The Other Cayetano

At Davao City’s Sasa village, the neighbors and coworkers of Joselito Cayetano are stumped by his decision to run for the Senate. They were stunned when he added the second name “Peter” to his certificate of candidacy. Alan Peter Cayetano, the opposition congressman who is running for senator, is not amused.

Joselito Cayetano, a truck driver at Sasa Wharf, runs for the Senate. He will likely spoil the chances of senatorial candidate Alan Peter Cayetano

By Grace S. Uddin

DAVAO CITY— What’s in a name? A lot. Especially when it’s election season and rival political groups, as shown in past elections, may use namesakes as a ploy to confuse voters and supporters to reduce their rivals candidate’s chances of winning.

Take for instance the case of Joselito “Peter” Cayetano, the supposed namesake of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, who is a vocal critic of the Arroyo administration, particular First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Neighbors and relatives in an urban poor village in the Sasa Wharf complex here were stunned when they learned early this year that Joselito, 41, is running for senator in the May 14 elections.

“He only goes out of their house when he had to buy something,” said one neighbor. The neighbor said Joselito was never involved in politics before, not even in the barangay (village) or purok (neighborhood) level.

To hear Joselito run announce his intention to become senator was quite a shock because, according to the neighbor, Joselito’s only involvement in their village is in playing street basketball.

But what stunned neighbors was when Joselito, whom most knew as “Jojo,” added the name “Peter” in the certificate of candidacy he filed with the Commission on Elections.

“This man has no idea about politics,” said Florenda Saluta, 37, Joselito’s friend and kumare, who have always known him as Jojo.

These statements by his friends and neighbors tend to bolster the allegation by Alan Peter Cayetano that Joselito “Peter” Cayetano is not just a nuisance candidate – Joselito, according to him, is being used to undermine the congressman’s senatorial candidacy.
Joselito’s family, however, supports him. “Anybody can use any nickname,” said Joselito’s elder brother Alejandro, 51, who was also surprised by his brother’s decision to run. “Just like ‘Kiko’ or perhaps ‘Vilma Santos’,” he added.

Alejandro dismissed the suggestion that his brother does not have the right to seek public office. “Just because he is poor he doesn’t have the right to run?” he asked.

“He is a poor but he is a good man,” said Juanito Flores, the leader of Sasa village who said he became friends with Joselito when the latter used to participate in basketball competitions in the village. (Many of Joselito’s neighbors and relatives were hesitant to be interviewed, while some asked that their names not be used.)

Alejandro said he has become annoyed at the sudden media attention on his brother. He insists that his brother’s nickname is Peter, although neighbors said they’ve never heard Joselito being addressed by that name before and that they always called him Jojo.

Some of Joselito’s neighbors who used to work with him at the Davao Integrated Port and Stevedoring Services Corporation (DIPSSCOR), where he worked as a checker and subsequently an acting foreman for 20 years, told that there used to be three Peters working at the company: Peter gamay (small), Peter dako (big) and another Peter. According to them, Joselito was not one of these Peters.

At the Kudos Trucking Corporation, where Joselito worked since last year, his co-workers were surprised to hear him run for senator. As far as they know, Joselito filed a three-day leave from his job but it has been two months since they last saw him. Company officials refused to be interviewed.

“We only found out on television that he will run,” said one worker who calls himself Peter.

According to the security guard on duty, Joselito works there as a driver. He described him as an “extra-dor” or one who is not a regular employee and only works if he’s needed and called by the company. “He used to drive that Fantuzzi,” the guard said, pointing at the huge Fantuzzi Regiane, a cargo loader, parked nearby. The equipment is operated by another man now.

Even the personnel of the canteen where Joselito and his colleagues used to buy and eat snacks were surprised by all this.

Alexander Boado Jr., a coworker, said Joselito was known at their workplace only as Cayetano, not as Peter nor Jojo. When one personnel from the canteen asked who Boado was describing to, Boado replied: “Si Cayetano ba. Si Jojo gud. (It’s Cayetano. You know, Jojo).”

Flores, the Sasa barangay leader, said he knew Joselito as Jojo but, to him, nicknames don’t matter because these change. “I used to be called Junior,” Flores said. “But now my constituents call me Toto.”
Some of Joselito’s friends said he may have been coerced. “He may have been forced into this,” Saluta said. “He was told that a company would hire him for a job in Manila but now things turned out differently.”

According to Saluta, her neighbors saw two big men on a vehicle — men who looked like they were rich – come around the place one day. The next thing they know, Joselito was on TV running for senator.

But Alejandro denied this. He said Joselito was not fetched by some strange men but, rather, he packed his belongings and went to Manila with his wife and two children.

“He was captured by the Mulawins,” Boado, Joselito’s coworker at the trucking company, joked when asked him about Joselito’s disappearance, sending the other workers at the canteen laughing. Mulawins are mythical eagles popularized in a Filipino TV series.

Alejandro said his brother is not a nuisance candidate because he is backed by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) with other senatorial candidates like lawyer Oliver Lozano and the former singer Victor Wood. He also denied someone was behind his brother’s candidacy.

(Lozano is allegedly being used by the Arroyo administration to ruin Alan Peter Cayetano’s candidacy. Lozano was the same lawyer who filed the first, but defective, impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, supposedly to preclude the filing of a stronger complaint against the president, who, under the Constitution, can only be the subject of one impeachment complaint a year.)

In an earlier report, Ilocos Norte Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos denied having a Joselito P. Cayetano as member of the KBL although Lozano insisted that Joselito is a KBL member from Davao aligned with one Vicente Millora.

Alejandro also said Alan Cayetano, the congressman, was not angry with Joselito running for the Senate in the upcoming elections. Cayetano visited them when the Genuine Opposition party campaigned in Davao early this month, said Alejandro, who took out a newspaper which published a photo of Alan and Joselito’s nephew together with Conrada, Joselito’s mother. Cayetano’s group also pasted campaign stickers on the doors and walls in the neighborhood.

Victor Wood and Oliver Lozano recently made a visit to the community but only stayed for a short while. The family’s only contact with Joselito is through phone and text messages.

“We will support him,” said Gilbert Cayetano, another brother of Joselito’s, who refused to say more. Alejandro said there will be no looking back for Joselito.

Some of Joselito’s neighbors share that sentiment. “I am proud that somebody from this squatter’s area had the guts to run for senator,” said Ramil Orbeta, 33, a checker at Philport and Joselito’s neighbor.

“We hope now that once he’s in the Senate, we’ll no longer be dispersed here,” said Irene Yallto, 23, another neighbor. She said their community is constantly under threat of demolition.

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