The Leader I Want: Alan Cayetano's to-fix list for 2016
MANILA, Philippines – “Be calm, change is coming.”
These were the words of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano when he filed his Certificate of Candidacy for vice president of the Philippines.
Months before the start of campaign season, the 44-year-old lawmaker had been emphasizing his ability to bring true change to the country if he were voted into office. (READ: 10 things to know about Alan Peter Cayetano)
Though an independent candidate, he still hopes Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte will go for the presidency and allow him to run as his vice president.
Decentralization and the decongestion of Metro Manila are central to the platform of this politician who hails from an influential Taguig City family.
To prove it, he declared his vice presidential bid from Davao City, a hub of Mindanao and the hometown of Duterte.
As part of Rappler #PHVote’s “The Leader I Want” campaign, we look at Cayetano’s stand on key issues that the next vice president will have to address: corruption, social inequality, climate change and disasters, foreign policy, OFWs, and the peace process.
Dubbed “everybody’s critic,” Cayetano has made his mark in publicly scrutinizing top government officials suspected of corruption.
Recently, he was among the most aggressive interrogators during the Senate hearings on corruption charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
As chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, he led the Senate investigations into the NBN-ZTE deal and fertilizer scam, two of the biggest corruption scandals that plagued the administration of the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
"Naging consistent tayo kung sinoman ang makalaban, anuman ang makalaban. Hindi ko po tinitingnan kung ito’y politically correct, kung ito’y makakatulong sa akin o hindi, basta’t yung tama ipaglalaban natin," he said when he filed his COC.
(I was consistent no matter who or what I fought. I didn't look at what is politically correct or if it will help me. I will fight for whatever is right.)
He was also a proponent of earlier versions of anti-corruption legislation. Back in the 14th Congress, he filed a Freedom of Information Bill, which passed in Senate.
2. Social Inequality
Cayetano believes that the root of social inequality in the country is the lack of opportunities outside Metro Manila.
Decentralization, he believes, will spread economic growth. This will require government services, for example, to be spread out across the country and not just based in Metro Manila.
In a decentralized Philippines, the Department of Transportation will be moved to Clark Airbase, the Department of Tourism will be in Cebu, while the Department of Agriculture would be in Davao City, he has told reporters.
In terms of legislation, he authored the Senate version of the Iskolar ng Bayan Act which provides free college education to top high school graduates.
He also co-authored the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, the Kasambahay Law or Domestic Workers Act, and An Act Providing for Mandatory Basic Immunization Services For Infants and Children.
Cayetano, to this day, carries out his Presyo Trabaho Kaauyan (PTK) program which has given small loans to micro-entrepreneurs like market vendors, tricycle drivers or deepney drivers from over 100 community-based organizations.
He says this is to free them from having to depend on loan sharks that charge exorbitant interest rates.
3. Climate change and disasters
Two weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) made landfall, Cayetano filed a bill to create an Emergency Response Department (ERD), a new department to be headed by a disaster response secretary.
The ERD was his alternative to the current system in which the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council coordinates efforts of multiple departments.
Compared to the “complex network of agencies and personalities” in the status quo, the ERD would be “simplified, streamlined, responsive,” says his website.
The year before, he was among other senators who reminded the government to prepare for climate change impacts, quoting an Asian Development Bank study.
4. Peace process
Cayetano, the Senate’s majority leader, has become one of the fiercest critics of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). A co-author of the BBL, he eventually withdrew his support for it after the Mamasapano massacre in which 44 government troops were killed during an operation to apprehend a terrorist.
The incident caused Cayetano to mistrust the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an organization that wants the BBL but whom he has called a “terrorist group."
He believes the BBL, in its current form, would just give more power to MILF and other armed groups in Mindanao. He demands that MILF disarm before Congress passes BBL.
But more recently, he said he would support an amended BBL. In the meantime, he believes the government should focus on effectively implementing the Mindanao Development Plan which would at least address some of the socio-economic ills that could be fuelling the armed struggle.
5. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Cayetano frequently mentions OFWs when asked about issues his platform will focus on.
He believes his decentralization plan would provide the economic stimulus to create more jobs so OFWs can come home and work in the Philippines.
“The economy is thriving from their remittances that’s why there is no effort to bring them home to the Philippines. I believe that we can have an economy in 10 to 15 years such that we can tell OFWs, we will bring you home. There are jobs here in the Philippines,” he has said.
He filed a complaint against transportation and airport officials for "neglecting their duty" to respond immediately to reports of the laglag-bala (bullet dropping) scam in Philippine airports.
He has spoken out against the controversial Customs plan to open Balikbayan boxes for monitoring purposes and has criticized the exorbitant fees charged to OFWs.
In 2014, dissatisfied by the Department of Labor and Employment, he mulled filing a bill to create a dedicated OFW department. He pointed at the slow action of government agencies to crack down on illegal recruitment operations victimizing OFWs.
6. Foreign Policy
In terms of foreign policy, Cayetano has been most vocal about the Philippine-US defense treaties and the Philippine’s territorial dispute with China.
In the heat of the debates on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), Cayetano said the US ought to help improve the Philippines’ defense capabilities so that funds allocated by the Philippine government for that purpose could be used for social services and economic development.
He has also asked for US President Barack Obama to state categorically that the US would defend the Philippines if China tries to take claim disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea by force. – Rappler.com
Read Rappler's "The Leader I Want Series":
- The Leader I Want: Jejomar Binay's to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Mar Roxas' to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Grace Poe's to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Miriam Santiago's to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Gringo Honasan's to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Leni Robredo's to-fix list for 2016
- The Leader I Want: Chiz Escudero’s to-fix list for 2016
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- 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections
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- 2016 Philippine Congressional Elections
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- 2016 Philippine Local Elections