‘Diaper politicians’

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“The discourse is actually triggered by the not-so-secret plan of one nonagenarian and three octogenarians to seek elective posts either for reelection or as comebacking politicians.”

There is an interesting discourse making the rounds in Cebu nowadays which, should it find its way into the pages of the proposed Philippine Constitution, will drastically alter the current political landscape of the country.

The object of the discourse that Cebuanos would like included in the proposed Constitution currently being hammered to enable a shift to the federal form of government is the banning of octogenarians from seeking elective posts in government and limiting septuagenarians to reelection only until they reach the age limit when they can’t seek any elective office anymore.

The discourse is actually triggered by the not-so-secret plan of one nonagenarian and three octogenarians to seek elective posts either for reelection or as comebacking politicians.

The lone nonagenarian, lawyer Pablo Garcia, 92, is staging a political comeback as representative of the second congressional district in Cebu Province. He held the post until his attempt to be reelected for a third term was foiled by the incumbent representative, Wilfredo Caminero, in the 2013 elections.

Garcia, the father of incumbent Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, whose district he represented in 1987 until 1995 (when he was elected and served as Cebu provincial governor for three consecutive terms), again threw his hat in the political ring by gunning for a congressional seat in 2007, representing Cebu’s Second District.

The next oldest, who is actually the incumbent Talisay city mayor, lawyer Eduardo R. Gullas, 87, plans to reclaim the congressional seat he held in 1992 till 2001 and 2004 to 2013. In between his three consecutive terms, he served as mayor of Talisay. When he sought the mayoralty post in 2013, his bid was thwarted by Johnny de los Reyes, whose bid for a second term was ironically scuttled by Gullas.

Gullas, who was elected to the pre-martial law Congress by interestingly beating the incumbent then, lawyer Antonio V. Cuenco, 82, another octogenarian seeking a congressional seat after being out of politics after his third and last term in 1998, was governor of Cebu for 10 years during the martial law years.

Gullas was also a member of the powerful executive committee, the super body provided for in the 1971 constitution tasked with assisting Marcos in his executive functions. In gunning for a congressional seat, Gullas intends to replace his grandson, Gerald Anthony, who is being groomed to replace him as mayor of Talisay.

Cuenco comes from a well-entrenched political clan in Cebu aside from the Osmenas and the Duranos. He is the son of former Gov. Manuel Cuenco and Milagros Veloso-Cuenco, the grandnephew of former Rep. Miguel Cuenco, of the old Fifth District of Cebu and the grandson of former Senate President Mariano Jesús Cuenco.

He is married to former Rep. Nancy Roa-Cuenco by whom he has four children: Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, former Cebu City Councilor Ronald Cuenco, Antonio Cuenco Jr. and Cynthia Cuenco-Dizon.

Joining the list of politicians some Cebuanos want barred from seeking any elective position is incumbent Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmena. At 82, Cebuanos seeking an overhaul of the country’s political landscape say, he is too old to be still in politics.

The Toledo city mayor is the grandson of former Philippine Commonwealth President Sergio Osmena Sr. and nephew of the late Sen. Sergio Osmena Jr., the presidential candidate who challenged, but lost to Marcos in 1969.

The common sentiment of those opposed to the political plans of the four politicians, who they derisively refer to as “diaper politicians,” is that they should give way to younger politicians who can do more than what they can on account of their deteriorating health condition.

But those opposed to the plans of said “diaper politicians” warn that should they ignore their clamor for their sense of patriotism by sacrificing their political ambitions at this very late stage of their political careers, then they will aggressively push the inclusion of a provision in the proposed Constitution crafted by that committee handpicked by the President to disqualify politicians in their 80s or above from running for any elective post.
The idea might appear weird, but it can be considered as having merit, too. Don’t you think so? (jelbacon@yahoo.com; jelbacoii@gmail.com)