Malilong: Sen. Tommy Osmeña?

SOCIAL media went abuzz last week after a group that calls itself the Coalition ng Demokrasya circulated a list of its supposed senatorial candidates in next year’s elections. One of the names listed was that of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña. Among the others: incumbent Sen. Bam Aquino, losing LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and former senator Teofisto Guingona III.

The purported Senate slate, however, appears to be nothing more than a wish list drawn up by someone who is obviously not a fan of the current administration, as many of those in it have denied that they are interested in seeking a Senate seat, at least not next year, assuming that an election will be conducted by then. I expect Osmeña to issue his own denial, if he hasn’t done so yet.

Tommy is qualified as senator and is definitely several notches better prepared than many of the sitting ones. The Osmeña name also still rings a bell, the mayor’s brother Serge’s loss in 2016 notwithstanding. That defeat was a fluke, abetted by Serge’s perceived indifference (read overconfidence) during the campaign.

We haven’t had a Cebuano senator for a long time, counting Serge’s term because he spent more time in Western Visayas than in his family’s home province, and Tommy is one of a very few Cebuano politicians (former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. is another) who have the stature to be in the Senate. I am 99.9 percent sure, however, that neither will be a candidate for the Senate next year, the remaining .1 percent being reserved for a “miracle” to happen.

The “Coalition ng Demokrasya” report came on or about the same time that Vice President Leni Robredo publicly admitted that they’re not sure if the Liberal Party (LP) could field a complete 12-man ticket next year. The admission illustrates how desperately marginalized the once powerful LP has become since Roxas’s defeat in the hands of Rodrigo Duterte.

What is doubly tragic is that the LP’s wounds are mostly self-inflicted. Many, if not most, of its candidates won in the 2016 elections but the party lost them to PDP-Laban as soon as a Duterte presidency became imminent. The LP fell victim to a vicious cycle that it could have ended as soon as it ascended to power after, decades being side performers, in 2010.

This was the same thing I told the LP president, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan during a private gathering last year. The party wasted a golden chance to blaze a new trail towards principled politics when it brought into its fold the same group of opportunists who were Marcos’s men during the heydays of Ferdinand Marcos, turned Coryistas after Edsa and thereafter changed political colors every six years.

So while the LP is bleeding for takers for its ticket, the PDP-Laban is now confronted with the welcome problem of whom to choose from a huge field of aspirants. It has come to a point where PDP-Laban and Senate President Koko Pimentel had to draw up his own list of senatoriables to appease colleagues who were not included in House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s own list of nominees.

But this “sweet” problem will last only for as long as Duterte and the PDP-Laban are in power. As soon as a new administration takes over, their good days will be over as the same opportunist politicians will be all over themselves making a mad dash for the other side.

You can bet your last centavo on that.
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