MANILA, JULY 25, 2011 (STAR)
By Paolo Romero (PHOTO - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joins media in Manila yesterday. MIKE AMOROSO)

Under attack from the administration, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will skip the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino on Monday.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Occidental Mindoro Rep. Amelita Villarosa in separate interviews said members of the opposition bloc prevailed upon Arroyo not to attend the SONA where she is expected to be subject of scathing remarks from Aquino.

Yesterday, Arroyo attended a luncheon upon the invitation of her friend Myther Buñag in his Thursday Club in Malate.

While she chatted with journalists and newspaper editors, she declined to grant interviews.

Buñag, however, asked Arroyo in their native Pampanga dialect whether she would attend the SONA.

Translating her reply, he announced to reporters that she would not attend.

Charges of violation of human rights and at least two plunder complaints have been filed against Arroyo before the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Aquino administration wants her pinned down for alleged cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

One of her lawyers and spokesmen, Raul Lambino, said Malacañang has forged deals with former Maguindanao election official Lintang Bedol and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, to bolster allegations against Arroyo.

Suarez and Villarosa said about 20 members of the House minority bloc had a social meeting in Arroyo’s residence in La Vista, Quezon City on Wednesday and those present urged her not to attend the SONA.

“We looked at those options (attending or not) and the former president wanted to attend and said she would be taking notes of the SONA but we prevailed upon her not to attend,” Suarez told The STAR in a telephone interview.

“You see, the transformation from one administration to another is different here. Unlike that of from Cory to FVR and from FVR to Erap,” he said, referring to former presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, and Joseph Estrada.

He said: “The gist of Noynoy’s SONA would only be how many have been charged for the alleged sins of the past.”

“She would only be unfairly pilloried there so we want her spared of that,” Suarez said.

Villarosa said Arroyo “seemed to agree” with the suggestions of her colleagues.

She said the former president appeared “calm and okay” during the meeting.

Villarosa, however, said she was not certain if other members of the Arroyo clan – Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado, Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel, and Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio – would attend the SONA.

Other members of the opposition bloc will attend the SONA as directed by House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla said.

“The minority leader requires us to be present. It is our obligation as representatives of our districts,” she said.


Gloria Arroyo shares hairstyle tips with House media05/24/2011 | 07:03 PM


Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be evasive when it comes to political questions, but she is more than ready to share tips on hairstyling.

Arroyo, whose nine-year rule was marred with corruption controversies, made a spontaneous visit to the House of Representatives’ press office on Tuesday afternoon and gamely answered questions about her hairstyle.

“This is my Tuesday look... Rollers lang ‘yan," she told reporters during the visit, which lasted for about 10 minutes.

Arroyo, who was clad in a brown coat and pants, even disclosed to members of the press which salon she goes to for her hairstyle.

The former President, however, evaded questions related to her stay at the chamber, as well as queries that sought to elicit her thoughts on the House speakership.

Arroyo also posed for pictures with some members of the House media before proceeding to the session hall.

At the start of her stint at the House of Representatives, Arroyo told the media that she prefers to be a “low profile" figure as a congresswoman. — Andreo C. Calonzo/KBK, GMA News

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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