By ALFRED G. GABOT, Editor in Chief
MANILA – Following his unprecedented victory with over 31 million votes in the May 9 elections, President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. took his oath of office as the country’s 17th President at noon on June 30 in solemn ceremonies at the National Museum and thereafter took over the top post from President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang.
Marcos, 64, son of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., is the second president from Ilocos Norte and the third scion of a former president to ascend to the top post.
Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo of the Supreme Court administered the oath of Marcos in the presence of Vice President Sara Duterte, members of the Marcos family, thousands of officials, including foreign leaders led by United States 2nd Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and China’s Vice President Wang Qishan, and supporters who gathered in and outside the former Legislative Building that used to house the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives where Marcos’ father held office as Ilocos Norte congressman, senator and later Senate President.
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The National Museum, formerly known as the Old Legislative Building, has served as the venue for the inauguration of former presidents Manuel L. Quezon (1935), Jose P. Laurel (1943), and Manuel Roxas (1946). Ironically, it was shut down by President Marcos Sr. when he proclaimed martial law on September 21, 1972, and later built the Batasang Pambansa complex in what is now known as Constitution Hill in Quezon City.
Since his proclamation as president-elect, Marcos has been congratulated by world leaders headed by US President Joseph Biden Jr., and China President Xi Jinping.
The latest to congratulate Marcos Jr. is his Holiness Pope Francis in a message shared by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles Brown who stated that Pope Francis extended his “congratulations and cordial wishes to Your Excellency as you begin your mandate as the President of the Republic.”
The Pope said he prays for the stability of Marcos in the leadership of more than one hundred million Filipinos.
“In assuring you of my prayers that you will be sustained in wisdom and strength, I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of peace and prosperity upon the nation,” the Pope added.
On June 10, Archbishop Brown made a courtesy call on Marcos and discussed the strengthening of the relationship between church and government.
As mandated by the Constitution, Marcos Jr. took the oath of office at exactly 12 noon. Then the new president delivered his inaugural address.
Prior to his oath-taking, Marcos motored to Malacanang to meet with outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte and witness a military review in honor of their former Commander in Chief.
Marcos also saw Mr. Duterte drove off from Malacanang for a flight to Davao City where a thanksgiving concert for his supporters was waiting for him.
In his inaugural address, Marcos vowed to fulfill his mandate to serve and protect fellow Filipinos and deliver his promises during the campaign for immediate pandemic recovery and better lives for Filipinos.
But as he stressed during the campaign, he called for unity and urged Filipinos to work with his government.
“I will need your help, I want to rely on it but rest assured I do not predicate success on the wide cooperation that’s needed. I will get it done,” he said in his 25-minute inaugural address.
“This is a historic moment for us all,” he said. “You picked me to be your servant to enable changes to benef.it all. I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility that you have put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly, but I am ready for the task,” he said.
The country’s new leader said his administration will be geared towards fresh techniques in handling crises — local or foreign — and putting more opportunities for every Filipino to assist them during difficult times.
“I am here not to talk about the past, I am here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even plenty of readily available ways and means to get done what needs doing by you, by me,” he said.
“We do not look back but ahead. Up the road that we must take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic. Gains made and lost, opportunities missed, well-laid plans superseded by the pandemic.”
Marcos, donning a rayadillo-inspired barong made by multi-awarded designer Pepito Albert, was with his wife First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and their sons newly elected Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alesandro, Simon, and Vincent during the inauguration ceremony.
Also at the event were Marcos’ mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos; and sisters, Senator Maria Imelda Imee Marcos and Irene Marcos-Araneta; Vice President Sara Duterte; and former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada.
The late President Marcos Sr. served as Ilocos Norte Representative from 1949 to 1959 during which he held office in the historic Legislative Building which was built in 1926 together with Pampanga Representative Diosdado Macapagal Sr. whom he defeated in the presidential race in 1965. Marcos Sr. then served as senator starting in 1959 until he was elected Senate president from 1963 until 1965 when he was elected president.
A civic-military parade along Padre Burgos avenue set off the ceremonies officially opened with the singing of the National Anthem by actress-host Toni Gonzaga and invocation.
The song for the inauguration, “Pilipinas Kong Mahal,” was performed by Cris Villonco and the Young Voices of the Philippines choir.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III first proclaimed Marcos before he was sworn into office by Chief Justice Gesmundo. It was Sotto and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, sitting as co-chair of the National Board of Canvassers, who first proclaimed Marcos Jr. at the Batasang Pambansa during a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Before motoring to Malacanang, Marcos thanked foreign dignitaries led by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown during a vin d honneur inside the National Museum. Brown, in behalf of the dignitaries from different countries, expressed the wish for the success of the Marcos administration.
After his inauguration, Marcos Jr. returned to Malacanang Palace, which becomes his official residence over the next six years.
The new President was to induct the new Cabinet in Malacanang on the same day and hold its first meeting immediately after.
In the evening, an inaugural reception is set for other officials and foreign dignitaries who wish to call on the new president.
The country’s leading orchestra Philharmonic Orchestra and world-renowned pianist Cecile Licad were tapped by Marcos to perform in the concert.
In his vlog prior to his inauguration, Marcos Jr. said he assured outgoing President Duterte of the continuity of his administration’s programs during their brief conversation at the inauguration of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte on June 19 in Davao City.
“I thanked him because he somehow helped me and Inday Sara. I assured him that I will continue his projects that benefited the country,” Marcos said.
“I salute and extend my utmost gratitude for his six-year historic leadership,” Marcos added.
One of the key accomplishments of the Duterte administration is the “Build, Build, Build” program that led to new expressways, airports and seaports, bridges and other infrastructure projects.