OPINION: Why it’s finally Cayetano at DFA

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at May 15 2017 02:31 AM

The appointment of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as foreign secretary is an indication that the Duterte administration is feeling the heat of a negative international image and needs somebody who can passionately defend the President’s human rights record as what the senator did last week before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

No one among the foreign service officers would be brash enough to counter the antipathy that Duterte has elicited with his “F*** u U.N.” and “F*** u E.U.”
  
Malacañang needs someone who can say with conviction that white is black just like what the incoming secretary said when he declared that under Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, “drug personalities have been arrested. Arrested your Excellencies not killed.”

What happened to Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. early morning of Nov 5, 2016 in Baybay jail where he was confined on illegal drug charges?

Only Cayetano would deliver a speech before a UN body complaining about its special rapporteur and blaming media for the horrors that Duterte’s anti-drug campaign has evoked in the international community. 

Cayetano himself said that he was surprised about the DFA appointment because, although the President said immediately after his election last year that Cayetano can be either justice or foreign secretary once the one-year election ban is lifted, he also said last March that the senator is needed more in the Senate where the bill to restore the death penalty would be voted on.

“With the President you just don’t know. He has his own strategy,” he said.

Does it mean then that Malacañang is assured that they have enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill restoring the death penalty?

Cayetano’s departure from the Senate also indicates Malacañang’s confidence that the impeachment complaint against Duterte filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano would not reach the Senate that tries impeached officials. Duterte’s overwhelming forces in the House are expected to quash the impeachment complaint soonest. 

If that happens, that would increase the chances of the communication filed by lawyer Jude Sabio against Duterte before the International Criminal Court to be taken up. That’s when an articulate and aggressive foreign secretary like Cayetano would all the more be needed by Duterte.

Duterte also needs a balancing element to his closeness to China.

A Filipino-American at birth, Cayetano for many years was both Filipino and American citizen under the country’s dual citizenship policy. Although he renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1999, he said he is proud of his “American heritage.” 

A lot of work awaits Cayetano in the DFA. The country’s foreign service has long been a neglected agency with presidents treating it as a dumping ground for political contributors. 

The passport service is a mess with applicants waiting for months for a personal appointment.

The telephones are not  working. Calling up DFA’s trunk lines, 834-3000 and 834-4000 is an exercise in extreme patience. If one is not lucky, it’s an exercise in futility. 


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.