Former President and current Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is now the Speaker of the House, and the internet has a lot to say about it. Macapagal-Arroyo, also called GMA for brevity, was officially appointed with the backing of 184 congressmen. She will be replacing Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez as the holder of the top post within the House of Representatives.
The succession was complicated by the ousting of incumbent Speaker Alvarez. The outing of a House Speaker had last occurred over a decade ago, in February 2008 when Davao Rep. Prospero Nograles replaced Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr. These complications delayed President Rodrigo Duterte’s 3rd State of the Nation Address to a joint session of Congress.
Regardless, by Monday’s end Arroyo had become the 21st Leader of the House of Representatives, and the first woman in Philippine history to hold this post.
And here’s what the Internet has to say. In response to criticisms of Arroyo’s appointment, many have taken to Facebook, Twitter, and even vlogging to express their opinion. The community standing behind Speaker Arroyo is one not afraid to defend her.
“Former President and now Speaker of the House Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was the victim of the most elaborate and most well-funded Black Propaganda PR wars in history,” Orion Perez D shared his thoughts on the unfair and biased treatment of GMA’s administration by the mainstream media. He goes on to praise her accomplishments, saying that “even people who used to be against her and even voted for Noynoy have realized that she meant well and SHE DID WELL in reforming our budget processes, fixing our economic fundamentals (to the limit that was still possible given that the 1987 Constitution makes bringing in FDI difficult) and keeping our fiscal status sound.”
He credits her popularity now among Filipinos with the advent of social media, allowing for the disruption of the mainstream media narrative and for greater access to information. He closes by affirming that her place as Speaker is rightfully earned and appropriate, saying “Having GMA leading the House actually means that we are much more likely to end up with the FDI-friendly Federal-Parliamentary System that PRRD had been promising when he campaigned for the Presidency and repeated over and over again, unlike the sloppy protectionist, pseudo-Federal, and presidentialist drivel that the majority of the geezer-lawyers at the ConCom came up with when they refused to listen to the expert advice of the numerically fewer younger technocrats and academics in the Commission.”
The comments section of Perez’ post show how many agree with him. Nitrojun Bakiao Econar added “She is an economic expert. She brought us out of the 2008 global financial crisis unscathed, as we were one of the 10 countries least affected by it. Our economy performed better than even Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and France against that criisis. And she is a survivor as you have pointed out.”
Luis Gerard Del Rosario adds his take, saying “Her only faults in my opinion were (1) not prioritizing corruption (since she believes she needs to reform the system first so corruption is lessened) and (2) not defending her public image more. But loyalists stand by her because they know she’s competent, strict, and a workaholic.”, before adding another comment on how GMA’s popularity in the South of the Philippines could be because she actually listens to them.
One netizen even shared a 14-minute video addressing Senator Grace Poe’s comments in reaction to Arroyo’s new position. The video was uploaded to Facebook page ‘News Mo To’, and captioned it saying the man had gone on ‘beastmode’ against the Senator. Poe had said that her late father, Fernando Poe Jr., had appeared to her the day before the Arroyo’s election. FPJ had lost to Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections. But netizens weren’t having it. In the video, Senator Poe was called out on her comments, her intention of ‘honoring the dead’ by way of her late father, and whether she is even in a position to throw stones at Arroyo given her own political track record. Many netizens share in the sentiment that Arroyo, who was acquitted of all charges of corruption previously raised against her, is a success story to be admired.
Sass Rogando Sasot also shared her thoughts on the appointment, but hers focused on how the narrative of GMA’s political career is often told through sexist lenses. She asks, “Where’s the #babaeako (I’m a woman) campaign for former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?”
Challenging what the movement means and why it cannot include the narrative of a woman who can play the game of politics and emerge successful? She posits that the tag is limiting itself to victimhood stories or even only to women who share certain political beliefs, segregations which lead to the discounting of stories of women like GMA. Ultimately, this would lead to a misrepresentation of womanhood into a slim part of the entire spectrum, or as Sass put it, “the #babaeako campaign is nothing but a clique of adolescent girls who determine at lunchtime who could sit with them rather than a march of diverse grown-up women who are not afraid to embrace their fellow women not despite but because of their difference.”
Netizen Amor Maclang echoes Sasot’s sentiments, commenting “My thoughts exactly, when you’re a woman and you can maneuver and even emerge triumphant, expect words like wicked, bitch, corrupt, etc. to be levied upon you.”