Rama’s political brinkmanship
The reported tiff between former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama and incumbent Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella over who will be the opposition standard bearer in next year’s local elections has brought political tensions at their boiling point.
The perceived standoff maybe boring for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena who thinks this is all political drama, but it is something that he can only wish for.
Conventional wisdom says a three-cornered fight is certain to split the votes of Barug Team Rama led by Mike and PDP Laban piloted by Edgar and deliver City Hall to Tommy in a silver platter.
Simply put, Rama and Labella are looking at a distinct possibility of losing if they both vie for the same post against a formidable incumbent, Tommy Osmena.
Why would Mike Rama try to derail the chances of Edgardo Labella, who looks poised to get the nomination of the PDP-Laban after having been installed as local chapter president of the administration party?
Mike maybe missing his former post at City Hall but I think there is more than meets the eye in the current political tussle.
The former mayor has credibility issues after President Rodrigo Duterte tagged him as a protector of the illegal drug trade. Although some people think this is all politically motivated because no charges have been filed against him, the issue has besmirched his reputation and reduced his political capital.
In other words, the driving force that pushes Labella to run for mayor is Mike’s credibility problem. After his 2016 political debacle, the opposition camped with PDP-Laban giving them a real fighting chance in next year’s local elections.
Mike’s partymates are careful not to hurt his feelings but opposition councilor Joey Daluz has captured what they in the opposition camp feels about the whole situation.
According to Daluz, Labella “clicks” with the grassroots because Rama has not yet recovered from the accusation that he is a drug protector.
Even if Mike’s allies think otherwise they can’t defend him without inviting presidential wrath.
Mike’s statements that he will contest the mayorship in tandem with Labella immediately threw a monkey wrench to the local PDP-Laban.
Interestingly, there’s a loose coalition between Barug Team Rama and PDP Laban but the coalition has not been defined by a formal agreement that would require Mike’s signature as titular head and that of his PDP Laban counterpart, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Mike was eased out of the coalition and this is what gets his goat.
Is Mike trying to draw Labella to negotiate the terms of the alliance with PDP-Laban, one that will give him ample powers, say, in the selection of candidates for city councilors and congressmen? That power is usually vested in the party leadership.
Under a shared leadership, that authority can be divided between him and Edgar.
The brinkmanship that Mike Rama tries to bring to the impasse is a strategy aimed to keep his political currency but it is dangerous because it might just drive his allies to choose between PDP Laban and Barug Team Rama.
In the game of sport, this is called “sudden death,” that instant in the game when the tiebreaker ends the competition.
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