FULL TEXT: Interview with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
A day after President Rodrigo Duterte held his victory party in Davao City earlier last month, INQUIRER.net sat down with Senator Alan Cayetano to talk about the Senate Presidency, Duterte and his administration.
Below is the full transcript of the June 5, 2016 interview:
John Nery (JN), INQUIRER.net Editor in Chief: Senator, you had a chance to meet with president-elect Rodrigo Duterte a few hours ago. How did that go?
Senator Alan Cayetano (AC): Well, John, Tine, at sa buong staff and everyone in the Inquirer, sa lahat ng inyong followers, allow me to thank you for the election coverage and for the opportunity to share my platform, thoughts, reactions to the relevant issues during the campaign. Truly, the debates and the interviews, especially on social media, created a different atmosphere and a more democratic set-up for this election. So thank you, of course first and foremost, sa ating Panginoon, for a peaceful election and for hope after elections. So I’m here for the victory party, organized by a private group. All over the country, ang daming imbitasyon ng ating Pangulo, ni Mayor Duterte, to thank the people but hindi naman talaga mapupuntahan lahat. But this is his hometown, people here wanted to share the victory. It’s sweet but siyempre kahit papaano, they’re gonna miss him as their mayor. So it’s both a congratulations and sendoff.
But I’ve been traveling nga a lot to Davao, it’s become a second home since September of last year. It’s been an amazing trip and when it’s a party, it’s a celebration like this, the mayor mixes work with a little bit of relaxing, thanksgiving, etcetera. So there was a tent set up right behind the stage so he met a couple of people there. I was just in the back, trying to assist the others, and then there’s any questions, taking a look, kasi one person na behind me was with the original group. Nagbiro nga, marami na tayo ngayon. But having said that, we really want to grow because it’s not now a Duterte administration. It’s not now, the red, the color, the symbolism of Duterte. It’s the whole country na. So after that, we moved to the mayor’s favorite spot where he not only relaxes, but does a lot of private meetings, talks, etcetera. But from a very humble resto-bar with a microphone and for those who want to sing, siguro about three or four long tables and then a couple of tables that’ll fit, on a normal day, mga thirty, forty people. Suddenly it was like yung napapanood natin sa sine na may malalaking tao sa labas, tapos mahabang pila and then the who’s who of anywhere and everywhere—Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao—wants to get in. Basically, it was a time for people to say thank you, yung mga ibang may gustong ipaabot kay mayor, some courtesy calls, there was at least one ambassador there. I think I saw some foreign nationals, I think they were… some of the people doing business in different regions of the country with their local officials just to shake his hand. But he didn’t sit down with many of them. And then the future leadership of the House of Representatives; one or two calls, some people were not there, we’d like to call so we assisted with that. Usually on trips like these, I show him one or two presentations or layout of how to implement our program; and he just gives me assignments or say “Pass it to ganiyan,” “Can you look deeper into it?” or “Ikaw na gumawa niyan.” So actually, dala ko yung sa PNP, paano doblehin ang suweldo, but sobrang dami ng tao, I didn’t think it was appropriate, and mukhang magkikita naman kami this week. But having said that, as usual, it was Bong Go and the unnamed staff that were doing all the work. I was actually here for lunch yesterday and Bong was probably in 25 to 10-minute meetings, two or three 30 minutes; his staff was behind him. All throughout the meetings there were three cellphones coordinating several folders, envelopes, requests for presentations, for courtesy calls. So that is why the mayor, our president-elect also chooses to be in seclusion half of the week or every other day or… so that he will really have time to read the actual briefing papers, the names being submitted for other positions, then just having some time for himself to think about how to put up together all of these things.
JN: Were there any senators after dark?
AC: Last night, there was Senator Zubiri was here the night before, but it was his oathtaking [sa Bukidnon as a newly-elected senator] eh, so he was not able to stay for the party. But he had a conversation kay Bong, I don’t know if he was able to reach the mayor by phone. We had our traditional work, relax basketball game where we invite other groups then we talk over dinner afterwards. I know he was able to talk to a senator, but I’m not liberty to… some where private conversations but hindi doon. There were a lot of governors, couple of congressmen, I think.
