[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ctober 2015 is less than 3 months away and that is why reports have been reaching us very recently that finally, incumbent City Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera of General Santos City already has an opponent fielded by the Achievement with Integrity Movement (AIM) to run against him in next year’s mayoral elections.

No, it is not former Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio who vacated her position after losing to then City Councilor Rivera in 2013.  LIkewise, it is not her father, former mayor Adelbert, who has long retired from politics nor her mother, Luwalhati, the Chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority, the highest public post in Mindanao.  Not even Representative Pedro Acharon, Jr., of the First District of South Cotabato, who has been steadfast in declaring that he wants to run in Congress again and finish 3 terms in the Lower House, instead.

According to AIM insiders, it is no less than incumbent City Councilor Richard Lozano Atendido, who is on his last and 3rd term, who has been tasked by his party to run against Mayor Ronnel Rivera.

Rivera vs Atendido for Gensan Mayor

If this is true and is not a ploy by AIM (which is aligned with the Liberal Party) for Mayor Rivera’s PCM-UNA Party to become complacent considering how many are judging this as a MISMATCH, then Councilor Atendido, who is of native Blaan ancestry, has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Being one of the steadfast mavericks in the City Council who espouses “care and sustainability for the environment” as his staunchest advocacy, even Mayor Rivera, in a televised interview by ABS-CBN Socsargen yesterday, July 22, during the Blaan Day event at the SM City, acknowledged that “Councilor Atendido has all the necessary qualifications to run as mayor”  and would be a “worthy opponent“, if ever he runs for the highest office in the city.

Now, it is just up to the Antoninos and the leaders of the AIM Party to fully commit all their resources and huge machinery behind Councilor Atendido and build him up as a deserving candidate. They must ensure that they meet head-on the formidable Rivera-Pacquiao-backed PCM-UNA, who will surely protect the inroads gained by its very charismatic and now hugely popular standard bearer in General Santos City, Mayor Rivera.

(By the way, as for the Vice-Mayoral race, Atendido’s running mate is reportedly Atty. Loreto “Toton” Acharon who will be up against incumbent Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas Nograles.  But this belongs to another blog post, so watch out for it soon.  And we haven’t event talked about the candidate being fielded against current Representative of the First District of South Cotabato, Pedro B. Acharon, Jr. yet.)

With the Antoninos out of the local political picture for the first time in decades, the 2016 Local Elections should be one of the most exciting in years. Can AIM reclaim the City Hall without them this time? Can Atendido and company?

So the question we have been wanting to ask now is this, if it’s really Councilor Richard Atendido battling it out with Mayor Ronnel Rivera, in the 2016 Mayoral Race for General Santos City, whom would you vote?

Hit the comments section below and let’s hear your voice.