IF you’ve been listening to former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama talk about his plans for the 2019 elections, compare his statements a month or so ago with the more recent ones.
In content and intensity, he is now more determined to run for mayor again. Last Tuesday (May 29), with Eric S. Manait of dyCM radio, Mike made it clear he would face off with Mayor Tomas Osmeña, whom he defeated in 2013 but who clobbered him in 2016.
Two driving motives, which were clear in his conversation with Eric:
 Mike could redeem personal and family honor, after President Duterte on national TV twice called him protector of a drug lord and his rival Mayor Tomas repeatedly accused him and Team Rama of using illegal drugs.
 Mike could avenge the hurt and shame he and Team Rama suffered in the hands of Tomas and the mayor’s BOPK: not just for being drubbed in the polls but the “scorched earth” campaign after the election to tear down the opposition infrastructure and “harass” its members.
Plea to broadcasters
The compulsion is apparent in his plea to “columnists and broadcasters” not to dissuade him from making his comeback. That, after he recited a litany of sorrows inflicted by his political nemesis and some PDP-Laban officials (who barred him from joining the ruling party).
Not a 360-degree turn but still a pivot from past declaration that he’d be willing to run for vice mayor (to Barug-PDP Laban possible nominee Edgar Labella) if only to mount a unified opposition. To be sure, Mike did not say it categorically and specifically but he kept harping about a solid front against Osmeña.
Many journalists, including columnist-broadcaster Frank Malilong, said it would be foolhardy, nay plain stupid, if both Mike and Labella would race against Tomas. Media assessment, based on past battles and Tomas’s preparations for 2019, takes no sides; it just wants an even match, not a slaughter.
Mike longs to redeem his name and avenge his misery. He may do that but only if he has a fair chance of striking back at Tomas. Mike will redeem nothing and avenge no one if he falls again next year.
Not in fine shape
The opposition is not in the ideal shape for a pitchfork fight or clash of artillery. Consider: The blitz against Team Rama forces started even before Tomas assumed office (when his wife Councilor Margot assumed as acting mayor), the assault on anti-Osmeña barangay captains through lawsuits and withheld power and perks, the dole-outs in a series of programs aimed to win votes, capped by BOPK dominance in the last barangay and SK polls.
Perception of a divided party might step up defections to BOPK. The final slash in the PDP Laban-Barug gut could be Rama and Labella separately going after Tomas and the same post.
Not sure about Mike
Mike could be role-playing: holding on to his “no-lame-duck” card. He would want to continue as a political force to reckon with and not to become prematurely irrelevant. Still, indicators are that his personal agenda might derail anti-Osmeña strategy for next year.
The bravest heart in the Rama and Labella camps, for now, couldn’t be certain that Mike wouldn’t self-destruct, which could take the opposition in Cebu City down in the next decade or longer.