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Opinion

The Garcias: Today's strongest political force in Cebu

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The Osmeñas are a vanishing political clan. Sonny and Lito are both dead. Serge is out of politics. Tom is silent after Margot's loss to Mike Rama. There are no anointed successors. The Duranos had been vanquished by Governor Gwen and Congressman Duke Frasco. Tony Cuenco also left, together with Raul del Mar and Benhur Salimbangon. My old ninong, Eddie Gullas, has retired from politics happily with grandsons taking over. The Radazas were torpedoed by the Chans in Lapu-lapu City. The Ouanos seem to limit their fiefdom in Mandaue. Only the Garcias and the Ramas remain standing and ready to do battle.

Cebu is now looking at the Garcias as the new political titans. There are no more Sottos, Rodriguezes, Osmeñas, Cuencos, or even Duranos. The Garcias are now the strongest political family in Cebu. Malacañang has to reckon with the Garcias if the president wants things to happen in this part of the country. If we shall have a future senator or Cabinet member, it will most probably be from the Garcia Family. Winston can be a good secretary of finance or trade, and Governor Gwen can be the next senator, once mayor Christina Frasco or her husband, Duke, is ready to take over the Capitol. Raymond is a future mayor or congressman, and many other younger Garcias are waiting in the wings.

You may not know this, but the Garcias are the only politicians with two towns of origin; Barili and Dumanjug. The joke was that their house is right on the boundary of the seventh and the third districts; the sala is in the 7th District and the bedroom in the 3rd District. That is why any Garcia can run in either or both districts. There was a time when the late Marlon was the mayor of Barili and the late Nelson was the mayor of Dumanjug. Manang Gwen was governor and Pablo John is the unquestioned political kingpin in the 3rd District. Winston was head of the GSIS.

There was a time the late Noy Pabling (that is our term of endearment for he was a distant cousin of my late father from the Paras side in Dumanjug and Barili) was the congressman representing the undivided 2nd District comprising 15 towns from Argao to Dumanjug. But he was defeated by a young farmer from Argao, Willy Caminero, who is term limited, and tried to go back as mayor of Argao. But he was defeated by incumbent Allan Sesaldo who was supported by One Cebu of the Garcias.

In the 1930s prior to World War II, there were two brilliant young boys and students from Bitoon, Dumanjug, who emerged as the brightest stars in the south. The elder was Jesus and the younger was Pablo. They had to walk from Bitoon to the poblacion every school day to study in the town's only complete elementary school by then. Today, both Noy Jesus and Noy Pabling are no longer with us. But Noy Jesus left SunStar as his legacy, and his sons which include former Transportation secretary, Jesus B. Garcia, Jr., former mayor Alvin, and grandson Raymond, the newly-elected vice mayor. Noy Pabling has more successors including Governor Gwen, deputy speaker PJ, and Christina, the trusted spokeswoman of the new vice president.

The Garcias are brilliant lawyers, most of whom were Bar topnotchers, like Noy Jesus, Noy Pabling, and Pablo John. Noy Jesus was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1973, together with retired chief justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., the father of the vice governor. Noy Pabling, to me, was the best trial lawyer. I saw him in legal combat. He could make the most hardened criminal confess in open court by his cross-examination skills. I look forward to seeing the Garcias rise even higher in the Philippine political arena. They are the best and the brightest. No other clan now can hold a candle before the Garcias today. I am going to drink to that wish and I do hope for the best for the Garcias.

POLITICS

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