‘No politics’ in Arroyo birthday party

Detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo holds a birthday party for 500 people at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center

MANILA, Philippines – It was a gathering with her family, close friends, Pampanga leaders, and her constituents – nothing political, said an Arroyo family lawyer about detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 65th birthday celebration Saturday, April 21.

Arroyo turned 65 last April 5, but held a party only 2 weeks later after contracting a viral disease called shingles.

“She’s just happy to be with her constituents,” said lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, who regularly speaks about Arroyo’s condition, in a phone interview with Rappler.

BIRTHDAY GIRL. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo waves to the media and her supporters during her last public appearance: her arraignment for graft charges.

In an interview with reporters, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo also said Arroyo was elated about the party at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City, where she is detained.

Siyempre napakahirap ng sitwasyon niya diyan. At least nakita niya ngayon ang kanyang mga kababayan, talagang nandiyan pa rin at ipinagdarasal siya,” Pelayo said. (Of course her situation there is difficult. At least she saw that her constituents are still behind her and praying for her.)

500 guests

The former president entertained around 500 guests in the party that the Pasay Regional Trial Court allowed from 10 am to 5 pm, Topacio said.

Topacio said a Mass was held for Arroyo and that the bulk of the party food went to charity.

An electoral sabotage charge led to Arroyo’s hospital arrest at the VMMC. She entered a not guilty plea in connection with this last February. 

Graft charges, for which she has also maintained her innocence, also hound the former president. 

A few days before Arroyo’s birthday party, former President Joseph Estrada also celebrated his 75th birthday with a mix of guests from different political parties. President Benigno Aquino III himself was at the Estrada birthday bash. – Rappler.com