Aquino okays limousine ride with Arroyo

06/18/2010 - PRESIDENT-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will not break the inaugural tradition as he agreed to have a limousine ride with outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Aquino's spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that Aquino has decided to make a stopover in Malacanang and fetch Arroyo on the way to the site of oath-taking ceremony on June 30.

"Nag-agree na din si Pangulong Aquino na makasama sa isang sasakyan si President Arroyo. So susunduin niya (Aquino) siya (Arroyo) sa Malacanang. (President Aquino agreed to be with President Arroyo in one car. So he will fetch Mrs. Arroyo in Malacanang)," Lacierda told Sun.Star in a phone interview Thursday.

As part of inaugural tradition, the incoming president will first make a courtesy call on outgoing president in Malacanang which will be the official workplace and residence of a president for the next six years.

The two leaders will then ride in a black limousine bearing license plate number one, which symbolizes the highest post in the land.

They will then proceed to the inauguration site. Aquino decided to hold the inauguration at Quirino Grandstand along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

As the new president took his oath, he will then walk away from the venue riding the presidential car while the outgoing president takes a private car.

Chief Presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo assured that President Arroyo will finish the inauguration program to ensure there will be smooth transition of power.

Saludo believed that political differences will be set aside on the inauguration day.

"Differences don't matter in this democratic process. Or shall we say there are differences but the democratic processes are able to subsume them and then let the whole thing still happen. Remember there are also differences that had been very much expounded upon by the new administration, they also have their differences."

He stressed that a limousine ride is not important if Aquino's camp will not agree to it, adding that what the two leaders have to seal is the smooth transition of power.

Saludo also belittled the proposal to have joint Cabinet meetings with Aquino camp, saying "it is not a big thing" to them.

Holiday

In line with the inauguration, President Arroyo has declared June 30 as special non-working holiday in the country through Proclamation 2085.

This is to give way to the oath-taking and inaugural ceremony of Aquino, which Malacanang believed to be an important day for the public to witness.

Saludo said President Arroyo has not yet instructed the entire Cabinet to join the inauguration but implied that this scenario is unlikely to happen.

"We will have our last Cabinet meeting on June 29. Maybe after that, may iba-iba na plano. And it June 30 was declared holiday we will not be at work," he said.

P200 million

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) meantime has allocated P200 million to rehabilitate the Quirino Grandstand where will hold his inauguration on June 30.

DPWH Secretary Domingo said the fund will be used to make the 3,800 square meter venue structurally sturdy and ready for the event. The repairs of the historical venue started three weeks ago.

Domingo promised to finish the works before the end of the month as they are working 24 hours, seven days a week.

For his part, DPWH spokesman Undersecretary for Luzon Romeo Momo said the carbon fiber, which they ordered abroad has recently arrived.

Carbon fiber is said to be seven times stronger than steel. It would just be covered by concrete plaster.

Aside from the repairs, the DPWH would also extend the canopy of the main section of the grandstand by 30 meters so that the President-elect and other very important persons (VIP) would be protected from the heat of the midday sun during the ceremony.

Other works include the repair floor slab, repair girder, reinforce concrete slab, to scrape off the paint and put fresh paint to make sure that it is structurally sound and can withstand the earthquake.

Early this year, the DPWH ordered the temporary closure of the Quirino Grandstand after declaring that the venue is no longer structurally safe.

Among the defects are portions of the concrete roof slab were said to be exposed and there are also cracks on some of the columns. (Sun Star)

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