PAMPANGA, Philippines (UPDATED) – She might have been ousted as deputy speaker for not supporting an administration measure, but Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wished for the success of President Rodrigo Duterte as she celebrated her birthday.
Arroyo turned 70 on Wednesday, April 5, and spent the day in the company of her family, friends, and closest allies in her hometown, Lubao.
The former president said she has no personal wish on her birthday.
"For my birthday wish, on a personal level, I think I have everything. So I have no personal birthday wish," said Arroyo.
"But because I have been a leader, of course I have my wishes for the country. And my wish is for the success of President Duterte because his success is the success of the country," added Arroyo, who refused to answer other questions from the media.
It was the first time Arroyo was able to celebrate her birthday in Pampanga since she was arrested and detained on plunder charges in 2012. Last year, the Supreme Court acquitted her and former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benjamin Aguas of plunder over their alleged misuse of P366 million in PCSO funds from 2008 to 2010.
Arroyo had previously spent the last 4 years under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
The former president-turned-lawmaker is a known supporter of Duterte. She helped organize the President's intimate dinner with top businessmen in Malacañang in January.
Arroyo expressed her continued support for the President and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, even after the House removed her as Central Luzon deputy speaker for voting against the controversial death penalty bill.
The death penalty was abolished in 2006, under Arroyo's presidency.
Duterte had said he was open to appointing Arroyo to lead the Constitutional Commission that would study possible amendments to the 1987 Constitution to shift to federalism.
Rumors are also going around in political circles that Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr is pushing for Arroyo to replace Alvarez as speaker, because of an ongoing feud of the Davao lawmakers. Floirendo had categorically denied this.
Celebration in Pampanga
In Pampanga, Arroyo first heard Mass with her husband, Mike; children Mikey, Dato, and Luli; and her grandchildren.
Arroyo was also accompanied by her allies, among them Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, Pampanga 4th District Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr, and Bulacan 3rd District Representative Lorna Silverio.
"Ang wish ko sa kanya sana bigyan pa ng Panginoon ng mahabang buhay para makapaglingkod pa lalo sa ating mga kababayan," said Gonzales.
(My wish for her is I hope the Lord would give her a long life so that she can continue to serve our countrymen.)
He added that the Central Luzon bloc has yet to discuss who they plan to nominate as Arroyo's replacement for deputy speaker.
Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr arrived at the groundbreaking of Macapagal and Arroyo Science Laboratory Building, Arroyo's final event before a private lunch and dinner with her other close friends and allies.
. @rapplerdotcom Ex-Sen Bongbong Marcos joins Arroyo in groundbreaking of Arroyo Science Lab Bldg here in Lubao @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/zYGUqfdiJs — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) April 5, 2017
Arroyo also attended the inauguration of the new Escolastica Romero District Hospital, together with Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial. – Rappler.com