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NOYNOY INAUGURAL Inauguration committee members (from left) Lena Bautista-Horn, Ballsy Aquino, Ambassador Miguel Perez Rubio, (standing) Maria Montelibano and Kris Aquino meet for the inauguration of President-elect Noynoy Aquino. JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN





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Lady justice to administer Aquino oath

The honor is mine, says Morales

By Dona Pazzibugan, Christine O. Avendao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:28:00 06/19/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics, Inquirer Politics, Benigno Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines ? Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales has officially accepted President-elect Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III?s request that she swear him into office on June 30, in what could yet be the most high-profile snub of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?s ?midnight appointee,? Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Carpio-Morales?who will hold the distinction of being the Philippines? first woman justice of the high court to swear in a President?told Aquino in a five-paragraph letter sent at around 10 a.m. Friday that she was accepting his ?gracious invitation.?

?As you enter on the execution of your office, I wish that you make good use of your family?s and our country?s patrimony of intangibles?the common heritage of moral courage and good judgment?which cannot be matched by any amount of affluence and can sustain you in the political road ahead,? Carpio-Morales wrote Aquino.

?Please consider this as an acceptance of your gracious invitation. The honor is mine,? she said.

Carpio-Morales had instructed her staff not to release to the media a copy of her letter. But she apparently did not pose an objection to the Aquino camp?s making it public.

Lone dissenter

In her letter, Carpio-Morales thanked Aquino for his ?kind words in describing what I consider to be a plain performance of an official function?to uphold and defend the Constitution?which is part of the sworn duty of all public servants in this country.?

?Your parents, themselves public servants, bequeathed a lasting legacy and left an indelible imprint in the life of the nation. What better tribute to them than a life of selfless service to the Filipino people they so dearly loved?? she said, referring to the late President Corazon Aquino and martyred Sen. Benigno ?Ninoy? Aquino Jr.

Aquino formally asked Carpio-Morales on June 15 to administer his oath of office, and commended her for her dissent against the Supreme Court?s March 17 decision authorizing Ms Arroyo to appoint a new chief justice despite the constitutional ban on ?midnight appointments.?

Earlier, Aquino had declared that he did not want to be sworn into office by Corona, as tradition would have it. He said he preferred to take his oath before the lone justice in the 15-member high court who maintained that the Constitution bars the outgoing Ms Arroyo from appointing the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who retired on May 17.

?Keep it simple?

Preparations for Aquino?s June 30 inaugural at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila are under way, and his four sisters are willing to give up their seats to give way to VIP guests.

Ballsy Aquino-Cruz conveyed this Friday to Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief Elena Bautista-Horn when she, Kris Aquino-Yap and Pinky Aquino-Abellada joined their brother?s inaugural committee in inspecting the inaugural site along with the Palace transition team.

?My reading is that the sisters want to keep it simple,? Horn said of the inaugural, which includes the oath-taking rites, a street party and the Palace reception for the new President.

She quoted Ballsy as saying that if there would be a problem in accommodating guests in the various activities on June 30, ?the sisters are willing not to attend just to give space for the other important guests.?

She said she found it a ?humbling? gesture on the part of the Aquino sisters.

At a news conference in Malacaang, the PMS chief acknowledged that indeed it would be impossible to accommodate everyone. She pointed out that for instance, the ceremonial hall at the Palace could hold only 750 guests.

She said that at the meeting between the two transition teams, the Aquino sisters ?did not actively participate? and merely listened. She guessed that ?they just wanted to see the place and how the preparations are going.?

The members of the Aquino inaugural committee who met with the Palace transition team led by Horn included Maria Montelibano and Bettina Osmea.

Protocol

Two children of Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay?Makati Mayor-elect Junjun Binay and Makati Rep. Abigail Binay?also attended the meeting held at the holding room of the Quirino Grandstand.

Horn said she gave the Aquino team an initial guest list but stressed that it was the latter who had the final say on who to invite.

She refused to divulge the contents of the initial list beyond saying that it included the names of heads of state who had confirmed their attendance.

Horn expressed elation that Aquino had agreed to the traditional practice of the President-elect and the outgoing President arriving together at the inaugural site.

She explained the protocol:

Aquino will arrive at Malacaang. He and President Macapagal-Arroyo will share a ride to the Quirino Grandstand, where the latter will be accorded arrival honors by the military.

Ms Arroyo will then shake hands with Aquino, bid him farewell, and leave in her own vehicle.

Horn reiterated that in keeping with tradition, Ms Arroyo would not stay for the inaugural.

?The inaugural ceremony is the day of the new President. He has to be the sole star of the show,? she told reporters.

Ideally, the two Presidents should arrive at the Quirino Grandstand at 11:40 or 11:45 a.m. because the oath-taking is scheduled at noon, Horn said.



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