Better in Congress than Cabinet? 5 epic fails of Cayetano at DFA
With his eyes trained on the House speakership, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is resigning soon, leaving the agency with an interesting, often questionable, trail of statements and actions which are sure to haunt him even as he guns for a congressional seat in the May 2019 polls.
1. ‘50 to 100’ diplomatic protests
Cayetano asserted, without providing proof, during a House probe that the Philippines has filed “50 to 100” diplomatic actions against China. However, he defined diplomatic actions so broadly to include mere verbal exchanges between him and his Chinese counterpart or between President Rodrigo Duterte and President Xi Jinping.
This has led to some opposition lawmakers, like Senator Risa Hontiveros, to challenge Cayetano to prove his claim.
During a Senate hearing on the DFA’s proposed 2019 budget, Hontiveros asked Cayetano to substantiate his claim – but this time, Cayetano said they could not count how many diplomatic actions have been taken against China.
2.Declining OFW assistance fund?
The DFA under Cayetano was hit by his fellow rabid Duterte supporter, Atty. Bruce Rivera, on Facebook over the alleged sudden decline in the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund.
The ATN, spent on repatriation of OFWs, as well as for their medical, legal and security expenses, had apparently a cap of $5,000 – something which OFWs were unaware of and asked for an explanation.
But when they did ask for the reason behind the cap, an official of the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, headed by Cayetano’s former chief-of-staff at the Senate, undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, they were called “ingrates” and “self-entitled.”
3.Cayetano puts aside PH claim over West PH Sea… or not
Cayetano lied about ever saying that the Philippines is “putting aside” its claims over the West Philippine Sea, despite video and a transcript from the DFA showing otherwise.
He denied having said that the country needs to temporarily leave its claim over the West Philippine Sea for talks with China on joint exploration in the region to push through, even if he did.
4.‘Disputed’ West Philippine Sea
The top diplomat continues calling the West Philippine Sea as “disputed” even if a Hague tribunal ruled with finality that the resources there belonged to the Philippines.
This, despite reminders from Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to stop calling it the “disputed West Philippine Sea.”
5.Defense of the drug war
Cayetano had to defend the drug war on several occasions before the international community, but his claims to back up his defense were not entirely accurate.
In an interview with All Jazeera in 2017, Cayetano said all those killed in Duterte’s brutal drug war were all drug pushers, when the police only call them as suspects.
He also pumped the number of drug users in the Philippines up to 7 million, even as Duterte says it is only at 4 million and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency pegs it at 4.7 million.