Malilong: Survey results hardly surprising

Frank Malilong
·3 min read

I HEARD about a survey conducted in Cebu City last December but until colleague Bobby Nalzaro wrote about it in his column last Tuesday, I knew only a few details including the head of the team that was commissioned to conduct it.

I happen to know her well. Her credentials and experience are impeccable and her methodology adheres closely to science. If you want a survey to feed your ego and delude you rather than help you shape your campaign strategy, go find someone else. She is not your woman.

A respected professor who holds a doctorate at the UP-Cebu, she must have done more than 50 political surveys in recent years. She tracked then candidate Edgardo Labella’s path from the time that his name was being floated as a possible candidate for mayor in the 2019 elections up to a few weeks before the actual voting and accurately predicted that he would win.

The results of her December survey do not surprise me. Edgar Labella-Mike Rama is still the team to beat, the strongest tandem that the administration can offer to the Cebu City electorate in 2022. It will be a huge mistake to decouple them, and I say this with all due respect to the people who are said to be also considering a run for the top two elective positions in the city.

Rama’s slogan “Together we can make things happen,” which he made his mantra during his second term as mayor should remind him — and Labella — and their allies of the advantage in keeping their partnership together. If they break up, they will lose to Tommy Osmeña, 99.9 percent.

Sometime in November last year, a political leader who played a big role in the 2019 campaign said they were looking at a Plan B in the event that Labella for any reason decides not to seek reelection. He mentioned the names of two councilors who, he said, will be the nucleus of Plan B.

The partnership looked promising on paper: two young politicians, each with illustrious lineage. The only downside is that they’re both untested in one-on-one elections. How will they fare against Tommy and Franklyn Ong, for example?

Administration officials should hope that they won’t have to set Plan B in motion. Labella appears to have recovered from the health issues that slowed him down during the most part of 2021 and has indicated that only one office will interest him in 2022, the mayorship and nothing else. That leaves the burden of preserving their partnership on Rama’s shoulders.

That 2022 is a presidential election year might complicate the issue and make the decision-making a little more difficult for Rama as well as for the others who harbor ambitions for higher office. Cebu is the richest island in the country in terms of voting population. Any presidential candidate would certainly wish to have a local slate to carry his or her campaign in Cebu City and the province, including the highly urbanized cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.

If Manny Pacquiao, Leni Robredo, Bong Go and Bongbong Marcos run for President, it is strongly possible that we will have four candidates for mayor of Cebu City. Now guess who.