Seares: Would suspended mayor Rama seek reelection in 2025? 'Yes, yes, yes, yes,' Mike says. On Acting Mayor Garcia's inquiry on corruption at City Hall, daring Raymond to a debate, Rama asks, Are you now COA?

Suspended Mayor Mike Rama with broadcaster Jason Monteclar.
Suspended Mayor Mike Rama with broadcaster Jason Monteclar.Contributed photo: The Not So Late Show with Jason Monteclar

[] Seven takeaways from broadcaster Jason Monteclar's Facebook video interview, topped by Rama's "categorical" decision to run and increasing chances of his fallout with Garcia over how the city is managed during the period of suspension

[1] 'WHY NOT? DI KO NINYO PADAGANON?' Preventively suspended Mayor (PSM) Michael Rama will seek reelection. He said "yes" four times, as categorical as it can get, when asked by broadcaster Jason Monteclar in a video interview Monday, June 24, 2024. No truth to the rumor that he won't run in the 2025 race.

Rama said they (he and his allies) met and it was agreed that Rep. Edu Rama would be over-all campaign manager of Partido Barug-Team Rama. Being the campaign chief must be on top of Edu's running for reelection as Cebu City south congressman.

[2] ARE MIKE AND RAYMOND STILL ON? LOL. Asked if Rama would still have Acting Mayor (A.M.) Raymond Alvin Garcia as his vice mayor -- a 2025 tandem earlier confirmed by the mayor on February 17 and his VM on February 16 in separate forums -- Mike let out a loud laugh. To Raymond's earlier laughter on the same question, Mike answered with his own version of a LOL.

What must it mean, the loud laughter from each of them, on what they think about riding on the same horse again in next year's race? Ha-ha funny or ridiculously-not-anymore funny.

[3] QUALIFYING "MAYOR," "SUSPENSION." Rama griped about the misuse and non-use of the terms "acting mayor" and "suspended mayor" as well as "suspension" and "preventive suspension."

Rama doesn't like "acting mayor," as applied to Raymond, reduced to just "mayor." Or "suspended" or "suspension," as applied to Rama, stripped of the qualifier "preventively" or "preventive." PSM Rama said, "I would often see in the newspaper... "Wala naman ang 'acting'; mayor naman lang." In a segment of the interview, he kept correcting Monteclar about Garcia's title until the broadcaster began prefacing Garcia's title "mayor" with "acting." Which then clearly pleased him.

Apparently, Rama wanted people to be always reminded that (a) Garcia is "only" the acting mayor and he, Rama, is the elected mayor; (b) the suspension is "only" preventive, not punitive.

The distinction is clear enough to the public. Media also has been adequately making the distinction, only that it cannot keep attaching the adjective "preventive" or the adverb "preventively" to the word "suspension" or "suspend."

PS to that: Rama would also want to be called the "elected mayor," obviously not using the election as applicable solely to him -- as Garcia was also elected -- but to remind people that while Raymond was elected as vice mayor, he, Mike, was the one elected as mayor.

Which can't really stand strict legal scrutiny because the vice mayor is lawfully mandated to perform all the functions of the mayor's office. Raymond's election was not just for the job of mayor but also for the function of acting mayor who shall take over if and when the elected mayor is removed, albeit temporarily, from the mayor's seat.

[4] DECISIONS OF ACTING MAYOR THRASHED with repeated reminder that A.M. Garcia is a "caretaker." Rama's complaint about the lapse or error in the use of titles for him and his VM was accompanied with the reminder, expressed more than once, that Raymond is "only a caretaker."

Rama though can't assail that legally, as the Local Government Code, as amended, grants the acting mayor all the powers and functions of the suspended mayor. And his decisions may not even be questioned as "ultra vires" when the suspension period ends.

What Rama could've done -- which he didn't in his talk with Monteclar -- was to assail the Garcia moves as violation of party/administration policies and disrespect to Rama as party leader. "Raymond, you're my vice mayor; we ran and won together; we're both responsible for the success of this administration under the party to which we both belong." That, Rama could've said, but did not.

[5] THREAT OR NEAR THREAT FROM MIKE. "Raymond, that's very bad... You better watch out, you better not cry... kay magkita gani ta..." That's not an outright threat, with no direct challenge, but the threat lurks there.

SM Rama made that response when apprised by Monteclar about A.M. Garcia's inquiry into suspected irregularities at City Hall, including the mess on certifications for physically disabled persons, allocation of fuel for vehicles, and delay in construction of the city hospital. The acting mayor has repeatedly stressed that the inquiry is aimed at stopping or preventing waste of public funds.

That's a "witch-hunt," Rama said, before addressing Garcia by his first name and expressing his threat or near-threat, noting that it is a search for irregularities ("investigator diay siya?").

[6] TALK OF SECOND SUSPENSION. Asked by Monteclar about a second suspension pending or looming, the elected mayor said they (his rivals/enemies) must have bought it ("napalit tingali nila") as they are all-knowing and certain about what's to come.

There's speculation on both sides -- the rumor mongers and Rama's camp -- even though a second suspension is not implausible or impossible. Recall that Mike was suspended twice, one after the other, in late 2015 and early 2016. It could come, induced by dirty hands or as part of the flow in the justice system, or both, with or without wickedness.

[7] WOULD A DEBATE THRESH OUT ISSUES? In the Monteclar interview, Rama went as far as challenging Garcia to a debate on the issues they publicly disagree on. While chances of a pre-election debate are slim, the dare from the suspended mayor to the acting mayor must tell how far the dispute has gone.

Which means the healing of the rift between the two top Barug leaders who are, or were, engaged to lead the Partido Barug pack in the 2025 elections may require a lot more work.

Rama, who's fond of metaphors and clich s, might have already "crossed the Rubicon" but, not giving up, would still "leave no stone unturned" since "it's not over until it's over" or "the fat lady sings." But when will he "take the gloves off" in dealing with the present acting mayor?

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