Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon no longer will enjoy the luxury of running unopposed like he did in 2013.
He will face former allies of party mate Manny Pacquiao who is leaving as representative of the lone district of Sarangani to run for a seat in the Philippine Senate.
Solon who is seeking a second term, will face Juan Domino who also ran but was defeated in the 2010 elections then also under the ticket of People’ Champ Movement, a party founded by Pacquiao.
Also challenging the incumbent governor is Mohammad Aquia, a friend of Pacquiao who is the official bet of the ruling administration party headed by the Liberal Party.
Solon still listed the PCM as his party and took former Provincial Board member Elmer de Peralta as running mate as Vice Governor Jinkee Pacquiao has decided to quit politics to concentrate on raising their children and helping her husband win a senate seat.
The PCM has allied with Vice President’s United Nationalist Alliance after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decided not to run for president.
The PCM earlier stated it will support Duterte who si a member of the PDP-Laban.
Domino was once a political rival of the Chiongbians from whose family Solon belonged.
In 1998, Domino defeated Solon’s mother Lucille Chiongbian-Solon for the lone congressional district of Sarangani but was disqualified by the Commission on Election for failing to establish his residency in the province.
He again ran for governor in 2001 but was defeated by Chiongbian ally and then re-electionist Gov. Miguel Escobar.
In 2010, he lost again to Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez who dislodged Escobar in the 2004 election s amid report of widespread corruption in the province.
Escobar was already convicted twice for separate accounts of malversation of public funds, the latest of which came out only last week.
Aquia, on the other hand, also ran as for vice governor as an independent in 2007. He used to hang around Pacquiao’s mansion and was once implicated in a carnapping incident.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s younger brother Rogelio (Roel) Pacquiao also filed his certificate of candidacy for the seat vacated by the former world boxing champion.
Roel, who could face disqualification for reportedly failing to meet the one-year residency requirement, will be challenged by 3 relatively unknown opponents.
They are Elson Formoso who is running as an independent, Megie Orig of the Nationalists People’s Coalition and Victor Mejia of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.
Roel transferred residence in Alabel, Sarangani and has already filed a petition to transfer his voting precinct. The Commission on Election however has to act on his petition.
Pacquiao is a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod f General Santos City by virtue of being the president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen of the city which he won via a toss coin over former ABC head Lourdes Casabuena.