JN: The victory party, they were expecting two hundred to three hundred thousand people, PNP said half a million people showed up. Did that surprise you?
AC: Yes and no. In the phenomenon in this election, of people just… love outpouring, sacrifice outpouring, going there po, as we entered the big roads, I haven’t been to crocodile farm. So going in there, you can hear the PNP announcing “Please, dalawa-dalawa lang,” then you’d see the police in long lines of peoples. Nasa kotse na kami, it took us some time, imagine walking. Yung presidente kasi, siya lang doon sa likod ng stage, so everyone else mayroon sigurong mga 300-meter walk going to the first reception area then going to the stage, lined up lahat with people ‘yan just to see who will come, just to shake the hand. A lot of PNP personnel who’ve been there the whole day, kasi dumating ako I think around seven or a little bit past seven. So, it was just an amazing time in the sense that I did not know if five, fifty, one hundred, two hundred. In Luneta, we thought if two hundred, three hundred… we didn’t expect near a million people would go. But it’s been a phenomenon.
In Malabon-Navotas, about ten kilometers na motorcade, seven hours kami. Paranaque, Las Pinas going to Alabang, to Filinvest, it took us six hours. It’s more humbling eh, so I know mayor and I share this thought, this bond, this… which weighs on our shoulders na “How do we repay these people?”, “How do we fulfill the expectations?” That’s why ‘pag nag-salita si mayor, some take offense, but it’s the passion eh. It’s the passion to say enough is enough, time to stop all of this… Duterte is a reset button. ‘Pag sobrang gulo na, whether basketball league yan, chess, tongits… tingin mo nadadaya, ang gulo-gulo, minsan reset muna. Now the question is, how do you rebuild? Kasi kung magre-reset ka, pangit pa rin yung pundasyon mo, same-old same-old, business as usual, walang mangyayari. But that’s Duterte to many of his believers and hopefully to the whole country. He will go into it very passionate, you know, you think he doesnt think about what he says. Of course he has habits, but as far as yung mga sinabi niya like sa media, I think that was on purpose, I think he wanted a discussion on how to reform the media. And I think that if he did it in Malacanang, it would be an affront or it would be palace versus the media. Now, although he’s president-elect, he’s still a private citizen eh, he’s still a mayor versus ganiyan. So he does it in a way to provoke the discussion eh. So people will question, how he does it, what he says, is it too rough? Is it too frontal? Does he make faulty generalizations rather than the normal way na mayroon ganito, pero may iilang ganito? But he’s a master of strategy in sparking discussions eh, then finding solutions afterwards. That’s why, so how do you reform the media? He quickly tossed it back, nasa sa inyo yun eh.
Kasi in our country, it’s very dangerous for a politician to reform the media eh. We cannot even reform ourselves, how can we reform yung nagbabantay dapat sa amin? But having said that, I see that he’s a reset button. We might not always agree na reset, yung lamang na lamang, ayaw eh. Eh ang problema nga sa Pilipinas, we’re not a balanced society. We’re not a society of laws, or equality or equity eh. Sa atin, yung pinakamayayaman, pinaka-elite, pinaka-powerful have too much say. Hindi masamang maging mayaman ah? Lahat ng Pilipino gustong maging mayaman. Hindi masama maging elite, masama maging elitista. Ibig sabihin, if you’re powerful, it’s how you use the power, and how you help institutions and systems and democratic process that filters this. Hindi naman puwedeng yung interes lamang ng isa will be always primary to the interest of everyone or the people. So in a reset button, ayaw ng mga lamang na lamang ‘yan. ‘Di ba kung championship, game seven, kung sino yung kakampi mo biglang sasabihin reset, eh lamang ka ng sampu, payag ka ba nun? But if it’s a fair game, kapag sinabing reset, payag ka. Pero kaya ka lamang ng sampu, sa’yo na ang referee, kapag sh-shoot tahimik, ‘pag magsh-shoot kalaban, lahat ng distraction nandoon, pati yung foul na distraction, fina-flashlight yung mata mo. So these are the things I think people are looking forward to the rest. So media, don’t back down. I mean, of course, challenge, be respectful. Also, mull over. If he said something that’s true that needs reforms, don’t back down, he doesn’t expect people to back down. The police, hold your ground, we need you, but admit that there are rotten eggs. And fight for the increase in pay, be honest enough to say with the present pay, you invite corruption. Politicians. Let’s not… politiko tayo, but on the other hand, what can we change… what change of our public service life can we tailor to the kind of change that people want, what our president wants.
