House of Representatives

Cayetano says use of BTS in name of new House bloc ‘not meant to offend fans’

Mara Cepeda

HE'S BACK. Taguig City-Pateros 1st District Representative Alan Peter Cayetano holds a press conference on February 28, 2020.

File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

Taguig City-Pateros 1st District Representative Alan Cayetano says the full name of their bloc is 'Back To Service Congress'
Cayetano says use of BTS in name of new House bloc ‘not meant to offend fans’

Taguig City-Pateros 1st District Representative Alan Peter Cayetano said he and his allies had no intention to offend BTS fans when they used the name of the K-pop group in naming their new House bloc. 

Talking to reporters in Legazpi City, Albay, on Wednesday, January 13, Cayetano said the contested acronym in BTS sa Kongreso merely stands for “Back To Service” – supposedly to signal their group’s bid to restore the image of the House.

“Ang ibig lang naman naming sabihin doon, Back To Service Congress kaya BTS sa Congress. Kasi medyo napunta sa pulitika, napunta sa konting katamaran, napunta sa panay political issues, naging trapo na ulit. Rather than House of the People, naging House of Politics,” said Cayetano.

(It only means Back To Service Congress that’s why it’s called BTS in Congress. Because the chamber now is embroiled in politics again, there’s laziness, a lot of political issues, and traditional politics again. Rather than House of the People, it has become the House of Politics.)

“Kung nagkaroon ng konting publicity noon, negative o hindi, it’s not meant to offend the fans,” added the lawmaker.

(If we received a bit of publicity because of that, negative or positive, it’s not meant to offend the fans.)

The local fans of South Korean septet BTS – members of a global fan base known as ARMY – were enraged after Cayetano and his allies announced the launching of their new bloc “BTS sa Kongreso” on Thursday, January 14.

It’s an apparent attempt to ride on the hugely popular BTS, who made history after they were nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in the Grammy’s for their hit single “Dynamite.”

Cayetano counts in the new bloc 6 other allies, all of whom lost their plum House posts when he was ousted as speaker by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco in October 2020.

The other members of the new bloc are Representatives Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr, Camarines Sur 2nd District; Dan Fernandez, Laguna 1st District; Raneo Abu, Batangas 2nd District; Mike Defensor, Anakalusugan; Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Bulacan 1st District; and Fredenil Castro, Capiz 2nd District.

Their gimmick is reminiscent of the “Spice Boys” bloc, a group of young lawmakers who had pushed for the impeachment of then-President Joseph Estrada two decades ago.

Defensor was a former member of the Spice Boys, who got their name from British Girl Group Spice Girls.

More critical, but still with majority

Thought still part of the majority bloc allied with President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano’s bloc is expected to be more critical of several legislation being pushed under the Velasco-led House.

The Taguig congressman said on Thursday it was not the right time for Cha-Cha discussions at the House as the country was still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Ako naniniwala na dapat amiyendahan. Ang timing ang kinukuwestiyon ko, ‘di ba?… Buhay at kabuhayan lang in relation to the pandemic. So anything na walang kaugnayan sa pandemic, isantabi muna natin,” Cayetano said. 

(I believe it should be amended. But I am questioning the timing, right?… Life and livelihood should be our only concerns in relation to the pandemic. So let’s set it aside anything that does not have anything to do with the pandemic.)

Cayetano also said they plan to make comments on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement efforts in their press conference on Thursday. He again used BTS in what sounded like a campaign slogan.

“So ‘yong meeting tomorrow (the meeting tomorrow), is not to form one bloc. It’s representing many blocs in the country that is saying that kailangan natin ngayon ay BTS: Bayanihan, Tapang, Serbisyo (what we need right now is camaraderie, bravery, and service). So tomorrow, we will be talking about the vaccines. We won’t be talking about ourselves or the group,” he said.

Cayetano, a political tactician, has been known to shift his alliances in past administrations

He was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections, but Cayetano lost the vice presidential race. The President then appointed him as foreign affairs secretary, but Cayetano resigned from this post to run for congressman in his bailiwick Taguig in 2019.

Cayetano later convinced Duterte to forge a term-sharing deal for the speakership between him and Velasco. 

When Cayetano refused to give way to Velasco at the end of his 15th month stint as speaker, it triggered a weeks-long parliamentary battle between the two Duterte allies that culminated in Cayetano’s ouster. – 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.