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Sunday, March 3, 2013
FORMER congressman Raul del Mar never had an opponent like Annabelle Rama. That I realized when I heard for the first time the actress speaking before a political crowd–members of the opposition Kugi Uswag Sugbo, or Kusug, headed by former mayor Alvin Garcia and party president Raymund Garcia.
She’s frank in a pang-masa kind of way that not only entertains but, more important, will attract the crowd had she been speaking during a barangay pulong-pulong. And Team Rama council bet Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann delos Santos said the actress has been going around Cebu City’s north district for some time now.
According to Edwin Jagmoc of Team Rama, Annabelle attracts huge crowds during their pulong-pulong. “Manggawas sa balay inig tungtong ni Annabelle sa stage,” added another council candidate Yody Sanchez.
Yesterday afternoon, Annabel singlehandedly pumped up the energy of what erstwhile had been a serious gathering of Kusug members. The way I see it, the Senate has Miriam Santiago. The Upper House might soon have another hard-hitting member if Rep. Mitos Magsaysay wins. If Annabelle wins, I am sure she will replace Mitos because she does not mince words in her criticisms.
The party held its convention and they decided to support Team Rama candidates led by Mayor Michael Rama, Edgar Labella, Totol Batuhan and Annabelle Rama.
The ability to gather leaders clad in red shirts representing all city barangays is no simple feat for Kusug. The party continues to enjoy the loyalty of its core leaders.
Of course, several Team Rama candidates are members of Kusug. South Congress bet Totol Batuhan, council candidates Mary Ann, Jerry Guardo and Dave Tumulak were with Kusug in past electoral battles.
Totol, in particular, called the attention of Kusug party members to the endorsement of former congressman Tony Cuenco for his 2013 run. Tony defeated him with slim leads in 2001 and 2004. This time, however, the south district champion endorsed his candidacy. Cuenco’s son James who is running as a Team Rama council candidate was instrumental in Totol’s adoption by the party.
I am sure supporters of Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) will belittle the convention of Kusug. But with the tight race between Team Rama and BOPK, a party with hundreds of loyalist leaders will serve as a potent swing vote.
Recently, BOPK leader Tomas Osmeña changed his tune in such issues as the sale of the Cebu City Medical Center.
To me, this means his surveys tell him the position won’t benefit his candidacy. Hence the need for some changes now. With still weeks before the official start of the campaign period, I think BOPK should factor in Kusug’s endorsement in its math.
Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante has again dismissed as mere politics the charges filed against him, saying other councilors have already explained that these accusations have no basis. Diamante, a protégé of the late Vice Governor Greg Sanchez Jr., is among the Liberal candidates with high chances of winning despite the third district being a Garcia bailiwick.
Congresswoman Mitos yesterday told a small group of Cebu journalists that an IMF report showed smuggling rose several folds under President Noynoy Aquino’s “matuwid na daan” administration.
I first saw her several years ago during a congressional hearing on car smuggling in Cebu. Yesterday, I think she was talking about rice smuggling that the former first gentleman initiated and continued by the present administration.
Customs insiders lamented the operation that used farmers’ coops and the National Food Authority because it existed away from the prying eyes of media. I heard that the old players during GMA’s time continued with additional faces from Manila.
I am encouraged to hear though that newly appointed Cebu Customs Collector Ed dela Cuesta will continue his predecessor’s strict policy against smuggling. Obviously, with only 18 months before he retires from the bureau, he wants his record to stay clean and not be tarnished by any untoward issue.
As of the moment, the more pressing matter involving customs is the need to transfer to the Quimonda IT building because the Cebu Port Authority already needs the area the bureau is occupying.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 04, 2013.