Former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III sat together in the same room for the first time on Wednesday since Mrs. Arroyo walked free last Thursday (July 21).
Arroyo and Aquino, along with their predecessors, former presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada, were invited by President Rodrigo Duterte to attend a National Security Council meeting at the Malacañang.
The two former presidents were supposed to meet each other Monday, after they were both invited to attend Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Aquino, however, declined the invitation.
This was the first time the two former presidents attended the same function since Arroyo was cleared by the Supreme Court (SC) of plunder in connection with the case of alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds filed by the Aquino administration.
READ: Supreme Court frees Gloria Arroyo
Three days after being freed from detention, Arroyo told ABS-CBN last Sunday that she will start the next chapter of her life without any rancor on her enemies.
"You know, as I said earlier, I’m a devout Catholic, so any rancor I feel is not first hand. The rancor that I feel is precisely what I was saying earlier: the justice system, political persecution using the justice system, that must stop," she said during the exclusive interview in her La Vista home in Quezon City.
Arroyo insisted that the use of criminal justice system for political persecution must end with her.
"Let me be the last victim of persecution during the justice system," she said.