Alan Peter
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“The next few days will be critical.”

These were the words of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano when he endorsed an impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Nine months later, these words still echo for him.

Cayetano is now campaigning for a Senate seat, following his sister Sen. Pia Cayetano, an incumbent Senator who won in the 2004 elections. If he wins, he will be the third from his family to be a Senator, the first being their father Former Sen. Renato Cayetano. Alan Peter Cayetano is born on October 28, 1970 and is the second child of the former senator and Sandra Schramm Cayetano, an American.

Cayetano admitted that winning in the Senatorial elections is a big battle. He said that the road to the Senate for him is littered with landmines.

Not that he’s troubled. Cayetano, married to lawyer Ma. Laarni Lopez-Cayetano for two years but without children, is just concerned on the steps that his detractors are using to derail his candidacy.

“Cheating began on Day One of the campaign period,” he said.

Cayetano, however, has not come this far to buckle down and bow down to his detractors. He said that he thinks that it is his time to be a Senator, so he’s going to take it.

Cayetano’s outlook in politics was greatly influenced by his father. Like his sister (who uses “Compañera) he is planning to inherit his father’s nickname “Compañero.” Cayetano was very much fascinated with his father’s work even when he was young.

“I always liked following him around. I almost got kicked out of high school for cutting [my classes] so much to follow my dad to the Batasang Pambansa,” he explained.

He still finished his high school in de la Salle Zobel on time though. It was not surprising that he chose to take a political science course in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It was also not surprising that he ran for a seat in the university’s student council and won a seat.

Cayetano was still in college when he took his first step towards local politics. He was a junior when he was elected as a councilor of Taguig in 1992. He was credited to have placed first in the polls, and to have been the youngest councilor at that time.

Cayetano was studying law in Ateneo de Manila University when he decided to run for vice-mayor. He won the elections but he didn’t get the seat because his opponent accused him of cheating.

“That was my first real electoral battle because we were charging each other with cheating. It was like a murder case,” he explained.

The poll fraud proceedings were too long that he had already graduated from law school with a silver medal and got admitted to the Bar by the time the decision was handed down in 1998. He won the case, but it was useless because the term had already ended and he had just been elected as the Taguig-Pateros Representative.

Cayetano was credited for being the youngest congressional representative in the House in his first term. His age and the fact that he was new wasn’t a hindrance though. He said that the older representatives were always ready to help.

“The average age in the House is 30, so the older ones can’t help but try and help us,” he explained.

Cayetano accomplished a lot of things in the House. He’s already in his third consecutive term as a Rep., and he only had 11 absences out of a total 336 sessions.

Most of the laws he drafted were concerned with education. In the previous 13th Congress, he drafted four laws that will establish national high schools in his district, two that will establish science high schools, and one that will establish an integrated elementary school.

Cayetano was focused on education because Taguig was considered to have the worst school system in the country when he was still a councilor.

“Our elementary schools are divided into three shifts: 6-10 a.m., 10-2 p.m., and 2-6 p.m.,” he explained. The students were also failing their subjects.

He had since then added more teachers and classrooms to improve the situation. He also doubled the salaries of the teachers.

The students showed signs of improvement after the changes. The students began to compete against other schools and to win some awards.

Cayetano initially started crafting these laws under the Arroyo camp, specifically under the Lakas-PPC ruling party. He and his sister ran under the Lakas-PPC banner last 2004 elections.

However, in a move reminiscent of his father’s turnaround against Pres. Marcos, in 1986, Cayetano joined the opposition after the 2004 presidential elections to protest the alleged cheating in that elections. Months later, he began initiating blows to the first family.

The first blow was his support of the impeachment cases against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under the issues of poll fraud and corruption. Among the evidences filed by the opposition was the “Garci Tape,” an audio recording that supposedly contains the voice of Arroyo talking to Commission on Elections (Comelec) official Virgilio Garcillano while the poll tally was going on.

Cayetano said that Arroyo should concede to the impeachment case so that she could either prove or deny the allegations against her.

“All we wanted was to be heard, to be able to ask if she cheated,” he said.

There were two impeachment cases filed against Arroyo in a span of one year. However, the two cases failed to proceed after alleged manipulations of the Arroyo administration.

