MANILA, Philippines ? Albay Representative Edcel Lagman and Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez have agreed to a term-sharing scheme if the administration party Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) would bag the speakership in the House of Representatives.
Emerging from the meeting of Lakas-Kampi congressmen Friday, Suarez said the party agreed to field Lagman for the top post of the chamber in the 15th Congress.
Lagman will be pitted against Quezon City Mayor Feliciano ?Sonny? Belmonte, who has previously served as Speaker of the House. Belmonte won a congressional seat in Quezon City?s fourth district.
If Lagman gets the speakership, he will serve for the first 18 months, then Suarez will sit in the second half of the term.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is out of the picture for the speakership, but Suarez said ?she would still call the shots? as chairman of the party. He said he believed that Arroyo would also campaign for Lagman?s bid for the post.
Lagman said he agreed to the term-sharing proposal during the Lakas-Kampi as a way to avoid division within the ranks.
?They made the proposal and I accepted it and I will take the first 18 months,? Lagman said.
Lagman said he would now have the personality to negotiate with other party stalwarts for a possible coalition with Lakas-Kampi.
?Now that we have chosen our candidate for Speaker and we have a definite direction, we will be able to maintain our party members and augment our chances for the speakership,? Lagman said.
Suarez said coalition with other parties was in the works and talks were underway to get some partylist lawmakers to their side. He added that they were targeting at least 20 allies from the partylist groups.
At least 50 Lakas-Kampi members will back Lagman?s bid in the next Congress, Suarez added.
?At the end of the day, I think there?ll be 50 or 60 of us left in the party and that?s still a formidable force, a dangerous number,? he said.
Suarez said the term-sharing agreement with Lagman would also apply should they fail to get the speakership and settle for the minority leader in the House.