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Lagman quits minority, Arroyo

/ 01:43 AM January 20, 2012

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman. INQUIRER/JOAN BONDOC

He could not serve a group that chooses to blindly follow former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman on Thursday quit as House minority leader and resigned as chairman and member of the Lakas-CMD party, ending weeks of battle with Quezon Representative Danilo Suarez for the leadership of the small group of opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

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Suarez earlier said he and Lagman had a term-sharing agreement for the leadership of the minority. But Lagman said that there was no such agreement and later accused Arroyo of plotting to oust him. Lagman said he was no Arroyo “stooge.”

In resigning from the minority, Lagman said his relations with other lawmakers allied with Arroyo had become too strained. “My relation with some minority members who are closely allied with and are beholden to Arroyo has become grossly untenable,” Lagman said in a statement.

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The veteran lawmaker added that he “cannot continue serving a political aggrupation which deliberately refuses to recognize competent, militant and responsible leadership, and would opt to follow blindly the importuning of former President Arroyo.”

Arroyo’s anointed

Lagman said he would now be an independent lawmaker. He would continue to “fiscalize” the Aquino administration and advocate progressive and alternative agenda.

In his statement, the Albay lawmaker said Suarez did not get enough votes from members of the minority to become the new leader. Nevertheless, he was leaving the group to Suarez, Arroyo’s choice.

“Although Representative Danilo Suarez has not garnered an incontestable absolute majority of minority members to replace me, I am resigning as minority leader to give way to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s anointed one,” Lagman said.

Apart from resigning from Lakas, he was stepping down as vice president of the Centrist Democrats International, a worldwide organization of Christian and Muslim Democratic parties, of which Lakas-CMD is a member.

Lagman said his resignation would halt the signature campaign of the Suarez camp, which he said “demeaned” opposition members.

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‘Deodorize ouster’

The members were pressured into withdrawing their support from him even though they signed a December 2011 resolution seeking to keep him as minority leader, according to Lagman. He said the resolution had the signatures of an absolute majority of the minority members.

Lagman also said Suarez’s claim of a term-sharing agreement as minority leader was “contrived to deodorize my ouster.”

He said the move was finalized in Arroyo’s suite at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) early this year. The former President is detained at VMMC on a charge of electoral sabotage, a nonbailable offense, in connection with the 2007 senatorial elections.

Lagman said he would offer a full explanation of his resignation when the House resumes its session on Tuesday next week.  Leila B. Salaverria

Originally posted at 03:34 pm | Thursday, January 19, 2012

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TAGS: Congress, Danilo Suarez, Edcel Lagman, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, House of Representatives, Politics
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