Antonio Veloso Cuenco, the crusader
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - July 8, 2020 - 12:00am

He was born to a political clan, his father, Dr. Manuel Alesna Cuenco, served as post-war governor of Cebu. His grandfather, Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, was appointed Cebu City mayor, governor of Cebu, congressman of the old 5th Congressional District, and holds the record as the first Cebuano Senate president.

Antonio, nicknamed “Tony”, finished elementary at the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos and his high school at the Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan). He earned his pre-law and Law degree at the Ateneo de Manila (admitted to the Bar on January 27, 1961). In 1964 he ran and won as congressman in the old 5th Congressional District (after his grand-uncle, Rep. Miguel Cuenco gave way in his favor).

Antonio, a born crusader, fought for the nation’s freedom against the martial law of then president Marcos in the 1970s via the armament of radio broadcasting in his program “Salamin”, for which he would be arrested three times (he was station manager and radio jockey of dySS before he joined politics).

He became the first and truest friend of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and introduced the Cebuanos to him and his wife, Cory, who became president after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. It was Tony Cuenco and his wife Nancy Roa (elected congresswoman in the South District in 1998), who protected and brought Cory to safety at the Carmelite Monastery when the revolution started.

He was appointed by President Corazon Aquino as Political Affairs Minister (in 1984 he was elected Assemblyman together with Marcelo Fernan in the Regular Batasang Pambansa) and was elected in 1987 as Cebu City South District’s the first congressman. He held the position as speaker pro tempore. He was instrumental in the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991.

As chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, he championed the passage of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). He became the country’s bravest anti-drug crusader. Undaunted by the words of cynics, he led in the extradition of the financier of the mega shabu laboratory (dismantled on September 24, 2004) from Hong Kong to the Philippines. Proving them wrong, he personally brought in the financier, the only successful extradition in a drug case in Asia. For his gallant effort he was conferred the Congressional Plaque of Recognition in 2005 together with Congressman Roque Ablan Jr., Dean Ernesto L. Pineda, Col. Amado E. Marquez Jr., Sec. Raul Gonzalez, Atty. Jose Calida (now solicitor general) and Atty. Clarence Paul V. Oaminal.

Tony Cuenco, the crusader, was born on March 26, 1936 and died on June 27, 2020.

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