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Shifting political alliances in CDO stage

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—After the protracted debt dispute between the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) and the Cagayan de Oro Bulk Water Inc. (COBI) that grabbed local headlines and even caught President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.’s attention, it’s time to look forward to the incoming election season that comes to a head in October this year.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy also took center stage with his announcement of a political alliance between him and the Rodriguezes i.e Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s second district and Vice Mayor Jocelyn ‘Bebot’ Rodriguez. As to whether that alliance will hold strong in the coming months is something I’d like to elaborate on in the next few paragraphs.

Suffice it to say that this development was played up in the mayor’s social media feed and the local media and some Klarex supporters are quick to proclaim that this is most likely the ‘strongest political alliance’ in the city’s recent history.  I’m no historian so I cannot lend immediate support to such a lofty claim but based on info from my sources there is reason to believe in this assertion.

Set against that backdrop is a Gold Star Daily report that Rep. Lordan Suan of the city’s first district is ready to look for his own alliance to support his reelection bid, which sort of signals a possible opening for his partnership with former mayor Oscar Moreno.  OSM is still playing his cards close to his vest as far as another mayoral run is concerned but even now he’s been quite critical of the Klarex administration.

What is interesting is OSM’s reaction to the news about the Klarex-Rufus alliance in a recent interview over at Magnum Radyo.  OSM’s reaction can be summed up in two points; one, he doesn’t believe that the alliance will improve Klarex’s governance of the city and two, OSM doesn’t believe that Rufus believes in Klarex as a good leader of the city.

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OSM’s observations are borne out of his own experience with the Rodriguezes. I haven’t watched his Friday programs of late in his Facebook page but OSM would like to remind every once in a while that Congressman Rufus once praised him publicly for his leadership of the city but it all changed when OSM got charged at the Ombudsman by his political opponents.

OSM was even seen, if memory serves me right, with then Barangay Nazareth chairperson Bebot and once entertained the possibility of her being his vice mayoral bet before the Ombudsman cases came and Rufus ran against OSM for the mayoral post in 2016.  As history showed, OSM won and landed a third and final term in 2019 along with Klarex’s son, Raineir Joaquin ‘Kikang’ Uy, who ran with OSM as his vice mayoral bet in 2016.

But all that is in the past now and as Philippine politics goes, one’s allies become rivals and vice versa. Just as OSM and Klarex’s alliance cooled off and broke apart, OSM admitted to receiving Lordan as visitor in his waning days as mayor which may have tipped off Klarex’s supporters about OSM’s potential shift of loyalties. And in last year’s barangay elections OSM did support Lordan’s dad in his bid for Barangay Carmen’s barangay captain post against Kikang Uy.

Flash forward to 2024 and the rundown to the filing of candidacies for the national and local posts for the 2025 elections is heating up towards a likely showdown between erstwhile allies turned rivals Klarex and OSM. And Klarex, to his credit, has done his homework insofar as setting the groundwork for his reelection is concerned. Remember that ordinance institutionalizing the city’s purok system approved by the City Council?

Not a few in the council’s minority bloc that of course included Lordan’s younger (?) brother Agapito Suan questioned the necessity of approving the ordinance that would strengthen coordination between purok leaders and the mayor’s office in light of the fact that there are duly elected barangay captains in place. The way they see it, the ordinance is one way of circumventing barangay captains whose political loyalties aren’t aligned with the Klarex administration.

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Regarding that ordinance, Mayor Klarex didn’t outrighly deny that the ordinance would be beneficial to his administration and was even good humored about it during a monthly message to City Hall bureaucracy in one flag raising program.  Still, that only showed the extent of preparations he made for another reelection run which he wanted to punctuate with an outright matchup against OSM.

This is where things get a little more complicated as the 2025 elections is shaping up to be a proxy war between Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio and House Speaker Martin Romualdez for the 2028 presidency.  And Cagayan de Oro is one of many battlegrounds for that war as lines will be crossed between identified allies of Sara and Martin. 

Being the incumbent, Mayor Klarex and his political advisors will certainly navigate carefully the uncertain political waters while OSM especially won’t have that concern. I could only hazard a guess as to who would be his likely sponsor but would keep quiet about it until after the filing of candidacies are finalized in October.  Lisod na kaayo makuryente (Hard to be proven wrong) in this case.

And we’re also not dismissing the potential candidates for the City Council’s posts as most of the council are serving their final terms. This early, Councilor Suzette Magtajas-Daba said her husband will run in her stead to sustain the legislative gains achieved for the city’s educational program while Councilor Edgar Cabanlas is rumored to be pushing for his daughter Melanie’s candidacy.  It’s still three months away, but this early things are looking quite interesting in Cagayan de Oro’s local political landscape.

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