CONSIDER Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s pronouncement about Capitol’s willingness to reopen negotiation with Cebu City on the controversial 93-1 lots as merely testing the waters.

Meaning, there’s nothing much to celebrate yet.

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The governor’s statement on the matter reflects her view that even if Mayor Michael Rama is with the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan, his style of leadership and temperament are different from his predecessor, the current Cebu City south district Rep. Tomas Osmeña.

The thinking is that Rama is more open to negotiation than the combative and arrogant Osmeña.

Independent

The correctness of Garcia’s view, however, can only be tested if it is applied in practice---and what other issue can probe the extent of Rama’s independence as mayor than the one that sparked the bitterest verbal exchange between Capitol and City Hall a few years back?

Rama, of course, knows that by welcoming the governor’s move, he is already treading dangerous grounds.

If he wants to follow the road towards resolving the conflict, he needs to do two rather difficult things: one, have a deeper understanding of the issue and the interests at play in it, and two, do well the balancing act in his relationship with Osmeña.

While the first act is less difficult because it merely requires diligence on the part of Rama, it is the second act that could make or unmake his moves.

In a way, Garcia is in a better situation than Rama in negotiations on the fate of the 93-1 lots because she does not have an intimidating personality looking over her shoulder.

The mayor, on the other hand, needs to consult with Osmeña before deciding on anything and if he does that, he might suffer the indignity of his decision being overruled.

Influence

Osmeña may no longer be mayor but he still wields a strong influence over majority of the members of the City Council and even Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young---an influence that he can use to force Rama to toe the line.

How far Rama will go in asserting his independence as mayor is what will be answered first once negotiations between Capitol and city Hall on the 93-1 issue reopens.