TO dispel speculations that Barug Team Rama is on the verge of collapse due to the “rift” between former mayor Michael Rama and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, a meeting was held other day among members of the party and allied barangay captains. Though it was not known what transpired during the meeting, they came out of it smiling as shown in the pictures published by local newspapers.
Earlier, Labella said he is open to the possibility of running for mayor in the 2019 mid-presidential elections. He is now the city chairman of the administration Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Party leaders groomed him as the standard bearer for the mayoral race.
When asked by reporters, Rama clarified that the Barug Team Rama is still intact and is even becoming stronger. “In a democracy there should be discussion. In a democracy, there should be exchanges of ideas. In this group, democracy is very much alive,” Rama said. But he did not categorically say who will run for mayor.
Okay, let us take Rama’s statement at face value. Barug Team Rama is still intact and becoming stronger. But that is as of this time. What about when they finally decide will run for mayor and who is willing to sacrifice? Will the group still be intact? I doubt. And that crucial moment is nearing, which is in October during the filing of the certificates of candidacy.
I have that feeling that, as of this time, Labella has already committed to the PDP-Laban hierarchy, with the strong backing of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, to run for mayor. I have even that feeling that no less than President Duterte has assured him of support from the party.
But Labella is just waiting for the right time to declare his intention. He is calculating his move because if he declares early all his actions might be construed as politicking. And he would be target of attacks and black propaganda by the opposing party. The dirty game of politics will immediately come into play.
Remember the experience of former vice president Jejomar Binay in the last presidential elections. He declared his presidential bid early and was “shot down” early. Wala pa gani makalupad, hagbong na.
Anyway, Labella is widely known to the city’s voters and it is just a matter of adopting strategies to inform them that he is running within that six or seven months period after the filing of the certificates of candidacy and within the 45 days official campaign period.
That aspect of introducing himself to the voting population will be covered by the mainstream media through regular press conferences and press releases, and social media and community-based political support. But he has to work double time because his opponent is the incumbent.
And what about Mike? Well, that is the time that their group will be disbanded if he will insist on running despite the “extra baggage” he is carrying after being named as a drug protector by no less than the president himself. Sacrifice is his best option. What I mean is, he should give way to Labella. Period.