WHAT happened to Panag-hiusa?
For those who remain supporters of the presidential bid of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, it is still an active organization. For those who don’t, it appears to have disintegrated.
Panaghiusa was launched last September with political veterans forming the group in a bid to create a united opposition in Cebu.
The leaders are former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr., former congressman Antonio Yapha, former vice governor Fernando “Nan-ding” Celeste and former Provincial Board (PB) member Car-miano Kintanar, among others.
Among the elected officials who were there were PB Member Victoria Corominas, Mayors Ritchie Wagas and San Remigio Mayor Mariano Martinez.
But since the Liberal Party started making inroads in Cebu late last year, Panaghiusa fell silent.
Liberal Party provincial candidates Hilario “Junjun” Davide III (for governor) and Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez, who is running for reelection, are not even members of Panaghiusa.
Osmeña and Martinez, though, insist that Panaghiusa is still active.
For Wagas, it was a different story. He said he was disappointed that Panaghiusa did not deliver its promise of selecting national and provincial candidates through a defined process.
The process, as explained during the launching, is that each barangay in the province will nominate its bets and these will be discussed at the municipal or city level. After this, Panaghiusa’s top leadership will declare the group’s slate.
Wagas, in an interview, said there was an agreement that a convention would be held, where national candidates from the opposition will be heard and then the leaders can choose from among them.
“It wasn’t realized. The convenors decided to go their separate ways according to their preference. Panaghiusa was supposed to be an umbrella organization for all opposition candidates,” explained Wagas.
“But then we were running out of time so we parted ways,” he continued. He added there are no ill feelings.
Wagas is now the provincial chairman of Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and has created a complete top slate for the fifth district under the party.
Osmeña insisted there was a process but that they did not bother to tap Wagas.
“He was not a prominent figure. We followed what we thought was the right path. He tried to impose his will but who is he?” asked Osmeña.
Osmeña explained that there was a discussion with the top leaders, including himself and Martinez, and they decided to go with Aquino and running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as well as the provincial tandem of Davide and Sanchez.
Panaghiusa was originally an opposition alliance in the 1980s against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. It was re-launched, not as a political party, but as an “opposition organization”, last September headed by Osmeña.
Both Osmeña and Martinez have said that they are doing their own part in their areas to campaign for Davide and Sanchez.
“In all areas I have people, I campaigned for them,” said Osmeña.
Martinez said he has actively campaigned for Davide in his district, and hopes Davide too would do his part in other areas.
“We’re waiting for him. We cannot do everything. He should do his homework,” said Martinez.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and running mate Glenn Anthony Soco of One Cebu have been making the rounds in the province, distributing projects and meeting communities through the Suroy Suroy Sugbo.