Duterte appoints Cayetano as DFA chief

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — It's official. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano is the new Foreign Affairs Secretary.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he signed Cayetano's appointment letter as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

"I signed an appointment (letter) just before I left my room and I saw the name of Senator Cayetano… DFA," Duterte said in a media briefing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before leaving for a six-day working visit to Cambodia, Hong Kong, and China.

 

Cayetano will replace Perfecto Yasay who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA). Undersecretary Enrique Manalo took over the post in an acting capacity.

Cayetano's appointment came a day after the one-year ban to appoint losing candidate in last year's elections. Cayetano was Duterte's running mate.

In December last year, Duterte first told CNN Philippines in an exclusive interview that Cayetano would be leading the DFA since Yasay would be returning to the United States "to fulfill his obligations" from a teaching contract.

Also read: Alan Cayetano is next DFA secretary - Duterte

Yasay later clarified he is not leaving the Philippines, but that he does not mind Cayetano taking his place.

The CA rejected Yasay's nomination last March for lying under oath and failing to declare his U.S. citizenship in 1986. He was the first appointee to have received a rejection. The other was Environment chief Gina Lopez who was replaced by Roy Cimatu.

Also read: CA rejects Yasay's appointment as DFA Chief

Lacson wants swift confirmation of Cayetano

Meanwhile, some of Cayetano's colleagues at the Senate welcomed his new designation to the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

In fact, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the CA Foreign Affairs committee wanted Cayetano confirmed as soon as he had completed the documentary and publication requirements.

"With the permission of the majority of the members of the CA, we can even suspend the rules and waive all the requirements out of courtesy to a sitting member of the Senate, as well as the CA itself, and confirm him by acclamation," Lacson said in a text message later in the day.

Sen. Tito Sotto shared Lacson's sentiments, saying Cayetano would "swiftly pass" the powerful CA.

For their part, senators Ralph Recto and Chiz Escudero expressed support for Cayetano's new Cabinet role.