The first one was muddled by another impeachment case by Atty. Oliver Lozano, an alleged ally of Arroyo. He beat the opposition by filing a weak impeachment case before the opposition filed theirs. The charge filed by Lozano was then dismissed for lack of substance.

The next year, the impeachment case filed by the opposition went through to the House but was also dismissed after an overnight House session where it was voted down.

“They’ve closed all doors to finding out the truth. They don’t want to see the evidence,” explained Cayetano.

The second blow that Cayetano gave the first family was his strong opposition of the Charter Change. The Charter Change launched by the Arroyo administration was a change of the present Philippine government to parliamentary. Her critics like Conrado de Quiros, a columnist from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, say that this move will insure that Arroyo will stay in power.

When Arroyo requested that the people should unite “for God and country,” Cayetano was quick to reply: “Let us have reform and change for God and country but not for Gloria and company.”

The third blow that Cayetano had brought would be the way he belittled Arroyo’s claim of a “strong republic.” He said that this is false because the “strong republic” could not even stop extra-judicial killings.

He said that the extra-judicial killings are “getting ridiculous.”

“It shows that there’s no deterrence now [to] the murder and the killings,” Cayetano explained.

Perhaps the major blow that Cayetano had served was his recent exposé that the First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo has hidden wealth deposited in a bank in Munich, Germany.

Cayetano even asked Mike Arroyo to sign a waiver so that an inquest could be started. However, Mike Arroyo refused. Instead, Mike Arroyo went to Germany with his lawyers to conduct the inquest himself.

When he came back and said that the claims were false, the House Ethics Committee allegedly railroaded the decision to suspend Cayetano for 45 days.

Mike Arroyo said that Cayetano is very ungrateful.

“During the 2004 campaign, he and his sister came to me, saying, ‘Tito we have no money anymore, not even money for watchers,’” Mike Arroyo explained. “When I gave him the money, he said ‘that’s not enough,’ so I even added more. Personal funds, ha,” he added.

However, Cayetano denied that he and his sister begged Mike Arroyo for personal funds. He explained that he was under the Lakas-PPC party then and that Mike Arroyo’s wife was the standard bearer “so it’s natural that the party would help us.”

These blows may be the reason why Cayetano’s road to the Senate is full of land mines.

Among these landmines are the disqualification case filed against him and another candidate who goes by his own name.

Jose Capco, Jr., a former mayor of Pateros, had filed a disqualification case against Cayetano on the argument that Cayetano is not a Filipino citizen.

Capco explained that Cayetano was born a Filipino but he applied for an alien citizenship because of his mother, Sandra Schramm Cayetano, an American.

This claim was first voiced out by the Department of Justice Secretary (DOJ) Raul Gonzalez, who went as far as questioning Cayetano’s gender.

Cayetano debunked all these claims. He said that Capco is a “staunch supporter” of Arroyo, and that Capco’s accusation was a “Malacañang plan.”

“This is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest landmine that Cayetano is facing today is another senatorial candidate named Joselito Pepito “Peter” Cayetano.

Pepito Cayetano is a senatorial candidate from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), a political party from the Marcos era.

Atty. Oliver Lozano, the same lawyer who muddled up the first impeachment case filed by the opposition, is one of the more famous senatorial candidates under the new KBL.

Cayetano said that the other Cayetano had been floated by the Arroyo administration to spoil some of the votes that he will be earning.

The KBL’s move prompted Cayetano to drop his second name “Peter,” and to file a disqualification case against his namesake.

Pepito Cayetano was not among the senatorial candidates tagged by the Comelec as nuisance candidates. Nuisance senatorial candidates are those who cannot launch a nationwide campaign, those who have almost the same name as another more qualified candidate because it would confuse voters, those not endorsed by a credible party, and those who treat the elections as a joke.

Cayetano is arguing that Pepito Cayetano is a nuisance candidate because the name of the latter would confuse voters. He also claimed that the latter has no capacity to launch a nationwide campaign.

Cayetano also claimed that the KBL president, Ilocos Gov. Ferdinand “Bong-bong” Marcos, pointed out that their party did not endorse Pepito Cayetano.

In the end, Cayetano said that the case he filed is taking a toll on his campaign. “Right now, I’m hosting all my campaign sorties in the Comelec,” he joked.—Mark Ching

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