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GenSan bets end campaign in fun and laughter

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 May) – As the campaign period for all candidates in the May 9 elections came to a close on Saturday, comical and awkward moments marred the campaign pitches of some local candidates to the fun delight of many netizens.

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CORDIALITY. Fierce rivals in GenSan’s mayoral post – business leader Elmer V Catulpos and South Cotabato Rep. Shirlyn Nograles – appear to be in a pleasant exchange during a candidates’ forum organized by the academe in General Santos City. Conspicuously absent is mayoral aspirant Lorelie Pacquiao, sister in law of the senator and presidential aspirant, known to not attending public debates even in previous elections. Photo courtesy Genesis Fernandez

Prominent to many social media hooks are the almost comical tug-of-war of two lady mayoral aspirants for the local endorsement of the Iglesia ni Cristo and a now viral video of a candidate who rallied voters in this city to vote straight 15-0 for a rival party.

Still puzzling to many, even to some members and elders of the INC, was when mayoral candidate and incumbent South Cotabato First District Rep. Shirlyn Nograles thanked on social media the INC for their endorsement of her, which came even before the INC local hierarchy can make an announcement to their members on whom to support.

In an apparent last ditch effort on Friday, May 6, the sister-in-law of presidential bet Senator Manny Pacquiao, barangay captain Lorelie Pacquiao, also a mayoral candidate, thanked an endorsement by the Manalo-led church.

The seeming tug-of-war of the INC endorsement by the two lady candidates stirred allegations in social media of money involvement with some netizens speculating on one camp being the highest bidder.

The issue further spread when social media was filled with photos of a sample ballot bearing the name of mayoral candidate Pacquiao, copies of which were allegedly distributed to local INC members.

In the now viral video, Bing Dinopol, an incumbent city councilor seeking for another term, made the surprising 15-0 campaign push for their rival party Achievement with Integrity Movement (AIM), that caught the audience by surprise, including his fellow candidates in their group of mostly incumbent and independent candidates.

AIM, the oldest local political party, is seen as the more organized over its rivals with many of its candidates considered as local survey front-runners, said local banker Joel Inabangan.

The term 15-0 is campaign call for a straight vote from congressman to city mayor, city vice mayor and the 12-seat City Council.

A resident said Dinopol was lucky there was only a small crowd that gathered at what they call “a world-class Balut Park” in the city’s outskirts. But, unknown to the resident, someone caught on video what Dinopol did.

The councilor, who used to be with AIM for a long time but later quit and joined the group of incumbent Mayor Ronnel Rivera, immediately retracted and apologized to his supporters and fellow candidates.

“It was supposed to be RCRI,” the visibly embarrassed Dinopol said. RCRI is an assumed local political group that carries the initials of the incumbent city mayor whose term ends in June.

Many in the AIM party took pity of the councilor whom they described as a dedicated party member when he was still with AIM. “His heart might still be with AIM, he is always welcome,” remarked AIM standard bearer mayoral candidate businessman Elmer Catulpos.

At the Oval Plaza, where big rallies by national political parties are usually held, a huge crowd of mostly youngsters started to gather early afternoon for the “Miting de Avance” of presidential candidate boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao. 

The senator’s last and final rally featured celebrities and known entertainers in what locals believed was an attempt to gather a huge crowd. The crowd indeed came, mostly in vehicles that transported them from nearby provinces.

Checking on the crowd, there were groups that came from as far as Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani.

Before the senator had his turn to talk to the crowd, his sister-in-law Lorelie took to the stage and delivered a speech, wooing voters for support in her mayoralty bid in this city.

A surprised Maguindanao couple in the crowd were asking who she was. “Taga Sultan Kudarat kasi kami, hindi man kami magboto ng mayor dito,” said the man who only gave his name as Tahir.

Organizers of the rally said leaders of the Pacquiao-formed local party People’s Champ Movement (PCM) decided to hold a joint final rally in General Santos for all PCM candidates in Sarangani and this city. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)

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