Former governor Rene Espina: 1929-2019
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - September 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Former governor Rene Espina: 1929-2019

This year, we have been very active in writing articles about cleaning up our esteros and rivers. I even went to Manila Bay back in January to be part of the first phase in the massive cleanup of the bay. Here in Cebu, we have also demanded that the time has come for us to begin cleaning up where our creeks, rivers or sidewalks are already clogged due to filth.

Mind you, I was really touched that Barangay Captain Lourdes Ramirez showed on her Facebook page how she cleaned up Zamora St. which was blackened by filth. She did so because no one ordered her to do so, but she wanted to clean up her surroundings. Also on Facebook, I saw Mayor Edgardo Labella shaking hands with Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes at Mahiga River, together with the volunteers from Cebu City and Mandaue City. The were cleaning up the Mahiga with gusto simply because it is high time for us Filipinos to show to the world that we, as a nation, are clean people and, as Christians, we believe that cleanliness is next to godliness.

So tonight we have Dann Diez, executive director for Speed4com; Andy Berame, convenor of Subasurero; and Roderick Taga-an, CENRO Lapu-Lapu City on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8:00PM with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel.

We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9:00PM Monday and at 7:00AM and 9:00PM on Wednesday and Friday.

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I would like to pay tribute to Cebuano politician, former governor Jesus Marino “Rene” Gandiongco Espina, who due to his being governor of Cebu in 1963-1969 when I was still in high school has been nearly forgotten by many Cebuanos, especially the millennials.

He was also secretary of the Public Works, Transportation and Communication and later a senator in the 7th Congress (1970-1973) when the senators then were truly representative of the Filipino people. He was also appointed Social Security System (SSS) chairman by then president Diosdado Macapagal (1962-1963).

Now ask yourself, how many Cebuanos held so many top-ranked position in the Philippine government?

I still recall that Espina defeated Kikoy Remotique for Governor of Cebu way back in 1963. From being a Nacionalita Party bet, he switched to the Liberal Party and won over Priscilliano “Presing” Almendras. When Pres. Marcos appointed him as secretary of the Public Works and a member of the Cabinet, it was then that the plans for setting up the first bridge to cross the Mactan Channel from Mandaue to Lapu-Lapu City became a reality. He was on top of the construction of the first bridge until it was finished. He also oversaw Congress when Pres. Marcos dissolved it after declaring Martial Law in September 1972.

When I began writing my columns in The Philippine Star and The Freeman, Rene Espina would talk to me at the Cebu Country Club (CCC) when I think he was also a columnist for the Manila Bulletin. He was just amazed that a Cebuano based in Cebu wrote for the country’s top newspaper. Then in May 29, 2017, I interviewed him on my talkshow Straight from the Sky and I learned that he was the author of the first anti-drug law dubbed Republic Act no.6425, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. It’s a law that executed a Chinese drug lord by firing squad. Today, this anti-drug law has been the main project of the current administration of Pres. Duterte, which our political opposition has reported to the European Union (EU) that 20,000 people have been killed, which is farthest from the truth.

My condolences to the family of former Gov. Rene Espina, especially to Erik who is my talkshow host in MyTV with his show Republika and to Mari, his eldest son. While Rene Espina held so many positions in government, his name has never been linked to any corruption issues, which is why I salute the man and I will always miss those days when we talked and had coffee. He died at the age of 89-years old due to complications of his kidney disease. His being too old prevents doctors from offering a kidney transplant so he had to undergo dialysis. May we request our pious readers to please pray for the repose of his soul.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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