Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano: Criticize House if there are abuses, but let’s ‘learn to disagree’

Mara Cepeda
Cayetano: Criticize House if there are abuses, but let’s ‘learn to disagree’

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano delivers his speech as the House opens its 2nd regular session on July 27, 2020. Screenshot from the House of Representatives Youtube page

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says they 'welcome' the vigilance of Filipinos, but that the public cannot just be furious whenever there are conflicts

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the public should continue calling out the abuses of lawmakers, but they must also “learn to disagree.”

As the 18th Congress reopened session on Monday, July 27, Cayetano addressed critics of the lower chamber after legislators delivered two unpopular decisions for President Rodrigo Duterte in the past weeks – the junking of the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN and the passage of the anti-terrorism law. 

The Speaker first asked Filipinos to hold their elected lawmakers to the “highest standards” of integrity. Yet he said the public cannot just be angry with their government either.

“To the Filipino people, please know that we welcome your vigilance, and ask that you continue to watch over this Congress and to [sound] the alarm whenever you see an abuse in our ranks. By all means hold us to the highest standards of integrity and public service, but do not stand apart from us,” Cayetano said. 

“We have to learn to disagree. Hindi po pupuwede na kapagka hindi tayo nag-a-agree, galit na galit tayo. Sa isang katawan lang tayo: sa bayan lang po natin,” added the Speaker. 

(We have to learn to disagree. We can’t just be furious whenever we don’t agree. We’re part of the same body after all: our country.)

This was the only time Cayetano referenced the recent controversies faced by the House during his speech. He did not specifically mention ABS-CBN, the anti-terror law, or the planned revival of the charter change hearings in the lower chamber. (READ: Not a priority? House to focus on budget, pandemic response before Cha-Cha – Cayetano)

He primarily dedicated the rest of his address to his marching orders to lawmakers on how they can help improve the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. (READ: Cayetano wants provinces as ‘new centers of development’ in post-pandemic PH)

The public has been up in arms against the House after legislators railroaded the anti-terror law’s passage despite critics’ warning that it could be used to go after government dissenters. (READ: House of terror: How the lower chamber let slip a ‘killer’ bill)

Then just weeks later, the House committee on legislative franchises overwhelmingly junked the franchise bid of ABS-CBN, which has long been receiving threats from the President himself.

That the House delivered on these two decisions – and during the coronavirus pandemic at that – is not surprising, as Duterte counts a majority of legislators as his allies.

The Speaker was also Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections.

Cayetano has since justified the controversial moves of the House, telling critics of the anti-terror law to first read it in full before lambasting it

The Speaker also claimed his colleagues did Filipinos a favor by moving against one of the oligarchs of the country – the Lopezes who own ABS-CBN. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.