“Lone Ranger”—that is the name John Henry R. Osmeña is also known for. This is because many people perceive him as a political personality with an independent frame of mind and firm stand on certain national issues despite the fact that his ideas may clash with what the majority believes in.

Reputed for causing the delay of the UP Modernization of the University of the Philippines, Osmeña, 72, has already served his fourth term in the Senate, which makes him the most senior member of the Philippine Senate in terms of the length of service and political experience. He lost, however, during the 2004 elections.

“Today’s politics is not based on ideas or ideology, or party discipline, party organization or political loyalty. It is based on opportunism. Whoever has the money has the clout. Since I have no resources, I have no clout,” said Sen. Osmeña in a Sunstar interview years ago.

But then despite this statement, he is now again running for senator under the Genuine Opposition banner. Anti-graft, rural electrification and alternative sources of energy—these are Osmeña’s focus and advocacy.

Osmeña also advocates a parliamentary system and federalism although according to him, none of these is yet popularly accepted. He favors the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement and Legal Separation or Annulment. He is also in favor of the New US Bases Treaty and Overseas Absentee Voting.

In the Senate, he is a known graft-buster. He is behind several Senate investigations on many anomalous government transactions such as the “Petroscam,” and those involving the Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine Airlines.

Osmeña was the one responsible for the creation of the Department of Energy in 1992. He has authored landmark bills such as the Electric Power Crisis Act, Build Operate Law, Act Creating the Cebu Water Sewerage Authority and Light Rail Transit Authority, Act Providing for the New Code on Local Government, Act Excluding Underage Marriages From Being Penalized Under the Revised Penal Code, Act Extending the Term of Baranggay Officials and Providing them Salaries, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2000 and many other bills on electricity, financing and those for the development of Cebu.

Osmeña is a third generation member of the famous Osmeña political clan of Cebu. Among his relatives who are also known politicians are his cousins Sergio Osmeña III who has also been in the Senate since 1995, Rogelio Osmeña who became a Councilor in Cebu City, Renato Osmeña who was the Vice mayor in Cebu in 1998-2004, his sibling Emilio Osmeña who also became governor of Cebu, his uncle Sergio Osmeña Jr. who was also elected to the House of Representatives in 1957 and eventually to the Senate, his son John Osmeña Jr. who also became Cebu’s Vice Governor and Provincial board member and of course, Sergio Osmeña Sr. who was one of the country’s former presidents.

Osmeña has also gone a long way in his political career. In 1963, he started out as Councilor of Cebu City and later on became the Vice Mayor in 1968. Eventually, he represented the 2nd District of Cebu in the House of Representatives in 1970. That year, he also became one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the country because of his performance and public service.

It was August 1971 when two grenades exploded at Plaza Miranda during the Miting De Avance of the Liberal Party which left several people wounded and killed. Sen. Osmeña’s legs were then badly injured but despite of this, he was elected to Senate. However, he went on exile in the United States during the Martial Law but he eventually returned to the country after the assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino to fight against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

In 1986, he became the Mayor of Cebu City then he was again elected to the House of Representatives to represent Cebu’s 3rd District. He once again became a Senator in 1987 up to 2004. Out of 375 sessions during the 11th and 12th Congress, Osmeña had 36 absences.

He is affiliated to the Philippine Jaycees, Rotary Club of West Cebu and Rotary Club of Ermita. He has shares in several business establishments and corporations such as the Atanak Holdings Inc., Pamplona Plantation Center, Pamplona Plantation Golf and Country Club, Pamplona Plantation Leisure Corp., Pueblo de Pamplona, Pamplona Plantation Co. Inc., MRO Development Corp. and Cebu College of Agriculture and Transportation Technology. He is also an owner of a ranch in Argao.

Osmeña was born in Cebu City on January 17, 1935 to Emilio Osmeña and Ma. Louisa Renner. He was married to Lucy Urgello but they are now divorced. Their son is John Gregory Jr. Osmeña took up mechanical engineering in the University of San Carlos and further studied in the University of the Philippines and International Social Development Institution in Holland. There, he took up Public Administration Program and Social and Community Development Course, respectively.—Anne Gelene Tobias

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