Cuenco redux-A A +A
Thursday, December 1, 2011
IT LOOKS like former congressman Antonio Cuenco is busy monitoring people’s reaction to his recent announcement that he will return to politics in 2013, most probably by running for the same post he had to let go in 2010 because of term limits. He reacted to my previous column about me by calling me up.
I used that call as a chance to ask Cuenco a few more questions. I also wanted to gauge his determination to run for south district congressman with or without the support of the current holder of the post, the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) chieftain himself, Tomas Osmeña.
Cuenco actually has a love-hate relationship with the former mayor. But both are veteran politicians and election strategists, so they view things not on a personal level but on how to win elections. They know when to swallow their pride.
Months before the campaign period for the 2010 elections opened, Osmeña openly criticized (a milder word, actually) Cuenco, accusing him of, basically, incompetent handling of BOPK leaders in the south district who were running for posts in the previous barangay election. When Osmeña talks, he rants.
But the former mayor knew he needed Cuenco’s support if he were to win in the south district against his then seemingly formidable foe, businessman Jonathan Guardo. That was also the reason why despite Osmeña’s dislike for then vice mayor Michael Rama, he supported him when he ran for mayor in 2010. He also needed the support of Rama, who is also from the south district.
It wasn’t surprising that, eventually, something of a quid pro quo followed. Tony’s son Ronald was included in the BOPK lineup for councilor in the 2010 polls, obviously in exchange for the older Cuenco’s support of Osmeña’s congressional bid. But that arrangement, I reckon, hindi personalan, pulitika lang.
Consider the former mayor’s answer when sought for reaction about Cuenco’s announcement. “Let him talk to Mike Rama,” Osmeña said, apparently still smarting from Cuenco’s previous praise of Rama, the BOPK chief’s possible opponent for mayor in the 2013 elections. That wasn’t an ecstatic welcome but a cold response.
Still, Cuenco said he would like to get Osmeña’s support for his political plans. He wants the party to conduct a survey and to consult south district leaders to determine who should be the official BOPK candidate for the south district congressional post.
Even then, he is prepared to forge other alliances if Osmeña and the BOPK refuse to give their blessings to his bid.
In the meantime, Cuenco is continuing to reconnect with south district leaders, notably the barangay captains. Veteran politician that he is, he knows that it is never too early to set up the machinery needed to win an election. From our talk, I could tell that he is happy with the support he has gotten so far, especially from leaders in his district’s mountain areas.
In this sense, Osmeña has wisely reined his emotions in when asked to further comment about Cuenco. He knows that it won’t be easy to cut connections with a veteran like the former south district congressman, more so because he needs all the support he can get if he wants to regain control of City Hall.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 02, 2011.