Friday, October 22, 2021

Malilong: Daluz-Garcia?

Frank Malilong

The Other Side

THAT Vice Mayor Michael Rama was able to privately meet with President Duterte is a testament to his persistence. Many times in the past, Rama sought audience with the President to clear his name from allegations that he was a drug coddler but except for one or two casual meetings that did not last long, at least long enough for him to explain his side, he failed. Last Tuesday, Rama proved that in politics, they also serve those who wait.

I knew about Rama’s meeting with Duterte because he told me about it when he called early Tuesday morning. The talk would be about politics in Cebu, he confirmed. He didn’t have to add that specifically, it was about his plan to run for Cebu City mayor next year because like everyone else, I already knew.

With speculations growing that Mayor Edgardo Labella will not be seeking reelection because of health reasons, it is natural for Rama to make sure that being next in line in the PDP Laban Barug political heirarchy, he will enjoy some sort of equity of the incumbent in the choice of the coalition’s standard bearer.

An endorsement from Duterte will all but clinch the nomination for him. Published reports on the meeting said Rama was tight-lipped about whether he was assured by Duterte of his endorsement. I will not be surprised if he did not; the savvy politician that he is, Duterte knows better than to dip his finger in local politics without consulting his other leaders in Cebu.

It is specially so since there appears to be reluctance, if not outright objection, from some very influential coalition leaders to support Rama’s once-postponed bid to reclaim the office that he lost to Tomas Osmeña in 2016.

In fact, other names are being floated as alternative to Rama as successor to Labella. One of the more intriguing ones is that of my colleague in the MCWD board, Chairman Joey Daluz.

Because I heard about it only yesterday morning, I was not able to verify the rumor with Daluz during our meeting last Wednesday. He was supposed to have already retired from politics in 2019 when he declined what could have been certain re-election to the City Council, so he could devote his time as Labella’s campaign manager.

Like Rama, Daluz has extensive experience in Cebu politics. They have served together in the City Council and both have political bloodline. Rama’s grandfather, Don Vicente, was a senator who is credited with being the father of the Cebu City charter. Daluz’s mother, Inday Nita, was a leading opposition figure during martial law and served in Cory Aquino’s government as undersecretary.

Only a few months ago, Daluz reactivated his mother’s political party, the Panaghiusa. Weeks later, Raymond Garcia also reorganized Kusug, the political party of his father, former mayor Alvin Garcia. Is it a coincidence that the talk of the town -- okay, at City Hall -- is that of a Daluz-Garcia tandem next year?

All these are, of course, speculations and based on rumor. What is not gossip is that Rama saw the President and sought his endorsement last Tuesday. Will he eventually get it? That is the question.


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