CEBU CITY -- Cracks are surfacing in the relationship among allies of the Aquino administration in Cebu, amid reports a Liberal Party (LP) official publicly argued with one of their key local supporters.
Two sources privy to the meeting said that Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II had a “heated conversation” with Representative Tomas Osmeña last Monday night in a Banilad, Cebu City coffee shop.
“So, you want me out?” Osmeña (Cebu City, South) was overheard shouting at Roxas, while hitting the table with his palm.
As talk of the exchange circulated Tuesday, former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña announced he will not support lawyer Hilario Davide III if he runs for Cebu governor again in 2013.
In a press conference, Sonny said Davide failed to demand that the LP leadership compel the dismissal of district engineers and city treasurers who have abused their positions.
Signs of trouble in the local LP group surfaced less than a week after One Cebu, the dominant local political alliance, gathered six out of seven Cebuano district members of the House of Representatives in a show of unity.
Davide lost to One Cebu’s Governor Gwendolyn Garcia by over 95,000 votes in the May 2010 elections. The LP had appointed him as its head for Cebu Province in October 2009.
Congressman Osmeña, Davide’s ally in the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), downplayed Tuesday his cousin Sonny’s decision to withdraw support from Davide.
“Sonny is unpredictable and therefore unreliable,” Tomas said.
Tomas also refused to confirm what happened during his meeting with Roxas, reportedly at the Tinder Box in Banilad.
“It is none of your business,” he said when asked in a phone interview Tuesday. The congressman then cut the conversation short.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young, who was there during the meeting, said Osmeña and Roxas had a “heated conversation.”
“You know, it is part of a discussion. Sometimes it gets heated. Pero wala sila nag-away (They did not fight). Ni-raise ilang voice but dili tungod kay nag-away sila, excited lang (They raised their voices because they got excited, not because they were fighting),” he said.
Young declined to discuss in detail what the meeting was about, but confirmed that the 2013 elections -- including whom to field in the province -- came up.
Aside from Osmeña and Roxas, Young said those who attended their meeting, which lasted from 8 p.m. until 11:30 p.m., were Atty. Davide and “some other secret persons.”
Roxas has been LP national president since 2008.
Before he met with the group that night, a separate meeting was reportedly held in a private residence with other LP allies in Cebu, including former congressman Antonio Yapha and Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr.
In his press conference, Sonny Osmeña said he was dismayed when Davide told him he did not intend to demand from the administration the dismissal of some district engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and city treasurers.
The former senator and third-district congressman accused one of the district engineers of installing billboards attributing the construction of some roads to Representative Pablo Garcia, when he (Sonny) was the one who arranged for these projects.
“Junjun (Davide) is a very nice person, but the interest of the Cebuanos and the group cannot be served by the kind of person who does not demand,” Sonny said.
He added the LP has long been classified into two: a group of original LP allies and the LP-BOPK bloc that he refers to as the “bugok” liberals. He also announced he is again running for congressman of the third district, while his nephew Mimo will run for congressman of the first district.
He said it was agreed during a breakfast meeting Tuesday to consider five possible gubernatorial candidates to replace Davide.
The five are Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, Fr. Francisco Silva, Representative Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, 4th district), former tourism secretary Joseph Ace Durano and Representative Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Cebu Province, 6th district).
Except for Fr. Silva, however, four of those listed are allied with One Cebu.
Sonny Osmeña clarified he has nothing personal against Davide.
“It’s really a question of leadership and vision. Our leader must have the vision and the ability to lead. You must know where you are going and what you want to do,” he said.
Davide did not answer calls to his mobile phone. He also told dyLA radio he will not comment yet, because he would rather focus on arrangements for an uncle who died Tuesday. (EOB/With PDF/Sun.Star Cebu)