Arroyo likens self to Robredo, says resignation was 'inevitable'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2016 06:34 PM

Vice-President Leni Robredo's resignation from President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet is something the country has seen before.

Former President, now House deputy Speaker Gloria Arroyo also left the cabinet of former president and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada in the year 2000 as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, amid rising opposition to Estrada's rule.

She became president after the four-day bloodless revolt in January 2001. 

Arroyo recognized that there was a parallelism in people's minds when she opened the regular press conference by the Office of the Speaker Monday.

Arroyo pointed out that the resignation of Robredo was inevitable.

"We might as well make our opening statement about the resignation of Leni Robredo, which to me, it only takes one statement to react to that. The resignation was inevitable because of their divergence, important divergence on so many important issues.”

She added that her comments were timely since she has been in the situation of both Robredo and Duterte.

“I have been in the situation of both President Duterte and Vice-President Robredo. I was vice-president and I was president," Arroyo said, recalling that during her time as DSWD secretary to Estrada, she did not criticize the president publicly.

“When I was vice-president, as long as I was a member of the cabinet of President Estrada, I desisted from making any critical remarks about him. And when I can no longer avoid that, then I tended my resignation,” she said.

Arroyo recalled that when she was president, she really did not tell anyone they were fired. "I desisted from telling a Cabinet member 'You're fired. I want to replace you.' We always arrange for a way for a Cabinet member to resign." 

Arroyo also recalled that her own appointee to the CHED was also unseated before his fixed term was over. "My CHED chairman Manny Angeles had a fixed term but the administration after me simply appointed Patty Licuanan before his fixed term ended. In fact I told him: 'Why are you allowing him to do that to you? I will not stay a minute more than I'm wanted." 

Licuanan, like Robredo, was also told to skip Cabinet meetings.

Arroyo said Robredo being informed by text message about being shut out of the Cabinet meetings is nothing new. "Again, speaking as former president, one of my senior officials was also booted out through text. It's been done before. I'd rather not say, senior official, chairman of a board."

Prior to her resignation, Arroyo said she was also told before to skip some Estrada Cabinet meetings.

"There was one time, I also received a message that I did not have to attend a particular Estrada Cabinet meeting so I figured 'Well, they probably are going to take up something political' and since I belong to the other side of the political fence they wouldn't want me to be privy to things that I can tell other opposition members so I respected the instruction not to attend that specific Cabinet meeting. It can be done. It's really the call of the individual person," she said.

Arroyo added that she also had her own “divergence of issues” when she became President as she dealt with the differences she had with her Cabinet members.

“As president, when a cabinet member has difference in an important issue with you then you ha[ve] to let the Cabinet member go no matter what your personal respect or affection. As a former vice-president who was in the cabinet, it was inevitable," she said.

Arroyo also does not believe that there is a deeper reason for Robredo’s resignation. "A difference of opinion between the President and a Cabinet member is a very credible reason. I don’t see why you have to look for a deeper issue. I think it’s what it is at face value."