Wenceslao: Exciting times

Bong O. Wenceslao

WHEN I was a reporter, moving from Cebu City Hall to the Capitol, I was into what I consider as exciting times in Cebu politics. The chief executives I covered were then mayor Tomas Osmeña and the late Vicente de la Serna, the then governor. Both were brilliant and aggressive leaders, and when they clashed, journalists were in a frenzy.

I mention this because of the apparent boredom reporters must be feeling covering Capitol. It takes two to tango, sort of, and Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III is not about to provide Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia with stiff opposition. That is not the case with Cebu City Hall which is seemingly hounded by political factionalism even if the influence of Osmeña is on the wane. For reporters, these are exciting times for coverage work.

I visited City Hall a number of times the past few days to iron out kinks in my availment of senior citizen benefits. Naturally, I picked up crumbs that I would not have collected had I merely tended to my small sari-sari store in our community. There were some inside stories but those are for my own consumption.

The two main camps at City Hall are those composed of supporters of Mayor Edgar Labella and supporters of Vice Mayor Michael Rama, a former mayor. If you ask me about it, I would say I am not surprised because even during the campaign for the local polls in 2019, the two camps already existed. Then you have the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan or BOPK camp.

An official who belongs to the Barug camp did admit his party’s factional situation but expressed confidence that nobody among Labella or Rama would break away from the party. He noted that the two leaders would not be foolish enough to disunite and give the weakened BOPK a chance in 2022.

But will the two Barug stalwarts eventually split? I don’t know. But I think both camps are preparing for a showdown in 2022 and are suspicious of each other’s motives. In a way, those who are suspicious of the Labella camp’s creation of the so-called Mayor’s Information and Liaison Office or Milo are not only the BOPK camp but also the Rama group.

Expect the rift to worsen as the next elections near. In the meantime, it would be interesting to monitor the political maneuverings not only by the Labella and Rama camps but also by the BOPK camp. The BOPK can stoke the fire of the rift through intrigues and outright recruitment. The idea is to use the factional strife within the administration for image building and organizational strengthening.

Interestingly, one of the intrigues I am hearing is one involving City Councilor Raymond Garcia who is with the Labella camp but has a group identified with his father, former mayor Alvin Garcia. Where would his group align with once the administration camp rift breaks out in the open?

Reporters will surely have a field day covering City Hall. This is where their talent of fishing for stories will be tested. Then there is the matter of fact-checking considering the proliferation of fake news. I say covering City Hall is exciting again.