Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: the Anomaly
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an anomaly. She has managed to retain an unusual degree of influence compared to her predecessors.
Former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos provided a “moral” voice to EDSA Dos. Former President Estrada maintained enough political capital to place second in the 2010 Presidential elections. He also went on to serve as Mayor of the City of Manila from 2013 to 2019.
Former President Benigno Aquino fully retired from politics. We have yet to see what role the recently-retired Duterte will play.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains a force to be reckoned with. After six years of house arrest, she went to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. She overthrew Pantaleon Alvarez, who was a stalwart of the Duterte administration.
And she did it with the help of the President’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio. Arroyo would go on to serve as an unofficial advisor to the younger Duterte. Duterte-Carpio filed her Certificate of Candidacy under Arroyo’s political party, Lakas-CMD.
Arroyo’s Staying Power: Building Loyalty
What is the secret of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s staying power? I believe it lies in her ability to build political connections. She doesn’t play the media game. And you won’t see her talk much to the media. She prioritizes building connections with the right people. Arroyo is basically a high-level political headhunter.
You can see this in her recent political moves. In deposing Alvarez, a Rappler article by Mara Cepeda writes that Arroyo “strengthened relationships with her loyal allies”. Reportedly, Alvarez barely visited the Congressional lounge. In contrast, Arroyo always had coffee with the lawmakers who had long been loyal to her since her presidency.
You can also see Arroyo’s style in two of her recent public appearances. She recently paid a surprise visit to recently-retired President Duterte. This is a relationship that started in the 2000’s, when Arroyo appointed then-Mayor Duterte to the National Anti-Crime Commission. Duterte declined, and decided to serve instead as an advisor.
Arroyo also recently “treated” newly-elected Senator Robinhood Padilla and his family to a vacation on Balesin Island. This is on top of helping Padilla during the campaign period, which he topped with 26.6 million votes. One wonders how Arroyo will cash in on this relationship down the line.