Sergio Osmeña III
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|Sergio R. Osmeña III|
Sergio Osmeña III leading a budget hearing of the Senate of the Philippines in October 2013
|Senator of the Philippines|
June 30, 2010
June 30, 1995 – June 30, 2007
December 13, 1943 |
|Political party||Independent (1997–1998; 2009–present)
Liberal Party (1998–2001)
|Relations||Bettina Mejia Lopez|
|Residence||Cebu City, Cebu
Makati City, Metro Manila
|Alma mater||University of San Carlos
University of the Philippines, Los Baños
Early life and career
Osmeña was born in Manila to Sergio "Serging" Osmeña, Jr. of Cebu and Lourdes de la Rama of Negros Occidental. He finished his elementary studies at De La Salle College. He studied his secondary studies at the St. Clement’s College in Iloilo, Ateneo de Manila and Beaumont College in Berkshire, England. Although he has never obtained a university degree, he studied in various educational institutions which include University of San Carlos, University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Harvard University, and Georgetown University.
Osmeña held business positions including:
- Assistant to President, Essel Incorporated, from 1967 to 1972
- Assistant to President, Cebu Autobus Company, from 1967 to 1972
- Assistant to President, De La Rama Steamship Co., Inc., from 1966 to 1972
- General Manager, LRO (Lourdes de la Rama Osmeña) Farms/ Hacienda Doña Pepang, from 1968 to 1972
- Chairman, Cebu Contracting Company, from 1968 to 1972
As a son of Marcos' political rival, Osmeña was imprisoned in 1972. In November 1974, he embarked on a hunger strike along with his cellmate -- ABS-CBN's Eugenio "Geny" Lopez, Jr. -- to protest the unjust detention of thousands of innocent Filipinos. This resulted in the release of 1,022 political prisoners in December 1974. Defiant to the very end, Osmeña and Lopez escaped from their maximum security prison cell in Fort Bonifacio in 1977. This exploit was enacted in the 1995 movie, Eskapo.
While in exile at the United States, Sergio Osmeña served as the Director for Movement for a Free Philippines. He was also the Founding Director of the Justice for Aquino Justice for All (JAJA) Movement.
After the removal of Marcos, Osmeña returned to the Philippines and held positions in business and government corporations in the 1990s. These include:
- Director, Pacific CATV, Incorporated, from 1994 to 1995
- Director, Telecommunications Holdings Corporation, from 1994 to 1995
- Chairman, Intervest Group, from 1994 to 1995
- Director, Micrologic Systems, Incorporated, from 1994 to 1995
- Director, Philippine National Bank from 1992 to 1995
- Director, San Miguel Corporation, from 1993 to 1995
In 1992, Osmena ran for Congressman in Cebu's Sixth District but lost.
In 1995, Osmeña was invited by President Fidel Ramos to join in the senatorial race under the Lakas-Laban ticket. He won in the elections and served his term as senator from 1995-2001. During that term he was asked to look for a new site of the Senate after the old Executive Building will be renovated for the National Museum. The Senate offices and session hall were transferred to the GSIS Building at the Financial Center in Pasay City.
In 1997, Osmeña bolted Lakas NUCD to be an independent senator. In 1998, he joined the Liberal Party. Osmeña succeeded Senator Edgardo J. Angara as Chair of the powerful Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM). As Chair, Osmeña tried to block the approval of the construction of the Casecnan and the San Roque dams having discovered gross discrepancies in the costs and benefits of the projects. It was Osmeña who pointed out that the government would be investing a ridiculous amount of more than P385,000 to irrigate an additional hectare of rice paddy. The expose led to the cancellation of the proposed Balog-Balog irrigation project.
In 2001, Osmeña was one of the senators who voted in favor of opening the second bank envelope for the impeachment case filed against Joseph Estrada. The motion was outnumbered, and it led to the second EDSA People Power Revolution. He ran as independent for the position of Senator under the People Power Coalition. He won in the elections and served his second term as senator from 2001-2007. Right after Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. was replaced by Senator Franklin Drilon as Senate President, he joined Pimentel's party PDP-Laban. His mandate as senator for the second term expired in 2007.
Running independent again in 2010 (although adopted by the Liberal Party and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino), Osmeña refused to participate in the sorties of his adoptive parties and opted instead to campaign all by himself. He graced radio programs and television interviews. Running on a shoe-string budget, Osmeña did not have the volume of posters and billboards of his opponents. He had television advertisements that to him would be more effective and more prudent to reach the electorate. Osmeña placed tenth and became a senator again for the third time.
Admiration and criticisms
Osmeña campaigned for justice for victims of toxic wastes at the former U.S. bases in Clark Air Base and Subic Bay. He has extended assistance to victims in the form of hospitalization and financial support. He has earned the respect of many for his exposes on graft and corruption, among others the anomalous IMPSA-CBK, PIATCO, Tiwi-Makban, Marconi and Casecnan contracts, saving billions of pesos for the Filipino people. During his first year in the Philippine Senate in 1995, he was already recognized by the Free Press magazine as "Most Outstanding Freshman Senator" for these exposes.
Osmeña was criticized for being close to the Lopez group. He is less vocal when issues are involved to its line of business which includes MERALCO, Maynilad Water Services, SkyCable, Manila North Tollways, and ABS-CBN.
He was also criticized being a political turncoat. He was initially part of Lakas-NUCD-UMDP in the early 1990s then transferred to the Liberal Party. He then joined the People Power Coalition in early 2001 and transferred to PDP-Laban in late 2001. His grandfather, Sergio Osmeña belongs to the Nacionalista Party while his father Sergio Osmeña Jr. was once a member of the Nacionalista Party but transferred to Liberal Party when he challenged Ferdinand Marcos in the 1969 presidential election.
Aligning himself with Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, the leading presidential candidate in the 2010 election, he refused to stand beside Ralph Recto whose advocacy on the EVat runs counter to his own.
Serge, as many people call him, is a farmer and businessman by training and was educated at Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of the Philippines. He is married to Isabel "Bettina" Mejia Lopez. He has six children.
Serge came from a family of senators. His grandfather Sergio Sr. served during the American colonial period. His father Sergio Jr. served in the 1960s. His cousin, John Henry served in the Senate from 1971–1972, 1987–1992, 1992–1995 and 1998-2004. His maternal grandfather, Esteban de la Rama of Negros Occidental was also a senator.
His nephew John Gregory served as Provincial Vice Governor of Cebu and his younger brother Tomas III is the Congressman of Cebu City's south district. Tommy was a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
He is the Chairman of the Aquaworld Corporation, which he held since 1992. While serving his initial term as senator he held a concurrent position as Director of San Miguel Brewery (HK), Ltd.
He was a member of the Philippine Jaycees, where he served as a senator in 1994. He founded Pundok Sugbuanon while he lived in Los Angeles from 1990 to 1992. He is one of the Directors of the ABS-CBN Bayan Microfinance Foundation, held since 1999, and the Lorenzo Tañada Foundation, held since 1998.