By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
BALI, Indonesia — Outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that he will be seeking for a leadership role in the House of Representatives if he wins in the 2019 elections.
Cayetano made the statement during the symbolic handover of the Philippines’s assistance to Central Sulawesi in Indonesia which was hit by a deadly quake last month.
In an interview Thursday, Cayetano said that President Duterte agreed that it would be better if he serves as House Speaker to help the administration achieve its goals.
“We had a heart-to-heart talk, and we both agreed that a role in Congress and a leadership position in Congress would be good in terms of pursuing that vision,” Cayetano told Malacañang reporters.
“With all humility, I will seek another term in my hometown, Taguig Pateros, the district of Taguig and Pateros, and then let’s see where it goes from there,” he added.
Cayetano, who is in Bali as part of Duterte’s official delegation, however, said that the process of becoming Speaker is not easy. He said he first has to win the trust of the people in his district.
“It’s a complex matter. You have to win first sa district mo (in your district), and I want to focus on that first, and then you have to win the trust and confidence of the whole Congress, especially na may specific vision tayo (because we have a specific vision),” he said.
“This won’t be a simple entering Congress and wanting to be Speaker or wanting a new leadership, it’s how you want to pursue this vision in the next three years,” he added.
Duterte’s trip to Bali is Cayetano’s last public appearance as foreign affairs secretary. He said that he offered to finish first all events lined up in his office but Duterte preferred to have those who will run to resign already.
“I did offer to complete muna (first) the events that were lined up—the EU-ASEAN (European Union-Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Leaders’ Summit in Brussels, the ASEAN, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and preparations for the state visit of President Xi,” he said.
“But it’s the President’s call so my feeling as of now, is that he’d rather ‘yung tatakbo (those who will run to) go ahead and file and allow him to reorganize,” he added.
The ASEAN Summit in Singapore, APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Philippines will be taking place next month.
Next in DFA
Cayetano, however, refused to disclose who will be taking his spot in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). He said Duterte was excited when they agreed on who will be taking over.
“As soon as we came up with a name, that we all agreed on and may excitement doon kay Presidente doon sa person na ‘yun (the President was excited about him), then I have full confidence that my successor will be more than capable, he might even do a better job,” he said.
When asked if reports are true that the next Foreign Affairs Secretary would be Philippine representative to the United Nations (UN) Teodoro Locsin Jr., Cayetano said that he would rather leave the announcement to Duterte.
“I think the President will be the one to announce, but we’ve spoken to him and we’ll be briefing him next week,” he said. “I’ll allow the President to announce kung sino (who will be taking over).”
Panelo as new Presidential spokesperson
As Duterte reorganizes his Cabinet following the resignation of his men who are seeking public positions, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go revealed that Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo will be taking over the role of presidential spokesperson beginning next week.
In an interview here, Go said that Panelo will serve as presidential spokesperson in concurrent with his current job as Duterte’s top aide beginning next week after Duterte’s trip to Bali.
The confirmation of Panelo’s new role came after Duterte announced that he is appointing Panelo to temporarily serve as new spokesperson after Secretary Harry Roque said that he is still thinking if he will stay with the administration or run for a Senate seat.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar earlier confirmed that Roque was offered to lead the soon-to-be-revived Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) which was dissolved by the previous Aquino administration.
Meanwhile, Andanar, in an interview here, said that his transition team in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is now ready for the reversion back to the OPS. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)