Tomas O belittles Cebu bloc, but One Cebu solons hopeful

05/20/10 - District representatives in Cebu City are willing to work with only two of the seven legislators in the province.

But outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, representative-elect in Cebu City south district, reiterated that he would not join the proposed Cebuano bloc in the House of Representatives because the new alliance would not be for the good of Cebu but aimed to protect his nemesis - Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

“It is for the political survival of Gwen Garcia. They think they have leverage in supporting a candidate for the House Speakership by voting as a bloc,” he said in a text message to CEBU DAILY NEWS.

He said he and Cutie del Mar, representative-elect in Cebu City north district only have one ally –presidential front-runner, Sen. Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP).

“We can help bridge the gap to only two of the seven and that is congressmen Red Durano (of Cebu City 5th district) and Luigi Quisumbing (of the 6th district),” he added.

“This is with the OK of the Liberal Party provincial chairman Junjun Davide. Mandaue LP Mayor Jonas Cortes also gave the green light,” he added.

Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu's 1st district came to the defense of the governor, saying he joined the alliance in order to protect Cebu and not an individual or family.

“I protect the interests of Cebu and the Cebuanos. That is paramount and that is non-negotiable. Not for any individual or group of individuals or family. No, for Cebu,” he said.

Gullas was one of the seven congressmen who attended the meeting called by Garcia on Monday night to discuss the possibility of forming a Cebu bloc to have a stronger voice in Congress.

Gullas said only he and Durano were the only congressmen who do not belong to Lakas-Kampi-CMD. The five others are with the administration party: Representatives Pablo Garcia, Pablo John Garcia, Benhur Salimbangon, Luis Gabriel Quisumbing and Arturo Radaza.

Gullas is with the Nacionalista Party. Durano belongs to the Nationalist People's Coalition.

Gullas said he left the dinner-meeting before 9 p.m. to attend the birthday party of a grandson.

But the governor asked them to unite for the good of Cebu, he added.

“Of course I said I am 1001 percent in favor of that. What is good for you, you can count Edigul in,” Gullas told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

But he also told them of his constraints: in the event that the stand of the Cebu congressmen would contradict with the stand of NP, he would have to abide by the party.

Asked what was Garcia's response, he replied: “She knew I would say because I am very candid, frank and forthright in my dealings with them.”

Among the issues that he would have to take the party stand is the selection of House speakership.

Gullas said he gave his commitment to Quezon City representative-elect Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte that he would support the outgoing Quezon City mayor should the latter run for Speaker.

He said he would have to beg off from his commitment to Belmonte if President Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo would run for speaker and if he would not be going against the party’s decision.

Gullas said his gut feel is that Arroyo, who was elected Pampanga representative, would not vie for the speakership but would just put up a candidate.

He said he has been close friends with Belmonte even before they were in politics since both were with Jaycees.

During the 11th Congress, Gullas was majority floor leader while Belmonte was minority floor leader.

Gullas said he was also expecting NP head Sen. Manny Villar to call for a meeting in order to get the consensus of NP members in the House on the choice of Speaker.

But Gullas said there are Cebu agenda that they can push regardless of party affiliation.

These include his two bills in Congress – establishing the Light Rail Transport in Cebu and the creating an economic development zone for the entire province of Cebu.

One Cebu congressmen are still open to include him in their blo despite the harsh words he hurled against the Garcias, said One Cebu Party spokesperson Rory John Sepulveda.

Sepulveda said Osmeña might have “missed the point” of what the Cebuano bloc in Congress would be for. He said it was not about political alliance but a united working relationship to press for the interests of Cebuanos at the House.

“Hopefully, he will consider. Hopefully he will understand and be one of us in promoting the interests of Cebu,” said Sepulveda yesterday in reaction to Osmeña's statement published in Cebu Daily News. “All Cebuano congressmen should be one in promoting Cebu's interest. Why is he so allergic with the word interest?”

Sepulveda said the grouping transcends political affiliations. “We do not wish to be politically allied with him (Osmeña).

The grouping, he said, was also to strengthen Cebu's voice in lobbying for budgets for projects such as the mass transport system, water, power, as well as telecommunications programs.

“He should try for once, to transcend beyond petty politics,” Sepulveda stressed. (CDN)

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