EXPLAINER: Mayor Mike gives clue on Digong's most likely bet: It's Bongbong. Although the president teases BBM, other wannabes on cocaine use, 'most corrupt' tag.

·5 min read

KEY POINTS. [1] Last Wednesday, January 26, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama announced that Partido Barug-PDP Laban supports the tandem of Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte-Carpio for president and vice president.

[2] Earlier, on December 19, 2021, Mayor Mike said Barug will support the candidate "anointed" by President Rodrigo Duterte to lead the country after his term. He said then, "wala magdali, maghuwat."

[3] Duterte has not yet named his choice of presidential bet, although it is assumed he supports his daughter Sara for VP. Are people to assume too that BBM is Digong's pick, the "anointed"? No, Mayor Mike said, but he prays the President "will be with us in this direction." He gave a clue though on where Digong most probably will go.

A LONG WAIT this has been for the nation: knowing for sure the candidate for president whom outgoing President Duterte and his ruling party PDP-Laban will bless and support. To be sure, he'll back his daughter Sara for VP but, in his wish list, who's the next chief executive, president #17?

The waiting delayed announcements by local parties that are allied to or coalesced with PDP-Laban. They wanted to be sure whom President Duterte, with his vaunted high ratings, would back for president and if he is "winnable" and thus most useful to them in the next six years.

After the riddles and confusion caused by political parties, enabled by the Comelec rule on substitution of candidates, PDP-Laban was left with no candidate for president and VP. Senators Bong Go and "Bato" de la Rosa and the president himself figured in that play, which epically flopped.

PDP-Laban now asks Comelec to reopen the COC filing but the strategy has dim prospect succeeding. PRRD and ruling party PDP-Laban are left with those names already in the ballot: Leni Robredo, Ping Lacson, Isko Moreno, and Bongbong Marcos.

GIVEAWAY HINT FROM MIKE. In his January 26 announcement of support for the BBM-Sara team, Mayor Rama said he consulted national personalities, besides his Barug party-mates. As part of keeping the mystery, he didn't name them: "needless to say who they are," he said twice.

But, later, he did name one: Senator Go who, Mike said, the mayor "looks up to" as Cebu City's conduit of benefits from the central government. So it must be Bong Go, above others, who convinced him of the "direction" the president's support is going in the presidential race.

WHY PRRD WILL (MOST LIKELY) PICK BBM. Mayor Mike's naming Bong Go as guide for the Barug move was one strong giveaway: the senator knows more about the president's plans and strategies than most anyone else.

And Mayor Mike must have calculated that Digong would ultimately give support to BBM for these reasons:

(a) Bongbong is necessary to make Sara win and vice versa, as both could lose with no solid backing from the two political clans; (b) Bongbong is most likely the "healing president" who wouldn't send him to jail, and BBM has bigger chance of winning than the other contenders; (c) it would be tough and awkward as a political strategy of the Dutertes to have a split national ticket in their bailiwick in Davao and many other parts of Mindanao, just as it would be tough and awkward for local parties such as Barug to be split or split further on the top two posts.

Mike has an escape clause if something else happens: "We cannot dictate the president" and "we just hope" PRRD will choose Bongbong as Barug has done.

DIGONG DIGS ON BONGBONG. Would President Duterte's teasing of the presidential candidates, particularly BBM, stop him from later supporting Marcos? He didn't name Bongbong as the "cocaine user" and "weak leader" but many people believe he was referring to the son of the late martial law president.

For Digong, that should be no bar to supporting BBM, with his daughter Sara. He could keep quiet as the elections draw near and stop his attacks on the presidential wannabes, or say he didn't refer to Bongbong, or claim he was just joking or making noise to make himself less of a lame duck in the dying weeks of his term. After all, many times before, the president made serious accusations or plans he didn't follow through.

SHORTFALL IN SUPPORT. The most significant inadequacy in Barug's support for Bongbong is that it does not carry the weight of the two local parties coalesced with Barug, namely, Panaghiusa of MCWD chairman and former councilor Jose Daluz III and Kusug of Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia and his dad former mayor Alvin. That is, assuming that Panaghiusa and Kusug are each still with considerable mass base.

Daluz spoke out against the BBM support, saying his mom Inday Nita Cortes-Daluz's party cannot be associated with Marcos, whom the original Panaghiusa fought against during martial law. Kusug has not been heard from, but Mayor Mike told the January 26 press-con that Barug publicity streamers for BBM will carry only the names Barug-PDP Laban and party-list Marino.

The pro-BBM decision also opened the mayor to some criticism as Mike Rama had not been known to be a supporter of the Marcoses as his star -- from councilor in 1992-2001, to vice mayor 2001-2010, then 2019, to mayor in 2010 and 2013 -- had been tied most of his political career to a rabid anti-Marcos by the name of Tomas Osmeña. His uncle Napoleon Rama, the late journalist who was son of Don Vicente Rama, author of the Cebu City Charter, was "a fearless fighter" against martial law and the Marcoses.

‘MOVE FORWARD.’ Mayor Mike's comment on the pro-Marcos stand: "Yesterday should be a lesson and what we have today is to move forward [to]." He didn't say the lesson is that, in facing the present, one must forget the past.

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