Duterte calls Arroyo ‘true living icon in Philippine politics’
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