Malilong: Recount or recall? | SunStar

Malilong: Recount or recall?

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Malilong: Recount or recall?

Monday, April 24, 2017

ALMOST a year after he lost to Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña in their 2016 rematch, Mike Rama is revving up his engines. His meetings with political allies are getting more frequent -- and longer -- and he has lately been visiting barangays for “consultations” on a daily basis. The signs are clear and unmistakable: he intends to challenge Osmeña in a rubber match that will reward the victor not only with the mayorship but, just as importantly, bragging rights.

And it could happen this year if we follow Rama’s timetable.

Rama, who was our guest on Frankahay Ta (DYCM, 7:30 a.m.), said that they’re pushing for a recall election even as they await the recount that, they hope, the Comelec will conduct in connection with the election protest that he filed against Osmeña. Councilor Raymund Garcia, he said, is handling the preparation of the recall petition. including the gathering of the requisite number of signatories.

There could be legal complications, however. Election protests take an inordinately long time to resolve. In the case of Rama, it is likely that his protest will remain unresolved at the time that a recall election, assuming that the Comelec will order one to be held, is conducted and the winner, proclaimed.

In that event, if Rama runs for mayor in a recall election, will he not be considered to have abandoned his protest? The point would become academic if he wins the recall balloting. But what if he loses?

His lawyers are studying this issue, he told us. They must have already also studied how realistic the chances are of a recall election being called against Osmeña. The process, which includes the verification of each signature supporting the petition is tedious. The biggest hurdle, however, would be funding. Does the Comelec have the money to spend for the conduct of that election?

Let us assume that the timing of events goes in Rama’s favor: the recount is completed, his protest is decided and the recall election is scheduled one after the other. If Rama loses in the recount, will he abide by the result? If he also loses the interim election, will he respect it?

Rama may not have given these scenarios much thought. During our interview, he was very confident that he really won the balloting but was cheated by the VCM which he derisively referred to as the Vote Cheating Machine. And the fact that he’s bullish about the recall petition indicates how sure he is of getting the nod from the people.

The confidence that he and only he can beat Osmeña must be the reason why Rama has forgotten that he promised to his vice mayor, Edgardo Labella, that he will endorse the latter as Team Rama mayoralty candidate in 2019. But do his allies share his evaluation of himself as a winning candidate? The ones I’ve talked to shook their heads in grief. Maybe, Rama has spoken to a different group of leaders.

And did I just hear somebody say that he has noticed a bemused, almost impish, smile on Osmeña’s face lately?

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on April 25, 2017.

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