Cuenco brands as false Osmeña’s accusation that he worked against SRP

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

A FORMER ally fired back yesterday at ex-congressman Antonio Cuenco, saying those who want to protect the South Road Properties (SRP) shouldn’t support Cuenco’s comeback bid in 2013.

Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district), who said he ran for Congress mainly to protect the SRP, said in a press conference yesterday that Cuenco and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia worked to put down the 295-hectare property.

Osmeña’s comment came a week after Cuenco announced he will run for Congress again next year and support Osmeña’s prospective rival, incumbent Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.


Cuenco was among the Cebuano congressmen that supported the House inquiry, initiated by the governor’s brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu Province, 3rd district). Governor Garcia had also filed a complaint against Osmeña, other City officials and Filinvest Land Inc. before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

“I favored the inquiry in the interest of truth,” Cuenco said in a separate interview.


Sought for reaction, Capitol spokesperson Atty. Rory Jon Sepulveda advised Congressman Osmeña to keep quiet.

“Maypa mohilom siya ug di siya moapil. Wa man sad siya’y labot. Daghan pa ang maayong mahitabo sa Sugbo. (He might as well keep quiet. This has nothing to do with him. So many good things are bound to happen for Cebu),” he said in a text message.

Governor Garcia has repeatedly said she has not yet decided whether to run for office in 2013, when her term as governor expires, and if so, which position to aim for.

In his press conference, Osmeña admitted that Cuenco is still the strongest politically, compared to aspirants Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa and lawyer Aristotle Batuhan, for the south district representative’s seat.

Parties like the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) still have until October to identify their line-up.

Osmeña also belittled Governor Garcia’s move to solve the 93-1 problem, saying he believes it is just a tactic to win the votes of the Cebu City residents since she plans to run for senator.

“I told the 93-1 homeowners that you are lucky Gwen is running for senator because she is afraid that you will tell your urban poor counterparts in Mindanao and Luzon about what she did. So take advantage, you can even ask for a better price. She has to solve this,” said Osmeña.


The Province signed a memorandum of understanding last March 1 with Vice President Jejomar Binay. They committed to resolve the 93-1 issue, which involves socialized housing, before Garcia’s term ends.

Since Binay is chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the Province has asked for assistance from Binay to resolve the “long-standing” issues surrounding the sale of occupied Capitol-owned lots in Cebu City.

But when asked if he is inclined to support Garcia if she finally solves the 93-1 problem, which was actually the source of conflict between the two officials some years ago, Osmeña said, “No.”

“How can I support someone who wants to support the (downfall) of the SRP?” continued Osmeña.

The congressman’s allies, who compose the council majority, have said the City should hold off selling more of the SRP until until FLI and SM Prime Holdings Inc. improve the image of the SRP.

By then, SRP prices will shoot up and that will help the City solve its financial woes.


Osmeña challenged former congressman Cuenco to file a case against him in court, in reference to the SRP controversy.

“The accusation that I am against the SRP is false,” said Cuenco. “When there was a conflict between Cebu City and Talisay City pending before the Department of Justice, I defended Cebu City’s claim to SRP’s title.”

Meanwhile, former Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) undersecretary Aristotle Batuhan won’t categorically say whether he will run for congressman again in 2013, but is now visiting 34 villages in the south district.

“Di pa ko kasulti if modagan ko because wa pa ko ka-formulate sa akong programa. I want that before I decide to run, I have already a platform of government or program of action nga akong i-presentar sa distrito. For this to happen, I have to complete the rounds (in the barangays) first,” he said.

He thanked Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) for considering him as one of BOPK’s potential candidates for the south district House seat.

“I am not a BOPK. I am an outsider and it’s a good sign that the group is opening its doors to non-BOPK members. I welcome this opportunity,” he said.


Batuhan was a member of the opposition camp in the city until the May 2010 national and local elections when he supported the Liberal Party, with which the BOPK has formed an alliance.

For the 2013 elections, Osmeña has said he is considering Batuhan, Councilor Abellanosa and his wife, Councilor Margarita Osmeña, as candidates for the House seat in the south district.

Batuhan said he already started visiting some of the south district barangays, through his Abante Barangay Movement, in October last year when he left his post at DOTC.

During his visits, Batuhan said he has also been consulting some of their officials and sectoral leaders, who include women, urban poor and the youth, on the problems that need to be addressed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 04, 2012.

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