MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday evening, May 2, denied criticism that he wanted to use a controversial Kuwait rescue video for politicking, as a form of early publicity for the 2022 presidential elections.
In an interview with reporters past 11 pm on Wednesday, Cayetano said: "Bakit, nandoon ba ako sa video? Kung gagamitin ko sa pulitika eh di ako na ang pumunta do'n, ako na ang nag-rescue." (Why, was I in the video? If I will use that for politics, then I myself should have gone there, I myself should have conducted the rescue.)
The video, which showed Philippine embassy officials rescuing distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, angered the Kuwaiti government, prompting it to expel the Philippine ambassador there.
While Cayetano was not in the video itself, the DFA said in a press release on April 18 that the augmentation teams, which helped conduct the rescues, "were deployed on orders of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano."
The augmentation teams were supervised by Executive Secretary Raul Dado of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs (OUMWA).
OUMWA is led by Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, who was also Cayetano's chief of staff when he was a senator.
'Malay mo, never na ako tatakbo'
To drive home his point that he was not politicking, Cayetano turned to journalists who request him for interviews.
"How many times have I told you, 'Please, ayoko ng interview.' O, galit kayo sa akin, dahil sabi 'nyo, 'Kayo na ang naging secretary ng DFA, ayaw 'nyo magpa-interview.' 'Pag nagpa-interview naman ako, namumulitika naman," he said.
(How many times have I told you, "Please, I don't want interviews." Then you'll be mad at me because you'll say, "You became the secretary of DFA, then now you refuse interviews." But when I grant interviews, you'll say I'm politicking.)
"Let us do our job. Malay mo, never na ako tatakbo (Who knows, I might never run again). I've never said that I'm running again," he added.
Cayetano, a politician-turned-diplomat, was President Rodrigo Duterte's defeated running mate in the 2016 elections. He is rumored to be eyeing the presidency in 2022.
Cayetano spoke to reporters on Wednesday evening as he welcomed home the expelled Philippine ambassador to Kuwait, Renato Villa.