(UPDATED — 8:31 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — For the country’s top leader, Pampanga isn’t just the place where one can find the most number of beautiful women. It is also the home-province of the still influential female leader, whom President Rodrigo Duterte considers as his boss.
“(P)inakamaraming maganda dito sa Pampanga. Maniwala kayo. Ni-flying kiss ko nga ‘yong isa kanina [Pampanga has the most number of beautiful women. Believe me. I even blew a flying kiss to one of them],” said Duterte in his speech during the Kapampangan Food Festival at the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga on Thursday, describing the women in the province as “mapuputi na magaganda [fair and beautiful].”
“Even the image, pagka-eskulto ng mukha [how their faces were sculptured]. I don’t know how many tribes got mixed here but really, it is a good one like the food,” the President added.
Then Duterte said he graced the event upon the invitation of Pampanga representative and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom he acknowledged as his boss.
“Si Ma’am, alam naman ninyo, boss ko si President Arroyo [Ma’am, President Arroyo, as you all know, is my boss,” Duterte said.
“And I know that you know that I owe a lot sa kanya [I owe her a lot]. Though I was not really a member of the Cabinet, whatnot, but I was close confidant. We talk about state affairs, particularly, law and order,” said the President, which earned him plaudits from the audience.
In February 2016, then presidential aspirant Duterte promised that he would free Arroyo from detention if he gets elected as the country’s highest leader.
“If I am elected President, I will release her. Why? Because the evidence [against her] is weak. I know that. I am a lawyer,” Duterte said.
On July 21, 2016, three weeks after Duterte started his presidency, Arroyo was cleared of plunder charges by the Supreme Court and was released from hospital arrest after nearly four years in detention.
Ex-Arroyo officials are now part of Duterte admin
Several officials of the Duterte administration also worked for Arroyo during her presidency.
Jesus Dureza, the current presidential adviser on the peace process, held the same post during the Arroyo administration.
Solicitor General Jose Calida was an undersecretary of Department of Justice when Arroyo was the country’s top leader.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. was Armed Forces chief and Presidential Management Staff chief during the presidency of Arroyo.
Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority during Arroyo’s term.
Andrea Domingo, current Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. chairperson, was the Arroyo administration’s Bureau of Immigration chief.
Last October, Duterte appointed Francisco Duque as Department of Health chief. He was also the DOH secretary during the Arroyo administration.
Last month, the President also appointed Agnes Devanadera as chief of the Energy Regulatory Board. She was the solicitor-general, who also became the acting chief of the Department of Justice, during Arroyo’s term.
WATCH A RELATED RTVM VIDEO OF PRESIDENT DUTERTE WITH FORMER PRESIDENT ARROYO DURING THURSDAY’S KAPAMPANGAN FOOD FESTIVAL IN CLARK, PAMPANGA: