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Cebu mourns Senator Sonny’s death
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Former Senator and Toledo City Mayor Sonny Osmeña, 1935-2021.

The Cebu Provincial Government joins the Cebuanos in mourning over the passing of former Senator and Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Renner Osmeña.

Sonny, the grandson of Philippine President Sergio Osmeña, has been a real survivor, from surviving the Plaza Miranda bombing in the 1970s to beating the Covid-19 last year. However, the latter took a toll on his physical well-being.

According to his sister Annie Osmena-Aboitiz, Sonny passed away at 86 years old on February 2 at 2:45 pm in his residence at Maryville Condominium in Cebu City and was cremated immediately.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia extended her deepest sympathies to the bereaved family.

Putting their political difference aside, the governor and Sonny became good friends and allies when he was Mayor of Toledo City and she a Representative of the Third District of Cebu. “Pinangga ko ana niya even towards the end. He has visited me a few times in my residence in Pinamungajan,” the governor shared.

Sonny survived different controversies in his political career as he is known for his feisty and unpopular comments and stands on issues. But behind the feistiness, he has always looked after his close allies and took care of his friends.

Sonny’s outstanding political career spanned half a century. He started public service as councilor in Cebu City in 1963, and went on to become Vice Mayor five years later.

A year after, he represented the second district of Cebu in Congress up until 1971. He served as senator from 1971 to 1972, from 1987 to 1995, and from 1998 to 2004, and as a representative of Cebu’s third legislative district in 1995 to 1998.

Most remarkable of the laws he passed are the creation of the Department of Energy (Republic Act 7638), Build-to-Operate Act also known as Electric Power Crisis Act of 1993 (RA 7718), Public Telecommunications Act (RA 7925), Mini Hydroelectric Program (RA 7156), and the Municipal Telephone Act (RA 6849).

In the 70s, Sonny survived the Miranda bombing during a ‘miting de avance’ of the Liberal Party which killed 11 persons and wounded several others. 

Nevertheless, he was elected senator during that year landing number 3. But it was cut short as he sought exile in the United States when President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law.

In 1983, Sonny was the first political exile to have come home.

In 2019, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through chemotherapy sessions. In July 2020, he beat Covid-19 and was discharged from the hospital after a 20-day confinement.

His last stint in public service was as mayor of Toledo City in Cebu’s midwest from 2013 to 2019. (Eleanor Valeros)