FIRING LINE: Let LAV do his job

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

I’ve got to hand it to Lord Allan Velasco. He found a route to the Speakership, linked up with the right people, and picked his shots. He stuck to his plan and didn’t wilt despite the hailstorm that his more seasoned adversary, Alan Peter Cayetano, hurled his way.

Now, Velasco sits at the helm in the House of Representatives. If you didn’t know who “LAV” was a year ago, you certainly know him now.

There’s a life lesson here. Does “work smarter, not harder” ring a bell? Because that’s what the Marinduque congressman did, and it paid off. Would you dislike him for succeeding? That’s up to you. But haven’t we been demanding for new blood in our politics for the longest time? The guy has just turned 43 but looks more like 33.

Now let’s see what Velasco is made of. The time has come for him to work harder. Let LAV do his job.

I say this because Velasco is already grappling with coup rumors less than a month since becoming Speaker. For him, it must feel like walking on a minefield in Batasan — he knows everybody is waiting for him to make a mistake.

But even his most rabid haters in the House know that any attempt to unseat Velasco now won’t fly. They can sell it to their congressman-colleagues, but it’s doubtful anybody would bite. No less than President Duterte swore him in as Speaker last November 9. When was the last time that happened?

Let Velasco do his job. He already hurdled his first big test — passing the proposed 2021 national budget and submitting it to the Senate early. The senators received the House’s copy of the budget last October 27, a day ahead of Senate President Tito Sotto’s requested transmittal date.

With that move alone, the Velasco leadership spared the House weeks’ worth of demonization for passing the budget “late” as they wait for the eventual Bicameral Conference Committee meetings with senators.

For proper context, the 2021 budget bill worth P4.506 trillion is the country’s first pandemic-era budget. A lot of practical and economic relief is riding on it. That’s what made then-Speaker Cayetano’s planned post-October submission to the Senate so hard to swallow. Amid the perennial gamesmanship between the Senate and House, the latter chamber certainly can’t be blamed for screwing up the budget at this stage.

Based on the coup rumors reaching my spies in Congress, the plotters raise Velasco’s perceived inability to rally votes for administration bets from the district representatives come May 2022 elections as a ground to unseat him.

To me, that sounds forced if not a weak justification for an upheaval of this magnitude. So, under this alleged coup blueprint, Velasco should be kicked out for failing to do something that he has yet to be given an opportunity to do. The House members will find that very hard to support.

It’s only November 2020, people. There’s still a year to go before any meaningful election posturing can take place. Velasco will show his worth in that arena when the proper time comes because he has no choice. For now, LAV’s got a job to do.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at Home – The Philippine Business and News

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