Rep. Ignacio Arroyo dies in London; 61
BACOLOD CITY—Businesswoman Grace Ibuna was not giving up hope on her longtime companion, Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo Jr., when reached by the Philippine Daily Inquirer early Thursday.
Arroyo was reported dead Thursday night after being taken off life support in London.
“I am pleading with him to fight for his life. I am hoping and praying for a miracle,” a weeping Ibuna told the Inquirer by phone from London.
“It all happened so fast,” she said, and called for prayers from supporters and friends.
Iggy Arroyo, a younger brother of Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, the husband of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was put on life support at London Clinic after suffering cardiac arrest at around 11 p.m. on Wednesday (about 7 a.m. on Thursday in Manila).
He was afflicted with cirrhosis of the liver and has been undergoing treatment in London since last year. Ibuna said she was the only family member with him because the other relatives went home after the holidays.
Before his sister-in-law became the President, Iggy Arroyo would drive her around during her visits to Negros Occidental. She would fondly call him “Ignacito.”
He was known to have shielded Mike and Gloria Arroyo in a number of controversies, including that involving their purported properties in San Francisco, California.
Earlier, conflicting news on his brother’s supposed death prompted Mike Arroyo to issue a clarification.
He said that his brother was clinically dead but had not been pronounced dead by doctors, and was on life support that could be turned off at any time.
He added that he would issue a statement at the proper time.
On Radyo Inquirer Thursday morning, Mike Arroyo said his source at the bedside of his brother initially told him that the latter died after suffering cardiac arrest on Wednesday night.
In an interview later with another radio station, he said: “At that point, an ambulance was called for [my brother] in London. He was revived at the hospital but he went into a coma. [Thursday] morning, his heart stopped beating.”
The death of Iggy Arroyo was confirmed early Thursday by Marilyn Barua-Yap, secretary general of the House of Representatives. She told the Inquirer that the news had been relayed to her by Occidental Mindoro Representative Amelita Villarosa, a close friend of the Arroyo family.
“Iggy is kind, friendly and reliable. We will offer Mass and prayers for the eternal repose of his soul,” Villarosa said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Yap said the House was prepared for a necrological service should the family request it. When told later by text message that the congressman was still on life support, she replied: “Yah, but Dato (Camarines Sur Representative Diosdado Arroyo, Mike Arroyo’s youngest child) says wala na (he’s gone). So confused.”
Peas in a pod
Ibuna said she and the congressman had planned on returning to the Philippines because he was getting better after receiving blood transfusions for anemia.
She said the initial plan was to fly first to Rome and meet some friends in thanksgiving for his improved condition before returning to the Philippines late this month or early in February.
But on Wednesday, Iggy Arroyo developed a fever and was taken to London Clinic where he subsequently suffered cardiac arrest.
His physicians put him on life support and gave him medication but he did not respond to treatment, Ibuna said.
“They have already given him the maximum dose. I am asking him to fight for his life. I don’t know what to do. I can’t imagine life without him,” she said, adding that she would ask his doctors to tell her exactly what was happening.
Ibuna and the twice-married lawmaker have been a couple for four years. She said they had been “inseparable … like two peas in a pod.”
She also said she could not imagine life without the man whom she described as “sweet and good.”
“I am not giving up. It is so hard to accept,” she said.
Iggy Arroyo was first elected representative of Negros Occidental’s fifth district in 2004, in his first foray into politics. He is now on his third and last term.
The flag at the House of Representatives in Quezon City was flown at half staff earlier Thursday, but was raised again after news came out that he was still on life support despite being pronounced clinically dead.
The congressman’s condition was not a secret among his colleagues in the House, according to Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.
“We noticed that he was losing weight. He was becoming lean,” Suarez said, adding that Iggy Arroyo’s illness had also “bothered” him and affected his decisions on whether he would join former President and now Pampanga Representative Arroyo on sojourns abroad.
He also told his colleagues about the treatments he was undergoing, sometimes in detail, Suarez recalled.
Suarez said the last time the two of them talked was in November last year. He said Iggy Arroyo appeared to be well, and they had discussed whether or not they would watch the fight of boxing champion and fellow lawmaker Manny Pacquiao in the United States. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
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