EXPLAINER: Who'd want to harm Kons Tumulak? 'Threat' was vague, made on his driver, not on the mayor-wannabe. Who benefits more if Dave's campaign falters: Mayor Mike or Margot O.?

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THERE are at least three ways to look at the publicized complaint of Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, banner-headlined Saturday, April 23, in two Cebu newspapers thus: “Dave Tumulak gets threat from 'rival'” (SunStar) and "Dave reveals threat to safety" (Freeman). One may see the story as:

[1] A case of real intimidation made by one camp on a rival camp in the homestretch to the May 9 election.

[2] An initiative by an underling on another underling to help get information they can use in the campaign, un-approved or even without the knowledge of the candidates or their strategists.

[3] A minor prank or clumsy intelligence-gathering by one camp that is being used by the rival camp to reap publicity.

NATURE OF THE 'THREAT.' At the press-con called by Tumulak Thursday, April 21, the three-term councilor and independent candidate for mayor disclosed the nature of the "threat":

-- An "inquiry," made to Tumulak's driver, in an April 9 phone text and phone call, by an employee identified with a rival candidate for mayor. The councilor didn't name or otherwise identify the sender-caller or the rival candidate.

-- The "offer" was for the driver to provide information on (1) the presidential candidate whom Tumulak is supporting and (2) Tumulak's schedule of campaign activities in exchange for a position for the said driver at City Hall.

HOW DAVE SEES IT. Councilor Tumulak at the press-con said "it is a threat." "Imagine," he said, "they wanted to know 'sa among mga lakaw.'" What was the plan? "Nagplano sila'g dautan."

The threat, if any, is not specified, not even implied. The purpose of the information sought could be something else.

The rival camp could be gathering information on Tumulak's campaign schedule, which is part of the work of any decent campaign, to keep track of, or snoop on, what the rival is doing. They want to know where Tumulak goes obviously to protect or secure votes in the same areas.

Note also that the info first sought was the councilor's choice of presidential candidate. Tumulak's whereabouts came only second.

The offer of a job-for-information swap is underhanded and "trapo" tactic but isn't unexpected in the political world the councilor and his competitors have inhabited for several years already. And the offer is not criminal per se.

SPECIFICS NEEDED. Legally, there was no criminal threat on the life of anyone, not the councilor or his driver, basing, that is, on the publicized facts. If it had the effect of a threat to the councilor, it was vague and unspecific to many others, including Mayor Michael Rama, one of Tumulak's major rivals for the mayor's seat.

Kons Dave has the right to be apprehensive but the present crop of politicians in more than two decades of Cebu City politics has not been known for violence or advocating force in order to win. And no camp has accused the rival camp of using threat to accomplish its ends. What the BOPK group accused Barug/PDP Laban in 2019 was the use of PNP checkpoints near the Guadalupe house of BOPK chief and then aspirant-for-mayor Tomas Osmeña, which was unusual but the police had the legal right to do. BOPK cried unfair but it couldn't complain of violence or the threat of violence.

TELLING IT TO THE POLICE. The alleged threat has not come close to being "real and imminent" but the councilor, or any other candidate in a similar situation, has the right to seek protection from the police.

Tumulak could've complained promptly though, as the offensive text and call were allegedly made last April 9 yet, assuming the driver immediately told his boss about it.

As of April 21 press-con, the councilor said he was still to file a formal report.

RAMA MIGHT BENEFIT MORE from a derailed campaign of the Tumulak camp, although some people believe that both Mike and Margot would share in spill-over votes from the councilor but not equally.

The councilor runs as an independent but has been aligned with the administration Barug party and thus is assumed to have been chipping votes off the Rama group.

But is the prospect of getting votes from a threatened or removed Tumulak strong enough to resort to violence or threat of violence?

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