2 Rama allies jumping ship?

2 Rama allies jumping ship?
(SunStar File)

The political development in Cebu City continues to be interesting as two allies of suspended Mayor Michael Rama are hinting of leaving the local chief executive’s Partido Barug.

Cebu City Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. on Friday, June 14, 2024, declared his independence from Partido Barug, as he confirmed that he will withdraw his membership from Rama’s party.

Rama is allied with 12 of the 18 members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, including the presiding officer, Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia.

However, due to the recent “minor adjustments” at the City Hall, which Rama lamented, it has caused his tandem with Garcia to be in turmoil.

Alcover said, “Sa akong kaugalingon, mudeclare nalang ko nga independente (As for myself, I will just declare myself independent).”

When pressed if he is siding with Garcia over Rama, he said that he would wait for further developments.

“Honestly, kanang partido OK rana. Pero, if you want development, kailangan naa gyud kay independenteng baroganan (Honestly, the party is OK. But if you want development, you need to have an independent stand),” said Alcover.

The councilor added that there is still a lot of political development to come in the coming months.

During the June 12 Independence Day celebration at Plaza Sugbu, Alcover was questioned by his constituents as to why there are two celebrations, “Duha na ba kabuok mayor? (are two mayors now?)” to which he could not respond.

“Ang official gyud nga Independence Day celebration kay kato sa buntag. Kato sa hapon, wala na koy idea (The official Independence Day celebration is in the morning. And for the afternoon, I have no idea),” said Alcover.

Another ally of Rama, Councilor Renato “Junjun” Osmeña Jr., told SunStar Cebu in a phone interview on Friday that he respected and agreed with Alcover’s position, adding that he was also leaning to follow suit due to the current dynamics of Rama’s Partido Barug.

“Naunhan lang ko ni Alcover (Alcover was just ahead of me),” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said he was amazed and pleased with the City Hall’s current direction under the leadership of Garcia, who, he claimed, has done more in his first month.

He said he is supporting Garcia’s direction, which is focused on serving the Cebuanos.

Team Rama

Four councilors allied with Rama said they will stay with the party.

Councilor James Anthony Cuenco said he is happy with Alcover’s announcement.

“I wish him the best in the pursuit of his brand of principled public service. This move of his is just an example of how shaky the foundation of the Barug party has become, and I expect an exodus of defections in the coming weeks,” said Cuenco in a text message Friday.

Councilor Phillip Zafra said he respects Alcover’s decision and wishes him luck.

“I’ll continue to support the aspirations of Barug for the City of Cebu and the people,” he added.

For Councilors Jerry Guardo and Noel Wenceslao, they were tight-lipped about the development.

“No comment. Actually, naa pa man mi sa (we’re still with) Team Rama,” said Wenceslao.

Rama is serving a six-month suspension over the non-release of salaries of four employees from the city assessor’s office. The embattled official said that the suspension order he is serving now is an act of injustice.

When asked for a reaction, Rama said that Alcover’s exit will not affect the political party’s direction, especially in the upcoming May 2025 midterm election.

On the possibility that party members might leave Barug, he said, “in politics, anything can happen.”

Other councilors allied with Rama who were contacted by SunStar Cebu for a comment have yet to reply. / with reports from CDF

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