PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called on Filipinos not to dwell on the past as he vowed to lead the country to a “future of sufficiency.”
Marcos expressed confidence that Filipinos “will go further together than against each other, pushing forward, not pulling each other back.”
“I believe that if we but focus on the work at hand and at the work that will come to hand, we will go very far under my watch,” he said, adding he intends to focus on the “future of sufficiency” for the Philippines.
The 64-year-old Marcos was sworn in as the country's 17th president on Thursday, 36 years after his father, Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., was ousted in a popular uprising.
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Marcos took his oath of office before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo. His wife, first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, and their sons, Sandro, Simon and Vincent, shared the stage with him during the inauguration ceremony at the National Museum in Manila.
“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,” Marcos said in his inaugural speech.
“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take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic, gains made and lost, opportunities missed, well-laid plans superseded by the pandemic,” he said.
Marcos extended his hand even to his critics.
“Come let us put our shoulders to the wheel and give that wheel a faster turn to repair and to rebuild, and to address challenges in new ways to provide what all Filipinos need. To be all that we can,” he said.
He vowed to pursue changes, even “radical” ones, that would benefit the people.
“The changes we seek will benefit all and will shortchange no one. I was not the instrument of change. You were that. You made that happen,” Marcos said.
He said his administration will adopt measures to ensure the country's economic recovery from the pandemic.
“The pandemic ravaged bigger economies and ours. Virus is not the only thing to blame. What had been well built was torn down. We will build it back better,” Marcos said. “A stronger resilience, quicker adaptability, they are our best prevention, they are our best protection.”
Marcos, who will also serve as the agriculture chief, said food sufficiency is among his top priorities.
“The role of agriculture cries for the urgent attention that its neglect and misdirection now demands. Food self-sufficiency has been the promise of every administration. None but one delivered. There were inherent defects in the old ways and in recent ways too,” he said.
He said his administration is drawing a “comprehensive, all-inclusive plan for economic transformation.”
He thanked his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, for his “courage” in making “hard decisions” aimed at bringing change and progress.
Marcos assured the public that the country “won't be caught unprepared, under-equipped, and understaffed to fight the next pandemic.”
He paid tribute to the country's nurses, whom he called “the best in the world.”
“They acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties,” he said.
Marcos also promised to “complete on schedule” infrastructure projects that have already been started.
The Marcos administration inherits 88 projects due for completion in the next six years.
The President also addressed the country's climate change response.
“We will look to our partners and friends to help the Philippines, who, despite having a very small carbon footprint, is at the highest risk.”
He said the “rich world talks a great deal but does a lot less about it than those with much less but suffer more death and destruction from climate change and lack of adaptation.”
He said the Philippines has to do its part in addressing climate change and pollution.
“We are the third biggest plastics polluter in the world, but we won't shirk from that responsibility. We will clean up,” he said.
Marcos warned of expanded conflict if “great powers” take the “wrong lessons” from the war raging in Ukraine.
“We face prospects from the war abroad of which we are totally blameless. We seek friendship with all, but countries like ours will bear the brunt of it. And if the great powers draw the wrong lessons from the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, the same dark prospect of conflict will spread to our part of the world,” Marcos said.
Touching on the unabated rise in crude oil prices on the world market, Marcos said the Philippines “can find a way” around its energy supply problems and hinted on exploring for oil and gas.
The Malampaya project in Palawan has tapped the country's only gas reserves, which are expected to be depleted in a few years.
Days before Marcos was sworn in, the Duterte administration ended talks with China over energy exploration in the West Philippine Sea citing constitutional limits.
In his speech during the traditional vin d'honneur after the inauguration, the President stressed the importance of strengthening relationships with other states “that will make a more balanced and stable new global environment for us to work in.”
“I was especially struck by the importance that all of your countries have come to put on climate change. I believe that it was unanimous that all the ambassadors, all the representatives from the different countries who I have met with have each made offers of help in terms of mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” he said.
“We have seen and it has been proven to us very clearly in the past weeks and months how interconnected the world is now, how interconnected the economies are, how interconnected the political systems are, how interconnected our cultural and educational relationships are. We can only go from here to strength, and to strength, and to strength,” he said.
The Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the Philippines and dean of the diplomatic corps, Archbishop Charles John Brown led the toast to congratulate the newly-sworn president.
“The Filipino people have placed their trust and their hopes in you, the hopes for a future that is prosperous, safe, equitable and just,” Brown said.
As in the past, there will be challenges in the incoming administration but Marcos brings with him “an extensive experience of many years in governmental service,” and his call for unity has resonated deeply and widely with the people, he said.
Among the foreign dignitaries who attended the inauguration were Douglas Craig Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris; China's vice president Wang Qishan; Vietnam's vice president Vo Thi Anh Xuan; Thailand's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Don Pramudwinai, and Australia's governor general David Hurley.
Special envoys from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom also attended the rites.
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