[PHOTO- AFTER a year of absence, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reconnects with her constituents in Porac, Pampanga. TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON]

SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA, JULY 30, 2012 (INQUIRER) Exhausted after meeting with her supporters in Porac on Friday, former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo scaled down her visit to Guagua town on Saturday.

She skipped a scheduled field inspection of post-harvest facilities and a P4-million road in Guagua, spending 20 minutes with village leaders at a meeting hall in Barangay Ebus before returning to Manila.

“She is tired,” said Guagua Mayor Ricardo Rivera (not Ramos as earlier reported). “We understand why.”

She left just in time before the rains fell, Rivera said.

Arroyo, who is out on bail on an electoral sabotage charge, did not address some 500 residents who had gathered at the barangay hall and adjacent daycare center, although she acknowledged the crowd with a wave. She wore a soft neck brace. She distributed raincoats to a group of children before heading back to Manila.

At Babo Sacan Elementary School in Porac on Friday, Arroyo addressed the crowd, assuring them of future projects while hinting at running again for Congress in 2013.

Her supporters embraced her, held and kissed her hands. “She’s hardheaded. She should not be tiring herself too much. What she must do is rest,” said Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo.

After the Porac visit, Arroyo retired to her home for a long night’s rest, Pelayo said.

When she was President, Arroyo’s one-hour visits to Pampanga usually included five to six events at different locations. She would walk briskly during these visits and would be alert when speaking with the common folk.

Pelayo said Arroyo could just be “putting up a brave front.”

“She’s not the type who invites pity. She’s showing she’s determined to resume work,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, she attended a Mass officiated by 21 priests in her house beside the St. Augustine Parish in Barangay San Nicolas I in Lubao. The service was closed to the media. People could be seen milling outside the main gate.

Archbishop Paciano Aniceto did not attend, although Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Pelayo, Mexico Mayor Teddy Tumang and Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales joined the former President.

In Malacañang on Saturday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Arroyo was free to seek a fresh term.

“Everybody is free to run in this country and that does not exclude the former president,” she told the state-run Radyo ng Bayan, reacting to Arroyo’s reported plan to seek reelection in 2013.

But whether Arroyo’s temporary freedom would boost her political stock remains to be seen, Valte said.

“Well, she’s still in politics. She’s still the representative of, is it the first district of Pampanga? And as far as we’re concerned, she’s still in politics. Whether there will be a resurgence in reference to her old political party, then that remains to be seen,” said Valte.

And any move by the ruling Liberal Party to field a candidate against Arroyo would depend on this resurgence, she said.

“That depends on whether the party (Arroyo’s Kampi) will really have a resurgence. As of the moment, the Liberal Party is in the process of coming out with their slate. Whether she will be challenged in her own district again remains to be seen,” Valte said.

Pasay Judge Jesus Mupas granted Arroyo’s petition for bail over charges that she allegedly ordered provincial officials in Maguindanao to rig the results of the 2007 senatorial elections in favor of administration candidates. The judge said the bail for the nonbailable offense was justified because the evidence against Arroyo was weak. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon, and TJ Burgonio

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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