Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama’s announcement last Tuesday should be read in a context broader than that he is running for Cebu City mayor. The more important, albeit unspoken, message is that he will run ONLY for mayor and nothing or no one can prevent him this time. There is going to be no repeat of 2019.
He will no longer accept being vice mayor to anyone. He had spent 12 years sitting in that office, nine years under Tommy Osmeña and three under Edgar Labella. In between, he was primus inter pares among his peers at City Hall for six consecutive years.
It could have been nine years. Having edged Osmeña out in a battle between mentor and mentee in 2013, Rama was so confident about scoring a repeat victory in 2016 that he already publicly named Labella as his successor in 2019. Fate—and Osmeña—however intervened. Rama lost by a larger margin in their rematch.
Rama protested that defeat, choosing to ignore the warning of some of his friends that the process will not get him anywhere. True enough, the protest brought him nowhere. Osmeña completed his term without interruption, contrary to the occasional press releases issued by his camp that Rama would soon be installed as the rightful mayor.
He wanted another rematch with Osmeña in 2019. A huge obstacle stood in the way, however, in the form of repeated accusations by President Duterte that he was a drug protector. Rama initially refused to back down but relented when he realized that Osmeña would win in a three-cornered fight. He grudgingly agreed to run for vice mayor instead.
Rama was a restless soul in his fourth term as vice mayor. In fairness to him, it was not entirely his fault that his relationship with Labella soured. Some of Labella’s closest advisers at City Hall strived to keep him out of the loop, excluded from the circle of power and influence.
With Labella temporarily sidelined, Rama thinks that his time has come to shine again. And justly so, a fact that his colleagues in the administration party recognized. They signed a document assuring him of their support, although not unconditionally.
One of these conditions—Raymond Garcia as vice mayor—did not please Rama. Now, it is doubtful if Garcia would still agree to teaming up with Rama. I heard the other day that he and Joey Daluz are organizing another slate, reportedly with the blessing of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
I also heard that they are still talking about putting up a united ticket. The catch, however, is that these talks center on Rama’s shelving his mayorship aspirations again and running for Congress instead. I wanted to say good luck on that, but Rama already rendered the wish pointless with Tuesday’s announcement. Rama will run only for mayor.
I hope Osmeña will accommodate him with a winner-take-all rematch.