Two weeks ago, former Cebu City Councilor Joey Daluz announced his resignation from Barug, the other half in the coalition that he served as manager in the victorious 2019 campaign. He said he was instead going to reorganize the Panaghiusa, the political party of his mother, Inday Nita.
Over the weekend, another Barug stalwart also disclosed that he was going to revive the political party of his father. City Councilor Raymond Garcia said his decision to reactivate Kusug was a response to the clamor of many political leaders of former city mayor Alvin Garcia, including former and incumbent barangay captains.
Daluz has not indicated any plans of seeking elective public office in Cebu City next year. Early this year, he told me that he had been asked if he would agree to being the second nominee, next to an incumbent Cabinet member, of a still unnamed party for the 2022 party list elections. He did not indicate whether he was interested in the offer.
Unlike Daluz, Garcia has not been coy about his plan to run in 2022. He still has a term left as councilor and he said that seeking a third term was an option. But the situation is fluid in the Barug-PDP Laban coalition. Rumors are flying high and wide about who will get the nod to run for which office and if he can survive the intrigue and in-fighting, Garcia may yet end up anointed to run for higher office.
Where does this leave the Barug-PDP Laban coalition? It has not been an easy union from the very start, and it is far from being a smooth and happy one. It will not be surprising to see the alliance collapse even before the filing of the certificates of candidacy later this year, given the huge fundamental differences between the top officials of both parties. Barug and PDP-Laban will both be looking for other partners.
Since Daluz will not be a candidate next year, at least not for a Cebu City post, what is his motive for strengthening Panaghiusa? The same question can also be posed to Garcia. Why are his father’s political leaders pressing them to reorganize? He won in two successive elections without a strengthened Kusug backing him. Why would he need them now?
The answer may be found on who rules Barug and how. Although he consults with his partymates every now and then, there is no denying that it is Vice Mayor Michael Rama who ultimately makes the decision on party matters. Which is probably expected since he is the party’s founder. But I don’t think Kusug (and Panaghiusa if they decide to coalesce with Barug) would still be willing to be treated as junior partners. So they’re not just reorganizing; they’re leveraging. Bargain from a position of strength to the end that henceforth everything has to be equally shared, including the decisions on the party slate.
Note that 2022 is a presidential election year. Suitors for the affection of local parties will not come in short supply. That is the best thing that happened after we ditched the two-party system. We will probably have as many as five candidates for President and they will be all be looking to tie up with local groups here.
Against that backdrop, local political parties can afford to stand independently of each other since they have patrons in Manila backing them. But that is not a good arrangement if the ultimate goal is victory. Barug, Kusug, Panaghiusa will have to find harmony; otherwise, they will surely suffer a thorough drubbing from the BOPK. You can bet on that.