ORIGINALLY the term “lame duck” applied only to an elected official beyond the time of the election at which he was not reelected.
Meaning has long expanded since then, to include an elected official in the last quarter or half-year of his term who has lost his grip on party lieutenants.
When Mike Rama lost the 2016 elections by more than 30,000 votes to Mayor Tomas Osmeña, citing alleged fraud in the counting of votes, it failed to hold up the illusion he could win the protest. Tomas scored the “upset,” City Hall watchers think, not because of the fault of counting machines but because of the old method of buying votes. Without judging the two candidates, an experienced observer can say one was just “out-bought” by the other. And no protest attacking the voting machines could succeed without hard evidence. A simple recount would not do.
Series of moves
The protest is apparently the first of a series of moves to show Mike Rama is not a lame duck ex-mayor or, to be more precise, a mayor who doesn’t want to be regarded as spent political force but is a leader who still commands a strong wallop in the campaign trail.
His attempts to keep himself in the news by showing up at City Hall, inaugural rites in the mountain barangays, and other public functions and speaking out on public issues indicate a passion to keep his clout and stay relevant.
Mike’s efforts to band the Barug barangay captains despite an apparent systematic and vengeful campaign from City Hall to undercut their authority express the refusal to back down, slink away and sulk in the corner.
The former mayor may be succeeding.
Although many Barug councilors have defected to PDP-Laban, they’re not shedding off their local party tag yet. Not until PDP-Laban’s national leaders will order their total commitment to the super majority.
And PDP-Laban national may not opt to do that yet until it is convinced that its local chapter under Vice Mayor Edgar Labella can beat the incumbent mayor without Barug’s alliance.
Force to reckon with
Barug is a force to reckon with, but as an ally of PDP-Laban and not by its lonesome self. That’s one reality. And this other reality, facing the present players and those plotting moves behind the curtain: Two candidates for mayor who’d tackle Tomas in one election would be suicidal. If the Duterte administration would like to evict Osmeña from City Hall, that would need the help of MIke Rama and his Barug.
Mike is very much relevant to next year’s match -- unless it could be shown he could no longer make a difference in a three-cornered fight.