What can bring Cayetano and Arroyo together? Xi Jinping

ALL SMILES. Once rivals, former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano greets House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

ALL SMILES. Once rivals, former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano greets House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit saw several government officials leave the Shangri-La Hotel in high spirits, such that, not even former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could resist a friendly chat, despite their contentious relationship.

Arroyo had met with Xi Wednesday morning, November 21, during a courtesy call with Senate President Vicente Sotto III while Cayetano took a trip to the hotel to assist his wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, in sending off the Chinese leader.

After Xi had left the Philippines, Arroyo made her way to the hotel lobby when she was spotted by Cayetano who greeted her on her way out.

“Ma’am,” Alan called out, to which Arroyo replied “Oh, hi Alan, nice to see you.”

The two exchanged quick pleasantries as Cayetano thanked Arroyo for her “recommendations.” In response, the House Speaker extended her congratulations to his wife Lani for Xi’s successful stay in Taguig City.

Thorny past: Cayetano was a fierce critic of Arroyo during her presidency and was spokesperson of the team that sought Arroyo’s impeachment.

Later on in the Senate, he led the probes into controversies involving Arroyo’s close allies, like the botched NBN-ZTE deal and the fertilizer fund scam. He likewise pushed for investigations into reported election fraud in 2004 and 2007.

Cayetano also recently said he was interested in becoming House Speaker – a position Arroyo currently holds before her term ends in 2019 – if he wins as Taguig Representative.

Xi effect: During Xi’s visit, however, Cayetano acknowledged the benefit of Arroyo’s friendship with China. (READ: Why China chose Arroyo over Aquino)

Recalling his work as foreign secretary, Cayetano told Rappler, “In diplomacy, you get things done better when it's informal, but the challenge there is protocol. That’s where the friendship, back channeling, or history like GMA’s, comes into the [picture].”

Arroyo, for her part, praised China during her meeting with Xi. 

She recalled her presidency, which saw the Philippines cozying up to China and the signing of a controversial joint exploration agreement in the South China Sea. (The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking is now being challenged before the Supreme Court.)

Arroyo said, ”China has done in 40 years what other countries might take 200 years to do, so we congratulate you for that. It is good for China, it is good for the Philippines, it is good for the world.” – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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