Barely a month after the 2016 national elections, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated his assurance to help President-elect Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in formulating his legislative agenda.
“Bilang kasama niya araw-araw sa kampanya, ako po ang nakarinig ng mga pangako at mga nais na pagbabago ni President Duterte sa ating bansa,” Cayetano said.
When asked whether he was interested in the Senate presidency, Cayetano said he wants to focus more on building a strong majority that will help Duterte realize his plans of creating real changes in the country.
“Everyone is interested in the Senate leadership. Wala pa akong nakitang senador na hindi interested maging Senate President. However, it’s not really a matter of kung sinong magiging Senate President. It’s a matter of forming a strong majority that can deliver the culture of effectiveness and efficiency. Sa bigat ng legislative agenda ni President-elect Duterte, kailangan ng majority na 15-18,” he added.
“Go beyond committees, unite under Duterte’s legislative agenda,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano, however, said that he is not inclined to help in building a majority if the discussions will be limited to who will head the chamber’s respective committees. “We should go beyond the committees and positions and discuss the important measures that should be passed by the Senate under President-elect Duterte. Sa aking palagay, kahit sabihin nilang ako ang Senate President, pero hindi sila magko-commit sa legislative agenda (ni President-elect Duterte), hindi ko rin kukunin ang pwesto,” he added.
Among the key measures that Cayetano intends to push in the next Congress are the implementation of a nationwide curfew for minors and liquor ban, increasing the salaries of police officers, improved internet connectivity, and phasing out labor contractualization. They also plan to conduct consultations with regard to their federalism proposal by the middle of Duterte’s term.
Meanwhile, in reaction to the plan by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to run for Senate president, Cayetano said he would rather speak for himself and not for his colleague. “I will let Sen. Koko speak for himself. Malinaw ang kanyang announcement. We talked once. Nagkakaintindihan naman kami at malinaw ang direksyon namin as a group,” he stressed.
Cayetano explained that while Duterte has not publicly announced whom he would endorse for the Senate leadership, the President-elect has made it clear in private discussions whom he wants for the post. “The President will not have an official candidate. Pero meron siyang napupusuan. President Duterte is not declaring public support because he respects the independence of the Senate,” he said.#