Mr. Chairman, my dear colleagues :
I stand with you today in endorsing the demotion of our dear colleague from a senator of the Republic to its top diplomat.
His 19 years in Congress – 9 years in the Bigger House and 10 in the Better House – have prepared him for the grueling job ahead.
I am saying that with authority because I believe that all the things he needed to learn in diplomacy, he learned in these two chambers, so much so that should he opt to ape his Ate and bike to his new office, there will be no need for training wheels.
The current public image of the nominee is that of the president’s loyal defender, his trusty ally, and devoted confidant.
He willingly takes the slings meant for him, returning fire when needed, that in so far as the president’s image is concerned, he is the true commander of the guards.
If Bong Go is the body man who waits on the President hand and foot, he is the body vest that cushions the blows, which is not an easy job in a land where the president is the national punching bag.
But it will be wrong to portray him simply as a partisan.
What should not be forgotten is that he is foremost a patriot and a professional.
He has logged a quarter-of-a century of public service. He is a lawyer, reportedly the most astute in a family of accomplished companeros y companeras.
In Congress, he had done the required tours, which exposed him to all facets of policymaking, whether as a majority stalwart tenaciously pushing administration bills, or as an opposition leader who can be stubborn in his fiscalizing.
He has chaired major committees, from Education where key reform measures were passed during his watch, to Foreign Affairs, where he, to cite a few of his prodigious outputs, shepherded the ratification of major treaties like the Paris Climate Accord, and bills like extending the period of validity of passports.
In each of these, he puts on full public display the skills required to get things done.
The tenacious curiosity in going to the bottom of scams when he was at the helm of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
The charm to convince his colleagues to get behind measures as a majority or deputy leader.
The dogged cross examination skills that ferret out truth and close down hiding places of lies.
And in all of these, the eloquence to articulate his position, in a manner that cuts down his adversary and makes converts out of those who doubt.
In his new calling, I know that he will deploy the right mix of talent and tact that will effectively advance the Republic’s interests.
And this reinvention is evident when he declared himself a no fan of microphone diplomacy, which is a volte-face (valt-fas) for a politician who has wielded a megaphone all his public life.
If in these troubled times what we need is a Secretary of Foreign Affairs “with the knack of making a point without making an enemy,” then we will find that man in Alan Peter Cayetano.
It is thus with pleasure that I endorse his confirmation as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.