Thank you and sorry, Cayetano tells colleagues in last Senate speech


Thank you and sorry, Cayetano tells colleagues in last Senate speech

‘I’m a better person … and hopefully will be a good diplomat because of our working together, working against each other,’ says incoming Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

Camille Elemia

Published 5:45 PM, May 17, 2017

Updated 6:04 PM, May 17, 2017

LAST SPEECH. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano thanks his colleagues and apologizes to them in his last speech before leaving the Senate. Photo by Lito Boras/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming Foreign Secretary and outgoing Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, May 17, delivered his final privilege speech in the chamber that has been his home for the past decade.

Cayetano, whose nomination was confirmed by his colleagues in the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, expressed his gratitude and also apologized to senators.

Cayetano first served in the Senate in 2007 and got reelected in 2013. Had he not opted to join the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Cayetano’s term would have ended in May 2019.

“Thank you to all of you, my dear colleagues. I’m a better person, better debater, a better legislator, a better policy maker, and hopefully will be a good diplomat because of our working together, working against each other, working for each other, and everything that is between in all of that,” Cayetano said in his farewell address.

“From the bottom of our hearts, from all the Cayetanos, maraming salamat po (thank you very much). We love you,” added the incoming DFA chief, whose father Rene was also a senator and sister Pia served with him in the 15th Congress.

Cayetano, who has actively defended his agenda in the chamber, apologized to his colleagues for any offense he may have caused.

“Lastly, kung meron man akong nasaktan [personally] sa mga debate (Lastly, if I ever hurt someone personally because of the debates here), please accept my apologies. I don’t promise not to do it again but this time I’ll do it as a diplomat so I’ll be much kinder. If I did do it, it was not meant to hurt you,” he said.

In the past Congress, Cayetano led the probe into the corruption allegations against former vice president Jejomar Binay and his family, including Senator Nancy Binay.

Now, he is a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, having been Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 polls.

Cayetano ran for the Senate presidency against Duterte’s party mate Senator Aquilino Pimentel III but lost.

Cayetano has repeatedly attacked Duterte’s fiercest critics – detained Senator Leila de Lima and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV – for questioning the administration’s policies. De Lima was his former lawyer in the electoral protest filed against him.

He has also criticized the Liberal Party, which helped him win his reelection bid in 2013. Cayetano had been allied with the previous Aquino administration before running with Duterte.

Senate, DFA ties

In his speech, Cayetano offered the DFA’s help to his colleagues and the chamber. He said he would also seek the Senate’s assistance from time to time.

“I will ask for your help. I did not ask or study to be a chief diplomat. But if I have the Senate of the Philippines behind me, then that would be a great, great advantage,” he said.

“Please feel free to call on the DFA for any assistance when you’re abroad, any briefing here. Anything we can do to assist. But we will also need your help. So definitely kakatok din kami sa inyo (we will also knock on your doors),” said Cayetano, citing the DFA’s budgetary concerns.

Cayetano earlier said he was “very sentimental” on his last day in the Senate, saying legislation has been his “life’s work.”

“So I don’t know the right words but this is not goodbye. Maybe farewell in the meantime but again from the bottom of my heart, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat (thank you very much to all of you),” he said.

Malacañang released Cayetano’s nomination papers on Wednesday. The senator said he is likely to take his oath by Monday, May 22, at the latest. –