Arroyo, Marcos berate Aquino administration for being ‘unfriendly’ to China
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos on Thursday night chided the administration of ex-president Benigno Aquino III for being “unfriendly” and “almost openly hostile” to China.
Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga’s second district, took a swipe at how the number of Chinese tourists declined during Aquino’s term.
“Noynoy’s admin was not so friendly to China so there [were] hardly any tourist coming from China then,” she said in a speech at the welcome dinner of the mid-term regional conference of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) where she was invited as guest of honor.
“Then, President Rodrigo Duterte became a friend of China. Suddenly we have a million Chinese tourists coming to the Philippines,” she added.
The lawmaker noted that relations between China and the Philippines have been “normalized,” and this may even lead to the Philippines’ future role of providing services to China’s emerging industries.
Marcos, meanwhile, blamed the Aquino administration’s hostile attitude to China for many missed economic opportunities at that time. With Duterte’s regime, she said “luckily we’re back on track.”
“I am certain that we will benefit from this. After all China, unlike many of the colonial powers, never came to invade [us] but rather to help in our progress,” the politician said.
With the impending closure of Boracay Island for six months starting April 26, Arroyo appealed to the Filipino-Chinese community to help the government introduce the country’s other tourist destinations to Chinese tourists.
She expressed confidence that the “vibrant” Filipino Chinese community in the country would make it easier for Chinese tourists to “feel at home” here.
Arroyo also said that she is advocating for a program that would bring 14 underprivileged but deserving Filipino students to China for a one-week immersion to “witness China’s economic miracle.”
FFCCCII president Domingo Yap said he would support this program.
After nearly four years under hospital arrest, the former president walked away from a plunder charge in 2016 when President Duterte assumed office.
The Supreme Court acquittal was for her alleged misuse of the P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds from 2008 to 2010.
Arroyo led the Lakas political party when she was president, but she was sworn in as member of Duterte’s ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party last year. /ee
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