Game changer
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - March 28, 2019 - 12:00am

There is perceived to be a likely game changer in Cebu City politics. The strength of the group of Mayor Tomas Osmeña is believed eroded with the recent ruling of the Commission on Elections disqualifying the candidacy of Councilor Alvin Arcilla. I am personally saddened by this development because my senior moments notwithstanding, I recall sharing visions and ideals in governance with Councilor Arcilla almost three decades ago. That was the time when I was deeply involved in politics.

There are, in the minds of ordinary citizens like me, some nuances following the recent Comelec ruling. This Comelec decision must be tough on Arcilla and those who believe in his brand of leadership. While we have read that the councilor will take legal steps for the Comelec to reconsider its decision, there are telling perceptible effects his political group, the BOPK has to contend with.

The councilor from Talamban was elected for three consecutive terms, 2010, 2013 and 2016. In all those previous elections, did he not rank in the higher half of the winners? That alone clearly indicated his strength. The BOPK leadership is known to be a virtual one man rule. Whatever their leader decides to do, no one dares to go against. I am sure that the group’s chief knew the legal impediment Arcilla was facing. Already a third termer, the statute would not allow him to run for the fourth consecutive term.

But I heard that there was a legal opinion from within the group that viewed the Talamban leader’s predicament rather differently. Accordingly, someone opined that a suspension order for him (and other officials) changed the legal paradigm. It would not be impossible to surmise that the BOPK head asked for it because of the heavy voter volume Arcilla could generate, the kind of base Osmeña needs to roll on to victory. It could probably be a gamble the mayor took, a decision nobody within the BOPK dare challenge. True enough, if he was not ruled as a disqualified candidate, his multitude of supporters would have tremendously helped his party’s bets.

The Comelec ruling may not be final yet as Arcilla announced he would move for its reconsideration. Fine. But, consider the mentality of ordinary voters like me. I would have cast my vote for him, really. In fact, I planned on asking friends of mine to vote for him. Call it campaigning. As I said above, I shared common thoughts with him some time ago although I silently questioned the wisdom of his running for a fourth term. The disqualification ruling confirmed my initial harsh perception. Final or not, this Comelec ruling makes me adopt a painful decision. I do not anymore take the risk that my vote for him might be wasted by a decision upholding his disqualification. I too, am afraid that thousands of fellow Arcilla supporters assume similar position of no longer gambling on his candidacy. Sad.

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