The Commission on Appointments (CA) has approved the nomination of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano as the new chief of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Cayetano’s appointment met no opposition from the members of the CA committee on foreign affairs led by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
His nomination was approved in less than five minutes before he could even deliver his opening statement on Wednesday morning, May 17 — which, according to Lacson, is likely the “shortest confirmation hearing of a Cabinet Secretary.”
The CA committee referred Cayetano’s confirmation to the plenary in the afternoon. It also approved the motion to confirm his nomination without objection.
Cayetano’s approval came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte announced his nomination on May 10, after the one-year appointment ban on losing candidates in the May 2016 elections ended.
Thanking the CA for the “swift and painless” confirmation, Cayetano reiterated that he will do his best as the new DFA chief.
“I will make a commitment to you today that I will do my best na hindi po kayo mapahiya (to not embarrass you),” Cayetano said, who is now deemed resigned as a senator.
Even as the chief diplomat, Cayetano, who was also Duterte’s vice-presidential running mate in the previous elections, maintained that he would defend the chief executive from critics.
Cayetano, however, noted that he would take into consideration his new position by using “more diplomatic language” when speaking, especially before the international community.
“I will continue to speak for the President, I will continue to speak pag inutusan ng (if ordered by the) President, I will continue to speak kung sa tingin ko necessary (if I think it is necessary) but not in the political manner that was available to me when I was in the Senate,” he told reporters in a chance interview.
Cayetano replaces Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, who was assigned as the acting foreign secretary after the CA rejected the ad interim appointment of Perfecto Yasay Jr. over citizenship issues.
Revealing his plan as the new Foreign Affairs secretary, Cayetano earlier said the department would prioritize the welfare, protection and comfort of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
He assured that all the DFA officials would “not have their own agenda or their own foreign policy,” adding that they would “all work hard together to implement the foreign policy of the Philippines.”
He also promised to “keep building bridges” with other countries while maintaining good relationships with allies.
Likewise, Cayetano vowed to refrain from using “microphone diplomacy” and instead leave the public communications to the spokesperson.