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Benigno Aquino III, 15th Philippine President

By Maila Ager
First Posted 10:29:00 06/30/2010

Filed Under: Benigno Aquino III, Politics

MANILA, Philippines? (UPDATE 6) Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III became the 15th Philippine president Wednesday after taking his oath of office shortly before noon Wednesday.

"I, Benigno Aquino III, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines," Aquino, 50, pledged before Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales.

"[I will] preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the nation. So help me God," said Aquino, who was wearing a traditional Filpino "barong" shirt, before some 500,000 flag-waving supporters, many of them wearing the Aquino family's signature yellow at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

Aquino's sisters ? Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris ? and girlfriend, Valenzuela councilor Shalani Soledad, were all present to witness the event.

Jejomar Binay also took his oath as vice president before Morales, with wife, Dr. Elenita Binay, holding the Bible while the rest of his family looked on.

Before this, Aquino?s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got mixed reactions from the crowd, some of who applauded and cheered while others booed as she walked in front of the stage before the inauguration of her successor.

But applause and cheers filled the grandstand when the two presidents shook hands.

Some also chanted "Noynoy."

An emcee immediately announced the arrival of Aquino and Binay in the formal program that started shortly before 11:00 a.m.

At 11:15 a.m., Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile took the stage to read again the resolution proclaiming Aquino and Binay as president and vice president.

International singing sensation Charice Pempengco sang the national anthem while the Apo Hiking Society, Christian Bautista, Ogie Alcasid, and Regine Velasquez provided brief entertainment.

Aquino and Arroyo arrived together at the Quirino Grandstand from Malacanang, where the incoming leader picked up his predecessor at 10:23 a.m.

He also shook hands with outgoing Vice President Noli De Castro and outgoing Cabinet members.

Aquino, who had come straight from his Times Street residence in Quezon City, waited briefly at the Palace executive guest house before Ms Arroyo, who wore an off-white terno, descended the staircase.

Before leaving the Palace, Aquino and Ms Arroyo posed for pictures. But it took a while for the pair to enter the presidential car as TV crew and media photographers broke through the line and jostled each other to get shots.

Thousands of people wearing the Aquino family's signature yellow braved stormy weather as they gathered from before dawn at the Quirino Grandstand for the inauguration.

"I think he can reduce corruption and improve governance," Terlito Malaya, a 52-year-old high school teacher, said as he waited for the midday (0400 GMT) oath-taking ceremony.

"Poverty is also a very big problem and needs a permanent solution... but no-one should think right now that he will fail."

Aquino rode to the country's biggest election victory on May 10 on a pledge to end corruption and fight poverty that he said thrived during the nearly 10-year reign of outgoing president Gloria Arroyo.

Another crucial factor was his status as the son of Philippine democracy heroes Benigno and Corazon Aquino, who remain revered for their efforts to overthrow dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

His mother, Corazon, also earned a reputation as an incorruptible leader during her six-year term as president following the "people power" revolution that toppled Marcos in 1986.

Her death from cancer last year reignited national support for the family, which in turn lifted her son from political lightweight after 11 years as a low-profile member of parliament to presidential frontrunner.

Aquino admitted to feeling some anxiety on Tuesday as he named his cabinet and put the finishing touches to his first speech as president, in which he will outline how he intends to get the job done over his six-year term.

"It will be what sets the goalposts," he said of the speech, which will air live on national television along with the oath-taking.

"I want it to be understood by the vast majority of our people."

After promising to eradicate poverty during the campaign, Aquino has been careful to play down expectations, insisting that he is not Superman and that he is hoping to merely lay a solid foundation for his successor in 2016.

However he has also announced some headline-grabbing initiatives, including on Tuesday naming a retired Supreme Court chief justice to lead a Truth Commission that will probe and possibly prosecute Arroyo for alleged graft.

Aquino also pledged to scrutinize every project listed in the national budget to make sure taxpayers money is not being lost to corruption, adding he suspected Arroyo had painted a falsely optimistic picture of the economy.

"The first order of business will be for everybody [in the Cabinet] to review their particular areas of concern," Aquino said Tuesday.

"We will have to study the lay of the land, study what the conditions are bereft of political spin."

Aquino also said Tuesday he wanted peace talks to end decades-long communist and Muslim separatist insurgencies.

Another priority was to improve a judicial system where just 18 percent of criminal cases lead to convictions and a court verdict takes six years.

"Justice is really an aspiration rather than a reality," he said.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be among the foreign dignitaries to attend the inauguration.

Japan's state secretary for foreign affairs Osamu Fujimura and the deputy head of China's parliament, Yan Junqi, will also attend.

With reports from Tetch Torres and Abigail Kwok, INQUIRER.net; Christine Avendaño and Jeannette Andrade, Inquirer

Copyright 2015 INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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