The Osmeñas

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Friday, August 22, 2014


THE formation of an independent bloc in the Cebu City Council may have come as a surprise to Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) founder, former mayor/former congressman Tomas Osmeña. But it was inevitable.

With his defeat in the last contest for mayor in the hands of his once loyal lieutenant Michael Rama, Osmeña is fast losing his influence in the city’s politics.

Who would believe that Gerry Carillo, who owes his political career to Osmeña, would lead the break-away group? But what about Richie Osmeña’s joining the “Fantastic Four”? That says a lot.

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The Osmeña political clan has seen its ups and downs since Don Sergio Osmeña brought the family name to national prominence. But they have been able to spring back to power for three generations.

Don Sergio, who could have been the first president of the Commonwealth, was outmaneuvered by Manuel L. Quezon, though for a moment he became president when Quezon died. He lost to Manuel Roxas in the elections of 1945, with the latter forming the Liberal Party as a platform for his candidacy. Roxas was supported by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

After his defeat, the “Grand Old Man of Cebu” retired from politics while his son, Serging, became a political star who could not be defeated in any election, local or national, and was the only viable opponent of Ferdinand Marcos in 1969. Not only did Serging lose in the national election, Marcos defeated him in Cebu by 38,808 votes.

Serging faded away during the Martial Law years, but the Osmeñas returned to power later in national and local politics: Tomas (as Cebu City mayor); Serge (as senator), Sonny (senator) and Lito (governor) after the Edsa People Power Revolution. This even if they were never in the thick of the fight against the Marcos dictatorship.

While he could have opted for national positions, Tomas chose to maintain his grip on Cebu City politics, and rightly so. Cebu City is the foundation of the Osmeña political clout, and he can’t afford to leave it to ambitious challengers. Prospective wannabes were effectively neutered. Only Mike Rama played Tomas using the latter’s game, and won.

I doubt if the Osmeñas will give up Cebu City that easily. A fourth generation is forthcoming to reclaim lost ground. (I guess, it won’t be Richie Osmeña.)

The “Fantastic Four” should do what they intend to do in the little time left for them in the city council. Come next election, either they’ll be begging to return to BOPK or tie up with Team Rama.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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