Where’s the neck brace? Speaker Arroyo shows scars to prove spinal condition

Mara Cepeda

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Where’s the neck brace? Speaker Arroyo shows scars to prove spinal condition
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also says she can only turn her neck slightly to the right due to multiple cervical spondylosis

Still doubting if Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo truly has a lingering illness?

In an interview with GMA 7’s Unang Hirit, Arroyo showed the scars on her back to prove that she continues to suffer from multiple cervical spondylosis, the degeneration of the intervertebral disks, causing pain on the spine.

The former president-turned-House leader obliged reporter Arnold Clavio’s request for her to show her scars during their interview. A video excerpt was uploaded on YouTube on Monday, August 20. 

Arroyo was asked to respond to some criticisms thrown at her because she does not constantly wear her halo neck brace now that she has been installed as Speaker.

Nandiyan pa, nandiyan pa. Nando’n ka naman do’n sa ospital no’ng kakaopera ko, di ba? O ikaw nga yong unang nagpakita sa buong mundo kung gaano kalaki, gaano kahaba yong aking operasyon sa likod,” the Speaker told Clavio.

(They’re still here, they’re still here. You were there when I had just undergone an operation, weren’t you? You were the first person to show the world how long my scars were from the operation on my back.)

While laughing, Arroyo turned her back to the camera and let Clavio part her hair to show her scars.

PROOF. GMA 7's Arnold Clavio shows Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's scars to the camera. Screenshot from GMA News' YouTube account

The scars were a result of Arroyo’s anterior cervical distectomy and fusion surgery in 2011, an operation where doctors first removed the problematic cervical disc, then stabilized the spine. Titanium implants and a bone substitute were used to rebuild Arroyo’s spine. (READ: FAST FACTS: Spinal surgery and titanium plates)

SCARS. A close-up of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's back scars. Screenshot from GMA News' YouTube account

The former president had to go through several operations over the years because of her spine, one of the reasons why Arroyo ended up under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) instead of jail for allegedly misusing P366 million in state charity funds.  

She walked free after nearly 4 years in VMMC in July 2016. 

In the same interview, Arroyo narrated that she also had a bump on the part of her forehead in between her eyes, as her halo vest had to be screwed in place. 

She also demonstrated that she can only turn her neck slightly to the right after her surgeries. 

The Speaker’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told Rappler in 2016 that Arroyo wears a neck brace whenever she does her brisk walking exercises and when she feels pain on her neck. – 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.