First ever: Duterte, current president, and four past presidents in same table for security meeting

  • Incumbent president met with his predecessors during a national security meeting
  • They discussed the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling’s on the West PH Sea issue
  • Meeting cheered by public, jeered by some

MANILA, Philippines – In another unprecedented first in Philippine history, five presidents — both past and present — all sat at the same table.

Convening the National Security Council (NSC), sitting President Rodrigo Duterte met with his predecessors — former presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III for a meeting in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, July 27.

The five met to discuss various security matters, including the the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

“The President will lead the NSC in a multi-partisan dialogue in order to agree on vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea,” the Palace told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Also present at the meeting were Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Congress committee chairs and Duterte’s Cabinet members.

Cheers, Jeers

Many who saw the pictures of Duterte and his predecessors cheered the scene and congratulated the current president for being a unifying figure.

Some anime enthusiasts also branded the meeting as the summit of the “5 Kages”; in reference to the five leaders of the ninja world in the popular manga and anime Naruto.

However, jeers were also directed mainly at two of the former presidents — Arroyo and Aquino.

Many called Aquino ungentlemanly for seemingly snubbing Arroyo after he failed to shake her hand; saying he should follow Duterte’s example and move forward. However, some also defended him and said he was just not being “plastic”.

Others also poked fun at Arroyo’s appearance and asked why she was no longer wearing neck braces or riding a wheelchair.