Kristine Sabillo (KS), INQUIRER.net Chief of Reporters: Sir, you said last night that media should get used to how the president-elect speaks. What can you… how should media interpret his speech last night, the part where he was talking about the possibility of a media boycott or his tumultuous relationship with Manila media in particular.
AC: Well, you know, if we were in the US, may I ask the media, may I ask Filipinos, may I ask Hispanics, may I ask anyone offended by Donald Trump, how do you deal with Donald Trump? I’m not saying that there’s a similarity. I’m just saying that in a world of social media, in a world that we’re all connected, suddenly self-expression, creativeness is not a matter of majority, minority. Noong araw, nung uso yung new wave, ‘pag hindi ka new wave, baduy ka. ‘Pag ang uso reggae, ‘pag di ka reggae, baduy ka. Ang galing nito mag-drawing, ang galing ng opinion writer na ito, that’s public opinion. Kaya nga opinion writers, you sway public opinion, so if John Nery makes this excellent analysis on an issue for the day and we’re all swayed, that’s the majority opinion.
Ngayon iba eh. When he post in Inquirer.net or wherever at na-share, if a million people have comments, we’ll have a million opinions. Partially payag, partially hindi; totally payag, totally hindi. So, you know, people fell in love with a Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte the way he does things. Not everyone loves the way he speaks, but that’s part of how he does things. What I’m saying is masanay yung media sa the way he talks is he doesn’t give sound bites. So nung tinanong na bakit namatay yung media, he had a analysis. Three levels, three kinds of killings. But did you hear him say na he will not punish those who killed them? Did he ever say that it’s okay, kill them? Sa drug lord, sinasabi niya ‘yon; ‘pag lumaban, patayin niyo. Hindi niya sinabing ‘pag corrupt… kasi kahit corrupt, may karapatan ‘yan. But ang problema, sinoundbyte yung may corrupt kasi, then yung foreign media, hindi rin sanay sa kaniya, nag-react na kaagad i-boycott niyo, without looking at the context and how he speaks. But you know I’ve talked to a lot of people, what they said, I don’t agree with his… but he’s the only one saying what are on people’s mind. Even, he calls it crusaders, let me call it the legitimate, mainstream media, eh kayo din naman iniisip niyo rin yung sumisira din sa inyong profession. Parang kaming mga politiko, tatawa-tawa kami, ‘pag sinabing corrupt or buwaya, ‘di ba? But galit din kami sa politika, but in collegial bodies, can you go out and [point who is corrupt?]. Kayo ba, can you look behind you and [distinguish who is legitimate or a crusader?]. It’s an insult, ‘di ba? So how can you change society unless you have someone like Mayor Duterte at that position of power saying things that we refuse to hear but it’s like yung joke na totoo. It’s, natatawa ka pero tinatamaan, may pinaghuhugutan eh.
I’m not saying, tama media, tama siya; I’m saying may pinaghuhugutan eh. Pinaghuhugutan nung media is that, whatever happens, there’s not excuse for killing someone. Ang pinaghuhugutan naman ni Mayor Duterte, there’s so much to reform and media is part of that eh. Some politicians get away with corruption dahil may kakampi sila sa media, some oligarchs get away with controlling the country because may kakampi sila sa media. But I saw the strategy eh. It’s to do it now rather than when he’s in the palace para it won’t be using the powers of government against the media, kasi who are we in government para sabihin mali kayo sa media. So what I meant by get used to it, meaning we’ve gotten used to politicians na may sound bite eh. Can’t we get used to one, not many… I talk a lot, but I don’t give you my analysis; I mean, I give you my analysis. But siya, it’s more than just his analysis, he’ll provoke you back eh. So ‘pag sinabi niyong, mayor, huwag po kayo mapipikon sa ibang media kasi minsan trabaho nila yon. But minsan kasi, especially someone from Mindanao and then sanay na yung media. Halimbawa, na-offend siya noong tinanong siya about his health. He answered that all throguhout his campaign. Ngayon tapos na yung campaign, sabihin mo, “Sir are you willing to be… mayroon medical certificate.” Maybe from certain journalists, that’s fair play, but for someone who went through a seven, eight-month campaign na napakalakas; he met people from 4PM ‘till 10AM the next day when he opened his office to the public. Tell me other heathy guys, can they do that? In the same way na may pinaghuhugutan si mayor, may pinaghuhugutan ang media. I’m just saying both should get used to each other.
