Cayetano: No bitterness but will stay ‘independent’

Camille Elemia
Cayetano: No bitterness but will stay ‘independent’
'I will follow my commitment to help and protect the President, to act as a sort of vision keeper of the Duterte-Cayetano campaign promises,' says Alan Cayetano after losing his bid to become Senate president

MANILA, Philippines – Despite saying he has no bitterness after losing his bid for the Senate presidency, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said he would remain independent for a few days to observe his fellow senators.

If one would base it from his ties with President Rodrigo Duterte, there’s no doubt Cayetano would be part of the majority bloc. After all, he was Duterte’s running mate.

But after losing the Senate leadership to Duterte’s party mate, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Cayetano said he is still not sure if he is joining the majority. 

“I’ll decide in the next few days or the next few weeks, but in the meantime I wanna see muna kung sino supportive sa legislative agenda niya at sinong hindi,” he said. 

(I wanna see first who are supportive of [the President’s] legislative agenda and who are not.)

“Hindi ‘nyo ako masisisi dahil 18 years na ako sa Congress. Nasubukan ko na ang majority leader, minority leader, nasubukan ko na ang admin, opposition, so wala namang pressure, p’wede naman akong maghintay a few days or a week or two to see kung kumusta ang takbo,” he said.

(You can’t blame me because I’ve been in Congress for 18 years. I’ve tried being majority leader, minority leader, as part of the administration, of the opposition. So there’s no pressure, I can wait a few days or a week or two to see how things go.)

Cayetano remains unconvinced that the current majority of 20 senators are legitimate supporters of the Duterte agenda.

“Sino ako para magsabing 18 kayo na hindi ganito, ganyan? I will take their word for it. Kapwa silang senador, honorable sila, so ‘pag sinabi nilang supportive eh di supportive,” he said.

(Who am I to say that 18 senators are this or that? I will take their word for it. They are fellow senators, they’re honorable, so if they say they are supportive, then they’re supportive.)

Despite the uncertainties of his position, Cayetano vowed to continue “protecting” the President.

“I will follow my commitment to help and protect the President, to act as a sort of vision keeper of the Duterte-Cayetano campaign promises, and anyone who helps us, anyone who pushes for this, I will consider an ally,” he said.

Senate President Pimentel earlier said he would reserve the foreign affairs committee chairmanship for Cayetano even if the latter is unsure where he would side in the chamber.

‘No rancor’

Cayetano, who skipped Monday’s opening session, earlier lamented losing his dream of leading the Senate.

“There’s no rancor. Meron mang panghihinayang, ‘yun nga ang in-express ko dun sa Facebook, but it’s as simple as that. (If there’s regret, that’s what I expressed on my Facebook post, but it’s as simple as that.) I wanted them to have their moment and I wanted to focus on the SONA,” Cayetano told reporters on Tuesday, July 26.

“So it’s just as simple as that – I want to give them the respect and for them to have their moment,” Cayetano added.

He earlier vied for the post and held at least one meeting with President Duterte 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. (READ: Why Koko over Cayetano? Sotto points to Cayetano’s restrictions)

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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