Current and former senators on Thursday paid tribute to former Sen. John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña during the hybrid necrological service held at the Senate remembering his achievements as a public servant.
Osmeña was accorded arrival honors led by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, the family of the former senator and Senate officials.
Sotto presented Senate Resolution No. 85 to the son of the former senator, John Henry Gregory, expressing the Senate’s profound sympathy and condolences on the death of his father who passed away last month at the age of 86.
“I have known him, as well as by others, as a ‘lone ranger’ because of his independent-mindedness and fearless stance even if the odds were not in his favor. If he took a stand, he holds on to it no matter what,” Sotto said in his eulogy.
The Senate President said he is fortunate to have worked with Osmeña during the 9th, 11th and 12th Congresses, from 1992 to 1995, and 1998 to 2004 and witnessed a senator who was fearless as proven by his strong stance against corruption through his initiative in conducting investigations on several anomalous transactions in government.
As a legislator, Sotto added, Osmeña is famous for development-oriented bills, such as the Municipal Telephone Act (Republic Act 6849), the Mini-Hydroelectric Program (RA 7156), the Public Telecommunications Act of 1995 (RA 7925), and the creation of the Philippine Postal Corporation (RA 7354).
Osmeña likewise authored the amended Build-Operate-and-Transfer Law (RA 7718), which is a landmark measure and the Electric Power Crisis Act (RA 7648) and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2000 or EPIRA.
“On behalf of the Senate and the Filipino people, we thank you and we will remember you for the good man that you were, and the inspiration that you have become for the Filipino youth and the generations to come. Your legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the people, and your name will forever be etched in our country’s rich history,” Sotto said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the late senator as one of the highly respected and colorful personalities in Philippine politics.
Drilon said he is proud and honored to have worked with Osmeña and to have witnessed, countless times, how the latter worked and pushed for measures that were close to his heart.
“Sonny Osmeña was an ultimate politician, a colorful personality, a realist, and a reformer. But as colorful as his political life was, he chose to leave quietly when he peacefully died in his sleep. Farewell ‘Lone Ranger’, you will always live in the hearts of the Filipino people who you served well,” Drilon said in his eulogy.
Former Sen. Nikki Coseteng, who had worked with Osmena during the 9th and 11th Congress, remembered the late senator as someone who provided her the much needed reassurance about her own view in life.
“There was youth and dynamism in the way he thinks, how he analyze and explain things and in his overall outlook. It was always a happy and fruitful experience talking to him,” Coseteng said.
Osmeña, Coseteng said, had a clearer view of how things are, how things should be and how they could be.
“I learned from him that indeed answering questions, from those who want to learn, is a golden opportunity to add to another’s knowledge and should be taken as a fortune experience,” she added.
I his response, the younger Osmeña thanked the Senate and its members, particularly the Senate President and his staff as well as Drilon and Coseteng for honoring his father.
“This august body’s decision to honor my father with this necrological service brings us comfort in a time of loss. Reminding us that former Sen. John Osmeña will be missed by more than just his Cebuano family. That he touched lives on a national scale and that his accomplishments will live on,” he said.
He noted that his father loved his time in the Senate which was the pinnacle of his political career and the venue from which he felt he could do the best and have the greatest impact.
As a senator, Osmeña served as Senate President Pro-Tempore (1996-2000), and as chairman of the Committees on Finance, Energy, and Government Corporation and Public Enterprises.
Osmeña also founded and organized the “Samahan Laban sa Graft (SALAG)” and spearheaded the Senate investigations of many irregular and anomalous government transactions, including the so-called Petroscam, and those involving the Philippine Airlines and the Philippine Ports Authority, among others. His exposes have led to the resignation of corrupt government officials.
A third generation member of the famous Osmeña political clan of Cebu, he started out as Cebu City Councilor in 1963, became the Vice Mayor of the same city in 1968 and was elected to the House of Representatives representing the 2nd District the year after.