JN: Yeah, so I’d like to go back that point, yung sa health issue niya and his response last night. But before that, I’d like to ask you, last night, I heard you speak, you gave speech just before he did and you didn’t realize he was there, and I remember you did say that media should not think of this as a form vengeance. He is not a vengeful person. My question is, when he did start speaking, when he spoke about Pagcor, Briones, once he got started, he started talking about media. I’m sorry but I got the impression na he was still working out a resentment. There’s not problem with that sir, like you said we shouldn’t back down. My question is, is he really working out a resentment against media and then, by the time he takes office he’ll say, okay, I’ll press the reset button.
AC: Let me make it clear, he’s resentful, he’s mad, he’s angry with oppression. Anyone who contributes to that oppression. And he talks differently from the ordinary. So the ordinary, tactful, politically-correct politician will talk this way: “Well, you know, the Philippine media is one of the freest in the world. We have very responsible journalists, but there are some bad apples. Well, you know, when you talk about money, it contributes to a lot in our community, we have the best of the best, we have some of the best… but there are some who take advantage,” Hindi siya ganoon eh. What he’ll say is, “Walanghiya kayo na umaboso sa mga kalikasan sa ating bansa at inubos niyo yung natural resources, sinira niyo yung mga bundok namin, etc.” Ask him about his policy in mining, he will be very clear, if you have the best of the best international standard when you take care of the environment, take care of the people, the people na nakinabang. Why not? ‘Di ba? Under strict regulation. Babaligtarin niya… of course, mayroon mabuti din. Of course, let me clear na there are things lost in translation, but people get him. Why would most people vote for him and why would a lot of people root for him if they don’t get it? Because they are hearing things na tagos sa kanila but society is telling us it’s not politically-correct to do. Number two, he doesn’t resent the individuals. He talks to you as a group eh. If you see, when he named a media personality who covered him, not only in Davao ha, may affection eh. And some argue, I won’t name na… lately, naga-ano sila. I saw sa internet, some of our hardcore supporters are reacting, but hindi nila alam close kay mayor ‘yun and alam ni mayor ginagawa lang yung trabaho. Pero si mayor, minsan sinasabi niya… kasi sa Davao, he has a weekly show, he’s usually accessible especially at night, it’s a conversation. You get to know him. So that’s what he’s doing now.
When he says boycott, how come? Well, you’ve seen our presscons and it’s traditional. Tao din siya eh. So if one or two reporters say, “Sir, boycott,” the next day, it’s boycott. Makikita mo sa dalawang oras na presscon, sa dami na puwede itanong, 70 percent was about the kung binastos ba yung isang reporter o hindi at kung ibo-boycott o hindi. Eh kung ikaw yung presidente na puwede kang tanungin on drugs, sweldo ng pulis, sa train… yung new appointments? Was five minutes of the two hour… it’s not resentment, it’s the frustration na, guys, you’re the best of the best, you have the biggest networks, you have the biggest names. Will you follow ratings and sundan niyo yung binastos, catcall, boycott; or will you go into what our country needs? Let’s give it to him. All other presidents, even Erap, especially P-Noy, had a long honeymoon. I used to joke na si P-Noy, ang haba ng honeymoon kasi binata, kasi two years na, media darling pa rin eh. So while it’s true that mayroon pong pinaghuhugutan, the way we were treated during the campaign, because there were mainstream establishments that were very unfair to him. Not only in the news but also in putting up the ads. We got a TRO against ABS-CBN, that’s a legal document. Pinalitan lang nila yung ad. Binay and GMA, mayroon pong laying of the basis, kay GMA may impeachment, kay VP Binay mayroon kaming hearing noon, mayroon kaming hard copy ng accounts; imbestigasyon ng AMLA. Kay mayor, you have one senator saying daang-milyon, and some people printed etcetera as if it was fact. Kasi mayroon din, if it wasn’t Duterte and it wasn’t the kind of people, environment… talo parati yung ganoong kandidato. So ang ibig sabihin kung sino ang piliin ang elite, siya na lang puwede maging presidente. So you have to see, there’s a revolution from the bottom eh, and the spokesman is Duterte. So he cannot now suddenly transform into the kind of spokesman that big business, that traditional media want him. He’s there half-way. Of course, that’s why he’s saying allow me to get there, allow me to get to June 30, and it’s the office. You become from a caterpillar to a butterfly, but not because of the media, not because his causes are different. But because Office of the President na ito. Of course, what kind of butterfly, I’m as excited as you. We’ll see what kind.
