Battle of the Carpetbaggers

Manny Pacquiao and Roy Chiongbian have been at each other’s throats lately, each one accusing the other of not being a resident of Sarangani. The two are gunning for the lone congressional seat of the province.

Pacquiao filed a petition late last year to disqualify the businessman, which the Comelec junked. Just last week, the political party founded by Chiongbian’s father also petitioned for Pacman’s disqualification. The Comelec has yet to decide on this.

Roy Chiongbian is a scion of Sarangani’s political dynasty. His late father was a congressman and had authored the bill that created the province, his mother is a former governor, and his older brother is the current district representative.

Pacquiao is of course the veritable golden boy of Gensan, up until his failed congressional bid in 2007. Thinking he may have better political chances in the neighboring province, he transferred his official residence to Kiamba after his electoral defeat.

From a legal perspective, both of them may have sufficiently met the one-year residency requirement; their lawyers must have made sure of this at the very least. In reality, these two have never bothered to stay in Sarangani until they had the brilliant idea of wanting to be a congressman.

Chiongbian lives in Alabang and runs various businesses in Metro Manila. When not beating someone’s ass in Las Vegas, Pacquiao is also in Manila for his showbiz career and countless product endorsements.

So the people of Sarangani are left to choose between two filthy rich candidates who just showed up in time for election season, each one no doubt claiming that he will truly represent and serve the interests of his constituents. The official campaign period for local posts hasn’t even started yet and government employees have already received Chiongbian T-shirts while schoolchildren are sporting Pacquiao backpacks.

In the following months, packs of rice, instant noodles and canned sardines will rain down like manna from their campaign coffers. The candidates will brave unpaved roads to reach remote barangays, shake hands with farmers and fisherfolk, and try to speak a few words of B’laan and Maguindanaon.

Such glorious attempts to portray themselves as one with the locals. Let’s see who succeeds in looking less of an opportunistic outsider.

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