Mike Defensor

Defensor lauds Cayetano despite past ‘political rivalry’

July 19, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 432 views

WHEN Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor expressed his admiration for the leadership Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano during his 15-month term as Speaker from July 2019 to October 2020, he was speaking as someone who had once been on the opposite side of the political fence.

“Ako I’ve worked with Speaker since college. Magkalaban kami sa partido. Ako’y SAMASA siya yung sa Nagkaisang Tugon. I’ve seen Congressman Alan Cayetano when he was just a student-leader. And I’ve seen what he has become now as a national leader,” Defensor said during a press conference before the main show of the Sampung Libong Pag-Asa in Quezon City.

SAMASA (Sandigan para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayan) and Tugon were rival political parties in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman where Cayetano and Defensor had studied.

“He has the competence — talagang y’ung galing para gawin ‘to. He has the vision for the country and [the ability] to execute that vision. And more importantly, I think is his spirituality,” Defensor added.

Being on opposite sides continued for the two after college,particularly when Defensor became a member of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet for several years while Cayetano was a staunch critic.

The two would finally work together in the current 18th Congress, and this is where Defensor saw Cayetano’s mettle as leader.

“Ano ba y’ung mga nagawa niya? Noong budget hearing pa lamang, nakita ko na kaagad y’ung leadership at y’ung competence. And the ability to, not only be a speaker, but to be a national leader,” Defensor said.

“Hindi ito y’ung Speaker na, ‘Magkano ba ang kailangan mo? Magkano ba pondo per distrito?’ Ang ginagawa nito is: ‘Ano ba ang polisiya na dapat dito sa ating bansa?’” Defensor added.

According to Defensor, Cayetano’s brand of leadership led to the streamlining of the 2020 budget, reforming of the education, strengthening of the agriculture sector, and improving of the health sector by increasing the salaries of health workers and improving the health facilities.

“Inayos namin y’ung [national] budget. Inayos namin y’ung K-12, palakasin natin kasi nakita naming may problema tayo. Tinignan naming yung agriculture, itulak natin y’ung agriculture kasi kailangan ng taumbayan,” he said.

“At that time pinag-usapan namin ang health — in fact health facilities enhancement program…. Pinag-usapan namin y’ung problema ng nurses na mag-increase ng salary as part of the GAA [General Appropriations Act]. These were not part of the government’s budget,” he added.