KS: Last night, would you note if the president-elect… He mentioned a name of a journalist, he’s actually a correspondent of Inquirer Mindanao who asked about his health. But he was not the actually the journalist, it was another Inquirer Mindanao correspondent…
AC: But you know, I don’t know the details of that specific ano… but during the campaign, there’d be a hard question, he’d fight back a day or two, then he’d tease the reporter on the third day eh. So it’s not personal. In the same manner na if you hit me today, but tomorrow maganda, it’s not personal. It’s your job eh. So the mayor thinks it’s his job.
JN: So just last night… health question, because last night he mentioned the reporter, his name in the speech. How would that reporter feel if I asked him how his wife’s private organs would smell? My question is, where do we draw the line? I can understand he’s a maverick.
AC: Can we leave that as a hanging question? It is a legitimate question. Ever since the start of the campaign, we told him in the debate, you’re talking to the whole Philippines, you’re talking to the host of the debate. Kaya yung mga kalaban niya pag nasa Cebu, nagbi-Bisaya, ‘pag nasa Pangasinan, nagpa-Pangasinense. Kaya we tell him, when you’re in front of this group, naka-broadcast ‘yan not only livestream, but that’s not his style. Ano siya, kaharap ko kayo eh, so this is not for you. Again, I’m not justifying, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong… Ang problema kasi diyan, he has a relationship with the people in the grassroots, I’m not taking rich of poor ha. I’m talking when no one’s looking; how we talk, how we ano each other. So he has the tendency of argumentum ad absurdum. You bring the argument to the absurd para they see na kalokohan ‘yun. You know sorry I didn’t hear the name of the… but kasi ang dating sa akin, was to everyone else and he was really sending it to the whole media na ‘pag tinanong niyo ako, kasi ‘di ba parang of course you don’t go out saying, “Are you corrupt, sir?” or “Sir with all due respect, I have to ask…” But in a magulong presscon, and when you’re used to the Mindanao press, they’re used to you; they ask you once and you’re a man that’ll say yes or no. You’re asked ten times the same question, para kang ine-interrogate sa witness stand, imbes na bumigay ka, naga-ano ka pabalik, kayo kaya tanungin ko ng ganun? But as I said, trabaho niyo rin yun eh. I can empathize with both sides. But I leave you with that, where do we draw the line? He’s drawn the line for us and it’s June 30. So when we get there, John, let’s all pray and hope that there will be a line that both sides will… I think they’re having trouble with that, live coverage. Kasi at least with news, you can edit even things that shouldn’t be for children, puwedeng general patronage; pero sa live, talagang restricted eh kasi he will say what he wants to say. Again, I look at it as this, it’s a rest button. Extreme na so we have to answer extreme din. But we’re not saying that all public officials, children, kopyahin ako. I know it’s difficult kasi Filipinos are used to idol mentality eh, so kung magaling si Curry sa dribbling three points, tapos maganda personal life niya, spiritual life… gayahin natin lahat. But we should get used to idol natin si John sa pagususlat, idol natin si Alan sa pag-suporta kay Duterte o sa kaniyang anti-crime, anti-corruption… idol natin si Tine sa kaniyang creativity sa questions, but that doesn’t mean na lahat ng gawin ni Alan or yung kaniyang ganitong belief, tama o mali.
