by the 1987 Constitution. To this, Acharon noted his opinion that the law indicates consecutive terms served without breaks. As his District 1 seat expired naturally in June, he was already a private citizen when he filed his COC for GenSan, the vote for which happens October.

Meanwhile, even as Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles is filing her candidacy for the GenSan lone district, she is still pursuing her Supreme Court petition to undo the cancellation of the South Cotabato 1st District elections from May. Even with the official invalidation as “stray votes” that Nograles is pushing to overturn, enough voters filled in the seat on their ballots to have a clear winner. The former GenSan VM got 194,929 votes or 68% of the turnout, beating Arturo Cloma (AIM), Menchie Dinopol-Cataluna and Abelardo Plaza (Independents).

Aside from Acharon and Nograles, two independent candidates are also gunning for the newly-created Congressional seat, namely Benjie Rivera and Abelardo Plaza. The GenSan Lone District special election will take place this coming October 26, along with that for South Cotabato District 1 and Southern Leyte Districts 1 and 2.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

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