By Benjamin Nathaniel T. Bondoc and Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, June 30 (PNA) — The former mayor of the southern city of Davao, Rodrigo Roa Duterte formally took his oath on Thursday noon as the Philippines’ 16th chief executive.
Duterte replaced outgoing Pres. Benigno Aquino III who arrived around 10:25 a.m. in Malacañang.
The two met for over 30 minutes at the President’s Hall Sala before Aquino was given departure honors at the Palace Grounds.
After the final military honors highlighted by 21-gun salute was given for Aquino, the incoming and outgoing leaders of the country talked again very briefly before Duterte escorted his predecessor to the vehicle that brought Aquino to his residence at Times Street in Quezon City.
After the singing of national anthem and a joint prayer, veteran singer Freddie Aguilar sang Duterte’s campaign jingle “Duterte para sa Tunay ng Pagbabago” to the tune of Aguilar’s famous song “Ipaglaban Mo.”
Then incumbent Senate President Franklin Drilon read the Joint Resolution No. 1 of the Congress, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, proclaiming Rodrigo Duterte and Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo as winners of the presidential and vice presidential elections last May 9, 2016.
In a simple ceremony attended by around 600 guests at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang Palace, Duterte was sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, with his left hand placed on top of the Bible held by his youngest daughter, Veronica.
The oath-taking was witnessed by Duterte’s children, Paolo, Sarah, and Sebastian.
Among the guests present during the ceremony were former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
After taking his oath as President, President Duterte administered the mass oath-taking of his Cabinet members.
Meanwhile, new Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo took her oath as the country’s second-highest elected official at the Quezon City Reception House in New Manila on Thursday.
Robredo was sworn in by the chairmen of two barangays (villages) from Camarines Sur and Quezon City, Rolando Coner of Barangay Punta Tarawal and Regina Celeste San Miguel of Barangay Mariana respectively, at the new home of the Office of the Vice President here.
In her inaugural speech, Robredo called for unity and gave primal focus to the poor and marginalized.
“Naniniwala ako na sa panahong tila may mga matitinding hidwaan na nangyayari sa mundong kinagagalawan natin, ang hamon sa atin ay magsama-sama. Paigtingin ang ating pagkakaisa at gawing lakas, hindi hadlang ang ating pagkakaiba, (I believe that in times when severe conflicts occur in the world where we live in, the challenge is for us to unite. Let us strengthen our unity and set aside our differences)” said Robredo.
“Ang ating pagtutulungan ay ang ating pinakamabisang puhunan. Napatunayan natin na hindi sagabal sa anumang kakulangan ang totoo, tapat, at pursigidong paglilingkod, (Our cooperation is our strongest asset. We have proven that a true, honest and steadfast service will fill in any gaps)” she added.
The Vice President also pledged to combat hunger and food insecurity, provide universal health coverage, and improve education, people empowerment and rural development, among others.
Among the guests in her “modest” inauguration include members of the Liberal Party (LP), Senate and House of Representatives, as well as people behind Robredo’s campaign for the May election.
After the inauguration, Robredo will join her supporters in a gathering at the Quezon City Memorial Circle at 5:30 p.m.
Deviating from tradition, this is the first time in recent where the two highest elected officials had opted to be sworn in to office separately.
The new President also met with members of the Diplomatic Corps led by new Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay at the President’s Hall. The President offered a toast to which the Papal Nuncio delivered a response.
Living up to his promise to hit the ground running right after his inauguration, President Duterte held his first meeting with his Cabinet members at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room before concluding the inauguration day with a tour of the Presidential Museum and Library.
Duterte, winning by a landslide victory in the May polls, is the first Philippine president from Mindanao. Diocese of Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes on Wednesday announced that he is supporting incoming President Rodrigo Duterte but with certain limitations.
The bishop issued his statement as the country awaits the inauguration of President Duterte on Thursday.
“He is our president and a very popular one. He was voted (by the people) with overwhelming results and for that reason I believe that he should be supported”, said Bishop Cortes as he wished him well in his presidency.
“And I pray for him that he will be successful in achieving what he wants for the good of the country,” the 58-year-old Dumaguete prelate added.
However, Bishop Cortes stressed that supporting Duterte does not mean giving up on the things that the Catholic Church had always stood for.
“For the things that we could not agree on, we will continue to hold on to our convictions. For example, there are those that are not negotiable as far as we, the bishops are concerned,” Cortes stressed.
He was referring to the death penalty and the culture of “condoning” killings as some means to address the illegal drugs problem and corruption in the country.
“There will always be differences (between the Church and Duterte) and so therefore, we must continue to pray for him”, Cortes added.