Duterte Defends GMA’s “Secret” Trip to Davao
By Edith Regalado | Updated May 30, 2005 – 12:00am
DAVAO CITY: Mayor Rodrigo Duterte defended yesterday the sudden trip last week of President Arroyo to three cities in Mindanao, including Davao City where she stayed overnight and spent some time at the mayor’s favorite watering hole, a piano bar along Quimpo Boulevard.
“It was an important trip and I think she achieved what she came here for even if it was done in secret with no media attention. It was a fruitful trip,” he said.
Duterte was referring to the three-hour meeting the President had with 10 local business leaders which turned out to be a no-holds barred discussion on a wide range of issues regarding her administration.
“It was a free-wheeling discussion and everyone was frank in that meeting which was good,” said Duterte, even if he himself was not invited to the exclusive meeting between the President and the select group of businessmen.
Duterte said the President’s recent trip was really without fanfare. “I was not even allowed to meet her at the airport. I was instructed to wait for a call until I fetched her from the hotel and brought her to the After Dark Piano Bar,” he said.
“She also has to rest and take a break. It was a break for her. I had the entire After Dark Bar closed for her that night,” he said.
Mrs. Arroyo reportedly had hot tea and durian while she listened to Duterte sing the Visayan song Balud as well as Ikaw and MacArthur’s Park. Local military and police officials were also asked to render a song each.
Also joining the President at the piano bar were Duterte’s close friends like Regional Development Council chairman and banana magnate Jesus Ayala and Kingdom of God church leader Apollo Quiboloy as well as a number of local officials.
Quiboloy was even quoted to have assured the President while at the piano bar that his congregation has been consistently praying for her and her administration.
Adding life to the little party that Duterte hosted for the President was his two-year-old daughter Veronica. Mrs. Arroyo was said to have been so pleased to see the baby whom she said reminded her of her grandchildren.
The President arrived here at about 3 p.m. last Thursday without the usual fanfare. She was whisked off to the Marco Polo Hotel from the airport without any police escorts. She even passed through the hotel’s back door in going up to the presidential suite at the 18th floor.
Mrs. Arroyo, in a light green trench coat-style dress, left the hotel at about 8:30 p.m., again passing through the back exit, and proceeded to After Dark. Only a few hotel guests noticed her as she came out of the elevator at the ground floor.
She was reported to have returned to Marco Polo Hotel a little past midnight after all the songs and durian at After Dark.
The President’s visit to Duterte’s hangout last Thursday night was actually her fourth there. She first visited the After Dark Piano Bar sometime in 2002, then in 2003 and last year.
Gen. Delfin Bangit, chief of the Presidential Security Group, told The STAR the President has always been comfortable at After Dark.
“She is entitled to some nightout also. She is just human, she needs a break,” Bangit said.
Sources said Mrs. Arroyo was also regaled by songs at the lobby lounge of the Pryce Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City by Mayor Vicente Emano Wednesday night during the first stop-over of her three-city sortie in Mindanao. She also went to General Santos City.