FAREWELL, Lone Ranger.
Current and former senators yesterday bid goodbye to Sen. John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña in a hybrid necrological service that was held at the Senate, which the lawmaker served for 15 years.
The necrological service was attended by Osmeña’s son, John Henry Gregory, other family members, friends and colleagues.
In his eulogy, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he had the chance of working with Osmeña at the Senate during the 9th, 11th, and 12th Congresses and knew him to be a “great leader in his own right.”
“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. Truly, a man of conviction,” Sotto said.
Osmeña, according to the Senate President, was also popular for his strong stance against corruption as shown in the investigations which he conducted lawmaker on several government anomalous transactions “which led to the resignation of some public officials involved.”
A “simple man with no airs at all” despite him being a member of the prominent Osmeña family of Cebu, Sotto said : “An Osmeña may pass on and physically leave this earthly world, but their significant contributions in building our nation will forever remain…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.”
He added: “I could liken his wit to that of his contemporaries like former Senators (Ernesto) Maceda, (Jovito) Salonga, (Heherson) Alvarez, just to name a few. For that reason, it is not doubt that Senator Sonny Osmeña served as a senator with distinction.”
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said Osmeña was one of the highly-respected and “colorful personalities” in Philippine politics.
Drilon said Osmeña was a reform-minded lawmaker who authored and co-authored several laws, such as the creation of the Department of Energy, the Mini-Hydroelectric Program, the Electric Power Crisis Act, the Build-Operate Law, and the Public Telecommunications Act, among others.
“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.
Former Sen. Anna Dominque “Nikki” Coseteng said the Cebuano lawmaker left “a wealth of friends, experiences, lessons in politics, legislative accomplishments, expert grasp of reality, and outlook on life as I think should be, but perhaps isn’t or couldn’t be.”
“How does one say goodbye, bid farewell, to someone who seemed immortal and whose voice and laughter will always resonate in all manners and forms to those who know and knew and loved him? How does one say goodbye to someone like Sonny who seemed like he was going to live forever? Indeed, he had been through a lot in his time. Sonny worked hard, fought hard, and played hard,” Coseteng said.
Sotto presented Senate Resolution No. 85 to the former senator’s son, John Henry Gregory, which expressed the Senate’s profound sympathy and condolences on the death of his father.
John Henry Gregory thanked the Senate 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 he said was the pinnacle of his political career and the venue from which he felt he could do the best and have the greatest impact.
Osmeña passed away at the age of 86 in his house in Cebu last February 2. The family has yet to disclose the cause of death. He was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer in July 2019 and underwent chemotherapy. He tested positive for COVID-19 on June last year and was able to recover.
He is a grandson of the late President Sergio Osmeña Sr., a brother of former Cebu Gov. Emilio “Lito” Osmeña and a cousin to former Sen. Serge Osmeña and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
His political career started in 1963 when he was elected Cebu City councilor. The following year, he was elected Cebu City vice mayor, before getting elected to the House of Representatives in 1969. He became a senator in 1971 to 1972, 1987 to 1995, and 1998 to 2004.
In 1986, Osmeña was appointed officer-in-charge mayor of Cebu City. In 1995, he was elected representative of Cebu’s third district. He was Toledo City mayor from 2013 to 2019.