Malilong: Cebu’s durable trio

The Other Side

DEAN JOSE MANUEL DIOKNO was in Cebu two weeks ago. Unlike the others who have been identified as possible senatorial candidates in the 2019 elections, “Chel,” who is the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law, came here without fanfare. When we chanced upon him at breakfast at the Parklane Hotel, he was alone except for two broadcasters.

Diokno’s name is prominently mentioned in conversations as a possible member of the Liberal Party senatorial slate. The others include ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and reelectionist senator Bam Aquino. Former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. was also named but he quickly shot down any notion of a senatorial ambition.

Diokno would definitely be a welcome addition to the Senate. He is eminently qualified and could immediately impact on the Senate by elevating its level of discussion. He studied law at the Northern Illinois University and graduated valedictorian.

He also has the genes, being the son of the late senator Jose W. Diokno, one of the greatest Filipinos to have ever served in the Senate. The elder Diokno was one of the opposition leaders who were immediately arrested when martial law was declared and his family suffered as a result of his incarceration.

Of course, I will vote for Diokno even if I seem to bring bad luck to many of the candidates that I supported, like Winnie Monsod, Haydee Yorac, Alex Lacson and Risa Hontiveros. They all lost except for Hontiveros who made it on her third attempt.


If, as he earlier told me, Tony Cuenco runs for a City Council seat in the south district next year, after a six-year hiatus, he will complete a trio of octogenarians whose combined years in the political arena total a century and half.

Tony will be 83 in May next year. In 1965, he was elected to Congress, representing the old fifth district. He was 29, the youngest member of the 6th Congress. In 1969, he did not run for reelection but ran in the third district and lost.

The person who beat him in that election was political neophyte Eduardo Gullas, who will be turning 88 next month. Gullas has served as governor and vice chairman of the martial law era Executive Committee, among others. He is currently the mayor of Talisay City, whose charter he fathered.

He will not, however, be running for reelection next year, having decided to swap places with his grandson, Samsam, who is the first district representative. The Gullases have a solid grip of the first district and are favored to win again.

Completing the group of political Methuselahs is 82-year-old Toledo City Mayor John “Sonny” Osmeña, whose political career include stints as councilor and vice mayor of Cebu City, congressman representing the old second district and later, the reconfigured 3rd district, senator and mayor.

Osmeña was 27 when he was elected Cebu City councilor in 1963 under the ticket of his uncle Sergio Jr., father of Cebu City Mayor Tomas. He has survived many political controversies, including a quarrel with his brother, former Cebu governor Lito, and is presently battling attempts to suspend him from office.

If, as expected, all three win again in 2019, it will add to their reputation as the most durable politicians in Cebu, outlasting others from their age bracket, who have either died or completely retired.


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