Who’s afraid of Serge Osmeña? I am, says UNA’s Tiangco
There’s the PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) “X factor” and then there’s the “Serge factor.”
That’s Sen. Serge Osmeña, whose quiet presence energizes the campaign of some candidates on the administration’s Team PNoy ticket, and gives the campaign manager of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) goose bumps.
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said he got word that Osmeña, a veteran political campaigner, was working as a “campaign consultant” to select candidates on the administration team, among them Mary Grace Poe.
And that Osmeña is said to be reporting “only” to President Aquino has reminded Tiangco of the 2007 senatorial election, during which the senator served as a strategic planner for the Genuine Opposition (GO).
That’s when Tiangco said he saw firsthand the political savvy of Osmeña, the senator’s strengths when it came to reading electoral polls and actually delivering results.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Senator (Franklin) Drilon but you can quote me on this—Serge, I mean, he is what makes my job difficult,” Tiangco told the Inquirer in an interview.
“I don’t know how you would say it but I’m more concerned about Serge than Drilon,” Tiangco said.
Don’t look at Malacañang, it has nothing to do with Osmeña’s sideline, Palace officials say.
Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang said he believed a number of administration candidates had turned to Osmeña for campaign advice. That’s not surprising.
“But any arrangements they have with him are their own and are not [made] by the Palace or the campaign,” Carandang said.
Officials handling Team PNoy’s campaign know nothing either. But a Liberal Party member said he had heard from party insiders that Osmeña is helping Poe, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Risa Hontiveros, but that’s all.
Marikina Rep. Federico Romero Quimbo, Team PNoy spokesperson, declined to comment when told that Tiangco finds Osmeña heavier than Drilon.
Osmeña himself said: “Toby is being overly kind and his opinion of me is exaggerated. I am not involved with Team PNoy. I have been advising a handful of candidates who asked for advice. My role is minimal in this campaign.”
But Tiangco can’t sit tight.
Though admittedly facing a campaign heavyweight in Drilon, his counterpart on Team PNoy, Tiangco said he was “wary” of what he called the “Serge factor.”
He said it had to do mainly with the senator’s “scientific way of looking at surveys, learning the political demand, delivering the message to the people.”
“He knows his politics,” Tiangco, 45, said, recalling the time when he was a volunteer in the GO senatorial campaign and observing how Osmeña worked.
The Osmeña legend is known to a key member of Team PNoy’s campaign. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the administration insider said, “I hear his name but I have never seen him attend meetings.”
“I heard he is helping three candidates and his strength is with demographics and surveys,” the insider said.
Poe yesterday admitted being helped by Osmeña but said she was unsure if the senator was doing it “as a member of any particular coalition.”
“Yes, he is [helping me],” she said in a text message. “He is a great mentor and adviser. So glad and thankful he is helping me out. Plus, he’s kind and generous and helps neophytes like me.”