Lagman, Suarez squabble over minority leadership

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2012 04:56 PM | Updated as of Jan 06 2012 12:56 AM

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Minority Leader Edcel Lagman
MANILA, Philippines - Allies of former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are now squabbling over the position of minority leader in the House of Representatives.

Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said the former president is plotting with travelling companions Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez for Suarez to replace him.

In a strongly worded statement to media, Lagman said Mrs. Arroyo called an emergency meeting in her hospital suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) last Wednesday night with Suarez, Rep. Martin Romualdez and Rep. Amelia Villarosa in attendance.

Lagman's office said while he is perceived to be an ally of Arroyo in the opposition, "he is not a GMA stooge and does not succumb to her bidding."

Suarez, however, told ABS-CBN News that no one Is questioning Lagman's leadership skills but he is merely holding him to their term-sharing agreement in May 2010.

A source told ABS-CBN News that in May 2010, Lagman and Suarez came to the term sharing agreement for the minority leadership since at that time, it was obvious they would be in the minority and would lose the speakership to Sonny Belmonte. This was after Mrs. Arroyo decided not to seek the speakership herself.

The agreement was allegedly done during a caucus in Malacanan's Bahay Pangarap.

In December 2011, a month before the half term of the 15th congress begins, Suarez started to invoke the agreement. Members of the minority were asked about this in a caucus in Club Filipino during the break where supposedly many of the 29 members decided to just respect the agreement.

However, before the Christmas break, Lagman circulated a resolution of support which was signed by first-term lawmakers who did not know of the agreement.

The same source said members of the minority are not taking sides, but are opting for fairness by respecting the agreement.

Lagman said his term-sharing agreement with Suarez was limited to the speakership if the then Lakas-Kampi would win the speakership, but did not extend to the minority leadership.

Suarez, meanwhile, denied that the former president is behind the struggle for the minority leadership.

"Please respect the term sharing. GMA has nothing to do with it. As matter of fact, 18 members said they respect the agreement," he said.

Suarez said the 4 Arroyos in Congress -- Gloria, Iggy, Dato and Mikey -- took no sides because there's an agreement .

"Edcel lang naman nagbibigay ng prublema dito eh," the congressman said.