A descendant of Cebuano-Negrense-Ilongo parentage, Senator Sergio “Serge” de la Rama Osmeña III was born in Manila on 13 December 1943. He finished his elementary studies at De la Salle College, Manila, and his secondary studies at Beaumont College, Berkshire, England. He studied in several educational institutions, notably: University of San Carlos, UP Los Baños, Harvard University, and Georgetown University.
In his youth in the early 1970s, he was noticed to be sympathetic to the causes espoused by the leading opposition senators Lorenzo Tañada, Jose W. Diokno, and Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. A son of former Senator Sergio Osmeña Jr., the main opponent of President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1969 presidential election, and a grandson of former President Sergio Osmeña, Sr., Serge Osmeña III was arrested by the military and detained in Fort Bonifacio in 1972, together with the late Eugenio “Gene” Lopez, Jr. whose broadcasting company ABS-CBN was relatively liberal to the critics of the Marcos regime. He and Gene Lopez daringly staged a hunger strike in 1974 – in protest against the abuses by the military and the harassment and detention of innocent countrymen. In 1977, the two of them dug a tunnel and executed a bold, successful escape from their maximum security cell. A car surreptitiously hustled them to Dagupan airport from where they flew to Hong Kong, then to the United States.
During his exile, Serge Osmeña continued his political activity by serving as the director for Movement for a Free Philippines, and the founding director of JAJA or Justice for Aquino Justice for All movement. He returned to the Philippines after the EDSA People Power that toppled down the Marcos dictatorial regime, and became active as director in several corporations such as the Philippine National Bank, San Miguel Corporation, Micrologic Systems, Telecommunications Holdings, and Pacific CATV.
In response to President Fidel Ramos’ invitation, Serge Osmeña III ran for senator in 1995 under the Lakas-Laban ticket and won. In 2001, he was one of the senators who voted for the opening of the second bank envelope during the impeachment case against President Joseph Estrada. The defeat of the motion led to the EDSA People Power 2. In the same year, he ran for re-election as independent under the People Power Coalition, and again won. His second term ended in 2007, but in 2010, running again as an independent but supporting then Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. for the presidency, he was re-elected as a senator for a third term.
Senator Serge Osmeña distinguished himself as an able, intelligent, dedicated, and prolific legislator since the early years of his first term. He was voted the “Most Outstanding Freshman Legislator” by the Philippine Free Press in 1995. The past Congresses show that he authored the most number of bills in the Senate, and that he chaired almost half of the chamber’s 36 committees that include Economic Affairs, Agrarian Reform, Trade and Commerce, Agriculture and Food, Banks, Financial Institution and Currencies. Some of almost seventy bills he authored and have passed into law include the Securities Regulation Code, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Government Procurement Act, Absentee Voting Law, and the Regional Headquarters for Multi-National Companies Act. Also, some of the 55 other laws he co-authored include the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Safeguards Measures Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.
Highly respected as the Senate’s independent and fearless fiscalizer, Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III has been recognized for his numerous exposés on graft and corruption that included the anomalous PIATCO, Tiwi-Makban, IMPSA-CBK, Marconi and Casecnan deals, as well as some of those that occurred during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. (Roger Mangahas)