Why women’s rights advocates don’t count Arroyo’s ascent to speakership

July 26, 2018 - 4:27 PM
Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte. (PCOO/ File photo)

Not everyone agrees that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo being the first female House speaker is something to be celebrated by women and the public.

While such achievements of women are normally praised by feminists and women’s rights advocates for girl power, Arroyo’s ascent to the fourth highest position in the land was not welcome to those who point to political scandals associated with her nine-year presidency.

“Feminism, at its core, is the complete and utter eradication of oppression rooted on patriarchy. Anything less than that is a lie,” communications professional Marrian Ching posted on Twitter.

Literature student Philip Jamilla also recalled that Sen. Risa Hontiveros had been illegally arrested when she joined the International Women’s March in 2006.

That incident was recorded on video that can still be viewed on Hontiveros’ official Facebook page.

“GMA’s term saw trumped up charges of rebellion and murder against solons from the Makabayan bloc, arrest and forced disappearances of countless activists—students, labor leaders and peasants,” Jamilla added.

Meanwhile, actress Agot Isidro, who was also among the many who joined the globally recognized #BabaeAko movement, shared a photo showing Arroyo and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos during the controversial shakeup at the lower House last Monday.

Amid the criticisms, there are still Filipino women who supported Arroyo on her return to a higher government position.

Arroyo was also the first former head of state to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

From a detained official to House leader

Political scandals and human rights abuses abound Arroyo’s presidency that started after a successful people’s revolution known as the Second EDSA Revolution in 2001.

In a previous report, human rights groups brought up the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 and the disappearances of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno in 2005 that Arroyo has been held accountable for.

In 2011, a year after her term ended, she was arrested due to plunder charges and got detained at the Veteran Memorial Medical Center for four to five years until the Supreme Court acquitted her in 2016. The charges were later on dismissed.

Despite being in hospital detention, Arroyo was able to stay in public service as the representative for the second district of Pampanga, a post she was reelected into three times.

Arroyo unseated Duterte’s long-time ally Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday as she took her oath as the new leader of the 297-man House of Representatives.