Seares: Cebu City Council Majority Floor Leader Joy Pesquera broke up with Mayor Mike as his ‘lover’ in 2016. She might be heading for another breakup, this time politically, with Barug, the mayor’s party.

CEBU. Councilor Joy Pesquera, right, with Mayor Mike Rama and Pinky Shan, a civic club president.
CEBU. Councilor Joy Pesquera, right, with Mayor Mike Rama and Pinky Shan, a civic club president. SunStar photo


[] Last Monday, December 18, 2023, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama publicly complained about not getting what he wanted on the bonus for City Government personnel: P35,000 for each regular or casual employee and P10,000 for each job-order worker. The City Council instead voted for P20,000 and P5,000, the cap on incentives that a December 7, 2023 Malacañang administrative order instructed.

[] Friday, December 22, in SunStar’s interview program “Beyond the Headlines,” Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera said she couldn’t understand what the mayor meant when he said he’d be independent of any party, would he be acting alone and no longer along party lines? A spark flew there and it wasn’t friendly. Both Rama and Pesquera ran and won in 2022 under Partido Barug, dominant party at City Hall.

Pesquera told interview hosts Mildred Galarpe and Dodong Morallo after Mayor Rama, who just returned from a long vacation abroad, seemed to have threatened reprisal against those responsible for the slashes on the 2024 budget and the 2023 supplemental budget on bonuses.

Actually, Rama said he’d “peruse” a transcript of the sessions when the councilors mangled his budget. He said he was withholding action until he’d know what was said during the deliberations.

WHY JOY MUST FEEL ALLUDED TO. Councilor Pesquera must have seen herself as the target, or among would-be targets, of Mayor Mike Rama’s obvious anger over the fund cuts.

After all, Pesquera was the principal mover that led the City Council to resort to “severe” reductions: Councilor Noel Wenceslao had set P50 billion “max” limit on the 2024 billion

budget, which the Sanggunian adopted. But she lowered it further to P22 billion, which she accomplished by taking the role of principal “butcher.” And Councilor Joy, not joyfully yet tirelessly, recited most of the slashed appropriation items.

MORE LETHAL. Pesquera unleashed the more lethal volley against the manner of executive budgeting: In almost three minutes of her discussion on the Wenceslao resolution imposing the P50 billion cap, she assailed the “bloating, bloating and bloating” of the budget, which must make people think in effect that city officials believe they have a lot of money to spend and they’re splurging it.

BOPK’s Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, seeing it as a chance to prove her own work of fiscalizing in the Sanggunian, cited Joy’s being a lawyer, an accountant and a veteran legislator to build up support to Mary Ann’s own call for prudence in spending.

Pesquera summed up what she’d like the City to do: “Increase the revenue first.” Or more precisely: Spend only the money the City can get into the treasury. A graphic demonstration of its validity: Less than P10 billion has been collected for 2023’s P50 billion budget. How can that performance justify a P100 billion goal?

It turned out that two women councilors took the cudgel for a “realistic, reasonable” budget. A lawyer columnist, missing Minority Floor Leader Nestor Archival and his colleagues in the budget discussions, asked in a social media chat: Where were the male lawmakers?

SIGN OF WHAT’S COMING? A number of councilors who attended the City Hall Christmas party were reported Friday, December 21, in a sector of local social media as having walked out of the festivity. The report didn’t say who and how many did. The councilors left early but no video of photo record of it has yet surfaced.

More relevantly, was it during or after Mayor Rama’s Christmas message? What is obvious is that the mayor’s dig against the councilors must have prompted their exit. “Not a Christmas cheer but a Christmas jeer,” a news reporter told me.

Could it lead to another breakup between Councilor Joy and Mayor Mike? Politically that is, meaning Pesquera, probably with some other Barug members, might sever ties with Rama’s Barug or become independent. Hadn’t the mayor himself earlier declared his “independence” from political parties?

THE JOY-MIKE BREAKUP was reported in 2016. The mayor’s State of the City Address (Soca) at Plaza Independencia on July 4, 2016 was remembered by Pesquera as the day she broke her love affair with Rama. “We didn’t talk. I just considered it over,” Pesquera said in an exceptional report that Connie Fernandez-Brojan published February 14, 2016 in Cebu Daily News, the print edition.

Mike Rama had once told Joy Pesquera she was his conscience. But she was more than that to him, the Valentine’s Day news feature said, “She was his trouble-shooter, organizer, runner and accountant. And lover.”

“After 10 years” -- in 2016, that was -- “the relationship was over,” with “neither a discussion or a formal breakup.”

HEADING FOR THE ROCKS. Pesquera’s political alliance with Rama went on actively even after they ceased being sweethearts in July 2016 but may now be, in the language of late-night-show hosts, “in deep s..t.”

Would the councilor continue to play a major role in the City Council? She is majority floor leader, chairperson of three committees, and vice chairperson of five others. ( I called

her in a July 10, 2023 Explainer the most influential legislator in the City Council.) And would she stay as Barug member in 2024, in the run-up to the next elections in 2025?

What could terminate political ties might not be one major blow-up. It could come in a series of small incidents. Which, a veteran City Hall watcher said, happened in the Jose Daluz III- Mike Rama separation. The attempt to change Daluz as MCWD chairman and fire two directors last October 31 set off a series of moves and counter-moves that led to the irreversible situation the two former political allies and friends are now in.

MIKE HAS THE KNACK OF HEALING, or so his cheer group says. The mayor builds, doesn’t demolish. He repairs, doesn’t tear down. He corrects, doesn’t annul or rescind.

He may just be impatient, can’t hold his peace and put off his explosions. This time, he couldn’t present a Christmas message without telling the public what he felt about the budget and bonus cuts. He couldn’t wait until he had read the transcript of the City Council discussions or wait until the Christmas party was over.

‘NOT HURT, JUST AFFECTED.’ He was apparently hurt, would admit it one time and deny the next. He said he “wasn’t hurt but was affected,” whatever he actually meant. Could he stop the hurt/effect on his feelings before he could repair the rift?

Could he settle this one, particularly his political alliance and friendship with Joy Pesquera? He didn’t patch up things with Joey Daluz. Would he do better in the latest challenge: the assault on political bond with Joy Pesquera? He didn’t mend broken hearts seven years ago. Could he stop the cutting of political ties this time?


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.