This is a continuation of my column last Monday (July 19, 2021) entitled: “So, it’s Rama and Garcia for Barug?”
Reacting to the Facebook post of north district Councilor Nina Mabatid on the possible lineup of the local administration coalition for next year’s national and local elections, Vice Mayor Michael Rama said “the lineup is not final yet because there are a lot of things to be ironed out among the group as there are processes to be followed in choosing candidates because they have a ‘long list’ of probables.”
The local coalition is composed of Barug, which was founded by Rama; Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Kusug) founded by former mayor Alvin Garcia; and Panaghiusa, which is recently revived by Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) Board Chairman Joey Daluz III. The legendary Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes Daluz, Joey’s mother, was one of the original founders of the Panaghiusa Party during the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s regime.
According to my source, Mike has a reason not to be happy and enthusiastic with the lineup because he does not like to be partnered with Councilor Raymond Garcia for the mayoralty and vice mayoralty positions, respectively. The source said it was only Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino who personally handpicked Garcia without consulting Rama.
The source added that Rama was invited by Dino during the PDP-Laban national assembly held at Clark Field, Pampanga, over the week, but the former chose not to attend the gathering with the Cebu delegation for unknown reasons. The duo met in Manila earlier, though. It was also Dino who arranged the meeting of Rama and President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang last week. Dino was “forced to endorse” Rama as there is no other strong candidate for the mayorship to be pitted against Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) after Mayor Edgardo Labella decided not to seek reelection for health reasons. Duterte acceded to Dino’s “endorsement” despite naming Rama as a “drug protector” years ago and that the latter has not yet been publicly cleared by the President.
Dino insisted that Garcia will be the vice mayoralty candidate. But Rama resisted, saying he is not comfortable teaming up with Garcia. He wants former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) cager Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros to be his runningmate. But Hontiveros, the source said, is eyeing the south district congressional seat if Edu Rama will not pursue his ambition to seek the congressional post. Dino presented to Rama a sort of written agreement about the choices of candidates, but Rama only approved a portion of the agreement, excluding the choice of his runningmate.
If you recall, Rama and Garcia had slugged it out in the vice mayoralty race in one of the previous elections years ago when Garcia accused Rama of being a “yes man” to BOPK chief Tomas Osmeña when Rama ran as a vice mayor of Osmeña. Rama won in that election. Maybe, the hatred and bitterness as a result of that rivalry still lingers in the heart of Rama.
The source said if Rama would insist on his own and organize his own lineup, there might be a third force with Daluz as the mayoralty candidate and Garcia as his tandem. Other issues to be ironed out by the coalition is the south district congressional race because Joy Pesquera and Dave Tumulak also showed interest in the position. But the source said Dino promised a national position for Pesquera. But the question is, will Dino still be powerful by that time to recommend Pesquera to a national position when Digong’s term expires? In the north congressional district, TV and movie personality Richard Yap will still pursue his candidacy despite Dino already committing to Mabatid to be the coalition’s congressional candidate. Dino told Yap to instead run for senator because of his popularity, the source said.
In the BOPK side, meanwhile, the party is still tight-lipped on its lineup. Anyway, there is only one person who will decide and that’s Tomas. Well, everything is still fluid until the filing of the certificates of candidacy on October. More surprises to watch on the political landscape in the city.