Malilong: Kaput

The Other Side
SunStar Malilong
SunStar Malilong

The UniTeam is done. Over. Kaput. The eagle from the south and the lion from the north are taking opposite routes, making a head-on collision inevitable.

The implosion was bound to happen. The only question was who between President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte wanted, to quote a line from a Gladys Knight and the Pips hit, “to be the first to say goodbye.”

It turned out to be Duterte. But just as noteworthy as the vice president’s decisiveness in submitting her resignation from the Cabinet was the swiftness with which Marcos accepted it. Both anticipated or even wanted the divorce and were prepared to move on.

The dissolution of this marriage of political convenience will have a huge impact on local politics, particularly in Cebu. Politicians with an eye on the 2025 midterm elections will have to make a choice sooner than later. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia deserves praise for making hers before the breakup was formalized. She has chosen Marcos.

Mayor Michael Rama with whom the governor is feuding tried to play both sides by continuing to profess his loyalty to the president even after he attended a rally for former president Rodrigo Duterte in Cebu. Judging from what he said when he was preventively suspended, Rama may have already made up his mind to ally with Duterte.

But of course. His choices are limited. The Marcos camp is now too small for him and Garcia so that is no longer an option for him. On the other hand, the overcrowded field of mayoral aspirants in Cebu City demands that he moves fast to get Duterte’s endorsement before others beat him to it.

Duterte’s support would be ironic if you recall how he maltreated Rama in the past. Duterte accused him of being a drug coddler and initially rebuffed his efforts to see the president so he could personally give his side.

But one cannot hold grudges in perpetuity especially in politics. Duterte and Rama need each other now, more than ever. The tough-talking former president has thousands of admirers in Cebu and he has that uncanny ability to make winners of candidates with limited chances. Think Bong Go. Think Bato dela Rosa.

Rama is definitely easier to sell than the above-named senators. In fact, he could probably pull it off on his own. He has proven that in past elections. His suspension may have taken out his access to the city government’s enormous resources but it also gave him a vast opportunity to appeal to the emotion of the voters. They threw me out of City Hall straight into the arms of my people. How does that sound coming from someone like Mike Rama?

Still, he is a wise candidate who believes in accumulating all plus factors for his candidacy. A Duterte endorsement is definitely a plus and it would do Rama well to strike a deal with the former, if he hasn’t yet.

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