Malilong: Edgar and Tommy talked; what’s cooking?

The Other Side

SOMEONE sent me several pictures of Mayor Edgar Labella and former Mayor Tommy Osmeña talking like long lost friends. Apparently, the two rivals in the last elections met during a wake and either by design or accident found themselves seated beside each other.

The sight surprised many of those who also attended the wake, according to the source of the photos, since Tommy is not known to be gracious with his enemies. Ask another former mayor, Mike Rama.

Osmeña and Rama hardly talked to each other during the entire six years that they were in City Hall. Rama would not even mention Osmeña by name, referring to him only in the third person, because he was angry over the latter’s repeated accusation that he was a drug protector.

Maybe, Osmeña does not really regard Labella as an enemy. That would not be surprising because not only is Labella a former ally, he did not do anything to anger Osmeña and trigger his legendary unforgiving nature even at the height of last year’s campaign.

I am not saying that the election was free of any acrimony, only that they did not degenerate into a personal war as was in the case of Rama versus Osmeña 1 and Rama versus Osmeña 2.

In fact, when Osmeña was asked during his debate with Labella a few days before Election Day what he considered the worst thing about his opponent, all he could say was that the latter’s campaign shirt looked like a Christmas tree. Labella, when asked the same question, said he had nothing to say.

Most of Labella’s allies did not want him to participate in that debate. The reason they publicly gave was that he would have nothing to gain from it since he was already ahead according to their in-house surveys.

In truth, they were scared that Osmeña would use the forum as platform for mudslinging and that Labella did not have the stomach for trading insults and name calling. When Labella announced that he was joining the debate against their advice, they were petrified.

They were wrong on two counts: They overlooked Labella’s many years of experience as a trial lawyer and underestimated his debating skills; and they thought that Tommy was incorrigibly quarrelsome and prone to insult.

I am not trying to read too much from the Labella-Osmeña meeting. It was a chance encounter and it was during a wake where everyone was expected to at least pretend to be civil to each other. It was unlikely that they discussed politics.

When you consider, however, that not too long ago there were talks of a reunion between Osmeña and Rama for the purpose of fighting Labella, the chance meeting and conversation become noteworthy. Labella and Osmeña are on talking terms, Rama and Osmeña are not.

Besides, Rama has repeatedly vowed to keep his political partnership with the mayor, hasn’t he?


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