FORMER senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña criticized his cousin Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña for two reasons—honoring President Arroyo with an award and for “deceptively” inviting people to a Liberal Party (LP) rally.

“Tommy should apologize to the people of Cebu for making such a bad mistake, for awarding President Arroyo, the personification of corruption in this country,” Sonny said in a press conference yesterday.

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He was referring to Cebu City Government’s awarding of the Order of Rajah Humabon to Arroyo during the Charter Day celebration last Wednesday.

Sonny said that it is confusing because while Cebu City officials are running a “Good versus Evil” campaign, they have awarded an “evil.”

But Tomas yesterday defended the City’s conferment of the highest award to Arroyo, saying she has done for Cebu City what no other president cared to do.

Following former Sonny’s attack on the president, Tomas reminded the Cebuanos of Arroyo’s contributions to the city.

He told reporters that the award is his way of reminding Cebuanos that “whatever you feel about her, this is what she did for us.”

The mayor also enumerated several reasons why Sonny would not win as mayor in any precinct, and why the City should have given him a “kalabasa” award for the damage he has done to Cebu City.

Tomas said, however, that he would not bother giving him a “kalabasa” since it would only draw attention to his cousin.

“(We gave the award) for a very specific action that we all should recognize whatever your opinion is of her.

The fact is that she did three things for Cebu that no president

would do for us. She took her oath of office here and we feel greatly honored by that. No matter what you feel about her, we should at least make that point,” he said.

Aside from taking her oath of office in Cebu City in 2004, the City also recognized Arroyo for setting up the Malacañang sa Sugbo, the only presidential residence outside Manila, and for choosing to hold the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Summit here in 2007.

He also reminded Cebuanos that Sonny “killed” the proposed circumferential road that was planned to traverse the City’s mountain barangays, which he said would have been completed by now if Sonny did not ruin Cebu’s reputation before funding agencies in Japan.

Sonny also blocked the construction of the Mactan Cebu International Airport, the mayor said, and wanted to take over the South Road Properties by filling up Pond A with an overprice of P700 million.

That the internal revenue allotment share of all barangays and cities was cut by 15 percent should also be blamed on Sonny, who reduced their share when he was chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said Tomas.

“And these are not imagined things, these are actual things... No more. He just likes the attention, he doesn’t deserve it. He won’t even win in his precinct like he never won in his precinct last election. I’d like to remind the people the damage he has caused us,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sonny also questioned the LP rally scheduled for today, saying it is not an LP rally but a Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) rally.

“It is deceptive,” said Sonny, assuming that Tomas is trying to do so to gather a lot of supporters.

When asked if he is joining the rally when he is supporting LP candidates Sens. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Sonny said no.

“No, I’m not going. I wasn’t invited because I’m not BOPK,” said Sonny.

Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district), who happened to be at the Casino Español yesterday where Sonny had a press conference, denied the BOPK deceived the people with the invitation, explaining that it is an LP proclamation rally organized by BOPK.

While an Aquino supporter, Sonny also cautioned the presidential bet from relying too much on a cause-oriented group running the campaign.

The campaign should have been left to the politicians, he said.

“I refer to these people as the legion of the unelected and the unelectable, said Sonny.

But when asked if Aquino’s campaign is meant to veer away from traditional politics, Sonny explained, “If you get sick, you go to a doctor. If a car breaks down, go to a mechanic. Now you want to run for president and depend on people who don’t know anything about politics?”

Sonny is still officially a candidate for Cebu City mayor but has stopped campaigning.

He said, though, that he will resume his campaign if mayoral candidate Alvin Garcia gets disqualified.

As of now, Sonny said he does not want to break the opposition vote between him and Garcia because BOPK’s Michael Rama, Garcia and himself are the only mayoral candidates he is considering as legitimate runners.

He did not acknowledge the candidacy of Georgia Osmeña but said that he loves his cousin. (JGA/LCR)