Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal

Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal
▪ 2002

      On Jan. 20, 2001, after angry protesters had driven Philippines Pres. Joseph Estrada from the presidential residence, Malacañang Palace, in Manila, the country's vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, assumed power. The demonstrations had been sparked by the Senate's halting of Estrada's impeachment trial on corruption charges. The armed forces withdrew support from Estrada; the Supreme Court unanimously declared the presidency to be vacant; and Arroyo was officially sworn in as his successor. Estrada later claimed that he had not relinquished the presidency, but the Supreme Court ruled her government legitimate.

      Born on April 5, 1947, in San Juan, a suburb of Manila, Arroyo lived at Malacañang as a teenager when her father, Diosdado P. Macapagal, was president of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965. She was valedictorian of her high-school class and studied economics at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., where she began a lasting friendship with classmate and future U.S. president Bill Clinton. After returning to the Philippines and graduating magna cum laude from Assumption College, Manila, in 1968, Arroyo earned a master's degree in economics from Ateneo de Manila University in 1978 and a doctorate of economics from the University of the Philippines, Quezon City, in 1986.

      Arroyo was a university professor when Pres. Corazon Aquino appointed her undersecretary of trade and industry in 1986. She won a seat in the Senate in 1992 and was reelected in 1995 by a record 16 million votes. Arroyo, who wrote 55 laws on economic and social reform, was named several times by the media as the country's outstanding senator. The 13 million votes she garnered in her successful bid for the vice presidency in 1998 was the largest mandate ever in a Philippines presidential or vice presidential race, while Estrada, running separately, won the presidency with fewer votes.

      Estrada named Arroyo secretary of social welfare and development, an unusual second job for a vice president. As scandal began to envelop Estrada, she resigned the cabinet post on Oct. 12, 2000, to rally opposition against him.

      Arroyo brought an unprecedented academic and administrative background to the Philippines presidency. Even so, she enlisted experienced officials to help her tackle national problems, especially poverty. A member of the wealthy elite, she sought to win over the masses who had supported the charismatic Estrada, adopting a more informal style on visits to poor areas. Unusual for Philippines politics, she had not been known by a nickname, but her publicists encouraged the use of Ate Glo (“Big Sister Gloria”). Although Arroyo tried to be folksy, she showed a steely side by taking a tougher line than Estrada on combating rebellion in the southern Philippines.

Henry S. Bradsher

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▪ president of the Philippines
born April 5, 1947, San Juan, Phil.

      Filipino politician who was president of the Philippines (2001– ).

      Arroyo's father, Diosdado P. Macapagal (Macapagal, Diosdado), was president of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965. Arroyo studied economics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she began a lasting friendship with classmate and future U.S. president Bill Clinton (Clinton, Bill). After returning to the Philippines and graduating magna cum laude from Assumption College in Manila in 1968, Arroyo earned a master's degree in economics (1978) from Ateneo de Manila University and a doctorate in economics (1986) from the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.

      Arroyo was a university professor when Pres. Corazon Aquino (Aquino, Corazon) appointed her undersecretary of trade and industry in 1986. She won a seat in the Senate in 1992 and was reelected in 1995 by a record 16 million votes. She was elected vice president in 1998, garnering more votes than the winner of the presidency, Joseph Estrada (Estrada, Joseph), who named Arroyo secretary of social welfare and development. In 2000, however, a corruption scandal enveloped Estrada, and on October 12 Arroyo resigned from the cabinet post to rally opposition against him. Angry protesters drove Estrada from the presidential residence on Jan. 20, 2001, and Arroyo assumed power.

      Arroyo brought an unprecedented academic and administrative background to the Philippines presidency, but her tenure was plagued by political unrest. Just months after she took office, some 20,000 supporters of Estrada stormed the gates of the presidential palace. Several people were killed, and Arroyo declared a “state of rebellion” that lasted five days. In 2003 disaffected soldiers seized a Manila apartment building and demanded Arroyo's resignation; the attempted coup was suppressed peacefully. Promising to reduce corruption and improve the economy, Arroyo was reelected president in 2004. However, accusations that she rigged the election emerged the following year and resulted in a failed attempt at impeachment. In 2006 Arroyo declared a countrywide state of emergency after a military coup was blocked; the state of emergency was lifted after about one week. Terrorism was also a concern for Arroyo's administration. Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group that sought a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines, was responsible for a number of attacks, including the 2004 bombing of a ferry that killed more than 100 people.

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Universalium. 2010.

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