NAMES have been announced or floated, alliances forged, and party tickets set up but, except for a few aspirants, the public is not sure who will definitely run. The final teams may be what we mostly expect but there might be surprises.
The public cannot be sure. Not until after the October-1-to-8 deadline for filing COCs or certificates of candidacy and, for many "segurista," the November 15 deadline for substitution of candidates.
 ONE OR BOTH DUTERTES? How the pieces fall into place in the Duterte camp is being awaited most eagerly as it will affect decisions of local parties.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced his acceptance of the draft by PDP-Laban Cusi wing for the vice presidency. But who will be his president? He already said he'd drop out if his daughter Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio would run for president. Sara said she wouldn't run for a national office. One or both of them might pull a surprise. The final combination the Dutertes will agree to, or foist on their supporters, will affect not just the national aspirants but also the local parties.
Some say the exchange between father and daughter is just zarzuela. Others see a real rift in the family politics. Whatever, the Duterte factor will play a big role on election plans of many others, including local parties and politicians, some of whom won't decide which national party to coalesce with until they know the "kamada" in the national race.
 SHAPE OF ANTI-GWEN FORCE. Bakud of the Durano clan in Danao City is the party that will pit forces against Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia. It has come out and declared its decision to challenge her and One Cebu in the 2022 election.
So it's not like Governor Gwen won't be facing a serious opponent, which people earlier expected would happen. There's Ace Durano, former tourism secretary, representing the "once and future" kings of the north. Still, how much fight can he offer, given Bakud's loss in the 2019 elections?
But having Hilario "Junjun" Davide III, incumbent vice governor and former governor for two terms, will decidedly boost Ace Durano's chances, although Junjun also has almost totally withdrawn from the Capitol stage since June 30, 2019 when Gwen took over. Junjun coyly said he won't tell his political plan until the October deadline for COCs.
 RUNNING MATE PROBLEM. Ace Durano may or may not enlist Junjun Davide on his side. In Cebu City, Partido Barug's expected candidate for mayor, Vice Mayor Mike Rama, seems to have already accepted Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia as his running mate.
After news about the tandem broke out in the wake of the PDP-Laban national council meeting in Clark, Pampanga last July, the talk was that Mike Rama was "not comfortable" with the councilor as his vice mayor. In a press-con more than a week ago, however, Mike implied that discomfort may go away after some time, especially if the tandem wins.
BOPK doesn't seem to have a running-mate problem. Talk of a Bebot Abellanonsa-Franklyn Ong duo continues to circulate, with no indication of being changed or discarded.
 IS MAYOR EDGAR OUT OF ELECTION PICTURE? As early as last July, forged in the sideline agreement among local members of the PDP-Laban Cusi wing in that Pampanga political activity was that the standard bearers for Barug would be Mike Rama and Raymond Garcia.
Which assumed that, even two months or so ago, they already decided Mayor Edgar Labella couldn't get back in time. Even if he could come out physically and return to City Hall, the issue of his health would hound him during the campaign until the elections.
 QUARRELS OVER WHO'LL RUN. Barug may have decided on the issue of who'll run for vice mayor. If it's Councilor Raymond who'll be Mike Rama's VM, how about Councilor Dondon Hontiveros? Or is he already considered out of the Barug fold and shouldn't be a party concern anymore except for the votes he'd take with him as the party's top vote-getter in 2019?
Then there's feud over the House seats in north and south. Whom would the party pick in the first district -- Councilor Nina Mabatid or TV star Richard Yap -- and in the second district -- Councilor Edu Rama or former councilor Joy Pesquera?
Acting Mayor Mike said he asked each contender one question: "What would you do if you wouldn't be chosen Barug's official candidate?" From their answers, he must have an idea what each might do. But one could lie and do the opposite if he or she wouldn't get the party blessing.
 THEMATTER OF THIRD FORCE. The threat of a third force arises when aspirants don't agree with, and refuse to submit to, the party decision on who will run. There's such a threat in Barug, if Rama does not assert leadership while Labella, the party's highest elective official, still is confined to his home.
In contrast, BOPK leadership is centralized in one man, former mayor Tomas Osmeña. What Tomas wants in his party, he gets. There's no open rift yet within the party as the reported problem of picking Mary Ann de los Santos, former councilor, over Rachel "Cutie" del Mar, former congresswoman, may have already been solved.
Be it in Barug or BOPK, leaders strive to avoid a third force within its ranks, which can make the difference between winning and losing.
 THE NATIONAL ALLY. Barug is identified with PDP-Laban Cusi Wing, whose visible top leader in Cebu is Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino. More specifically, Barug is allied with President Duterte's camp.
It is assumed for now that Barug supports the president. But what if the president and his daughter Mayor Carpio wouldn't be on the same political boat? Barug might still be solid for the interest of the Dutertes, whichever way it may be pursued.
BOPK is expected to be anti-administration but which presidential camp? It will have the option of picking its choice when the time comes. One Cebu will have a wider choice. While it is now allied with the Cusi faction of PDP-Laban, BOPK seems to be not limited to the Dutertes. It awaits the November 15 cut-off for substitution of candidates before it picks its national partner.