Cayetano confident of Duterte support amid SEAG woes

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
Cayetano confident of Duterte support amid SEAG woes
Cayetano said the President wants him to do everything that needs to be done amid attacks on social media.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also heads  the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), is confident that he still enjoys the support of President Duterte amid the controversies hounding the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).

“The President sent word to me and said I should continue and just do my job. He’s updated. We’ve been sending updates to Malacañang regularly,” he said.

Cayetano said the President wants him to do everything that needs to be done amid attacks on social media.

Cayetano also contested the pronouncement of presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo that the Palace will conduct its own investigation on the SEAG controversies.

“That wasn’t the message to me by the President. Secretary Panelo sometimes has his own interpretation or his own words,” he said.

Duterte on Friday ordered an audit of the P6.5-billion government funding for the SEAG and also an investigation on preparations made by PHISGOC due to reported blunders on venues and reception of athletes, which he said should be done after the event.

But the President believed that Cayetano is not accountable for any corruption in connection with the SEAG hosting.

“He has to answer but I am sure that Cayetano is not involved in corruption,” Duterte stressed, saying he wanted PHISGOC officials to be made answerable for lack of foresight.

Cayetano said he already drafted a letter to be sent on Dec. 12, after the SEAG, asking the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit of all government funds used for event.

Asked if the issues hurled against him over the SEAG could be related to the speakership issue in the House, Cayetano said he would not want to speculate.

“Whoever wants to become Speaker can be Speaker. It’s not like I’m kapit-tuko (clinging) to my position. I read from the front page of a newspaper about ‘coup d’etat’ and they don’t even have to do that. They can come up to me and say, ‘sir we want (Huose Majority Leader) Martin Romualdez,’ so be it. We’re on good terms anyway. After 15 months, if (Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan) Velasco says it’s his turn, then he can take over,” he stressed.

“What has that got to do with the SEAG? So if someone wants to take advantage or someone wants to create intrigue, that’s fine. But it’s not hurting me, it’s hurting the SEAG and the country,” he lamented.

Cayetano also brushed aside the cryptic social media post of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte that reportedly alluded to him.

“I don’t have IG (Instagram account),” he replied when asked to comment.

Mayor Duterte post on Instagram last week a cryptic message wherein she reminded House members of her earlier warning.

“‘I told you so’ is a sure-fire way to kick-start an argument. In the same way, ‘you do not listen’ will ignite a conversation into a heated one. May I just say to everyone in Congress, ‘I told you but you did not listen’ so there you go,” read the post.

Prior to the controversies in the SEAG, allies of Cayetano had hinted on the possibility of him continuing as House speaker until 2022 despite a term-sharing arrangement with Velasco.

Duterte had already said Cayetano and Velasco should honor their gentleman’s agreement on the term-sharing for the speakership.

“Our agreement is sharing, half-half. Now, if anyone of them would not honor it, be it Lord Velasco or si Peter Cayetano, that would be his decision,” Duterte said in an ambush interview in Davao.

“But he has to take care that there is an agreement of sharing. If you violate it… Usapan ‘yan (That’s an agreement),” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said yesterday there will be an automatic post-analysis after the SEAG to be able to identify best practices that could be emulated in the country’s next hosting of international events.

Zubiri said the post-analysis would also allow the government to identify causes of glitches and lapses, which will be addressed in the next events.

“I don’t want to say investigation but post-assessment on how we could’ve done better. But at this point, let us concentrate to win the gold and successful hosting,” Zubiri added. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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