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Bongbong Marcos: We do not look back, but ahead

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:30 AM July 01, 2022
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. conceded that he “did not talk much” or debated with his rivals during the campaign

‘THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN’ Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. conceded that he “did not talk much” or debated with his rivals during the campaign. Pulling off a resounding victory despite all that, he offered the broad strokes of what he plans to do to lead the country out of its many crises, in his inaugural speech as the country’s 17th President. Administering his oath of office on Thursday was Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, with his first lady Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos and their sons Ferdinand Alexander, Joseph Simon and William Vincent sharing the historic moment onstage. —LYN RILLON

President Marcos on Thursday pledged that he would solve the country’s problems without adding more burden on ordinary Filipinos as the country’s 17th President, and that he would offer “no excuses” for things he would be unable to accomplish over the next six years.

“I will try to spare you, you have your other responsibilities to carry. But I will not spare myself from shedding the last bead of sweat or giving the last ounce of courage and sacrifice,” he said in his inaugural speech.

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He gave tribute and praise to his father, the late ousted leader who ruled the country for 20 years, as well as set the elder Marcos’ supposed achievements as the benchmark for his own administration.

“Believe. Have hope. The sun also rises like it did today and as it will tomorrow. And as surely as that, we will achieve the country all Filipinos deserve,” he said in an allegorical clincher to his 26-minute speech.

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Mr. Marcos, 64, took his oath of office before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo at the National Museum for Fine Arts, the former Legislative Building that was shut down by his father, who declared martial law and ruled by decree from 1972 until he was toppled in the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Without directly referring to his father’s dictatorial regime, the new President said he wanted Filipinos to be forward-looking and not to dwell on what had happened.

“I am here not to talk about the past,” he said. “I am here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even plenty of readily available ways and means to get done what needs doing—by you, by me.”

“We do not look back, but ahead,” he said.

But he himself could not help harking back to the days of “glory” under his father, although avoiding any mention of the allegations of human rights violations, corruption and ill-gotten wealth amassed by the late dictator.

Reconciliation offer

His remarks suggested that no better president came before and after his father, except to some extent, his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, whose daughter, Sara Duterte, is his Vice President.

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“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence in a land filled with people with the greatest potential for achievement, and yet they were poor. But he got it done,” he said. “Sometimes with the needed support. Sometimes, without. So, will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.”

In his speech, Mr. Marcos offered reconciliation to his opponents and critics, and urged Filipinos to unite to recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Come, let us put our shoulders to the wheel and give that wheel a faster turn to repair and to rebuild and to address challenges in new ways to provide what all Filipinos need to be all that we can,” he said.

He said he was glad that his call for national unity during the presidential campaign resonated among Filipino voters—the same message he intended to emphasize during his presidency.

“I believe that if we focus on the work at hand, and the work that will come to hand, we will go very far under my watch. You believe that too. And I listened to your voices who are calling for unity, unity and unity,” he said.

Focus on agri

Mr. Marcos said he intended to focus on agriculture, lamenting that the supposed gains his father’s administration had achieved in food sufficiency were squandered by succeeding administrations.

“The role of agriculture cries for the urgent attention that its neglect and misdirection now demands. Food self-sufficiency has been the key promise of every administration. None but one delivered,” said Mr. Marcos, who will lead the agriculture department in the meantime.

He lauded his father and Mr. Duterte especially for improving the country’s infrastructure and agricultural production.

“My father built more and better roads, produced more rice than all administrations before his. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte built more and better than all the administrations succeeding my father,” he said in the presence of two former presidents—Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He also praised Mr. Duterte for his administration’s efforts to help Filipinos handle COVID-19, especially for “the courage of his hard decisions.”

He said it is the government, not the people, that would carry the responsibility of economic recovery.

“Government will get as much done alone without requiring more from you,” he said. “That is what government and public officials are for. No excuses. Just deliver. It was like that, once upon a time.”

Crowd of 5,000

Mr. Marcos took his oath in front of the country’s dignitaries, including outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III, diplomats, his mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, and other members of his family—his wife Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos, sister Sen. Imee Marcos, and his three sons, Ferdinand Alexander, Joseph Simon and William Vincent.

The Philippine National Police reported 5,000 Marcos supporters witnessed the inauguration from a portion of Club Intramuros Golf Course across the National Museum. It was smaller than the “25,000 to 30,000” crowd that the police anticipated.

Uniformed personnel outnumbered the attendees, with the government deploying more than 18,000 police and “force multipliers” from other agencies comprising the Task Force Manila Shield which secured the inauguration.

Authorities had asked rallyists to hold their programs at any of the four freedom parks in Manila—Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda, Plaza Dilao and Plaza Moriones.

An estimated 1,000 members of progressive groups, held theirs at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo after Marcos’ supporters took control of Liwasang Bonifacio close to the National Museum. (See related story on Page A5.)

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said they moved to Plaza Miranda, “in consideration of the peaceful holding of the rally program, and to avoid any untoward incident with Marcos supporters, and upon the request of the PNP.”

Expectations

Many expect Mr. Marcos will be less violent and more predictable than Mr. Duterte, but activists and clergy fear he could use his victory to entrench himself in power.

“Marcos Jr.’s refusal to recognize the abuses and wrongdoings of the past, in fact lauding the dictatorship as ‘golden years,’ makes him very likely to continue its dark legacy during his term,” Bayan warned.

Unlike Duterte, who pivoted away from the United States toward China, Mr. Marcos had indicated he would pursue a more balanced relationship with the two superpowers.

He said last month he would adopt a “friends to all, enemy to none” foreign policy.

But unlike Mr. Duterte, he insisted he would uphold an international ruling against Beijing over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday sent a congratulatory letter to Mr. Marcos, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Xi recalled that he had talked with Mr. Marcos by phone and reached “important consensus with him on upholding good-neighborly friendship of the two countries and joining hands for common development,” the report said.

Xi said he was ready to work with the new Philippine leader “to chart the course for the development of bilateral ties from a strategic and long-term perspective, and continue to write a great chapter of the China-Philippines friendship and cooperation for the new era, so as to benefit the two countries and their people.” —WITH REPORTS FROM DEXTER CABALZA, TINA G. SANTOS AND AFP

RELATED STORY:

It’s official: Bongbong Marcos sworn in as PH’s 17th President

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TAGS: Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., inaugural, Marcos inauguration, National Museum, oath-taking
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