EXPLAINER: Mike Rama's two uncles were arrested during martial law. Mike himself said he joined rallies against Marcos Sr. But this election, he casts his lot with BBM. Here's why, mostly in his words.

·6 min read

CEBU City Mayor Michael "Mike" Rama has been slow in disclosing his choice for president and, with that, the reasons for the choice.

The reason obviously was caution in picking the national candidates with whom locals hitch their stars: (a) to help their own election and (b) have the country's highest official help them if they get elected.

It wasn't until January 26 that Mayor Mike and his local party Barug announced the national candidates they're endorsing: Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte. Even then Mike Rama was sparse in explanation: "Yesterday should be a lesson and what we have today is to move forward."

Last March 3, along the same defensive line, he said, "Who among us here have not sinned? It was unfair to dig up old issues. The past should not be brought to the present, especially if the intention of the children is just to continue the good work of their parents."

Since then, he has been adding to the pile of reasons for picking Marcos; the biggest single load was when he was interviewed by Rappler, posted Wednesday, April 20.

Here are takeaways on Mike Rama's list of reasons for casting his and his party's lot with Marcos Jr.:

[1] MOVING ON/FORWARD: The "sins" and "old issues" Mayor Mike mentions must refer to arrests, tortures, killings, disappearances and other alleged acts of oppression during the Marcos regime.

They must include the arrests of his two uncles, former Cebu governor Osmundo Rama and journalist and Constitutional Convention delegate Napoleon Rama. Mundo Rama was placed under house arrest, Mike Rama says, while Nap Rama shared a detention cell with Ninoy Aquino.

With that "move on/move forward" reasoning is the embrace of corollary ideas such as:

-- Everyone sins ("Who has not sinned," Mike says) and so forget Marcos's sins?

-- The past shouldn't influence the present. Good intentions of the Marcos Jr. render irrelevant the bad intentions and foul deeds of Marcos Sr. "When we talk, Bongbong and I don't talk about yesterday, but about moving forward, rise up, move on."

[2] KNOWING, EMPATHIZING WITH BONGBONG. Mike Rama says he has known Bongbong since he and Marcos Jr. filed their protests six years ago: BBM for losing to Leni Robredo in the vice president's race and Mike for losing to Tomas Osmeña in the city's mayoralty fight.

On past occasions, Mayor Mike spoke bitterly about being "PCOSed," or cheated in the 2016 election by the use of PCOS or Precinct Count Optical Scan machines. PCOS was renamed VCM but the old term has stuck. Like Bongbong, Mike Rama has not accepted defeat. "We were in the same situation," he said. Mike believes he was elected mayor just as BBM was elected VP in 2016.

Mike Rama says he is close to Bongbong (and Mayor Sara and Senator Bong Go) and has dinner with him and when he's in Manila.

[3] "MESMERIZED": "I WAS THERE." The mayor uses his having seen the "magnificence" and "grandeur" of the Marcos era -- when Marcos Sr. was at his best, “from Aparri to Jolo” -- as another reason for endorsing Bongbong. "I was there," he said, apparently recalling the years he was a law student in Manila.

Short of saying "Wow!" and "Oh my God, awesome," he was impressed greatly by the Cultural Center, the Folk Arts Center and similar centers such as the Heart Center and Kidney Center. In sum, the buildings.

"Mesmerized" by all that, Mayor Mike sounds like a fan of Marcos Sr. when he said he keeps a record of the martial law ruler's speech before the US Congress. "I have the book of Marcos," he said.

That may clash with information from SunStar's Atty. Frank Malilong Jr., who in his February 3, 2022 column said the mayor told him that as a student, Rama joined anti-Marcos rallies in Manila.

[4] 'NO ONE'S PERFECT," DON'T CAST STONE. When asked by Rappler about the regime "terror and oppression" in the Marcos era, as recorded in history books -- along with the "era of magnificence and grandeur," over which Mike gushed -- the mayor said, "No one's perfect."

As a lawyer, he said, everyone enjoys the presumption of innocence -- never mind, one supposes, all the Marcos money already recovered, the still unexplained Marcos wealth, the criminal and civil charges filed, and the conviction of Imelda Marcos.

Mayor Mike also cited the biblical injunction, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," along with his earlier pitch that everyone sins anyway. Those concepts, of course, if applied may tear down the justice system on crime and punishment. Nobody can be brought to trial and punished if found guilty because judges and lawyers are also sinners.

[5] SURVEY RESULTS, ACCEPTANCE. BBM, Mayor Mike says, has consistently led in poll surveys. That means people have accepted him, warts and all.

That's a stretched application of the idea under the Aguinaldo doctrine, which says a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term since his reelection to office condones the said misconduct.

In the groove of Mayor Mike's thinking, since the surveys put Bongbong on the lead, most people already forgive, or no longer mind, the Marcoses' sins of the past. Forgiveness, through pollsters, not ballot boxes.

By the way, defense of condonation has already been abandoned by the Supreme Court. The Aguinaldo doctrine is no longer available if reelection happened on or after April 12, 2016.

[6] BLAMING NOT MIKE'S 'CUP OF TEA.' Mayor Rama says many presidents followed Marcos Sr. (Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino) and "how many years after Edsa" (36 years) -- and the country has not achieved "peace, progress and prosperity."

He implies that he can also find fault in those presidents and their respective administration but blaming, he says, "is not my cup of tea." He must mean that Marcos Jr.'s faults provide no reason for him not to endorse him.

[7] FOR SELF AND PARTY must be a major reason, if not the stronger reason Mayor Mike has picked the BBM-Sara Uniteam. He doesn't spell it out but then no politician hereabouts does.

Each candidate for mayor -- or governor -- wants to bet on the winning horse in the race to Malacañang. The wise and pragmatic choice of president and VP can help make him win his seat and can help him stay longer in office. A local win on May 9 will be complete if the mayor's, or governor's, president also makes it.

Mayor Mike was being loyal to PDP-Laban but was also being shrewd, thus the long wait before the announcement backing BBM. The survey result makes a good GPS. And Rama must have known, through his access to Senator Bong Go, the choices of the ruling party and the president.

PDP-Laban indeed picked Bongbong. President Rodrigo Duterte has assumed so far a neutral stance but Rama must know, through his reliable source, that he'd go for BBM if only because of his daughter Sara.

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