Cayetano vows change 'from politician to diplomat'

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Cayetano vows change 'from politician to diplomat'

Incoming DFA chief Alan Peter Cayetano promises to use ‘more diplomatic language’ in defending President Rodrigo Duterte

CHANGING OF GUARD. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano (right) is set to take over after veteran career diplomat Enrique Manalo (left) served as DFA chief in an acting capacity. Photo by Lito Boras/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano vowed to transform “from politician to diplomat” after the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, May 17, confirmed his nomination as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Asked if he will continue to defend the President as DFA chief, Cayetano answered, “Mahirap magsalita nang tapos (It’s hard to speak with finality), but definitely the conversion from politician to diplomat, or from public servant in general to statesman, has to be there.”

The CA on Wednesday gave its consent for President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint Cayetano as DFA chief.

Cayetano, who was nominated by Duterte on May 10, is now waiting to be formally appointed by Duterte. Once Cayetano gets his appointment papers, he can then take his oath and begin his job at the DFA.

In his interview with reporters on Wednesday, Cayetano pointed out that part of the DFA’s job “is explaining what’s happening in the country and explaining the vision of the President.”

He said in a mix of English and Filipino: “I will continue to speak when ordered by the President. I will continue to speak when I deem it necessary, but not in the political manner that was available to me when I was in the Senate, because as chief diplomat, I need to consider the department and our relationships with other countries.”

“In other words, I will be using a different language, a more diplomatic language,” said Cayetano, who earlier vowed to reject “microphone diplomacy” at the DFA.

‘More diplomatic language’

Backing Cayetano’s nomination, San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora told the CA plenary that the senator has always “shown his versatility,” and will make a good DFA chief.

Zamora had supported Cayetano in previous elections, as in 2013 when he donated P5 million ($100,365) to the senator’s campaign.

Zamora said, “Mr Chairman, when his name was announced as the new secretary of foreign affairs, a friend of mine texted me if the nominee will be able to transition from ‘Alan Peter the Loquacious’ to ‘Alan Peter the Tight-Lipped.'”

“In his new post, Mr Chairman, trust me, he will know when to press our country’s position loudly, and when to present it in a low-key manner,” Zamora said.

The lawmaker added that Cayetano has the talent of building consensus and forging alliances.

“These, plus others, are the traits that will make him a respected and a responsible ambassador of 105 million Filipinos,” he said.

Cayetano, a public servant since 1992, was Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections.

The senator is taking over from Enrique Manalo, a diplomat for nearly 4 decades, who served as acting DFA chief after lawyer Perfecto Yasay Jr was rejected by the CA on March 8. – Rappler.com

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