EDITORIAL - Rama and the art of political survival

(The Freeman) - March 12, 2015 - 12:00am

The "checks" that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama plans to carry out on City Hall employees is in preparation for the political battle he faces in 2016. Rama is up for a third and final run as mayor and he intends to make a clean sweep of the three terms allowed him under the law. And if he has to conduct "checks" on City Hall employees to weed out those in a position to sabotage his plans, he has made it very clear that he is going to do it.

Call the plan whatever you want -- reality check, loyalty check -- but the name does not really matter one bit as far as the intent is concerned. Rama wants to cover his back as he prepares for battle. And who can blame Rama? That is precisely what any politician worth his salt should do. Gone are the days when to be part of a dominant team would suffice to ensure victory in the polls. Today, the reality is that victory can only be achieved if you have to fight for it.

But why focus on the very people under his roof? Well, that is part of the hard reality too. Even in your own house there are bound to be those who will be against you. You simply cannot please everybody. You simply cannot win everybody over to your side. And there are simply those who cannot be trusted to stay with one side forever. Like sand on the shore, they shift with each incoming tide.

The battle for his first term was a breeze. Rama was still part of a united team. What opposition was there was token. The second term was won with much more difficulty. The house was already divided. Still it was not as difficult as it is going to be now. In the fight for his second term, the goodwill he earned in the first term still carried over. And people still have not forgiven his opponent for his arrogance and high-handedness.

But the fight for the third term is a long way from where everything started, both for Rama and the opponent everybody thinks will be his opponent. The 2016 elections will be fought on pretty much a new battlefield. It will be like drawing from scratch. The only thing that may not change the odds in favor of Rama is that he is the incumbent.

And that is precisely why, from such a vantage point, he can at this stage pretty much dictate how the battle will go at the outset. That is the reason why, this early -- or in a manner of speaking, this late -- he has begun to tap on the chain links to see which could be the weak points. And if they will not fall of their own accord, he is going to pry them loose himself, or so he has threatened.

The matter of being a bit late is mentioned because, as the facts have shown, he has actually been stabbed in the back already with that suit over calamity aid. Had he started earlier, Rama could have seen it coming. But what's done is done. What Rama needs to look out for is precisely what he is preparing for -- the pitfalls and where they may lie. Can this be taken against Rama? Of course not. That is the way you survive and stay in this business called politics.


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