Former President and Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former Vice President Leni Robredo were seen together in a photo that went viral online. The photo showed the two political leaders smiling and posing with three other women, who were identified as their friends from Bicol.
The photo was first posted on Facebook by Alita Mercado, mother of San Pedro, Laguna mayor Art Mercado, on Sept. 6. “What a wonderful night with my Kumadres…Judy, Pearl, FPGMA & FVP Leni Robredo. 💚💚💚,” the post read.
Arroyo confirmed that she had a “social dinner” with Robredo and their mutual friends from Bicol, where both of them have roots. Arroyo’s father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, was born in Lubao, Pampanga but his mother was from Albay. Robredo’s late husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, was the mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur.
“We chatted about Bicol politics,” Arroyo said in a statement.
The photo sparked curiosity and speculation among netizens, as Arroyo and Robredo belong to different political parties and have different views on various issues. Arroyo is an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly criticized Robredo for her opposition to his policies. Robredo ran under the Liberal Party in the 2016 elections, while Arroyo is a member of Lakas-CMD.
However, both Arroyo and Robredo have expressed respect for each other in the past. In 2019, Arroyo said that she admired Robredo for being “very sincere” and “very hardworking” as vice president. Robredo also thanked Arroyo for her support and cooperation when she served as the interim chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in 2016.
The photo also came amid rumors that Robredo is planning to run for president in the 2028 elections, although she has not yet made a formal announcement. Arroyo, who served as president from 2001 to 2010, is barred from seeking another term due to term limits.