MANILA - Former Senator Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III on Wednesday said his health could withstand his quest to return to the Senate in May's midterm polls but revealed that his campaign kitty is not yet sufficient.
Osmeña, 75, said he toured 14 provinces and towns in the last 2 weeks.
"Kayang-kaya," he told ABS-CBN News when asked if he could handle the grueling 90-day campaign period that started Tuesday.
The independent candidate said he set aside P5 million for his campaign but added this was not enough.
"Hindi pa sapat sapagkat hindi pa dumarating iyung mga donations," he said.
(This is not yet sufficient because the donations have yet to arrive.)
Despite this, the veteran lawmaker said he was not soliciting support from any political party. He also ran as an independent candidate during the 2001, 2010 and 2016 elections.
Osmeña said President Rodrigo Duterte has not reached out to endorse his candidacy, but that it would be bad not to accept any offer of support from the Chief Executive.
OPPOSING FUEL TAX HIKE, CALLS FOR AID FOR FARMERS
Despite this, Osmeña rejected the fuel excise tax increase backed by the Duterte administration.
Fuel price hikes, he said, prompts increases in consumer prices because diesel powers the transport of goods from farms to the marketplace.
The government should instead impose additional taxes on alcohol and tobacco, he said.
Osmeña also urged the government to use taxes on rice imports to fund the mechanization of local agriculture and distribute certified seeds and subsidized fertilizers to farmers.
Certified seeds can increase rice harvest to 6 tons per hectare from the current 4 tons, thus bringing down the cost of production, said the senatorial candidate.
Lower costs for local production could slash the need to import rice, he added.
DOUBTS ON POLITICAL DYNASTY FIGHT
Osmeña, during the interview, also expressed doubts that Congress could pass a proposed law banning political dynasties.
Similar measures, he said, were approved by the Senate thrice, only to be steamrolled by the House of Representatives.
"Ayaw talaga ng House (The House really opposes it)... As long as you have the same congressmen, [it's] hopeless," he said.
Osmeña ranked 8th to 13th among the possible winners of the Senate race in an opinion poll released by Pulse Asia last month.
He lost in the 2016 senatorial race, placing 14th as he blamed allegedly "widespread" cheating for his defeat. He did not file an election protest because he said it would be difficult to gather evidence to back his claim.
In the days leading to the election period that year, Osmeña led hearings on the hacking of Bangladesh Bank's account with the New York Federal Reserve, where $81 million was lost.
He is credited as author or sponsor of the new Rural Banks Act, which allows foreign capital infusion in rural banks, the Anti-Money Laundering law, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Government Procurement Act, Securities Regulations Code, and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, among others.
Osmeña does not have a college degree but studied in Harvard University, Georgetown University and the University of the Philippines. His grandfathers Sergio Osmeña Sr. and Esteban dela Rama were both former senators, and so was his father, Sergio Osmeña Jr.