EDITORIAL - Why Osmeña lost the mayoralty post
(The Freeman) - May 16, 2019 - 12:00am

The dust has settled and Cebu City will soon have a new leader. Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella has won the mayoralty race against reelectionist Mayor Tomas Osmeña by a comfortable margin.

Prior to Monday’s electoral exercise, a confident Osmeña seemed to have employed every strategy during the stretch of his long campaign. He had been actively present on social media promoting platforms and programs he promised he would implement for the next three years.

Being the incumbent, Osmeña counted on his being in power as an advantage over Labella, whose role – aside from being the presiding officer at the City Council – is widely considered a mere spare tire.

Of course, Osmeña and his political wing, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, have the resources. Their well-oiled structure spanned across majority of the city barangays whose leaders won last year’s village elections under the wings of BOPK.

However, things did not turn out well as planned. At the start of the counting of votes, Labella jumped the gun and took an early lead. As the tallying progressed, many expected the tide to change in Osmeña’s favor. But Labella and his running mate, Michael Rama, instead continued to zoom and eventually won the election.

Following his unprecedented victory, many may have wondered how Labella managed to pull off an unbelievably solid performance to snatch the mayoralty seat from a formidable political powerhouse.

One reason was Osmeña’s conflict with the police. Throughout his campaign, the mayor had been preoccupied with his battle against the city police who he accused of harassing his supporters and of siding with his political opponents.

It may have been aimed at gaining sympathy from the masses like what the cops are saying. But Osmeña’s quarrel with the men and women in uniform has clearly diverted his attention from the true battle that was being waged in polling precincts where his mayoralty position was at stake.

Another turning point was President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement of Labella. It was a big boost to Labella’s candidacy because it created a positive perception from the public that his leadership will bring more developments to the city.

Let’s see whether Osmeña and the BOPK can manage to pick up the pieces following last Monday’s dismal performance. There will always be time to regroup. But a solid showing in 2022 will depend upon how Labella fares as mayor.

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