Malilong: Senator Christina

·3 min read

Sometime last year, a couple of radio blocktimers broached the idea of a Senate run for Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia but she promptly shut them off, dismissing the suggestion as part of an ill-disguised attempt to take her away from provincial politics and wrest control of the Capitol.

Motive aside, the proposal was a good idea, addressing a need that has remained unattended for six years. We haven’t had a Cebuano senator since Serge Osmeña in 2016 and he did not even live in Cebu. The drought is certain to extend to 2025 since no Cebuano ran for senator last May.

We had a wealth of Cebuanos in the history of the Senate, dating back to the Commonwealth when Sergio Osmeña Sr. was the President Pro Tempore, a position that another Cebuano, Manuel Briones, would also hold later in the Third Congress of the Republic.

The First Congress of the Republic had three Cebuano senators in Vicente Rama (Mayor Mike’s grandfather, and also a member of the last Commonwealth Senate), Mariano Jesus Cuenco and Vicente Sotto. The record was replicated in 1970 by Sergio Osmeña Jr., his nephew John Henry Osmeña, and Rene Espina and in 1998 by Marcelo Fernan, whom his peers had elected as Senate President, and the cousins John Henry (Sonny) and Sergio Osmeña III.

Considering that rich history, it is almost an anomaly that we have not been able to elect one from among our ranks for some time now, especially since we are supposed to be the largest provincial voting bloc in the country. The last time a Cebuano won a Senate seat was more than a decade ago by Serge Osmeña, who would, however, fail in his reelection bid in 2016 and again lose in 2019. That begged the question: where were the Cebuano votes?

Maybe, they’re waiting for the Cebuano leader who could inspire, excite and unite them. Governor Garcia could have been that; she had routed her opponents in two successive elections. But she’s reluctant to leave the Capitol and in 2025, she is eligible to seek one more three-year term. The search has to go on.

Or does it? Try Christina Garcia Frasco, the governor’s daughter, a congressman’s wife, the mayor of Liloan, the vice president-elect’s spokesperson during the campaign period and incoming Secretary of Tourism. She is qualified, she has the temperament, and she can win.

Unlike some sitting and incoming senators whose only relationship with the law is their having had brushes with it, Frasco studied it and has a diploma from the Ateneo de Manila University College of Law and a Certificate of Admission to the Bar from the Supreme Court to show for it. She won’t shy away from an honest debate, would definitely not ask that it be done in Tagalog and wouldn’t need the assistance of counsel.

Vice President-elect Sara Duterte’s choice of Frasco as spokesperson during the campaign initially raised some eyebrows because of the distance between them and the Liloan mayor’s lack of experience in the field, but it turned out to be an inspired choice. Frasco carried her assignment with aplomb. Her language was always clear and respectful. This temperament will serve her well.

Membership in the Cabinet provides the platform that would enhance the incoming tourism secretary’s national exposure. If she does well and with three million Cebuano voters led by her governor mother, and Vice President-elect Duterte’s political clout in the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao behind her, a Senate seat is hers to take. 2025, here we come!

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