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Transition team seeks Arroyo-Aquino limo ride

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:12:00 06/11/2010

Filed Under: Benigno Aquino III, Customs & Traditions, Inquirer Politics

MANILA, Philippines?A draft script has emerged for the transfer of power on June 30?and it includes a most interesting road trip.

On his way to the site of his inauguration, President-elect Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III is to make a stopover in Malacańang, his official workplace for the next six years, for a courtesy call on outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

From the Palace, the two leaders will then proceed to Aquino?s oath-taking venue in the same black limousine with Plate No. 1, one of the symbols of the highest post of the land.

At the end of the historic ride, Ms Arroyo?who has been behind the wheel, so to speak, for the last nine years?is to literally, corny as that might be, hand over the keys of the presidential car to her successor. Which was the bright idea of Ms Arroyo?s transition team saying it was ?part of tradition.?

Ms Arroyo will proceed to leave in her personal vehicle.

Protocols like these to usher the country?s 15th President into office were tackled during the first formal meeting Thursday afternoon between the respective ?transition teams? of Aquino and Ms Arroyo in Malacańang.

Team Noynoy

Aquino?s team appeared receptive to the scenarios initially discussed, but the script would still be open to revisions in subsequent meetings, according to a Palace official.

The President-elect was represented in the meeting by Maria Montelibano, Sonny Coloma, Mike Musni, and Pio Batino.

Ms Arroyo?s team included Presidential Management Staff chief Elena Bautista-Horn, Press Secretary Crispulo Icban, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Deputy Executive Secretary Pete Venturanza, Ambassador Linda Basilio, and National Historical Institute Chair Ambeth Ocampo.

Horn explained that as part of tradition, the outgoing President would leave before the new Chief Executive takes his oath and delivers his inaugural address.

Horn recalled that an exception was made in 1998 when then outgoing President Fidel Ramos stayed on for Joseph Estrada?s oath-taking at the historic Barasaoin Church in Malolos, Bulacan.

This was mainly because the country was also marking its centennial that year, Horn said.

But Horn noted that Ramos was no longer present when Estrada delivered his inaugural address at another venue?the Quirino Grandstand?in the afternoon that day.

?It?s not the law, but nobody (among the outgoing presidents) stayed for the oath-taking because they wanted the new president to have the stage all for himself,? she told the Inquirer.

Statesmanship

Horn dismissed speculations that such a ?send-off??with Ms Arroyo and Aquino sharing the same ride?would not sit well with both because of their political differences. Aquino, for instance, built his campaign on pledges to undo what he called the ills left behind the Arroyo administration.

?I don?t think so,? Horn said. ?I think both presidents? statesmanship will evolve to go through the tradition and for the [sake of the] country.?

Horn said Aquino?s team could always revise the protocol since the inauguration would ultimately be ?the day of the incoming president.?

?So we want to give them the liberty to make the plans and decisions and we are here to support them,? she said in press briefing at the newly refurbished Arlegui Mansion, one of the houses being considered as Aquino?s official residence.

Aquino earlier announced that he considered taking his oath at Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Historical perspective

Emerging from the hour-long meeting, Horn said NHI Chair Ocampo gave Aquino?s representatives a historical perspective on how past inauguration ceremonies were conducted.

Horn said there appeared to be ?a pattern, a template? in the way the past four presidents spent their inauguration day: After the ceremony, they all held their first Cabinet meeting, followed by a vin d?honneur at the Palace.

Asked how Aquino?s team took the inauguration scenario presented in the meeting, Horn said: ?They were nodding. I think it was okay. They were very, very cordial. It?s like we?re all working in the same office.?

But she said Aquino?s people were yet to decide whether to follow the scenario, saying the matter would still be discussed in the next meetings leading to the inauguration.



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