NOT too few people smirked when they read about former Mike Rama’s claim last week that he was not obsessed with his former position. Which was not surprising (the smirk, not Mike’s claim) considering that even as he was disavowing any mayoral ambition, he was engaged in frenetic politicking, meeting with allies to make known his plans, and to solicit their support for a comeback in 2019.
It happened again the other day, a barangay captain, who attended the meeting of barangay captains who are allied with the PDP-Laban and with Barug Team Rama at the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) building, told me yesterday. Rama again mouthed his “obsession and ambition” line but at the same time promised the barangay captains of his support including and most specially funding if the elections would be held as scheduled in May this year.
Then he asked, still according to my source, is Vice Mayor Edgar Labella prepared to make the same commitment?
Observers, who have been closely monitoring political developments in Cebu City particularly in the opposition, were quick to see Labella as the target of the former mayor’s denigrating remarks particularly because he made them shortly after the vice mayor was chosen Cebu City president of the PDP-Laban. Besides, who else other than Rama and Mayor Tommy Osmeña are being mentioned as possible candidates for Cebu City mayor but Labella?
Anyway, said my source, when Labella’s turn to speak came, he reminded the barangay captains that he never planned on running for vice mayor in 2013 but was prevailed upon by their strong lobby, for which he was grateful. And yes, poor as he was, he will make sure that they will receive financial assistance not because he was consumed with the desire to become mayor but because it is not in his character to abandon his friends.
Labella has wisely chosen not to engage Rama publicly, probably for any or all of these reasons: he does not want to ruin their friendship or worse, destroy their alliance, or he does not want to give the impression that they’re bickering in the opposition camp, or maybe he isn’t just the quarreling type.
But how do you treat a problem like Mike Rama? He may not have the numbers, at least presently, to make him win as mayor, but he has enough to influence the results of the election. In a one-on-one battle with Osmeña, whom he narrowly defeated in 2013 but who clobbered him three years later, he will be a rank underdog. Osmeña is also a heavy favorite over Labella but the latter’s chances of upsetting the odds are much higher than Rama’s. In a three-cornered fight, Osmeña will be laughing all the way to his next inauguration.
I did not smirk when Rama claimed lack of obsession or overwhelming ambition to return to City Hall. In fact, I believed him. He is not obsessed with becoming mayor, only with exacting revenge on Osmeña by beating him in a winner-take-all rubber match. He can live without the mayor’s title but not without the satisfaction of having put Osmeña in his place.
It’s still an obsession though and when you allow something to consume your whole being, you’re in deeper trouble than you realize.