By Beting Laygo Dolor | Contributing Editor

The campaign period for the May 2019 elections may have started last week but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to decide the fate of the Cayetano couple, both running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Former Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano and his wife Lani Cayetano are running for Taguig-Pateros House seat.

The catch? As a married couple who present themselves as happily married, the couple claim to live in separate homes. One address is in the first district, while the second address is in the second district of Taguig-Pateros.

Critics claim they are blatantly skirting the country’s election law which requires that any candidate for the House must be a valid resident of the district he or she seeks to represent.

The Comelec heard last week a petition to cancel the candidacies of the Cayetano couple but did not issue a decision.

Mrs. Cayetano served her third and final term as mayor as allowed by law and is seeking a House seat for the first time.

Lawyer Emil Marañon III argued that the couple had issues in their residences as stated under their certificates of candidacy (COC).

Multiple residences are not the only issue raised by the lawyer against the couple. Even their siblings are involved in what Maranon said was an anomaly.

According to the lawyer, the Cayetano couple were not even sure when they transferred to Two Serendra, a condominium in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig. The pair reportedly filed different dates when they became residents of the place as per their documents submitted to the poll body.

Photo: Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 20, 2017. (Karl Norman Alonzo/ Presidential Photo)

Said Maranon in the vernacular: “If you really transferred to Serendra, why don’t you know the date when you started living there?”

It gets worse, he added. He said that it was odd that during every election season, the siblings of Alan Peter Cayetano would use the Serendra unit as their home address. How all of them could fit in a one-bedroom unit was a stretch of the imagination, he said.

Alan Peter Cayetano has two siblings — former Sen. Pia Cayetano, the eldest sibling, and former Taguig Rep. Lino Cayetano, the youngest.

All are running for various elective positions in the May polls.

That Alan Peter and Lani are still together but have different residential addresses was explained by their lawyer, George Garcia.

Garcia said that the couple may have declared two different domiciles in their certificates but there was nothing wrong with the arrangement. It is possible for the couple to have separate domiciles as “domicile” means that this is the place where the married couple would return every now and then.

“There’s no doubt that a married couple can have different domiciles. But under the law, a married couple is obliged to live in only one place. That place is not necessarily their domicile. That place is what we call a conjugal dwelling, a marital residence. But that is not their domicile,” according to Garcia.

Alan Peter Cayetano was the running mate of Rodrigo Duterte when the former Davao City mayor ran for president in 2016. Duterte won but Cayetano lost.

Cayetano, however, was appointed Foreign Affairs Secretary by President Duterte after the one-year ban on the appointment of losing candidates expired.

Cayetano resigned last year and is now running for a House seat as representative of the First District of Taguig. He declared in his COC that he is a resident of Barangay Bagumbayan.

His wife, Lani Cayetano, is running for a House seat for the 2nd District of Taguig. She stated in her COC that she resides in Barangay Fort Bonifacio.

The Comelec is expected to issue a decision on the couple’s disqualification case before the May elections.

The late patriarch of the Cayetano clan was one-time Senate president Rene “Companero” Cayetano, a successful lawyer who once served in the Marcos administration before turning to politics.

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