(UPDATE)President Rodrigo Duterte described former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the "embodiment of strong political will" during an appreciation dinner dedicated to her at Manila Hotel on Tuesday.
Duterte added that Arroyo carried out "unpopular, decisive actions" during her presidency.
He also noted her experience as an economist, saying she laid down the foundation of the economic growth of the country, the benefits of which are being felt today.
"May your legacy shine to inspire millions of Filipinos," he said.
Duterte joked that when Arroyo was president and he was still mayor of Davao City, he did not kill on her orders.
"Wala akong pinatay na tao na utos niya; pinatay ko na lang kasi feeling ko gusto niya," he said, drawing laughter from the audience including Arroyo.
Arroyo thanked Duterte for "30 years of working together," giving her the opportunity to be Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“That the House passed them all (Duterte’s legislative agenda) should, I hope, reinforce your faith not only about how members of the House have the highest regard for your leadership but also how much the congressmen and congresswomen of the 17th congress are willing to push the envelope to meet the President’s agenda,” she told Duterte.
She also mentioned that Duterte helped her be acquitted from corruption charges, which led to her imprisonment in 2011. Arroyo was acquitted and released from prison in 2016.
Duterte and former First Lady Imelda Marcos were among Arroyo's political allies who graced the appreciation dinner. Senators Bong Go, Richard Gordon, and incoming Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez also attended.
The family of the former President also arrived including her husband and former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, son and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, and grand-daughter Mikaela Gloria.
The former Speaker and Pampanga representative, who has nearly 30 years of political experience, formally retired from public service after the midterm elections last May. — With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News