Malilong: Keeping the team

The Other Side

VICE Mayor Michael Rama has quit being chairman of the Sinulog Foundation. He has crossed his Rubicon, he said. The die is cast. But he will not quarrel with anyone because it is not his cup of tea.

So let me ask, since he did not burn his bridges behind him, did he leave the possibility of crossing back? Mayor Edgardo Labella apparently hopes so. He said his relationship with his vice mayor is as solid as a rock.

But enough of metaphors. Rama resigned, obviously still hurting that Labella created a Sinulog Governing Board, that, in the former’s opinion, will interfere in the Sinulog Foundation’s handling of the annual festival celebrating the Sto. Niño.

We will soon see how many among Rama’s colleagues in the Foundation share his view and also resign. If many do, it will validate the notion that what we’re seeing is indeed a Governing Board versus Foundation thing instead of an expression of resentment to something that the vice mayor considered as a personal affront.

The Sinulog is the cultural, if growingly commercialized, side to the celebration of the feast of the revered Child Jesus. Isn’t it ironic that while we pray to the Sto. Niño for peace and understanding, we cannot even agree on who should run the Sinulog?

Or are we missing something here? Labella and Rama profess friendship and loyalty to each other and their public gestures do not tend to show otherwise. When the mayor delivered his First 100 Days Report, Rama was in the audience. When it was the vice mayor’s turn to render his own report —a first in the history of LGUs—Labella was present, too.

But beyond these public affirmations of support, is there a vastly different and contradicting picture? Do they really want each other to succeed in their respective roles as the top two elected leaders of the city? What is the hidden agenda?

When Rama guested on “Frankahay Ta” two weeks ago, he said he would be the happiest person (his own words) if the Labella administration succeeded. He said it with such intense earnestness that it was impossible not to believe him.

But days later, he reiterated his call for the sidewalk vendors to be allowed to return to Colon St. And only the other day, he disputed Labella’s assessment that the city is still safe notwithstanding the killing of a Mindanao town mayor here.

Rama is, of course, entitled to his opinion but a more supportive vice mayor will privately argue with his mayor but at the end of the day, it is the mayor’s judgment that prevails and as a team-man, Rama will keep his misgivings to himself.

Both Labella and Rama have in their respective camps supporters who do not like or are not comfortable with their leader’s partner. They are a rich source of intrigue and both have to be wary about them and even more importantly keep their lines to each other open.

They have a history of success as a team. It would be a big mistake for them not to keep it.


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