MANILA—In a historic feat, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the controversial mayor of Davao City, was sworn into office Thursday (June 30) as the Philippines 16th president and the first from Mindanao.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, Duterte’s fraternity brother from the San Beda College of Law based Lex Talionis Fraternity, administered the oath of office for the country’s new president at the jam-packed Rizal Hall of Malacanang Palace at exactly noon as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
President Duterte’s children — Paolo, Sara, Sebastian and Veronica — together with hundreds of visitors, including former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada, and foreign dignitaries stood as oath taking witnesses. Veronica, the president’s youngest daughter, held the Bible over which the tough talking mayor was sworn in as the Philippines new head of state.
Following the oath taking ceremony, President Duterte sworn in his cabinet members into their respective appointed positions. Thereafter, he was given his first military honor with the 21-gun salute after which the members of the diplomatic corps led by its president, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the Apostolic Nuncio; officially introduced themselves to him.
Before the oath taking ceremony, the 71-year old President Duterte, briefly met with outgoing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. He also accompanied him for his last military honor before leading the customary send off ceremony for the former president.
“As part of the tradition, President Duterte will take part in the departure honors for outgoing President Aquino. They will have a brief encounter at the President’s hall,” incoming Presidential Communications Sec. Martin Andanar said.
Instead of the traditional Vin d’ Honneur, President Duterte as a simple man from Davao City, offered a diplomatic reception wherein simple Filipino foods and drinks were served.
According to Liset Marquez, a member of President Duterte’s inauguration organizing committee, the menu to be serve to the 627 guests were mongo soup, smoked fish with alugbati in demitasse cups, pandesal with kesong puti and vigan longganisa grilled on the spot, lumpia ubod pouch, durian tartlet, fried saba using Barbava banana. For drinks, they have dalandan juice and pine-mango cooler.
Meanwhile, the Philippines also has a new vice president.
Lawyer Leni Robredo, a Liberal Party mate of outgoing President BS Aquino; was sworn in in a separate ceremony in Quezon City. The separate swearing in ceremonies is another first in the country’s history and could mark the possible uneasy relationship between the two leaders.
Ms Robredo, widow of former local government secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a mysterious aircraft crash, is an anti-poverty campaigner and human rights lawyer.
Unlike President Duterte, who was sworn into office by a member of the Supreme Court, Vice President Robredo, who used to be a former member of the House of Representative, was sworn into office by the chairman of the poorest barangay in her provincial district and the chairperson of the barangay where she is holding office as the second highest official of the land.
VP Robredo won with a very slim margin against former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of late former dictator Ferdinand Sr.
Incidentally, President Duterte and the young Marcos are close friends and this close relationship, according to some political pundits, could be the principal reason behind the cold treatment Duterte is dishing out on Robredo.