MANILA, Philippines—House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman on Sunday said a plot by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to oust him has failed after only six of the 29 minority bloc members attended a caucus called by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez at Manila Golf and Country Club.
But Suarez shrugged off Lagman’s claim, saying the battle was not over. He said he would call another caucus shortly before Congress resumes sessions on Monday.
Suarez needs at least 15 signatures to seize the leadership of the minority.
“The minority bloc in the House of Representatives could avoid a divisive confrontation on Monday by the simple expedient of Rep. Danilo Suarez producing an absolute majority of 15 opposition members endorsing him,” said Lagman in a statement shortly after getting wind of the low caucus turnout.
Suarez said only eight (not six, as Lagman reported) lawmakers attended Sunday’s caucus because many minority members were still in their provinces and would be returning only on Monday.
He said he was still optimistic he could gather the signatures of 19 minority members. He claimed Arroyo also supported his stand that the term-sharing agreement be respected.
But Lagman pointed out that unlike Suarez, he had a resolution entitled “To Maintain Rep. Edcel C. Lagman as Minority Leader” signed by an “absolute majority” of the minority bloc.
“There is no term-sharing agreement for the minority leadership because none was forged,” said Lagman.