MANILA—Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is set to face the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday for his confirmation as Foreign Affairs Secretary, some Senate leaders on Tuesday said that they will be missing their colleague’s presence in the Senate.
Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III said Cayetano has already been less present in Senate plenary sessions because he is already attending international affairs preparatory to his appointment.
“He has been very busy in International Affairs preparatory to his appointment so we have been missing his presence but whenever he is present in the senate he always participates in the discussion. He is going to be a big loss,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.
“Now that he has developed an expertise in Foreign Affairs and Relations and he is chairman of the committee, we will also lose him,” he added.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly stated during interviews that he would offer the Foreign Affairs post to Cayetano, his running-mate in the May 2016 elections, once the one-year appointment ban lapses.
If Cayetano should be confirmed, Pimentel said that he should prioritize the development of Philippine independent foreign policy.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, echoed Pimentel, noting that any member of the Senate who leaves will be missed.
“Of course, any member of the Senate who leaves is a big loss because we’re only 24, unlike in the House of Representatives with over 300 members,” Sotto told reporters in an interview.
Sotto, meanwhile, said that the budget of Cayetano’s office will be placed in the savings of the Senate while his staff members remain co-terminus.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the CA Foreign Affairs Committee, said he urged Cayetano on attending his last session on Tuesday since it might be his “last session day in the Senate.”
He said that he also jokingly told Cayetano that if he did not show up on Tuesday’s session, he would not be confirmed.
“’Pag di ka umattend, ‘di kita ico-confirm (If you don’t attend, I won’t have you confirmed),” Lacson quipped.
Asked if they would follow the secret voting system, Lacson said that it can be done if a CA member moves to use the process. However, if the votes are unanimous, he said that it would no longer be necessary.
Lacson said so far, there have been no CA members who have signified interrogating Cayetano.
“It seems like it’s okay for everyone to pass upon the confirmation. No oppositors as of now,” he added.
Cayetano said that although he has yet to be confirmed as Foreign Affairs Secretary, he is already feeling very “sentimental”, “overwhelming” and “humbling.”
“It may or may not be my last day but I feel sentimental because legislation has been my life’s work,” Cayetano, who has been a legislator for almost 25 years, said.
He said that he is going to miss not just the hearings but also crafting legislations.
Moreover, he said that even if he did not always agree with his colleagues, he believed in their passion and sincerity to serve.
“I will miss all of them. But all of them, whether opposition or not, can call me anytime because that’s my job now,” he added.