President Rodrigo Duterte and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, the outgoing speaker of the House. (Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte heaped praises on the outgoing speaker of the House, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, calling the former leader “a true living icon in Philippine politics and an embodiment of strong political will.”

Arroyo, for her part, thanked Duterte for creating the conditions that allowed her acquittal from a plunder case filed by her successor, Benigno Aquino III, involving the supposed misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds when she was president.

Duterte, speaking during a dinner in Arroyo’s honor at the Manila Hotel Tuesday night, said: “Perhaps no other chief executive in our history comes close to President Arroyo’s example of carrying out decisive actions even if such actions would prove to be unpopular. Indeed, her intuitive and hands-on leadership has carried our nation forward, especially during trying times.”

“Now, I only intend to make our country even stronger by following her brilliant example of a strong-willed leadership and decisive governance,” he added.

The President ended his remarks by joking that, as Davao City mayor, he didn’t kill anyone on Arroyo’s orders.

“Pinatay ko na lang kasi feeling ko gusto niya [I only killed because I felt she wanted it].” (