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Aquino takes oath as 15th Philippine president

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Wednesday took his oath of office as the country's 15th president, marking the first peaceful transfer of power in the country in more than a decade. A sea of yellow-clad supporters witnessed the inauguration of Aquino, the son of democracy icons Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino Jr., at the historic Quirino Grandstand in Manila at 12 noon as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. Aquino took his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, who also administered the oath of office of Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier. About two hours earlier, Aquino fetched outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from Malacañang and shared a car with her to Luneta, where she was fetched by a private car and taken to her oath-taking ceremony as representative for Pampanga’s second district. The last time the Philippines witnessed a peaceful transition between two administrations was in 1998, when President Joseph Estrada took the reins of power with a landslide victory. He was ousted in 2001 over corruption charges and replaced by his then vice president Arroyo, who was proclaimed the winner in the 2004 presidential elections and served for a total of nine years. Estrada ran again in the May 10 elections, but was edged out by Aquino who won by more than 5.7 million votes over the former president, who came in second. Estrada and his predecessor, former president Fidel Ramos, were among the dignitaries that graced Aquino’s inauguration along with foreign diplomats and incoming government officials. Aquino had been serving as senator since 2007 before he was ushered into the presidential race following the death of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, in August last year. During his campaign, he vowed to eradicate corrupt practices that triggered several scandals during the Arroyo administration. Set an example
Matimtim kong pinanunumpaan [o pinatotohanan] na tutuparin ko nang buong katapatan at sigasig ang aking mga tungkulin bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas, pangangalagaan at ipagtatanggol ang kanyang Konstitusyon, ipatutupad ang mga batas nito, magiging makatarungan sa bawat tao, at itatalaga ang aking sarili sa paglilingkod sa Bansa. Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos."
In his inaugural speech rendered mostly in Filipino, Aquino vowed to "end bad governance" and set an example in getting rid of corruption in public administration. "Ngayon, sa araw na ito - dito magwawakas ang pamumunong manhid sa mga daing ng taumbayan," he asserted. He recalled the sacrifices of his parents in restoring democracy in the Philippines following the Martial Law years under strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and said he would strive to bring the benefits of democracy to the majority of Filipinos. He said his campaign slogan of "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" was not only "pang-slogan o pang-poster" but would serve as the basis of the Aquino administration. "Sisikapin kong maging isang mabuting ehemplo," he said. Aquino said he intends to start suppressing corruption in government by dealing with Mrs. Arroyo's last-minute appointments before she bowed out of office. "Sisimulan natin ang pagababalik ng tiwala [sa gobyerno] sa pamamagitan ng pag-usisa sa midnight appointments," he said. He added that he would strengthen the Bureau of Internal Revenue's tax collection measures as a means to fight corruption. "Hindi si Noynoy ang gumawa ng paraan, kayo ang dahilan kung bakit ngayon, magtatapos na ang pagtitiis ng sambayanan. Ito naman ang umpisa ng kalbaryo ko, ngunit kung marami tayong magpapasan ng krus ay kakayanin natin ito, gaano man kabigat," he said. "Tayo na sa matuwid na landas," Aquino concluded. Guests An innovation at the 2010 inaugural ceremonies was the "Panata sa Pagbabago," led by around 20 volunteer leaders who were vital to Aquino's campaign. After the Panata sa Pagbabago, the new president will proceed to Malacañang, where he will hold his first Cabinet meeting. [For the full schedule, view this] The campaign pledge of Binay, the running mate of Estrada, during the campaign was to make the Philippines as well-administered as Makati City, the country's business and financial center. The Binays have been ruling Makati City ever since Mrs. Aquino made Binay, then a human rights lawyer, officer-in-charge of the city after martial law. Binay defeated his closest rival Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, the running mate of Aquino, by only 727,084 votes. Among the more than 100 foreign dignitaries present at the inaugural ceremony were East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and US ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. Aquino's sisters and other influential guests milled about in the historic Manila Hotel before the inauguration. Beneath ornate chandeliers detailed with capiz, barong-clad men and ladies in gowns waited in the air-conditioned hall as the notables made their way down the red carpet. Sea of yellow But most everyone else sweated it out at Luneta Park, braving the early morning rain and the sweltering heat that followed. Thousands of people, most of them clad in the Aquinos' signature yellow color, stood in front of the Quirino grandstand. Some came well-prepared with mats and umbrellas, while others were resourceful and used whatever they could find lying around. Newspapers and garbage bags were spread out and used to provide some protection from the sun. Some had been there since the night before, coming from outside Manila like the Cudo family from Tarlac. Mr. and Mrs. Cudo along with their two children were all in yellow, and had hoped to get seats at the grandstand. But even without the seats, the Cudos were a merry bunch, pleased to be there to show support for their president of choice. "I know him personally," said Mr. Cudo, who is a second-generation planter from Tarlac. "Noynoy is very down-to-earth, very approachable," shared Mrs. Cudo, who recalled that at a party a few weeks ago he was even dancing with them. Others had never met the man, nor did they have hopes to ever meet him, but they, too, trooped to Luneta to witness the inaugural. "Hindi ko makakausap yun. Siyempre presidente yun eh. Tagahanga po ako. Gusto ko lang makita si Noynoy," said Gina Asuncion, who lives in Manila with her cousin. "I'm going to school here, so I figured I might as well be part of the local experience," said Brian Schem, who is taking up Public Health in UP Manila, but is from Washington. Many students came in groups, like Lawrence Malonzo from Sta. Cecilia College in Valenzuela City. A 19 year-old HRM student, Malonzo, voted for Noynoy because he believes his candidate represents hope for the future of the Philippines. He is also a supporter of Shalani Soledad. "Maganda na, matalino pa, mabait pa. Marami siyang nagawa para sa amin. Kagaya noong bagyong Ondoy," said Malonzo. Asked what he thought of the opinion that the President and Soledad do not a good match make, he disagreed vehemently. "Inggitera lang sila." Gigi Nalco walked all the way from Tondo, pushing her eight year-old son in a wheelchair. Nalco said they had received no aid from the past administration. "Gusto kong matulungan kami, para mabigyan kami ng titirhan," said Nalco, who has six children. In his inauguration speech, President Aquino said he would improve tax collection in order to fund the people's needs, including housing in safe communities. Although the people in the crowd came from all walks of life and by different means, they all expressed one thing in common: hope in the new president and their personal wishes for a better future. – With a report from CARMELA G. LAPEÑA/YA, GMANews.TV