Aquino vows change, gives hope to Filipinos

07/01/2010 - HIGH hopes filled the hearts of many Filipinos who witnessed the inauguration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay Wednesday at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

Inaugural address of President Benigno Aquino III

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo formally turned over the governance after Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales administered the oath of office to Aquino. Binay was the first to be sworn into office followed by Aquino.

The military gave Arroyo a 21-gun salute departure honors and after which, she left the inauguration site and proceeded to her hometown to take her oath as congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district.

Supporters of the new leaders filled the Quirino Grandstand in Manila even the night before the inauguration day.

Reynaldo Cruz, though an avid supporter of Aquino’s closest rival in 2010 elections former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, said he came all the way from Mindanao just to witness the inauguration ceremony of Aquino.

“Minsan lang kasi ito. I want to be part of history,” Cruz said while he was taking pictures of Aquino. He was among the more than 600,000 people who crowded from Quirino Grandstand to as far as the Rizal monument in Luneta Park.

Inaugural address

In his inaugural address, Aquino vowed change to the Filipino people.

“Ang mandato ninyo sa amin ay pagbabago – isang malinaw na utos para ayusin ang gobyerno at lipunan mula sa pamahalaang iilan lamang ang nakikinabang tungo sa isang pamahalaang kabutihan ng mamamayan ang pinangangalagaan," the 15th President said in his 22-minute speech.

Aquino recalled his campaign trail as he expressed gratitude to his supporters, Liberal Party (LP) members, and volunteers.

“Hindi si Noynoy ang gumawa ng paraan, kayo ang dahilan kung bakit ngayon, magtatapos na ang pagtitiis ng sambayanan. Ito naman po ang umpisa ng kalbaryo ko, nguni’t kung marami tayong magpapasan ng krus ay kakayanin natin ito, gaano man kabigat,” he added.

Aquino, banking on LP's slogan “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” promised to improve education, transportation, tourism, and infrastructure in his six-year governance.

He plans to revive the emergency employment program of his mother, the late former President Corazaon Aquino, which he said will provide more jobs to the Filipino people.

“Layunin nating paramihin ang trabaho dito sa ating bansa upang hindi na kailangan ang mangibang-bansa para makahanap ng trabaho," he noted.

Aquino already tasked the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to ensure that they will look into the needs of overseas Filipino workers.

Newly-appointed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, on the other hand, was tasked to ensure fair justice especially for poor Filipinos.

To his critics whom he said he has forgiven, Aquino said: "Sa inyong mga nag-isip pa kung tutulong kayo sa pagpasan ng ating krus, isa lang ang aking tanong – kung kailan tayo nanalo, saka pa ba kayo susuko?"

Calling on the Filipino people to help the country towards progress, he said he will carry the torch forward as he was blessed by the legacy of his heroic parents, the former President Cory and late Senator Ninoy Aquino Jr.

“Hindi ko makakayang harapin ang aking mga magulang at kayong mga nagdala sa akin sa yugto ng buhay kong ito, kung hindi ko maisasakatuparan ang aking mga binitawang salita sa araw na ito,” Aquino said.

He also chided his predecessor on the midnight appointments, vowing to review all positions accorded by Arroyo to his allies during period of election ban.

He stressed that there will be no reconciliation without justice.

On Tuesday, Aquino formed the “Truth Commission”, which is tasked to investigate cases against Arroyo and headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide.

Reactions on speech

Former President Estrada said that only time would tell if Aquino can fulfill his promise of eliminating corruption.

“All new administrations make grand statements on positive change. But the challenge is in the execution of the vision, in President Aquino's case, the vision of eliminating corruption through good governance," Estrada said through his spokesperson Margaux Salcedo.

For his part, former House Speaker Prospero Nograles thinks the inaugural message was very sincere and pragmatic, he told Sun.Star.

“The focus on basic social services for the poor like health, education, agriculture is the policy for himself and his official family to lead by example in setting the correct direction for our country," said Nograles.

Nograles is a member of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who, after nine years of leadership finally ended.

Defeated senatorial bet Satur Ocampo commended the speech of Aquino but said that the latter lacked a plan on peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“Best part of Noynoy inaugural address is his reaffirmation to go after all grafters. Most notably lacking is a policy or plan regarding the left revolution movement. He only promised action on the Moro or Mindanao conflict," added Ocampo.

Nicanor Perlas, who ran but lost for president, meanwhile wanted Aquino to address the alleged fraud in the last May polls.

"That for me is one acid test for his presidency. He should also investigate the past corruption of some members of his Cabinet including Hyatt 10 and others," Perlas told Sun.Star.

Inauguration attendees

Aside from over a hundred foreign dignitaries and family members of Aquino and Binay, politicians and entertainment celebrities also witnessed the oath-taking.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona showed up even after Aquino declined for him to administer the President’s oath of office.

Politicians and government officials were in attendance too with former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada leading the pack.

