The Lakas-Kampi-CMD party has decided not to field outgoing President and congresswoman-elect Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as its candidate for House Speaker in the next Congress.
On Friday, around 35 administration lawmakers decided in a caucus at the Club Filipino to field Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman instead for the House Speakership. If he wins, Lagman will share his term with Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez who will take the last 18 months as Speaker.
"Lakas-Kampi will field me as [the party's] candidate for Speaker," Lagman said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV. "Congressman Suarez proposed time-sharing and I agreed to his proposal to preserve the unity of the party."
Lagman said they decided not to field Mrs. Arroyo, the congresswoman-elect of Pampanga's second district, because "from the very start she said she would play the role of Sonia Gandhi."
Mrs. Gandhi was the Italian-born widow of assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was immensely popular for taking over the party’s leadership when her husband was assassinated in 1991.
Because Mrs. Arroyo remains as the party chairperson, she is expected to help Lagman and other Lakas-Kampi congressmen "all the way."
Lagman, the brother of slain labor leader Filemon "Popoy" Lagman, is known to be one of the House's legal luminaries.
He was the chairman of the Appropriations committee before stepping down to senior vice chairman to focus on his pet measure, the Reproductive Health bill, which the House did not end up passing.
An administration stalwart, Lagman was part of the panel that defended President Arroyo during the impeachment case against her in 2008.
Lakas-Kampi has more than 100 elected district representatives, but Lagman said only around 35 congressmen attended the three-hour caucus — which was presided over by Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong — because some were in their districts or were out of the country.
Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, Mrs. Arroyo's brother-in-law, was present during the caucus.
Expecting a majority?
Lagman said even though only 55 remain "steadfast in their affiliation" to the party and 27 are "undecided," he was confident they would get the vote on the first day of the 15th Congress's session because they have allies in the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People's Coalition, as well as in party-list groups.
"We expect to get a majority," he said.
The time-sharing set up would apply to the minority leadership if Lakas-Kampi doesn't win the Speakership, Lagman said.
Lagman will be pitted against Quezon City congressman-elect Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr., the candidate of the Liberal Party for the House's top post. Belmonte previously held the post from January to June 2001.
Because LP standard bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is presumed to be the winner of the 2010 presidential elections, many lawmakers are expected to shift their loyalties to the LP.
Many House members traditionally gravitate toward the political party of the sitting president, who mostly has the prerogative over the release of pork barrel funds. [See: Fight for Speakership could bring Arroyo down to earth] — RSJ/LBG, GMANews.TV
Reposted From GMA News.TV