Seares: Who among Mayor Rama allies will drop out or get the ax? Feeling ‘abandoned,’ Mike to revise Barug’s 2025 slate… Remember Niña Mabatid? She’ll run again, for councilor, but hasn’t decided whom to join, Rama or Daluz.

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Seares: Who among Mayor Rama allies will drop out or get the ax? Feeling ‘abandoned,’ Mike to revise Barug’s 2025 slate… Remember Niña Mabatid? She’ll run again, for councilor, but hasn’t decided whom to join, Rama or Daluz.
Photo courtesy of Cebu City Hall PIO

[] At least three stalwarts, who purportedly caused the mayor some pain, might no longer appear in his revised list -- or keep their slot, depending on how Rama will handle the ‘situation.’

[] Mabatid, running for councilor this time, will be “guided” in picking her party or group by “mga dagkong tawo sa itaas.”

THREE SOUND BITES that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama publicly let out this week:

[] “I REALLY FELT ABANDONED.” Friday, March 2, Mayor Rama announced he’d make changes in his list of probable ticket-mates in the next elections. He felt “abandoned,” he said, during the prayer rally held Sunday, February 25, for former president Rodrigo Duterte in Cebu City. Only Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros among his political allies joined him: “What did you expect me to feel?”

[] MAYOR RAMA “WAS NOT PLEASED AND WAS UNHAPPY” that (a) Gov. Gwen Garcia “meddled” in the affairs of the City by issuing a memorandum (#16-2024) Tuesday night, February 27, which ordered the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit contractor to “cease all civil works within Capitol-owned lots,’ and (b) Vice Mayor Raymon Alvin Garcia gave a privilege speech in the City Council Wednesday, February 28, raising concern over the heritage issue involved in shutting out a full view of the Capitol façade from the Fuente Osmeña rotunda.

[] “STAB IN THE BACK.” Vice Mayor Garcia said there’s “photo-bombing” when the BRT stations block the long-distance view of the Capitol. In reaction, Mayor Rama called “a stab in the back” the vice mayor’s speech in that February 28 Sanggunian session, which in effect supported the governor’s executive order stopping Bus Rapid Transit construction on properties belonging to the Province and located near the Capitol. The mayor said the vice mayor’s position could’ve been “discussed privately,” to which Raymond Alvin replied it was also his concern as he’s also “into preserving heritage.”

WHO’D DEFECT OR BE ASKED TO LEAVE? The question came up even earlier than the Capitol memorandum or the vice mayor’s speech.

City Hall watchers already wondered whether some councilors were having a fall-out or planning to defect the Barug/Team Rama party when Majority Floor Leader Jocelyn Pesquera and budget and finance committee chief Noel Wenceslao ganged up on the 2024 budget, cutting it down to P25 million from the P100 billion Mayor Rama wanted and then totally overriding the mayor’s veto.

Akin to calling Mayor Mike’s plea for heritage “a stab in the back,” Rama could’ve called the assault on the budget “a slap on the face.” At one time, Mayor Mike only said he was “very offended.” Whether the mayor held a caucus among his party-mates, sent his lieutenants to tell what having a P100 billion budget meant to him, or just left the councilor-allies alone, the rejection of his wish -- and the programs and projects that went with it -- was a brusque rejection. Twice done: in the mangling of the amount and in shooting down his second plea in the veto.

REASON OR EMOTION. So Mayor Mike would’ve a reason, or an emotion, to part ways with Joy Pesquera and Noel Wenceslao and even Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin.

In the February 21 Rama list, the mayor prominently mentioned Pesquera and Wenceslao as among the “confirmed” candidates. Earlier on February 18, Mayor Rama and Vice Mayor Garcia separately confirmed a Mike-Raymond tandem in next year’s election. Mike said he “guarantees” that Raymond will become a mayor of the city, even tossing this early the prospect of another Rama-Garcia tandem -- through Mike’s son Mikel who’ll run for councilor in Cebu City south. Mayor Rama could be referring to 2031, assuming he’d win in the 2025 and 2028 elections and barring vagaries of life and politics that could derail the best-laid plans.

MAYOR COULDN’T BE TOO EMOTIONAL OVER IT. As Mayor Rama himself laid bare for the public and his rivals to see, he “felt” he was “abandoned” by his allies, He counted as sole loyalist Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros, officially an independent who “left” Barug in the last elections but remained its ally and -- as last Sunday’s rally proved -- could be among the last loyalists standing. Rama might not be in a position to be picky now, unless a new inventory of his people and arsenal would disprove his current fear.

THEN THERE’S THE OPPOSITION. The “kamada” of Barug’s rivals may also prompt Mayor Rama to tread on safe ground.

Unlike in the last two fights against Tomas Osmeña and BOPK -- in 2019 and 2022 -- Rama might face the announced Nestor Archival Sr.-Tomas Osmeña tandem minus the support of the Labella-Daluz-Casas group and/or Pundok Panaghiusa and, possibly, as of now, the Garcia Partido Kusog. In the 2022 election, Councilor Dave Tumulak’s running for mayor hurt more BOPK Margot Osmeña’s bid than it did Mike Rama’s. This time, Tumulak most likely would accept a draft as Daluz’s vice mayor.

Already feeling abandoned and facing actual and potential depletion of leaders, would Mayor Mike be politically prudent to drive away more allies?

AND NIÑA MABATID WILL RUN. “Yes, I’m running…” she told me Tuesday, February 27, adding three days later, “for councilor.”

No “if” but there’s a kind of “but”: She has not yet decided whose local party or group she’ll run with. She already talked with Mayor Mike and Joey Daluz offered her a slot in his Panaghiusa ticket. As of February 27, she said she didn’t “know which slate” she’d pick.

In 2019 Mabatid amassed 113,980 votes to land second to BOPK’s Councilor Nestor Archival Sr. in Cebu City north, which is represented, like the south district, by eight councilors. But in 2022, gunning for the north’s congressional seat, Niña pulled in only 61,501 votes, losing to Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar (111,651 votes).

Aside from shifting her sight back to a Sanggunian seat, Niña Mabatid said “big people upstairs” will guide her in picking her party. She belongs to Barug, ran and won as councilor under it in 2019, and has not resigned but apparently, that’s no bar to choosing a rival party.

Mabatid said she’ll decide which party or group she’ll run the race with: The big people up. “Mag-agad ko sa mga dagkong tawo sa taas nga nag support and guide nako.”

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