PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte was all praises for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the testimonial dinner for the outgoing House Speaker on Tuesday.
Duterte, who was a Davao City mayor when Arroyo was president, described the former chief executive as “the true living icon in Philippine politics and embodiment of strong political will.”
“Perhaps no other chief executive in our history comes close to President Arroyo’s example of carrying out decisive actions even if such actions would prove to be unpopular,” Duterte said.
“Indeed, her intuitive and hands-on leadership has carried our nation forward, especially during trying times,” Duterte added.
The President also hailed Arroyo’s “extensive experience as a renowned economist and academic,” which he said “was crucial in laying down the foundations of our country’s steady economic growth during her term, the effects of which are still felt today and will still be felt in the years ahead.”
“During her impressive 27-year career in the legislative and executive branches of government, she became a major figure and was instrumental in crafting policies that made our bullish economy possible,” Duterte stressed.
Duterte described Arroyo as “hard to deal with”, baring she used to call him “in the wee hours of the morning just to listen to me and to seek my advice.”
“I was there when you made the decision, one major crucial,” Duterte said without elaborating. The President, however, added Arroyo “did not follow me.”
“I was really working for her,” Duterte said referring to Arroyo when she was still the President.
“Bilib ako sa iyo, Ma’am, kasi you might want to know that even when I was mayor and for the years that President Arroyo was there, I was really working for her. Of course, wala akong pinatay na tao na utos niya. Pinatay ko na lang kasi feeling ko gusto niya,” Duterte added, drawing laughter from the crowd composed mostly of lawmakers from the lower chamber.