Malilong: The Speaker as caretaker: Will he?

Frank Malilong
·3 min read

WE HAVE a new congressman in the city’s north district. Technically, Lord Allan Velasco, who also happens to be the Speaker of the House, is just a caretaker until a regular officeholder shall have been elected but his designation bodes well for the district.

Raul Del Mar must have been still thinking about what was good for his district even in his deathbed. He reportedly told his family of his wish for Velasco to take care of Cebu City North in the event of his death. Velasco obliged.

Why a congressman from faraway Marinduque should be chosen over any of the 10 remaining Cebuano congressmen (excluding the party-list representatives) may at first glance defy logic. When you think, however, of the pitiable amount that has been allocated for Cebu City, compared to many other districts, the choice makes perfect sense.

Not very long ago, Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa mentioned this gross disparity in budgetary allocations as reason for his support of the move to replace then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano with Velasco. Indeed, while the budget proposal originates from the Executive branch, the Speaker wields tremendous influence in choosing which items to delete, reduce or improve.

I do not think that an ambitious and young politician like Velasco looks at the speakership as dead end to his career. He must have something higher on his crosshairs, one that requires him to build a national base. A congressman can serve only three consecutive three-year terms. So what’s next for him, the Senate, the vice presidency or the most coveted plum, the presidency itself?

Whatever it is that he has in mind, it is never too early to build a national base. And what better place is there to start than in Cebu City? True, the north district is a small component of the island that boasts of the most number of voters in the whole country but if he impresses as caretaker, he will have enough momentum on his side to convince the Cebuanos that he is for real.

Although the House has already passed the 2021 national budget, there must be a thousand and one ways that Velasco can bring funds to his adopted district or at least expedite the release of those that have already been earmarked. The next few months will show if Raul’s belief in him was justified or if it would have been better to name the other Cebu City representative caretaker.

Indeed, Abellanosa would have been the logical choice. Although he has devoted his entire career in public service to the south district, there is only one Cebu City with the same needs, problems and resources. And since he and Del Mar belonged to the same political party, it is presumed that they shared the same ideals and concept of public service.

It would have helped him politically, too if it is true that he will be the BOPK candidate for mayor in 2022. That he did not lobby to be designated caretaker of the other half of the city’s congressional constituency but instead chose to respect a colleague’s dying wish shows a decent streak that is hard to find among politicians. Take a bow, Bebot.