Malilong: Rama vs. Daluz, and we’re not talking about MCWD

The Other Side
Malilong.
Malilong.SunStar file

Run Joey Run 2025 is a Facebook page that has gathered a modest 2,200 followers as of the other day. Joey is, of course, Jose “Joey” Daluz III, the former Cebu City councilor, who has repeatedly repelled all attempts by Mayor Michael Rama to banish him from the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) where he sits as chairman of the board.

Run for what? Certainly not for a finisher’s medal in the Sinulog marathon because he is too heavy for his own sake. Not for his life either because while Daluz has been in the eye of a long-running, raging controversy, we, Cebuanos are not known for settling scores the violent way.

They’re telling him to run in next year’s midterm elections. For mayor.

That will put him in a collision course with Rama, who, barring a better offer—a run for the Senate, perhaps?—is certain to seek reelection. It is going to be a very interesting fight because of its antecedents.

But wait, didn’t Daluz say, through an ally, that any mention about his candidacy for mayor is in the realm of speculation and that it is too soon to even talk about it?

About “too soon,” I cannot understand what it is in a politician’s mind that convinces him that a political advantage can be gained in being cagey. I thought all along that the early bird catches the, er, votes.

Daluz is definitely intent on running for mayor; he told his friends so. That Facebook page is less about convincing him that 2025 is his year than about spreading the word around. It is propaganda, not a plea.

In fact, Daluz is already planning to talk to former Cabinet secretary Michael Dino to secure his endorsement, another friend of his told me. The former Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav) chief still holds sway over many politicians in the region even if he is no longer in office, not only because of his closeness to former President Rodrigo Duterte but because he helped them in the past. If there is anyone who can persuade any other coalition mayoralty hopeful not named Rama to give way to Daluz, it is Dino.

Early last year, I asked Dino about the possibility that someone from the coalition will challenge Rama in 2025. “I will do everything to prevent that from happening,” he replied. That was before the MCWD brouhaha exploded. Since then, Rama has fired, unsuccessfully though, all the board members who were not his appointees, including Dino’s friend and protegee, Mike Pato.

The relationship between Rama and Dino has not always been smooth to begin with, so it would not be surprising if it has hit a rough patch again. Whether or not that would be sufficient reason for him to withdraw his support from Rama and risk a three-cornered fight that will definitely give an added advantage to the candidate from the opposition Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) is, however, unknown.

The rumored collapse or impending collapse of the Marcos-Duterte coalition may, however, take that decision (of sanctioning a three-cornered fight) out of Dino’s hands. If the supposed breakup is true, additional slots will become available to local politicians in next year’s elections as both the Marcos and Duterte camps are certain to field their own separate slates in preparation for the next presidential election.

Rama has always made it known that he is close to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. so he will most probably seek—and be able to secure—the president’s blessing, leaving Daluz free to court the support of Duterte, who was described in 2022 as less than enthusiastic about endorsing Rama.

He will (court Duterte’s support) and probably win it, especially with Dino’s backing. Daluz wants to be Cebu City mayor, that much is certain as of today. And Rama knows it, too, but that’s for another discussion.

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