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President cites Arroyo for ‘brilliant’ public service, admits killing for her

PRESIDENT Duterte (right) speaks to former President and House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo during an appreciation dinner for her at the historic landmark Manila Hotel. (Presidential photo)

PRESIDENT Duterte (right) speaks to former President and House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo during an appreciation dinner for her at the historic landmark Manila Hotel. (Presidential photo)

President Duterte on Tuesday enthusiastically praised former President and House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo for her “brilliant” public service but candidly confessed killing for her.

During the appreciation dinner for the former Chief Executive at the historic landmark Manila Hotel, the former Davao City mayor admitted that he killed people because he thought Arroyo wanted it.

“Bilib ako sa iyo, ma’am, kasi you might want to know that even when I was mayor and for the years that President Arroyo was there, I was really working for her,” Duterte said in his remarks. “Of course wala akong pinatay na tao na utos niya. Pinatay ko na lang kasi feeling ko gusto niya,” he added, drawing laughter from the audience.

The President paid tribute to Arroyo during the celebration attended by her family and allies, saying she remains a “true living icon in Philippine politics and an embodiment of strong political will.”

Duterte, however, bared that Arroyo, known for strict and decisive leadership, was “hard to deal with” during her presidency. He said Arroyo used to call him in the wee hours of the morning “just to listen to me and to seek my advice.”

“My dealings with my President during my mayorship days eh trabaho lang ho ‘yon, ma’am. And I said you are hard to deal with at nagagalit. At naiintindihan ho namin lahat, ako,” he said.

Arroyo in her valedictory speech revealed that she is admires and owes a debt of gratitude to Duterte for her acquittal from “trumped up charges” filed against her by then President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“Let me take this opportunity to express Mr. President, not only my gratitude for what you have done for me but also my awe and admiration for what you have done for Davao as mayor and now for our people,” Arroyo said. “You are the only Philippine President more popular in the middle of your term than in the beginning honeymoon period. You are the President most loved by his people among all leaders in the world today,” noted the former Chief Executive.

“Most of all, thank you that when you became President, you provided the atmosphere in which the Court had the freedom to acquit me of the trumped up charges my successor and your predecessor filed against me, so that the Court voted 11-4 in my favor, including half of those who were appointed by my accuser,” she revealed. (Genalyn Kabiling and Ben Rosario)

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