Rodrigo Duterte has been sworn in as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines on Thursday, June 30, 2016. He took his oath at a small ceremony at the Malacañang Palace in Manila.
He won the presidential elections by a tremendous margin that prompted his opponents to concede. He received more than 16.6 million votes on May 9 elections, which was over 6 million higher than his closest rival, Mar Roxas, the former Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
He was dubbed “The Punisher” because of his reputation of going after criminals, drug traffickers, gang members and others who do not follow the law. He was credited for dramatically reducing the criminality in Davao City, where he served as Mayor for 22 years.
Under the Philippine Constitution, Duterte and his vice-president, Leni Robredo will both serve a single-term of six years. Robredo was sworn in at a separate ceremony in Quezon City.
Traditionally, the vice president elect takes oath of office with the president-elect. However, Duterte broke that tradition by requesting Robredo to hold separate inauguration rites.
Duterte promised to stop the problems of the Philippines
During his inaugural speech, Duterte said,” No leader however strong can succeed at anything of national importance or significance unless he has the support and cooperation of the people he is tasked to lead and sworn to serve it.” He emphasized that democratic governments including his administration draw strength from the people.
According to him, the problems of the Philippines that need to be “addressed with urgency include corruption both in the high and low echelon of the government, criminality in the streets, rampant sale of illegal drugs” in all layers of country’s society, and the “breakdown of the law and order.”
He emphasized that these problems are the “symptoms of social disease that grips and cuts into the moral fiber of the Philippine society.” Duterte promised to stop these problems by all means the law allows.
Duterte also pointed out that the real problem in the country is the erosion of faith and trust in the government. People are losing their faith to the judicial system and confidence in the capacity of public servants to make their lives better, safer, and healthier.
“Ours is a problem that dampens the human spirit, but all is not lost,” said Duterte.
Duterte tells critics, “I know what is legal and what is not”
Duterte also has a message to those who do not approve his methods of fighting criminality and corruption. He said, “I have seen how corruption bled the government of funds, which are allocated for the use of uplifting the poor from the mire they are in. I have seen how illegal drugs destroy individuals and ruin family relationships. I have seen criminality; by means of all foul; snatched from the innocent and unsuspecting, the years and years of accumulated savings. Years of toil and then suddenly they are back to where they started.”
He told his critics to look from his perspective and tell him that he is wrong. Duterte is asking the Congress, the Commission of Human Rights and others similarly situated to “allow us the level of governance that is consistent to our mandate.” He promised that the “fight will be relentless and will be sustained.”
Duterte said, “As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the President. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and rule of law is uncompromising. You mind you work and I will mind mine”
“Change must start with us and in us”
Furthermore, he stressed that “malasakit at tunay na pagbabago” are the words that brought him to the presidency. Malasakit means solicitude, compassion, kindness (putting one’s interest behind) while tunay na pagbabago means real change.
“These are the battle cries articulated by me in behalf of the people hungry for genuine and meaningful change, but that change if it is to be permanent and significant must start with us and in us. We must have the courage and the will to change ourselves,” said Duterte.
Duterte aims to recover and revitalize some of the lost and faded Filipino values such as the love of country, subordination of personal interest to the common good, concern and care for the helpless and the impoverished in the journey towards a better Philippines.