Duterte calls Arroyo ‘true living icon in Philippine politics’

Mara Cepeda
Duterte calls Arroyo ‘true living icon in Philippine politics’

AL.Alcain

President Rodrigo Duterte says 'no other chief executive in our history comes close' to his ally and friend, ex-president turned House speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte heaped praises on his ally and former House speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, calling the ex-president a “true living icon in Philippine politics.”

The President attended on Tuesday, July 9, the farewell dinner hosted by former legislators of the 17th Congress in honor of Arroyo, who ended her 3rd term as Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman in June. 

“It is my pleasure to honor tonight a true living icon in Philippine politics and an embodiment of strong political will, no other than former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ma’am,” said Duterte, earning him applause from the crowd gathered at the Manila Hotel.

The President said this minutes after Arroyo thanked him for “providing the atmosphere” that led to the acquittal of plunder charges against her in 2016.

In his speech on Tuesday night, Duterte said “no other chief executive in our history comes close” to Arroyo in carrying out “decisive” actions even if these would prove to be unpopular. 

The President also described as “impressive” Arroyo’s 27-year career, in which she held various appointed and elected posts both in the executive and legislative branches of government. (READ: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Speaker: A missed chance for redemption?)

“I have always held President Arroyo in high esteem for her inspiring and disciplined leadership, not only for my presidency… but the rest of the public as well,” said Duterte. 

Duterte, however, also teased Arroyo that she was “hard to deal with” as president, which Arroyo herself acknowledged in her own speech.

The relationship between Duterte and Arroyo dates back to the latter’s presidential term, when Duterte was still Davao City mayor. (READ:Duterte admin revives Arroyo policies, controversies

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Duterte – a lawyer – said there were grounds for Arroyo’s acquittal.

The President himself had also repeatedly said he “owed” much to Arroyo, who contributed to his campaign funds in the 2016 presidential election. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.