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First lady speaker of the House

By Johnny Dayang

THE rise of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now Pampanga lawmaker, to the House pinnacle was not an event the losers wanted to celebrate. It was all unexpected, and the blame cannot be tossed on anybody but on the overconfidence of the previous leadership.

Like any surprise win, there are always detractors. In Gloria’s case, many of those who maligned her triumph are senators known to have personal axes to grind against her.

Be that as it may, Arroyo’s victory is some sort of personal redemption. Not only has she proved her durability; she was also able to establish many legislative firsts: first lady Speaker, first former President to become House legislator, first Chief Executive to become House Speaker, among others.

To the provincial press, Arroyo’s new achievement reminds rural media players of the support she extended them in 2006 when she declared every December of each year as the Community Press Month. That may sound like a small tack, but the event underscores the appreciation she has shown to journalists despite impressions to the contrary.

Remotely, as new Speaker, she also qualifies as the third House leader to come from Mindanao (after Prospero Nograles and Pantaleon Alvarez), having lived for some time in Iligan City during her early teens. Their ancestral home still stands there.

Her US counterpart as first lady House Speaker was Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who became House leader on Jan. 3, 2006, the same year Arroyo signed the edict declaring the Community Press Month.

Reviews regarding Arroyo’s redemption have not been positive given her past. Many people believe, however, that as a reformed politico and with her close links to the President, her legislative efforts could be to the advantage of the Duterte administration.

Unlike her predecessor who has been labeled arrogant, Arroyo is known to cross political borders in pursuing development goals. With her promise to support Duterte’s legislative agenda, her watch is expected to be smooth, though presently misunderstood.

Since inclusive socio-economic growth is Duterte’s priority, Arroyo’s economist credentials will surely be a plus factor. Analysts strongly argue that the country’s rise as Asia’s fastest growing economy is partly due her economic initiatives during her presidency.

Some may disagree but credit belongs to who really deserves it. Her performance as House Speaker is indeed something to watch.