FIRST GENTLEMAN RESURFACES ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL FOR  HIS WIFE

MANILA, April 19, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Marichu Villanueva - First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, long perceived to be President Arroyo’s greatest liability in her bid for a six-year term in May, hit the campaign trail for his wife over the weekend.

After deliberately making himself scarce in the past weeks, Mr. Arroyo resurfaced to lead political rallies where the President could not make it.

Hounded by the Jose Pidal issue raised by opposition presidential contender Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Mr. Arroyo has stayed away from most of Mrs. Arroyo’s campaign sorties but conducts his own low-key campaign for her.

With only three weeks left in the campaign before the May 10 elections, Mr. Arroyo quietly flew to Cebu ahead of his wife last Saturday where she received the endorsement of support for her candidacy by the Association of Labor Unions and the Trade Union Congress of the Phils. (ALU-TUCP).

"This is the big story here, not me," the First Gentleman told The STAR who saw him at the crowd outside the Cebu Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City, Saturday night.

Earlier that day, The STAR learned that the First Gentleman spoke on behalf of the President at the Central Visayas Cooperative Briefing and Launching of the Governance and Massive Advancement in Cooperative Project held in SM Cebu City.

"If Gloria would come here, you would see a very beautiful lady. She’s the only lady I fell in love with more than 36 years ago," he told his audience of swooning Cebuanos.

"That’s why up to now, we’re still together," he said, urging not to believe rumors that say otherwise.

Although he didn’t mention what specific rumors these were, he may have been alluding to the alleged cold shoulder treatment he received from Mrs. Arroyo during her birthday on April 5, when he gave her 57 dozen roses in Lubao, Pampanga.

In Cavite last April 5 to inaugurate a drug rehabilitation center, Mr. Arroyo admitted that despite her size, the President has shown uncommon toughness in dealing with drug lords and kidnap for ransom syndicates.

He said that his wife was small but terrible. "Sobrang tapang niya sa mga drug lords, di natatakot yan. Sa mga KFR, di rin natatakot yan," he said, adding in jest that she intimidates even him.

"Ang tapang-tapang ng babaing yan, pati nga ako takot sa kanya!"


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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