Political Powerhouses: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was born in 1947 near Manila in the Philippines. When she was just 14 years old her father was elected President of the Philippines. As a result of coming from such a well-known family, she received the best education. She spent two years in Washington D.C. studying economics at Georgetown University, where she was a classmate of Bill Clinton. She returned to the Philippines, where she earned a Masters degree, then Doctorate, in economics. She then went on to become a university professor in economics.

In 1986 she was appointed as the undersecretary of trade and industry by then-president Corazon Aquino. In this role she oversaw the major growth of the garment industry in the country. Her political career began in earnest in 1992 when she ran in the country’s election where she was elected a Senator. She was re-elected in 1995 when she won 16 million votes. During her time as a Senator she signed into law a number of bills including the Export Development Act and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law.

In 1998 she was elected Vice-President of the country; she won more votes than the Presidential nominee from her party did. The President faced corruption charges just two years into his presidency. He was forced to resign following massive protests throughout the country and in January 2001 Gloria took office. She used her vast experience of economics to stabilise the country’s finances, making them more secure. Throughout her first term she herself faced corruption charges, however, she was elected for a second term in 2004.

During her second term as President she faced a number of challenges, including the threat of terrorism from the group Abu Sayyaf, who were responsible for the deaths of over 100 people in a ferry bombing in 2004. She also had to deal with two separate coup attempts by military officials. The Constitution meant that she was unable to run for another presidential term, however she did win a seat in the House of Representatives.

In 2011 she was arrested and charged with corruption while in office. The charges included election fraud as well as misusing state funds while in office. At the time of her arrest she was in dealing with a number of health issues, issues that she would continue to deal with for the next few years. In 2016 she was acquitted of all charges filed against her.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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