Tom says Cuenco lost support for House bid

Posted on September 9, 2012

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Former Cebu City congressman Antonio Cuenco (JUNJIE MENDOZA)

CEBU Cebu City Rep. Tomas Osmeña, who has been at odds with Antonio Cuenco since the 2010 election, said the former congressman made the right decision in backing out of a campaign because he knew he would lose a comeback election in 2013.

Osmeña claimed that more than half of 30 barangay captains of Cebu City’s city’s south district who earlier signed a petition asking Cuenco to run have withdrawn their support.

Only 12 barangay captains showed up for Cuenco’s birthday celebration last March 26, said Osmeña, adding that residents are still upset that Cuenco lobbied for splitting barangay Guadalupe.

The sudden withdrawal of the 80-year-old Cuenco, who said he suffered vertigo and was advised by doctors to stay away from stressful activities, dealt a blow to the PDP-Laban in Cebu.

He was supposed to be named the PDP Laban regional chairman and run for his old seat in the Cebu city south district.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, party president, arrived in Cebu City yesterday to find his party without a regional anchor and a candidate.

“We have to respect the decision of former congressman Tony Cuenco because he cited health reasons… Anyway we have sufficient time. We still have one month to prepare who will take his place.”

The most prominent PDP-Laban member in Cebu is a new recruit – Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who took her oath last May with Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay in Makati.

She is identified with the faction of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“However, she is ending her term… There is already an unstated coalition between One Cebu and PDP Laban,” said Primentel.

“Slowly the party is making its presence felt in Cebu.”

He administered the oath of Marlo Maamo as PDP-Laban’s bet for Cebu City’s north district.

“We have someone who has a local machinery joining the party,” he said.

Pimentel is a guest candidate in the Liberal party’s senatorial lineup.

Pimentel, who called Cuenco “Tito Tony”, said he respects the veteran politican’sdecision.Cuenco is one of the original stalwarts of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP-Laban) which fought the Marcos regime in the 1980s and convinced Ninooy Aquino to return from self-exile in the United States in 1983 to unite the opposition.

Pimentel said Councilor Jose Daluz III, who was endorsed as a substitute, is close to him since he’s the son of Inday Nita Daluz.

“Anyway, we at the PDP-Laban have a principle of decentralization to let the local council prepare and decide whom to support,” he added

Aristotle Batuhan, another south district congressional aspirant, said Cuenco was right in prioritizing his health over political plans.

“I wish him well on his retirement from politics,” said Batuhan who said he was still weighing plans to run himself and would announce plans “at the proper time.”

Renato “Junjun” Osmena Jr., nephew of Congressman Osmeña, said he was available in case Team Rama needs a replacement for Cuenco.

“I’d like everything to happen at the proper time and place and for the good of the people,” said Osmeña, a Pagcor satellite operations manager based in Parkmall, Mandaue City.

Meanwhile, Congressman Osmena said Cuenco had lost his base of support in the south district.

Even the Cabulaos of barangay Tisa who were loyal Cuenco supporters for years also withdrew their support, Osmeña added based on a meeting they had with Cuenco and Rama two weeks ago at the barangay Tisa hall.

Osmeña said barangay Councilor Eddie Cabulao told him about the five-hour meeting he and his wife barangay captain Tita Cabulao had with Cuenco and Rama who asked for their support.

Cabulao reportedly told Cuenco during their meeting that if they don’t support him, he will no longer have supporters left in barangay Tisa.

The group of businessman Jonathan Guardo in Tisa which used to attack Osmena now support the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK).

Osmeña also said Cuenco knows there are south district barangay captains who begrudge him for supporting the Guadalupe split.

He said Labangon barangay captain Victor Buendia risked being disenfranchised if the “yes” votes prevailed during the Guadalupe plebiscite.

“When you look at a situation like this, how will he (Cuenco) make up for that?,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña said he pities Councilor Daluz III who was turned into a “improvised substitute” to fill in the vacancy caused by Cuenco’s retirement from politics.

“Daluz and (even) Anabelle Rama are nothing but improvised substitutes because they can’t find anybody else (to run under their slate). Is this what you offer the Cebuanos? Panakip butas (last-minute band aids)? That is an insult to the Cebuanos,” the congressman said. /Doris C. Bongcac, Carmel Matus, Edison de los Angeles  

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