GMA starts saying goodbye

PNS — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has started her exit calls to the major military services, and she began it by first visiting the Armed Forces’ headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. on Wednesday apologized to reporters because they had not been allowed to cover Mrs. Arroyo’s visit.

“It was a private visit, and that is why [the officers] requested that it not be covered by media,” Brawner said.

“In fact, she did not bring along the Malacañang press corps. It was actually a farewell visit and she took that time to thank and mingle with soldiers.”

Brawner said Mrs. Arroyo’s visit a day after the start of the election campaign period was a coincidence, adding Armed Forces Chief Victor Ibrado was out of the country for his own exit call to his counterparts in Thailand.

“There was no mention of politics during her visit, and General Ibrado’s visit [to Thailand] was scheduled a long time ago,” Brawner said.

Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang, Ibrado’s classmate in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1976, and other high-ranking military officials joined the President in a boodle fight. A boodle fight takes place when the soldiers’ meal is placed on a long table and they eat together using their hands.

Before the boodle fight, Mrs. Arroyo thanked the soldiers for their loyalty to the service and to her as their commander-in-chief.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo on Wednesday thanked the Iglesia ni Cristo for their support of her administration and asked them to stay behind her until she stepped down on June 30.

She expressed gratitude to the Iglesia for ensuring her victory in her senatorial, vice presidential and presidential bids.

The Iglesia is known for its block-voting, and it has at least 4 million members of voting age.

“I recalled that in 1995 I was among those candidates who asked for your help,” she said during her tour of the New Era University in Diliman, Quezon City.

“I recalled that during my campaign in Laguna, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was number one in your mock ballot. Thank you for your help. You have always been supporting me.”