GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A two-way fight is shaping up in the gubernatorial race in South Cotabato province in the May 2022 elections.
House of Representatives Deputy Speaker and South Cotabato second district Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez formally filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for governor on Tuesday to challenge incumbent Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr.
No other personality has declared intention to join the fray as of Tuesday, the fifth day of the COC filing set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In an apparent show of force, Hernandez’s group staged a motorcade from the congressional office in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Koronadal City past 9 a.m. on the way to the Comelec provincial office on the second floor of the provincial capitol’s main building.
The three-term lawmaker, who chairs the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino or PDP-Laban in the province under the faction of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, was accompanied by political allies that included incumbent mayors and other local officials.
“We’re here to make the people our first priority. We will give them an honest, fair, humane, and honorable leadership,” Hernandez told reporters after filing his COC.
He vowed to continue with the province’s infrastructure development, which received around PHP15 billion in funding from the national government in the last decade.
Hernandez said he will push for the entry of more major investments into the province as well as expand social and health services.
He will also focus on addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid-19 pandemic and work on the establishment of a government-operated testing center.
Hernandez picked incumbent Vice Gov. Vicente de Jesus, currently on his second term, as his running mate.
His team included long-time ally, former South Cotabato governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who is making a comeback for the second congressional district seat, a post she previously held for four terms.
Fuentes, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, lost to Tamayo in the 2019 elections.
In the first district, incumbent Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles’ husband Danny filed his COC for the post under the PDP-Laban. Bañas-Nograles filed her candidacy for mayor here on Monday.
The party fielded outgoing Polomolok town councilor Alan Ines, former Polomolok councilor Ireneo Cabahug and Diomedes Madanguit Sr. for the provincial board race in the first district.
The second district slate is led by incumbent board members Hilario de Pedro VI, Jinky Avance-Samodal, Dardanilo Dar, Rose Achurra (ex-officio), and new additions Romeo Sustiguer Jr., Koronadal City legal officer Christy Joy Sollesta, and Banga town Liga ng mga Barangay president Magno Reyes.
Hernandez had been rumored since last year to be eyeing the province’s top post and face off with Tamayo, who formalized his reelection bid last Oct. 2.
Tamayo, the national president of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, picked former South Cotabato second district congressman and governor Arthur Pingoy Jr. as running mate.
Former provincial board member and Polomolok mayor Isidro Lumayag will seek the first district congressional seat while incumbent Koronadal City Vice Mayor Peter Miguel is gunning for the second district post.
Tamayo’s provincial board slate in the first district is led by incumbent Noel Escobillo, former Tampakan mayor Bienvenido Barroso and Nilda Almencion.
In the second district, the group fielded incumbent Henry Ladot, Mike Matinong, Roger Cadellino, Junette Hurtado, Cecille Diel, Lyndale Causing, and Ervin Luntao. (PNA)