Saying that President Duterte is a “stronger leader” than she is, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday aired strong optimism that the incumbent chief executive is capable of addressing the terrorism and lawlessness that has gripped the country.
In a press briefing of leaders of the House majority Arroyo also allayed fears aired by certain sectors that the current situation could be subjected to abuse by the current administration.
“President Duterte is a much stronger leader than I am. If I can handle them, he can handle them better,” said Arroyo, who has been elected deputy speaker.
She recalled that during her term as president, she also declared the whole country under a state of emergency and state of lawlessness in 2006 and 2003, respectively.
In both instances, Arroyo assigned Duterte, then mayor of Davao City, to handle the situation in Mindanao.
Arroyo stressed that Duterte did a good job as the nation returned to normalcy following the declaration.
The 2006 state of emergency was declared through Presidential Proclamation 1017 issued by Arroyo after authorities uncovered an alleged coup plot that was to be carried out by rightist military adventurists.
Three years earlier, the former chief executive placed Davao City under a state of lawlessness following terrorist attacks through bombings that killed at least 38 people and injured 100 others.
The bomb blasts took place at the old Davao International Airport and the Sasa wharf.
Arroyo said that the military and the police that were tasked to address the state of lawlessness in 2003 were able to prevent further terrorist attacks with no report of abuse being committed.
“He did his job well,” said Arroyo, referring to Duterte’s accomplishments when assigned to help restore order.
During Arroyo’s term as president, she appointed Duterte among her advisers in local government and in peace and order. (Ben Rosario)