Cebu ex-lawmaker yields House contest-A A +A
Saturday, September 8, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Citing a health problem, former south district congressman Antonio “Tony” Veloso Cuenco Sr. decided to retire from politics and withdraw his candidacy for a congressional seat in the 2013 elections.
“A recent episode during one of my sorties in the district has left my head spinning wildly. A check with my doctor the following day confirmed that my vertigo problem has started to recur,” he said.
“I was then advised to refrain from further exposing myself to strenuous activities. I am afraid that such episodes will continue to get worse as the political campaign progresses,” he added.
With this development, the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) described Team Rama as a sinking ship and said the withdrawal of Cuenco’s candidacy will leave “a huge, gaping hole” in the mayor’s group.
Cuenco’s eldest son, James, read Friday to the media his father’s letter to Rama and to the public.
In his letter dated September 1, Tony, 76, said he has decided to withdraw his candidacy because of his vertigo, a medical condition that makes one dizzy and disoriented.
According to James, his father’s vertigo started in 2001. It became worse in 2009, which prompted the former congressman to fly to the United States to seek treatment.
That was the time, James said, when his father was accused by former mayor now Representative Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) of abandoning the BOPK’s barangay captains.
“Actually, it was a valid concern sa iyang health. That was why we were forced to go to America,” he added.
At present, James said that his father’s vertigo recurred and has worsened.
Aside from the incident that happened during the sorties, James said that at one time, his father staggered and almost fell to the floor while he was having a meeting at their home in Barangay Guadalupe.
“Maayo gani nasawo nako (We were lucky that I caught him). I was worried then and I told him he had to see his doctor,” he said.
His father’s physician, Dr. Manuel Lim of Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, has advised the former congressman to avoid stressful activities like political campaigns.
James added that Lim told his father to just go on with his job as secretary-general of the Asean Inter Parliamentary Assembly (Aipa) because it is less stressful.
In the same letter, Tony said his decision to withdraw his candidacy is because he wants to spend time with his family.
“Both my family and my race to Congress are deeply important to me. But my family comes first. My family, whom I love dearly, has been incessantly begging me to grant them the gift which they say they value the most, my time,” he said.
“Therefore, today, I am going to set aside my political aspirations so I can focus on my retirement and be with my family,” he added.
Tony then endorsed City Councilor Jose Daluz III to run for the congressional seat in the south district for next year’s polls.
Tony, who has been in politics for 20 years, believes that Daluz can ably continue the legacy he is leaving behind.
James, when asked why he will not be the one to replace his father, said he doesn’t have the experience in politics. He, however, will be running for city councilor under the slate of Rama.
In a separate interview, Daluz said he is sad that Tony is withdrawing his candidacy considering it was he who asked the former congressman to regain his seat in the Congress.
“He is really a very great leader but we cannot force him to run because of his health,” he said.
Daluz, though, said he is ready to run as south district congressman in next year’s election following Tony’s endorsement of him.
“I have really no vision to run this election. Wa ta koy plano because I am already happy to finish my last term as city councilor but tawag man ni sa grupo, so I will take the cudgel for the group,” he said.
He, however, added that he will still have to discuss the matter with the members of Team Rama as well as with his friends and family.
Team Rama is yet to discuss Cuenco’s withdrawal from the congressional race since the mayor, who heads the group, is still in Xiamen, China. He is expected to be back in the country next week.
James and Daluz said though that the mayor has already been informed about the matter.
Upon learning about the development, Osmeña, who heads BOPK, said Tony has decided to withdraw his candidacy because he knows he cannot win in next year’s elections.
“He knows he’s going to lose. Team Rama is now like a sinking ship,” he said.
Vice Mayor Young, for his part, said that Tony’s decision to no longer run will cripple Team Rama.
“It’s something we were expecting. He knows he cannot win under Team Rama. He has been in politics for many years so he can already see what is ahead of him. This will leave a big gaping hole in Team Rama,” he said.
But James said their whole family, including Councilor Ronald Cuenco, will still be supporting Team Rama for next year’s elections.
He added that the barangay captains and officials who support his father will also be supporting Team Rama in the 2013 polls.
As he retires from politics, Tony thanked his constituents for giving him the mandate to represent them for 20 years in Congress.
Tony’s letter to the mayor and to the public was written by him on the eve of his departure to Jakarta, Indonesia to resume his duties at Aipa. Cuenco finished his Bachelor of Arts in 1956 and his Bachelor of Laws in 1960 at the Ateneo de Manila University.
Four years after he passed the bar, at 29, Cuenco was elected to the 6th Congress in 1965 and served until 1969.
He became a member of the Batasang Pambansa in 1984 to 1986. He was elected again in the 8th, 9th and 10th Congresses from 1987 to 1998. His wife Nancy took over as south district representative in 1998 to 2001.
Tony ran and won again in 2004 and in 2007, and served until his term ended in 2010.
Osmeña, who was then his ally, was elected congressman.
Born on March 26, 1936, Tony is the son of former governor Manuel Cuenco and Milagros Veloso-Cuenco. He is the grandnephew of former representative Miguel Cuenco, and the grandson of the former Senate President Mariano Jesus Cuenco.
He and the former Nancy Roa have four children: James Anthony, Ronald, Antonio Jr., and Cynthia Cuenco-Dizon. (PDF/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 08, 2012.