Lugar Lang: Cayetano as a battered (running) mate

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he is tired and will step down if he is assured that Senator Bongbong Marcos or Senator Francis Escudero will succeed him. Aside from the blatant unconstitutionality of the statement, the public was not particularly shocked by his open support for the son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Even during the campaign, he had mentioned admiration for the elder Marcos and it is clear now that he is batting for the same team that plundered the nation and set a world record.

But people also noticed that Duterte did not even mention Alan Peter Cayetano, who is currently secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and was his running mate in the 2016 elections. To which Cayetano replied, “I don’t know why he didn’t mention me, and it doesn’t bother me. Whenever he mentions possible successors it is simply what was on his mind at that particular time, and I respect that.” This prompted the Superficial Gazette to tweet that Cayetano is in an abusive relationship because: “ginagago araw-araw, hindi na mahal ng partner, alam na marami itong kabit, puwedeng makipaghiwalay anytime, pinipili pa ring magstay.”

True enough. In fact, you could say the same of the way Duterte treats the Filipinos. Fortunately, many former supporters of Duterte have since realized that the change he had promised in the campaign was not forthcoming, and have broken up with him and “joined the resistance.” But many others, like Cayetano, stay with the abuser because they don’t know where else to go. Or maybe they still appreciate the benefits of the abusive relationship. For instance, their positions in government and other opportunities, which may never come again.

To help them gain clarity about their situations, here are some patterns of abuse and how to respond.

PATTERN 1: “The interaction which upsets, hurts, or confuses her is unexpected.”

It seemed that all was well in their relationship because Cayetano was appointed as DFA secretary, which is a powerful position indeed. They also agreed on such serious matters as China’s encroachment on our territory. He has been obeying the president dutifully. Then suddenly, he is not even in the anomalous vision of succession.

PATTERN 2: “In some way she is isolated…from their own families or from like-minded friends.”

Because of Cayetano’s subservience to Duterte, his father, former Senator Rene Cayetano, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, may be turning in his grave. On the other hand, he is probably now closer to his sister, Senator Pia Cayetano, who, like him, continues to serve at the table of Duterte. Cayetano’s flaccid stand on our “dispute” with China on the West Philippine Sea has surely isolated him from Filipinos who demand that we assert our sovereignty over the matter.

PATTERN 3: “Her mate defines her, the relationship, himself, and most often, the upsetting interactions.”

That’s self-explanatory. After this relationship with Duterte, which he sealed when he agreed to run as his vice president, no one will see him for what he is. People will only see that he was used by Duterte, who doesn’t even think highly enough of him to include him in his fantasies. And now that Duterte has shown the public what he thinks of him, Cayetano even accepts and justifies it. He can take comfort in the benefits of his position as DFA secretary anyway.

It’s tragic. I want to empathize with the battered persons in this administration, like I do battered women. But really, I can’t wait to see what will happen to these lackeys if Duterte indeed does not finish his term and the constitutional successor Vice President Leni Robredo takes over. Meanwhile, if you suspect you are in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Better yet, get out of there quickly!

Source: Evans, Patricia. The Verbally Abusive Relationship (1992).

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Posted in Opinion