No love in the room when Noy meets Gloria
It seems there’s no thawing of the ice anytime soon.
No handshake passed between former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III when they met in Malacañang on Wednesday, only a brief nod from a smiling Arroyo to her tormentor and successor, who ignored her.
Arroyo, 69, now a Pampanga representative, and Aquino, 56, her former economics student, met for the first time on Wednesday since Aquino completed his term, when they attended President Duterte’s first National Security Council (NSC) meeting.
But there were apparently no warm exchanges between the two former Presidents.
Aquino did not approach Arroyo when he arrived at Malacañang, video from the government PTV 4 showed.
Arroyo arrived ahead of Aquino at the Palace and was standing to the right of Mr. Duterte when Aquino walked into the room.
Aquino went straight to Mr. Duterte to shake his hands, then strode to the President’s left side to shake hands with former President Fidel Ramos, 88.
Arroyo, for her part, was seen smiling and giving a brief nod to Aquino.
Former President Joseph Estrada, 79, now Manila mayor, also came to Malacañang and was seen shaking Arroyo’s hand. Arroyo succeeded Estrada in 2001 midway through his term following Edsa People Power II. She later pardoned Estrada after he was convicted of plunder.
The five leaders then posed for a group photograph. All were smiling.
During the NSC meeting, Arroyo and Aquino were seated apart. Ramos and Estrada were between them.
5 years in detention
The meeting between Aquino and Arroyo came on the heels of the Supreme Court decision freeing the latter from nearly five years of hospital detention after ruling that the plunder case against her by the Aquino administration under his daang matuwid (righteous path) program was not backed by sufficient evidence.
Aquino had lamented the ruling. He had missed no occasion in blasting his predecessor, whom he had repeatedly blamed for the poor state of the country that he inherited when he assumed office.
Mr. Duterte, in his first State of the Nation Address (Sona), pointedly took a different stance.
Early on in his Sona, the President said he would not play the blame game.
“We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from,” he said.
Aquino skipped Mr. Duterte’s maiden Sona.
Arroyo had ordered the distribution of the Aquino family’s Hacienda Luisita after a dozen striking workers there were massacred in 2004.
The workers were protesting that the stock distribution option under which the estate had been granted exception from the agrarian reform program of Aquino’s late mother, President Corazon Aquino, did not improve their lives.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.