KS: How’s the race for the senate president shaping up? The other day we met with Senator Zubiri and he was saying he went all the way here to ask the president-elect who he wants as senate president.
AC: Difficult question to ask. Historically, the president does not pronounce or does not come up in the public who he wants but may body language yan or may whispers because you want your administration to be successful. And departments—the judiciary, executive and legislative—are independent but interdependent. So you don’t want all the powers in one person, dictatorship ‘yan. You also don’t want naman na mag-away-away kasi gridlock, walang mangyayari. So there are also subtleties that are happening, so there are senators that are asking. Some of them insist, nalilito kami kasi kapartido niyo si Koko but running-mate niyo si Alan, so he does give them an answer. I think while the senatry is shaping us, the kind of Senate we need is what we need to shape up. Kasi dati ang taas ng tingin sa Senate, and then sa House depende sa issue. Minsan mabango, minsan hindi. Bu the Senate was always the home of the great wise men, above the frey, above corruption issues, above petty debate. And talking to the senators, those are their concerns. How do we deliver the change, paano ba natin angat ulit yung Senate?
JN: We know before, July 25?
AC: Possibly, but the confirmation will be on that day. Parang surveys din na kapag runaway na, more or less alam mo na, but anything can happen.
JN: But it’s a relatively close race, unlike in the House…
AC: Well it depends on who you talk to eh. Personally, sa akin, I have firm commitments. But ang sasabihin naman ni Senator Sotto, I have commitments that are firm. So ‘di ba, akin firm commitments, sa kaniya commitments that are firm. So sasabihin naman ni Senator Drilon, I have both commitments and all of them are also firm. All of us are talking about the same senators, eh hindi naman puwede dagdag-bawas. Hindi naman kami gremlins na kapag nabasa, nagiging dalawa, tatlo. So there are just twenty-four. But there’ll be a way to determine that and as far as I’m concerned, it’s positioning per committee. Because most of the senators want to be part of this change, want to be in the majority, want the integrity, independence of the senate, but also wants to play a part in this administration. Hindi na yes man, pero wants to be able to effectively put in their thoughts and be able to criticize objectively. Ayaw nila na manira din. But there are of course one or two na ganito kaaga, ang tingin agad sa administration, paano patumbahin, paano patanggal yung president. So we also have to be wary and cautious about those type of senators.
JN: Maybe we can end on this note, you have a very interesting baller, maybe you can explain to us.
AC: I love ballers and ‘di ba like t-shirts with messages, it communicates. I saw this during the campaign. So it’s a baller and may kasama siyang piece of paper, so it starts with Sin then it talks about we were born with sin, we are sinners, then it talks about the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then talks about faith, how when you have faith in the death of Christ to save us, you can talk about forgiveness, and then after forgiveness, you have to grow in the word of God, in fellowship with fellow Christians and then eventually, you get to heaven. So not to preach about religion, but about relationship with God. And of course, we respect all religions. I just thought that if we can send a message of who we should vote for, we can also send a message of personal transformation and personal faith. And since it’s different colors, I am very comfortable in talking, preaching in congregations. But in one-on-one, mayroon ibang magaling mag-preach ng ganoon and mag-share. Like Manny Pacquiao, is one. He’ll sit beside and say… but hindi yun one of my strengths. But ever since I started wearing this… it gives me the opportunity, it’s a God-given opportunity to speak about it, and whether magkasundo tayo o hindi sa religion, it opens up talking about you can’t change the country without changing yourself, and what is the worth of changing the country if ikaw naman, sa impyerno ka mapupunta ‘di ba?
JN: So it’s a baller not for who you vote for, but who has voted for you. May kopya ba niyan si president-elect?
AC: Hindi pa, but that’s a good idea. But I’ve had a lot of time to pray with him, we’ve invited different people who either volunteered or get the opportunity to preach or talk to him, from different religions. One of them was Brother Eddie (Villanueva). We didn’t talk about politics, we talked about na napag-bintangan it was about politics. But he talked about change in the country and then about the word of God.
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