Cayetano gets CA panel nod in just minutes

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2017 09:22 AM | Updated as of May 17 2017 02:47 PM

Philippines' Senator Alan Peter Cayetano speaks during the universal periodic review of the Philippines by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on May 8, 2017 at the UN offices in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini, AFP

QUICK YES: Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's appointment as Foreign Affairs Secretary was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments foreign affairs committee in less than 5 minutes, Wednesday.

CA majority floor leader Rodolfo Albano III made the motion for the CA foreign affairs committee to endorse Cayetano's appointment to President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet as soon as the confirmation hearing started at 9 a.m.

Cayetano had not even taken his seat when Villacorta made the recommendation.

The motion encountered no objection and will now be transmitted to the plenary for approval or rejection.

After winning the presidential race last year, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would offer the foreign affairs portfolio to Cayetano, his running mate, after the one-year appointment ban on defeated candidates lapses. Duterte repeated his promise last December.

Cayetano has been a constant fixture in Duterte's foreign trips. He also defended the human rights record of the administration's war on drugs during a review of the United Nations earlier this month.

"I will do my best na hindi kayo mapahiya," he said in a speech after getting the CA panel's backing.

Accepting the foreign affairs portfolio means Cayetano would have to abandon his Senate seat four years into his term. Cayetano succeeded in his Senate re-election bid in 2013, which means his 6-year term as senator will end in 2019.

Duterte’s first foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr., had to leave his post after his appointment was rejected by Congress due to questions about his citizenship.

Yasay was replaced by Enrique Manalo, a career diplomat, as acting secretary.

DEALING WITH CHINA

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Cayetano vowed to use an "objective-based" approach in resolving the country's competing territorial claims to the West Philippine Sea with China.

Cayetano also said that "integrating" non-traditional media practitioners into DFA initiatives is among his priorities.

"In human reaction, 'pag binabantayan ka, you always do better. Hihingi rin ako ng tulong sa inyo... Kung ma-institutionalize natin ang social media, and at the same time i-embrace ito ng iba't ibang mission natin, we can bring them closer to the people," he said in an interview with online bloggers.

 

Cayetano said he will also request status reports from Philippine embassies and senior DFA officials, as well as focus on centralizing a helpline for overseas Filipino workers. - With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News