Malilong: A cakewalk in the province, but who’s favored in Cebu City?

·3 min read

ONLY a little more than 10 weeks are left before the filing of certificates of candidacy for all positions in next year's elections but Cebu City remains unusually quiet. Even the recent visit of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who has emerged as frontrunner in the presidential race, has failed to draw a clearer picture of what we can expect to see from our local politicians two and a half months from now.

It's different in the province where Governor Gwendolyn Garcia is almost certain to seek reelection. She has made her intentions clear more than once to quiet the little noise about her running for the Senate.

The only question that remains unanswered is who is going to oppose her. The obvious answer would have been Vice Governor Hilario Davide III, who won two terms as governor, each against a Garcia brother, after being roundly beaten by Gwendolyn in 2010.

But Davide is done with politics and would like to go back to private life. He told me so three weeks ago when he called to invite me to the mass for the late President Benigno Aquino III at the Sacred Heart Church. He has had enough of the intrigues that pervade public service, he said.

Without Davide, the most likely opposition candidate for governor could only come from the Durano camp. They have the wherewithal to mount a province-wide campaign and they still have a political base notwithstanding their candidate's defeat to Garcia's son-in-law, Duke Frasco in the 2019 race for the 5th congressional district.

But with Danao City itself under siege, will the Duranos be willing to spread themselves too thinly at the risk of losing the last piece of their crown jewel? Besides, other than the Martinezes in Bogo, who else can they count as an ally? This early, reelection looks like a cakewalk for the governor.

It is more complicated in Cebu City because of Mayor Edgar Labella's health issues. Until he got an ear infection that led to a host of complications, Labella was favored to win re-election, according to a survey done by a UP professor late last year. If he decides not to run so he can rest and fully recover, who will the PDP-Laban nominate for mayor?

Vice Mayor Michael Rama? He shelved his plan to run for mayor in 2019 and gave way to Labella in order to preserve unity among those opposed to then Mayor Tomas Osmeña. It was a "supreme sacrifice," Rama described his agreeing to become Labella's running mate instead.

Is it time to repay his gesture? And if it's not going to be Rama because certain PDP Laban stalwarts are uncomfortable (an understatement, I was made to understand) with him, who will they field? And would Rama be willing in that event to make another supreme sacrifice?

What about the BOPK? If Osmeña decides to run, that question will not be asked anymore. But if he doesn't, can he persuade Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa and ABC president Franklyn Ong to team up, with one of them "sliding" to vice mayor?

Do you think we can see a clearer picture before the end of July?

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