Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated that he will remain an independent candidate for senator even as he urged presidential aspirants to unite on platforms that will help the country move past the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m happy being an independent, and I think it will give me the ability to talk to all the presidentiables who are willing to talk,” Cayetano told reporters at the sidelines of the handover of a copy of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act by President Rodrigo Duterte to representatives of coconut farmers in Lucena City, Quezon on Saturday, October 23.
Cayetano, who was Duterte’s running mate in 2016, said the symbolic handover of the law — which establishes a trust fund for the development of the coconut industry from Marcos-era coco levy assets — to stakeholders is a campaign promise fulfilled.
“It’s more sentimental, because we made a promise to coconut farmers together dito sa Quezon… So ayun lang, I mean, there’s no conflict in being a statesman and being a politician ‘di ba, dapat nababalanse din,” Cayetano said.
(It’s more sentimental, because we made a promise to coconut farmers together here in Quezon. So ayun lang, I mean, there’s no conflict in being a statesman and being a politician, there should be a balance.)
The former House Speaker clarified that he was at the handover ceremony not as an endorsement of the Duterte administration but to support the government’s efforts in fulfilling its promises to various sectors.
“First and foremost, it’s our campaign promise of Duterte-Cayetano (to) farmers, coco farmers, secondly I was the principal author (in the) House. So I’m here to support that,” he said.
“My presence here doesn’t mean I agree with everything that’s happening with the administration, but hindi din dapat mawala dun sa mga mabubuting kailangan gawin at tapusin,” he added.
(My presence here doesn’t mean I agree with everything that’s happening with the administration, but we should also show up for things that need to be done and completed.)
Despite this, Cayetano maintained that he was not making overtures to President Duterte or the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party, which split into two factions in the weeks prior to the period for filing of candidacies for national posts.
“I haven’t talked politics with the president. I don’t expect that chance now. But I’m happy to run as an independent,” he said.
Cayetano pointed out that the Duterte administration still has time to cement a positive legacy in its last few months in power — a period he called the “last two minutes.”
“At di ba tayong mga Pilipino, mahilig tayo sa basketball e, so yung last two minutes napaka-importante. Ang daming projects na pwedeng tapusin in the ‘last two minutes,’” he said.
(Because we’re so fond of basketball, we Filipinos know that the last two minutes of any game are very important. There are so many projects that can still be finished in the ‘last two minutes.’)
“Ang makikinabang naman dito ay hindi yung mga pulitiko, hindi ang administrasyon, kundi ang taumbayan. So when I’m needed, I’ll be there, and when we can forward good legislation and good programs,” he added.
(The ones who will benefit the most aren’t the politicians, not the administration, but the people. So when I’m needed, I’ll be there, and when we can forward good legislation and good programs.)
*Call for platform unity*
The former House Speaker repeated his call for presidential aspirants to unite on platforms that will help the country move past the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the need for a five-year economic recovery plan and the passing of the 10K Ayuda Bill, as well as continuing the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build infrastructure agenda.
“There are things that are beyond politics. So yes, nag-a-approach na yung 2022 elections. Pero there are things like the five-year plan, sampung libong ayuda, the coconut farmers for example, yung Build Build Build, na dapat yung presidentiables at lahat ng kandidato can get together,” Cayetano said.
(There are things that are beyond politics. So yes, the 2022 elections are approaching, but there are things like the five-year plan, P10,000 in direct stimulus payouts, the coconut farmers for example, Build Build Build, programs that all presidentiables and candidates can get together.)
He also said the need for common platforms and points of unity among candidates at the national level is more urgent because the impending transfer of power will be made more challenging by the pandemic.
“Mahirap yung transition (sa susunod na administration) kasi pandemic e. Mahirap mangampanya kapag pandemic, pero mas mahirap yung transition,” Cayetano said.
(The transition to the next administration will be difficult because of the pandemic. Of course it will be difficult to campaign amid the pandemic, but the eventual transition will be more difficult.)