Handover: Fresh start begins

BBM takes oath as 17th President at 12 noon amid high hopes

At 12 noon today and with the eyes of over 100 million hopeful Filipinos upon him, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will take his oath as the country’s 17th President during the inauguration rites set at the National Museum in Manila.

FINAL REHEARSAL. It’s all systems go for today’s inauguration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the country’s 17th President. Norman Cruz

As preparations were underway, Pope Francis congratulated Marcos, who takes over from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, in a message Wednesday.

“I send my congratulations and cordial wishes to your excellency as you begin your mandate as the president of the republic,” the Pope—the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, which include 85 million Filipinos—said in his message.

Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles Brown said the Pope also assured Marcos, who was catapulted to the presidency on the strength of more than 31 million votes in the May 9 elections, of his prayers to “sustain wisdom and strength” for his new administration.

Foreign dignitaries who will attend the inauguration include Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, Vietnamese Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, US Second Gentleman Douglas Craig Emhoff, Australian Governor-General David Hurley and Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai.

The city governments of Pasay, San Juan, Navotas, and the municipality of Pateros have already declared June 30, Thursday, as a special non-working holiday for the inauguration.

Earlier on June 24, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno also signed Executive Order No. 53 declaring a special non-working holiday in Manila City “to ensure the safety, security, and protection of participants” in Marcos’ inauguration.

The events of the day will start with the traditional meeting of the outgoing president and his successor in Malacanang Palace before they proceed, in separate vehicles, to the inaugural venue.

Before leaving the Palace he has occupied since 2016, Duterte will be given departure honors.

The inauguration ceremony will start with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem, followed by an ecumenical prayer.

A 30-minute military-civic parade will follow.

Then the Senate President will read the Joint Resolution from both Houses of Congress before the administration of the Oath of Office of the President-Elect at exactly noon, as the Constitution mandates.

For Marcos’s inaugural address, slight changes have been made after he was advised to make use of a teleprompter for the outline of his speech, to ensure sequencing and coherence.

For the inaugural song, Cris Villonco and the Young Voices of the Philippines choir will sing the Pilipinas Kong Mahal.

FINAL REHEARSAL. Singer Cris Villonco rehearses the song ‘Pilipinas Kong Mahal’ along with the Young Voices of the Philippines choir. Danny Pata

Villonco was chosen because she can sing traditional kundiman songs even as Marcos wants his inauguration to be very traditional and solemn.

After the ceremony, Marcos will hold a vin d’ honneur also at the National Museum.

He will proceed to Malacanang for the mass oath-taking of his designated Cabinet secretaries and the inaugural dinner.

In the evening, a People’s Concert, which is part of thanksgiving activity, will follow.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra will serenade the people to express the incoming President’s gratitude for the support he received from them.

Cecile Licad, a world-renowned and awarded classical pianist, will render a solo performance.

Protocols for those attending the inauguration include a negative RT-PCR result taken 48 hours prior to the event.

Guests are also required to be fully vaccinated or boosted and to comply with minimum public health standards.

Marcos on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss the disqualification cases against him.

He said he was glad because the Court ruling “removes all the questions” that had been raised about his qualification to run for president in the May 9 national elections.

The incoming President made the statement when he attended the mass oath-taking of winning members of One Cebu party at the Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu on Tuesday.

Marcos was with incoming Vice President-elect Sara Duterte during the red carpet event.

Leading the winning One Cebu candidates who were sworn in were Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, party president.

Marcos expressed his thanks to One Cebu for its “immense contribution” to his victorious presidential campaign.

In his speech, Marcos reiterated his call for unity as “vast work” awaits him as the country’s 17th president.

Marcos thanked the Cebu officials for helping him in his campaign and pleaded for more help once he assumes office.

“I needed your help during the campaign. Perhaps, I can say, I need your help even more now. There’s a lot that we have to do. There will be many challenges that we will face,” Marcos said.

Marcos said that Cebu will have a key role to play in his plan to revitalize the country’s economy that was badly hit by the pandemic.

Cebu is already ahead of other provinces when it comes to reopening its economy, he said.

“That is why we will be continuing to make Cebu be the leader when it comes to economic transformation,” Marcos said.

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