Cayetano running for VP, courts Duterte

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano gestures as he formally declares his intent to run for Vice President in 2016 elections during his announcement in a press conference held at Grand Menseng Hotel in Davao City.

DAVAO CITY—Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has announced he is running for Vice President, but he is still courting a standard-bearer.

Announcing his run for the vice presidency here, Cayetano said he wanted Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to be his presidential candidate.

Duterte has yet to reconsider his decision not to seek the highest public office.

A Duterte-Cayetano tandem would be a “formidable, strong and winnable ticket,” according to Sen. Koko Pimentel, president of Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party.

Cayetano said he made his announcement in this Southern Mindanao city to stress his call for the “decentralization of (government’s) power, funds and focus,” a call long made by Duterte who, for months, went around the country on a “listening tour” for federalism.

“Like Taguig, we have seen many real changes in Davao City,” he said, apparently referring to his “tunay na pagbabago” (real change) campaign slogan.

“And I am praying for a President who will make us all proud and bring true change to Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao,” Cayetano said at the end of his speech.

Asked whom he wanted to run with in next year’s elections, Cayetano said: “I want a President who will bring true change. Someone who has compassion for the country and is brave for the needed changes.”

It was a clear reference to Duterte, whose camp uses “tapang at malasakit” (courage and compassion) as campaign slogan.

The mayor, however, has repeatedly announced that he is not running for President.

In an interview on Monday night, Duterte said the recent results of the Pulse Asia survey, which placed him in a “statistical tie” with presidential contenders Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay did not mean anything to him because he was not running.

Cayetano, however, refused to mention Duterte’s name, saying he was “still waiting and praying, and hoping that that person will run and I will be able to support him, one way or the other.”

He also refused to have his photo taken with a Duterte standee at the lobby of the hotel where he made his announcement. “Some other time,” he told photographers.

Cayetano’s announcement was attended by former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol, a known staunch supporter of the mayor, and Peter Laviña, the designated spokesperson of Duterte.

Piñol said Cayetano’s declaration in the city was “perceived as an indication that he was looking at Duterte as his possible running mate.”

“There has been no decision yet on the part of Duterte on whether he would finally decide to run for President or that he would take Cayetano as his vice presidential running mate,” Piñol said.

Cayetano said his announcement did not mean that he would be the candidate of the Nacionalista Party (NP) for the vice presidency, saying the NP still has to meet next week.

Two other NP members—Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.—have been reported to be interested in running for the same post.

Cayetano said he had called Trillanes on Tuesday morning and told his party mate of his plan.
“I told him that we’re still good, our relationship, but I’m also vying for the vice presidency,” he said, adding that his camp was still waiting for Marcos’ decision.

“Our agreement is we are free to chart our own destiny and decide what to do,” Cayetano said.
“As of now, the Nacionalista Party is not committed to anyone,” he added.

Asked if his announcement was meant to preempt the LP declaration of Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo as the administration’s candidate for Vice President, Cayetano said he had informed President Aquino about his plan.

“I did tell him that I would be running for Vice President, but I also understand that they have a political party,” he said.

Cayetano said he and Aquino shared the same vision for the country, but differed when it came to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is aimed at addressing the Moro rebellion in Mindanao.
The proposed BBL, if passed by Congress, would pave the way for the creation of a political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“For the record, I will not sacrifice my principles for politics or for any position in government, nor did the President ask me to do so. For the record, I believe that the whole Mindanao should get a BBL-like law, not only the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” he said.

“That is why calls by Mayor Duterte and Senator Pimentel for federalism are growing louder. That is why the call for decongesting Metro Manila [and] decentralizing power is gaining ground,” he added.
Cayetano said he chose Sept. 29 as the date of his announcement because numbers 2 and 9 sounded like “tunay” (real).

“We made the decision last week, but chose to announce it today,” he said.

Besides, he said, even before Robredo’s name was mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate for the LP, there were already problems with his talks with the administration party.

With the possibility of him facing Robredo in the vice presidential race, Cayetano said: “I know she’s a good person and I wish her the best.”

His wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, said she was sure her husband was qualified to be Vice President.

“I have no doubt he is capable,” the Taguig mayor told the Inquirer.