Iggy Arroyo wake turns into reunion for ex-president and allies
MANILA, Philippines—As in the old days, former Ppesident Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo played host Thursday to her political allies in a sort of a reunion at the wake for the late Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo in her La Vista home.
Making the most of her eight-hour furlough from detention at a government hospital, Arroyo hosted lunch for former members of her Cabinet and a slew of politicians, mostly members of the House of Representatives, in her sprawling home at No. 14 Badjao Street in the Quezon City subdivision.
Wearing a neck brace, she looked relaxed in a black floral dress as she greeted, chatted and mingled with guests, who came to pay their respects to Iggy in an otherwise solemn, strictly private affair at her home that was crawling with policemen.
The VIPs included Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., former Senator Francisco Tatad, former Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, former presidential legal counsel Raul Gonzalez, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, former Press Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao, and former Press Undersecretary Mike Defensor, among others.
The other guests included House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Representatives Amelita Villarosa, Carlos Padilla, Pedro Romualdo, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Lani Mercado, among others, as well as lawyers Ferdinand Topacio, Leonard de Vera and Romulo Macalintal.
It was the biggest gathering of Arroyo and her allies since she was arrested in November last year on charges of electoral sabotage, and detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. Her allies could only visit her individually or in pairs because of detention restrictions.
“She’s glad for the time she was able to spend with family and close friends,” Topacio, counsel for the former leader and now Pampanga lawmaker, said by phone. He said Arroyo would have wanted to stay longer at the wake, but was granted by the court a furlough of only eight hours.
Arroyo was driven by the police to her home from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center at around 8 a.m. amid heavy traffic, more than an hour after Iggy’s body arrived from the Arlington Memorial Chapels.
The former President, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, children Kasangga party-list Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo, Camarines Sur Representative Diosdado Arroyo, and Ma. Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, their grandchildren, and the rest of the brood had a lively chatter over breakfast. Some of the guests joined them.
By 9 a.m. visitors began streaming to pay their respects to Iggy, who lay in a flag-draped white casket, framed by wreaths of flowers and his own portrait, at the Arroyos’ living room overlooking the family pool.
Arroyo and her husband led the Mass for Iggy, celebrated by Fr. Jose Perez at past 10 a.m. Iggy’s wife Aleli sat next to her, while Iggy’s daughters sat behind. Some turned teary-eyed during the Mass.
After the Mass, the former President chatted and mingled with some of the guests. By noon, she called her allies to the dining room for a luncheon meeting, even as other guests lined up for catered food at the pool area. She did not issue any statement.
Reporters were stopped at the gate of La Vista at the request of the Arroyos and homeowners.
Iggy’s body was flown home Wednesday night from London where he died from complications of a liver ailment last January 26.
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