LOOK: 10 years after chairing ASEAN, Arroyo keeps it presidential

Lian Buan
LOOK: 10 years after chairing ASEAN, Arroyo keeps it presidential
With President Duterte still in Vietnam, his predecessor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo hosts the welcome dinner for Cambodia's Hun Sen and Myanmar's Suu Kyi

MANILA, Philippines – A little over 10 years ago, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was Philippine president and chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

With President Rodrigo Duterte still in Vietnam on Saturday evening, November 11, a very presidential-looking Arroyo welcomed world leaders through a dinner held in her home province of Pampanga.

She was introduced in the party as “President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo” – with a grand entrance to the ballroom alongside Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The 3 leaders walked together until Arroyo gave way for Hun Sen and Suu Kyi to walk ahead of her.

GRAND ENTRANCE. The 3 leaders are ushered into the ballroom of the Midori Hotel in Clark in a grand entrance ceremony.

Arroyo delivered a brief speech before the party crowd that included Senator Richard Gordon and Cabinet secretaries such as Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

WELCOME DINNER. Senator Richard Gordon is seen seated at the table of former president Arroyo, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Cambodia PM Hun Sen. Photo from the office of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Also in attendance were her son Mikey and former agriculture secretary and now Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap.

Arroyo noted some agreements that Duterte made with the leaders during his visits to Cambodia and Myanmar.

GUEST. Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo makes her speech.

DINNER. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is welcomed through a dinner hosted by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“It is an auspicious time for the Philippine-Cambodia and Philippine-Myanmar ties as we’re on the heel of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the formal establishment of our bilateral relations,” Arroyo said as a toast to the two world leaders.

The 3 of them, however, are not without controversy.

Arroyo’s rule, for one, was tainted by corruption scandals.

Hun Sen is one of Asia’s longest-running ruler, having been prime minister of Cambodia for 32 years. His rule is marred by human rights violations.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate, became Myanmar’s de facto leader through a position created for her to skirt their constitution. She has a delicate power-sharing arrangement with the Burmese army, putting her in the middle of the Rohingya crisis, and under the scrutiny of the whole world.

Organizers from Malacañang said Arroyo hosted the dinner on her own initiatives. Hun Sen and Suu Kyi were the first to arrive, their planes landing in Clark just after noon on Saturday. 

WOMEN LEADERS. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sits beside Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo from the office of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

– Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.