Hollow name-bearers-A A +A
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Is he just an image line-etched on the P50 peso bill? Or is the 4th Philippine president relevant as ever?
Today is 132nd birthday anniversary of President Sergio Osmeña. This “gentle giant” served as governor, senator, president. He led the country from World War II ruins into a new republic.
Who among Don Sergio’s descendants stand out due to careers that reflect the president’s dedication? ”From our ancestors come our names,” Bertrand Russel wrote. “But from our virtues come our honors.”
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, 69, is our pick. His track record falls short of his grandfather’s achievements. Still, “Serge” ably performed in private industry and three terms as senator.
“Serge’s defiance of Marcos’s dictatorship led to martial law arrest in 1972. To protest unjust detention, he went on a hunger strike, in November 1974, along with cellmate the late Eugenio Lopez Jr. of ABS-CBN. This protest compelled Marcos to release 1,022 political prisoners in December 1972, his admirers claim.
Sorry. That assertion lacks validation, publisher Joaquin Roces, Free Press’ Teodoro Locsin and other journalists were released that December. Credit for that goes to Press Foundation of Asia, New York Times, International Press Institute and others.
Serge and Lopez burrowed a tunnel to escape from their Fort Bonifacio maximum security prison in 1997. A waiting car hustled them to Dagupan airport where a small private plane flew them to Hong Kong, then on to US exile. Serge served with distinction, in Movement for a Free Philippines and JAJA (Justice for Aquino Justice for All) Movement.
After People Power 1, Serge returned. His legislative concerns ranged from victims of toxic wastes at former US bases to graft exposes, e.g. Tiwi-Makban, Marconi and Casecnan scams. He voted to open the “second envelope” in Joseph Estrada’s impeachment. He cast a “guilty” vote against Chief Justice Renato Corona. He’s been flayed for muting criticism when issues involve Lopez interests, e.g. Meralco, Maynilad Water Services, etc.
Contrast the senator's record with that etched by younger brother: Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu 2nd district). Tomas’s “sole contribution to the 15th Congress is a bill to extend Christmas holidays,” Sun.Star noted. “Can he add luster to his ancestor?”
Mayor Osmeña created a “Hunter’s Team” in 2004. For a “criminal” permanently disabled,” he anteed-up P20,000. If they eliminated a robber, P10,000 would be paid. Where did this blood money come from?
Rubouts bolted to 41 in April 2005, US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr. wrote. The faceless vigilantes laid low when UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston probed disappearances. Summary executions, in contrast, never tainted Don Sergio.
Today, Tomas stews in a controversy over two donated Dodge Charger 2009 vehicles. They’re dolled up as city police cars, for his private security. They bear the City Government’s seal and were topped with “wang-wangs” or sirens. But they’re registered in names of Tomas relatives.
The anti-graft law bans public officials from soliciting or accepting gifts. DILG rules stipulate official car registration. “But a police officer is inside when the cars are used,” Osmena fumed. "Got a problem with that?”
Yes. The problem is Don Sergio’s ethical sense wouldn’t abide bogus police cars. On the president’s 132nd birthday anniversary, hollow name bearers prod us, ordinary citizens, to emulate their ancestor's virtues. But they exempt themselves.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 09, 2012.