It’s the season of love for Arroyo
By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Still on charm-offensive mode, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday treated some 100 Malacañang and Pampanga reporters to a “Valentine’s lunch” here, giving them heart-shaped chocolate cakes as take-home gifts.
But Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. did not think Arroyo was courting brownie points from the press.
“I think she’s just rounding up [her term],” Icban told reporters.
Arroyo, he said, is a “human being who likes people.”
“She just wants to celebrate with the press people. This is a season of love,” Icban said.
The reporters had a late lunch, though, at Everybody’s Café, a popular restaurant that the Palace contracted to serve native Kapampangan dishes. She arrived at 12:50 p.m., coming from the Bulacan Polytechnic University.
In casual, apparently jolly mood, Arroyo moved from one table to another and shared stories about the government’s infrastructure projects in the Urban Luzon Beltway (formerly the Luzon Urban Beltway).
The hall had 15 tables, each sitting 10 people. Palace officials and staff members joined the lunch.
At one point, Arroyo requested fried hito (catfish) and adobong kamaro (crickets) for reporters who were not served these dishes.
In her 10th visit to Pampanga since Dec. 1 when she filed her certificate of candidacy for representative of the province’s second district, Ms Arroyo declined an interview with the Inquirer on her platform.
“Malambat pa ing halalan (The election is still months away),” she said.
On a bus, she took reporters to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark Freeport.
In Clark, she checked the construction of the DMIA Passenger Terminal Expansion Project Phase 1.
Jose Victor Luciano, president of the state-owned Clark International Airport Corp., briefed the President on the P308.9-million project.
Designed to increase the terminal capacity to 2.5 million passengers yearly, this structure has two boarding bridges or tubes to and from the plane and terminal. These will be installed on Feb. 21, Luciano said.
He said the new complex will be operational on April 4, the eve of Arroyo’s birthday.
While Ms Arroyo was tightlipped about her platform for her congressional bid, she was back in her home district for the seventh time.
She graced the groundbreaking of the sugarcane farm plantation for a bioethanol and biomass power project in Barangay Pabanlag in Floridablanca town.
She proceeded to the Subic Bay Freeport to inspect the port there and tour the shipyard of the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin.