Senator Osmeña’s (seeming) holier-than-thou attitude

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 19, 2010-I must “admire” Sen. Sergs Osmeña for his statesmanship. First of all, it was no mean feat seeing a senator running as an independent and winning with plenty to spare. With political butterflies now fluttering their wings in our midst, jumping from one political bandwagon to another, Sergs, I must say, is one rare, endangered political specie.He is not only a rarity. He is also an irony in this era of “balimbings” and “hunyango.”


But oops, that was until Thursday last week when, during a budget hearing of the Senate finance sub-committee’s hearing on the Apeco budget, he delivered a broadside against a colleague, my kababayan, Sen. Ed Angara over the issue of the ecozone.


Sergs has accused Edong of alleged conflict of interest involving his work as legislator and Apeco. He accused Angara of “lawyering” for Apeco during the hearing and allegedly serving as its chief executive officer. He went as far as saying that the Apeco board is being occupied by Angara’s Kamag-anak Inc., what with his sister, Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo as its vice chairman and his son, Congressman Sonny Angara as a member.


When asked about the idea of assailing a fellow senator, Sergs said he felt awkward about it but that if no one will speak out, “someone has to represent the minorities of Aurora.”


Of course, Edong was quick to the draw in defending his lawyering for Apeco. He said it was understandable because he was the principal author of the law that created the ecozone.


I must say that judging the two senators, Osmeña was a bit off-tangent with his remarks. But lest I be accused of having a “hometown decision” (Edong being my townmate), I would say Sergs did not straighten his facts and like the strident voices of those opposing Apeco, merely relied on the black propagandists to cast aspersions against Apeco and its proponents.


First of all, I think Sergs was being presumptuous and hypocritical in his remarks. Why? If the tables have been turned and an economic zone was created in Cebu under a law he himself authored, would he have not done the same thing? After all, charity begins at home and if Sergs says he would not do what Angara is doing, then he is not being true to himself and  is thus, obstructing development in his own home province.


Secondly, to accuse Angara of lawyering for Apeco is like saying you are not going to lobby for your own brainchild. Is there such a thing? I don’t think so and given the present political system of dispensing favors, Osmeña’s antics are not only unusual, it is also unthinkable.


If I were to give Senator Sergs a benefit of the doubt, I guess it’s possible he may exercise the option of not lawyering for Cebu. But only because Cebu – in the first place - is very much progressive today compared to Aurora which suffered from decades of government neglect because it is not as vote-rich as Cebu despite being the hometown of the late President Manuel Quezon and the Angaras. I remember that the Angaras, particularly the senator, were severely criticized by the people in Aurora in the past because of the bad road conditions and lack of adequate infrastructure.


Edong, when he was executive secretary during Erap’s abbreviated presidency, used to defend his purported apathy towards his home province and said he would ask Erap to provide funds for concreting of roads to Aurora on the last two years of his term. But the unexpected happened. Erap got booted out of Malacañang because of the jueteng-gate scandal and the rest is history.


When GMA took Erap’s place, Edong befriended his former vice presidential rival and managed to convince her to infuse funds to Aurora. In fairness to GMA, whose administration was dogged by numerous scandals, her prioritization of Aurora in terms of projects was perhaps the only bright spot in her unlamented administration where scams seem to be the rule rather than the exception.


Because of the GMA-Edong bonding, some P5 billion of projects was poured into Aurora over the last five years, making the province a promising center for business and tourism. GMA’s legacy was her having signed Republic Act 9490 which created Apeco.


But back to Sergs, I beg to offer an unsolicited advice. I suggest that he remove his coat-and-tie and fly by plane to Aurora, or travel by land, to personally see for himself the pace of development in the province. That way, he would come to appreciate why Edong was practically moving heaven and earth to secure funds for Apeco.


Adopting a holier-than-thou attitude is the least that Senator Sergs can do at this point. With the kind of indifference the province of Aurora suffered from past Malacañang occupants, save for GMA, perhaps his heart will melt at the sight of roads that still need to be paved and mouths still be to be fed in this God-forsaken part of the earth and maybe, just maybe, he will take it upon himself to adopt a “Big Brother” attitude by making Cebu province adopt Aurora and help in its march to development.


Lastly, if he is saying that no one will speak out against Apeco and someone has to represent the minorities of Aurora, then he is entirely missing the point. Isn’t it that majority rules and that the voices of the minority should be set aside for the sake of the greater good?            


By the way, what is this we heard that Sergs is supporting cause-oriented groups like Bayan Muna to earn “pogi” points? He is said to be backing up Walden Bello and company.

Just asking. (Jason de Asis)