Ramos urged the people to work in tandem with the Aquino government. "Tumulong nang puspusan talaga hanggang kaya."

Juana Change and Jim Paredes hosted the event while there were performances from Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, Christian Bautista, Nina, the APO Hiking Society, the Madrigal singers, and Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Also present were celebrity supporters of Aquino including Mariel Rodriguez, Dingdong Dantes, Marian Rivera, Ai-ai delas Alas, Pokwang, Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez and husband Richard.

Aquino's girlfriend Valenzuela councilor Shalani Soledad also graced the event wearing a long yellow gown who said that after the President's speech she felt very proud for Aquino.

Aquino got 38 applauses from his inaugural speech.

Aquino then proceeded to the Malacanang for his first day of office, leaving Quirino Grandstand raining in confetti from the choppers of the Philippine Air Force.

600,000 people

For its part, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said over 600,000 people trooped to Quirino Grandstand to attend the Aquino-Binay inauguration.

NCRPO Director Roberto Rosales said: “The situation has remained peaceful and orderly."

The NCRPO has deployed about 3,200 policemen to secure the inaugural rites while additional units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region Command were also there to augment the police units.

Twelve Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras were also deployed at strategic sites around the venue to monitor any possible threats.

At the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, Rosales said 3,400 policemen will secure the area even as he reminded those who are going to attend the gathering to refrain from carrying any deadly weapon and liquor.

Jennifer Santos, a 46-year old housewife and mother of two was one of the hundreds of thousands of Aquino supporters who went to the inaugural venue to witness Aquino’s oath taking.

Santos, who voted for Aquino in the May 2010 national elections, said she was optimistic that Aquino has what it takes to bring permanent and lasting change to the country.

She joined the more than 15-million voters who backed Aquino on the basis of his “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” campaign slogan.

Santos said she believes wholeheartedly that the new President will bring about the necessary changes to bring the nation back to its feet.

Yellow army

The sea of yellow that gave birth to the first People Power more than two decades ago came roaring back as the nation witnessed the inauguration of Aquino.

Garbed mostly in yellow, people composed of students, employees from the private and government sector, as well as the who’s who in high society circles filled the grandstand, some of them waving yellow banners, wearing yellow sunglasses and fanning themselves with so-called Noynoy fans.

An air of optimism pervaded the atmosphere as can be seen from the wide smiles and cheerful attitude of the crowd who braved the mid-day sun and the discomfort of having to stand for an extended period of time to see history in the making.

Cabinet meeting

After the inauguration ceremony, President Aquino returned to Malacanang to convene his first Cabinet meeting.

A 21-gun salute was given to Aquino upon his arrival in the Palace.

Aquino performed the traditional climbing of the stairs into the Malacanang Palace symbolizing his authority to rule the country as duly-elected President of the Philippines.

This tradition was started by late President Manuel Quezon, who was moved by the legend that the mother of national hero Jose Rizal climbed the stairs on her knees to beg for her son's life.

Following the climbing of the stairs ritual, Aquino proceeded to Rizal Hall to have lunch with his family, Cabinet secretaries, some foreign dignitaries and local officials.

Around 3 p.m. the entire Cabinet members and several local officials took their oaths before President Aquino. The new President also met with the foreign dignitaries.

Street party

The celebration does not end in Malacanang as President Aquino proceeds to the Quezon City Memorial Circle for street party dubbed “Tagumpay ng Bayan”.

The eight-hour street party will be a virtual repeat of Aquino’s colorful campaign as stars from major networks blur competition.

Prized talents from media giants ABS-CBN and GMA 7 promised to give topnotch performances for the expected crowd of 150,000 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

On the list are Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano, Ogie Alcasid, Gabby Concepcion, Mariel Rodirguez, Arnel Pineda, Billy Crawford, Pokwang, Pooh, John Prats, Rayver Cruz, Anne Curtis, Jed Madela, Nina, Andi Eigenmann, Jay-R, and Kyla.

Also reality show winners Kim Chiu, Ejay Falcon, Gerald Anderson, Melai Cantiveros, Jason Francisco, Velasco Brothers, Jovit Baldivino, Coco Martin, Jake Cuenca, and young stars Zaijan Jaranilla and Xyriel Manabat.

Reports said the 50-year-old bachelor will serenade his supporters during the party, which will be concluded by a fireworks display at 12 midnight.

Inaugural cake

The street partygoers will also be enjoying a huge cake.

International cake designers Penk Ching and Shen Chen made an 80 x 40 x 30 cake for the street party of Aquino.

The huge banana walnut flavored cake was made by nine people in three days, according to Ching.

It will be served not just to the First Family but to others who will attend the street party.

Some 1,000 cupcakes will also be served.

“The whole cake is edible. But the bottom layer is only the cake. The top layer is fondant," Ching said.

The cake, which is a replica of Malacanang Palace, is colored white, blue, and red. There is also a replica of the Presidential seal.

The bottom layer meanwhile is designed with yellow ribbons
(Sunstar)

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