"Fifty years na panay na lang Marcos, Cojuangco at Aquino, wala na bang iba?” (For fifty years we had Marcoses, Cojuangcos and Aquinos. Don’t we have anyone else?) Senator Alan Peter Cayetano asked in his opening speech during the first vice presidential debate on April 10.
One of the youngest senators today, Cayetano has long advocated for anti-corruption in government, pushing him to run for higher office after spending more than six years in the Senate.
Local government official
Before Cayetano made a name for being a staunch critic in the Senate, he has long served as a local government official in Taguig City.
If Senator Bongbong Marcos had Ilocos Norte, Cayetano had Taguig City as his dynasty, serving as its councilor at 21, working his way up to be its representative by 27. Today, the city is headed by his wife as its city mayor.
Unknown to many, Cayetano was still a junior college student in the University of the Philippines when he ran as councilor, while he was in Ateneo Law School when he was elected congressman.
But it was during his time in the Senate when Cayetano became a household name after leading the NBN-ZTE deal investigation as a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman and has made headlines for similar issues after that.
Some of the laws he authored include the University of the Philippines Charter Act (Republic Act 9500) and the Iskolar ng Bayan Act (Republic Act 10648). He also co-authored the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, An Act Providing for Mandatory Basic Immunization Services for Infants and Children, and the Domestic Workers Act (Kasambahay Law).
Not without enemies
For a man with much to say, he has his own share of critics and complaints filed against him.
In 2014, Cayetano was served with a graft complaint for the alleged hiring of more than 3000 ghost employees while he was the Taguig City mayor.
However, Cayetano has repeatedly denied the allegations and calls it as a mere ploy by his political enemies, as it was during the heat of the senatorial investigations for the overpriced Makati City Parking building, where the Binays were accused of corruption.
For Cayetano’s part, he has consistently ranked one of the poorest in the Senate at 20th among the 24 legislators, as shown in his 2013 and 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) with less than P24 million ($507,719.92) declared.
"Be calm, change is coming," Cayetano said after he filed his certificate of candidacy in October, 2015. The line went on to be the Duterte-Cayetano tandem’s slogan, after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decided to run for president in December 2015.
The pair promises to lessen, if not, eradicate crime in the country in “three to six months,” and vowed to resign if they do not deliver once they get elected.
“We have to fix the system. We should start with economic federalism, not only the urban centers but the rural centers. Three, massive infrastructure, transportation system… and more importantly fight corruption. Only the Duterte-Cayetano tandem guarantees you that,” Cayetano said in the first vice presidential debate.
Cayetano has always been vocal to have “new names” to lead the government, even when he was a product of a political dynasty himself. His father, the late Rene Cayetano also served in then Taguig, Pateros and Muntinlupa municipality before elected senator.
“I’m not saying dynasties are good. I’m just saying it’s not the problem. The real problem is the concentration of power among the elite politicians. And how do we solve that? We need to empower people,” Cayetano said in a town hall event in February.
While his advocacy is popular in a country prevalent of graft, Cayetano remains among the lowest in the polls with 15% in the latest Social Weather Stations survey released less than a week before the elections.
Even then the vice presidential aspirant always had this to say: “You can choose not to vote for me but vote for Mayor Duterte.”
Entrepreneur Philippines profiles the leading presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates in the upcoming May 9, 2016 elections. We aim to help voters know these candidates through their platforms focusing on the economy, entrepreneurship, tax reform.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/writer. Follow her on Twitter@elyssalopz.