Alan Cayetano no-show at Senate opening

Camille Elemia
Alan Cayetano no-show at Senate opening

Alecs Ongcal

(UPDATED) The former running mate of President Duterte skips the Senate's opening session, which elected Koko Pimentel – and not him – as Senate president

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano skipped the opening of the 17th Congress on Monday, July 25, on the same day that the Senate elected Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as the new Senate president.

Cayetano, running mate of President Rodrigo Duterte in the May 2016 polls, was the only senator absent in Monday’s event. (WATCH: Senate opening)

He earlier vied for the post and held at least one meeting with the President in Davao about this. Majority of the senators, however, supported Pimentel, saying he is the party mate of the President and is also from Mindanao.

Dismayed Cayetano 

Cayetano, in a Facebook post, admitted feeling bad that he did not win the top Senate post.

“Today Mr President one of my dreams passed me by, I’m not Senate President. Yet I’m excited to hear your SONA and be a part of the amazing change! This is our dream! Dream of all Filipinos! And this is more important!”

He expressed dismay over the results. Cayetano claimed two groups offered to support his Senate presidency. But he said he declined it, hinting that the present composition would not be truly supportive of the President’s agenda.

“I thought long and hard about it and I asked myself, how could a deal that made me Senate President but put the President and his agenda in jeopardy, be one that helps or protects him?” Cayetano said.

“I asked myself this question since I promised myself I will only get it if I can help and protect the President and his agenda, otherwise I’ll be inutil, powerful yet powerless,” he added.

As of posting time, it is still unclear if Cayetano is joining the majority bloc, which is expected to support the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration.

Despite this, Pimentel said he is reserving a committee for Cayetano.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III earlier disclosed why majority of the senators preferred Pimentel to Cayetano.

Kinausap niya kami kaya lang during that time, to be very candid about it, meron na siya agad positions na ‘si ganito, si ganyan’. ‘Sa position na ito, di puwede kay ganito, kay ganyan.’ Ganun dating niya,” Sotto told reporters during a press conference.

(He talked to us during that time. To be very candid about it, he already had positions in mind like, “This senator would get this committee or that senator would get that committee.” “For this position, this senator should not get it.” That’s how it appeared.) – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com