Quo vadis, BOPK?

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

There is no doubt that what Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) experienced during the recently-held local election was a crushing defeat. However, only a political amateur will say it spelled the end of the once-invincible political aggrupation.

BOPK’s mayoralty and vice mayoralty candidates lost. In the South District, only one of its candidates for councilor, Jose Abellanosa, survived. Its congressional candidate also lost. In the North District, candidates for councilors, only three of BOPKs’ candidates survived the political tidal wave, namely, Nestor Archival, Mary Ann delos Santos, and Joy Augustus Young.

BOPK’s Rachel “Cutie” del Mar won as congresswoman. I would venture to say that her victory could not be attributed largely to BOPK’s strength. She continues to benefit from the legacy of her late father. Besides, her opponents’ votes were divided between Niña Mabatid and Richard Yap.

So what happened to BOPK, the very group from which many Cebu City politicians sprang, including the incumbent mayor Michael L. Rama? I can only bring to your recollection what happened.

Many thought former mayor Tomas Osmeña would run for mayor. Tomas once defeated Rama in the 2016 mayoralty race. He lost to Labella in 2019. It was widely perceived that the loss was because of Malacañang’s intervention in favor of Labella.

Recently, however, it was Margot Osmeña, wife of Tomas, who had to run. The party must have considered the fact that Duterte, who turned out to be Osmeña’s enemy, still sits as president. Also, it must have been Osmeña’s way of ironing out the rumored rift between Franklyn Ong and Bebot Abellanosa.

But before she came into the picture, many of BOPKs’ ardent supporters were excited about the prospect of Bebot Abellanosa running for the highest post in City Hall. Charismatic and undefeated and in his last term as congressman, Bebot was the man to beat in the mayoralty race. His political campaign materials were all over the city, signaling his readiness to fight the incumbent mayor. This did not happen.

Challenges did not stop haunting BOPK. Its base was divided in the vice mayoralty race. Franklyn Ong and Bimbo Fernandez ran against each other.

There were rumors about infighting inside the party. What also added to its burden was that BOPK was not (and is not) the party in power, locally.

Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, masterfully steered his party to victory. He must have learned a lot from his political wounds, chief of which was his loss in 2016. He put in their respective places the warring factions among his supporters.

However, let me repeat: Only a political amateur will say it’s the end for BOPK. Osmeñas return in 2025 is something to watch; after all, in politics that is not too far. Many will agree that the fight would have been different if it were Tomas who ran. Just as exciting for BOPK’s supporters is the question of Bebot’s next political step.

BOPK, like Barug, does not lack political materials. Sometimes the mistake or blunder is the choice of the candidate being fielded.

Indeed, Barug-PDP’s fate in 2025 hinges on Rama’s performance until the end of his term. So, Rama has no other option but to perform well following his fresh mandate. An astute politician, he knows this.

On the other hand, the next three years will tell us how BOPK will reorganize, recharge, and recover. Folks, make no mistake; the people behind the two groups are political veterans.


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