Who benefits from city council realignment

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Thursday, August 21, 2014


I THOUGHT former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña will find ways to mend the rift that prodded Councilors Gerardo Carillo, Richard Osmeña, Noel Wenceslao and Roberto Cabarubbias to support a city council resolution that allows Mayor Michael Rama to sell South Road Properties (SRP) lots. It turned out that he erred again in calling for a gathering with Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOP)-aligned councilors without the renegade four.

I say “again” because his first error was in giving the go-signal to lawyer Reymelio Delute to sue the mayor, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and majority of the members of the city council, including BOPK-aligned councilors, for appropriating P20,000 “calamity assistance” to each City Hall employees and officials last December.

Osmeña thought the BOPK-aligned councilors would accept their being categorized as “collateral damage” in a scheme that would allow him and his group to temporarily wrest control of City Hall via the suspension by Malacañang, whose top officials are his “friends,” of those Delute sued.

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I actually thought Osmeña would break the unity of the renegade four by wooing at least one of them back to the BOPK fold so it can retain majority in the city council.

I think that was what BOPK-aligned Councilor Sisinio Andales meant when he reportedly told Osmeña not to make drastic moves yet.

Or perhaps I just underestimated the resolve of the renegade four to grab the chance of charting a course independent of the BOPK. Carillo’s announcement a few days ago that the four of them had left BOPK ended speculations re: future status of the BOPK and the city council.

Which brings me to the possible next phase of this political drama.

With less than two years to go before the 2016 elections, going independent is the best move for the renegade four. If they stay united, they can dictate which direction the city council will go. For measures that require the division of the house, the four can vote with either the BOPK-aligned or the Team Rama-aligned councilors and tilt the majority in favor of which side they cast their lots in.

Considering the situation with which they exited the BOPK, however, it would be a no-brainer to say that the “independence” of the renegade four will have a light tint of green (Team Rama’s color). They will have more concerns that jibe with Team Rama’s intentions than those that jibe with BOPK’s. The most crucial is, of course, the sale of SRP lots.

As for 2016, those in the renegade four running for an elective position in the city will have nowhere to go but with Team Rama.

I understand Noel can still run for reelection (he still has one term available), so too Carillo (he still has two terms available). Richie and Cabarubbias are on their last terms. Richie may run for congress in the north district and Cabarubbias may run again for barangay captain. These political plans need to be propped up by a political party.

Team Rama is actually in need of legitimate contenders for the city’s two congressional slots. Showbiz personality Annabelle Rama was badly beaten by north district Rep. Raul del Mar of BOPK while lawyer Aristotle Batuhan, who lost to BOPK’s Rodrigo Abellanosa in the south district, was but a Team Rama guest candidate.

In the 2013 elections, there were rumors that Carillo wanted to run for congress but Osmeña chose his favorite, Abellanosa, instead. Carillo can challenge Abellanosa in 2016 as Team Rama candidate in the south district.

In sum, the realignment in the city council will benefit Team Rama both in the short term and in the long term. It weakens BOPK hold on the city council and strengthens Team Rama’s positioning for the 2016 polls.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2014.

Opinion

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