Grace Ibuna broke agreement on funeral rites for Iggy, charges Aleli Arroyo’s lawyer
The two women left behind by Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo avoided crossing paths while fighting for the attention of the late lawmaker’s peers during the necrological service at the main session hall of the Batasan complex in Quezon City Monday.
Lorna Kapunan, lawyer of Arroyo’s estranged wife Alicia “Aleli” Morales Arroyo, said the House affair was supposed to be her client’s time with her husband as part of a compromise agreement entered into with his live-in partner Grace Ibuna. But Kapunan said Ibuna “gatecrashed” the rites and “shamelessly” asserted her presence among Arroyo’s family and friends who paid their respects at his home and at the Batasan.
Based on the agreement, which ended the month-long stand-off between the two women, Ibuna would bring Arroyo’s body home from London to the Manila airport, after which Aleli would take over the funeral services to be held at Arroyo’s family home and their conjugal home at La Vista subdivision in Quezon City.
“When the body arrived at the airport, Mrs. Aleli Arroyo did not go to the airport out of respect. When the body was at Arlington, she also did not go knowing that Grace would be there. When the body went to the ancestral home, out of respect for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I think she (Ibuna) should not have gone there. But after the former President left, she greeted everybody. She did it again here,” said Kapunan shortly after the three-hour long service.
A few observers noted that more lawmakers gravitated toward Ibuna, who was seated in the back row reserved for the audience. Aleli was in the plenary row where former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was seated.
“You all witnessed how she (Ibuna) waved from a distance to call the attention of the congressmen while Aleli was quietly beside the coffin,” Kapunan told reporters.
Ibuna walked out of the session hall when Aleli went onstage to deliver her eulogy. Aleli recounted how she was smitten by “Iggy’s eyes,” how she spent the best years of her life with him, and why she considered him “the love of my life.”
The two parted ways in 2005, with their separation marked by nasty rumors that Aleli had emptied their joint accounts, which reportedly angered Arroyo.
“I told him (Iggy) that I was preparing to leave in five months to take my MBA at the number one school in the world (Harvard University) and ignored any possible relationships,” said Aleli, recalling Iggy’s persistence in wooing her. “He responded by saying, ‘I would do anything in my power to keep you and I will follow you wherever I go.’”
Arroyo’s daughters Dina and Bianca fought back tears while talking about how their father shaped their lives.
Set Iggy ‘free’
In her speech, Zambales Representative Milagros Magsaysay indirectly advised Aleli and Ibuna to set Iggy “free” so he could finally find his “peace and happiness.”
In an interview with reporters after the service, the former first gentleman said his brother was a humble and kind-hearted man. “I don’t think there was ever any negative publicity about him. If there was, it’s probably because of me,” said Mike Arroyo, who was accused of hiding election contributions in a bank account under the name “Jose Pidal,” which Iggy was quick to admit was his.
Meanwhile, the Pasay Regional Trial Court has allowed former President Arroyo to attend her brother-in-law’s funeral Mass later this week, with her lawyers dropping an initial plan for their client to join her family at Iggy’s interment.
Judge Jesus Mupas of RTC Branch 112 allowed the former President to leave Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) again on Friday morning to pay her last respects to her husband’s brother.
The former President, now a Pampanga representative, would be allowed to leave the hospital at 8 a.m. Friday and head to the family’s ancestral home where the funeral Mass would be held at 10 a.m., according to Santos.
As soon as the casket leaves the house and sets off for the Manila North Cemetery, Arroyo would be returned to VMMC. With a report from Miko Morelos
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