Cayetano on public safety: PH 'far from Singapore'

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday, September 8, that the Philippines is "far from being Singapore or Japan" in terms of public safety, as killings rise in the country. 

"We sincerely believe that we are a little bit safer, but we're still far from being Singapore or Japan as far as safety is concerned," Cayetano said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

In an interview with reporters, Cayetano also denied that he once said the Philippines seems as safe as Singapore because of the Duterte administration.

The DFA chief, a former senator who was Duterte's running mate in the 2016 elections, claimed he was misquoted by his and the administration's critics on Facebook. 

He said he was saying something else when he, as a senator then, delivered a privilege speech at the Senate in September 2016.

Cayetano explained on Friday: "If you go to back to the transcript, what I said was, our aspiration is to be as safe as Singapore and Japan, and to be able to walk anywhere we want. What I said was, aren't we a little safer now than when President Duterte came in?"

What Cayetano said in 2016

Based on video reviewed by Rappler, Cayetano said the following in his privilege speech in September 2016: "It's not perfect. In fact the President very candidly said he needs another 6 months, but let us be honest with ourselves, it is happening. The Philippines is becoming more like Singapore in terms of being able to walk the streets at any time at night."

After Cayetano made this privilege speech in September 2016, Senator Leila de Lima blasted him for saying that "we are as a peaceful and as safe as Singapore."

"Kung kasintahimik ng Singapore ang Pilipinas, kailangan din bang may bumubulagta na mahigit 30 tao kada araw sa Singapore para sila ay maging ligtas?" De Lima asked. (If Singapore is as quiet as the Philippines, do they need to have 30 killings each day in Singapore to say they are safe?)

A year later at the DFA, Cayetano on Friday sought to quell concerns about the recent killings, especially those that involved 3 teenagers – 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, and 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman. (READ: Cardinal Tagle: 'We cannot govern the nation by killing'

"The problem is the abuse," Cayetano explained. "The problem is not the drug war." –