Have no fear, Rody is here
Leaders of Congress, the judiciary, and the members of the diplomatic corps are among those invited to the simple inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte today (Thursday) as the 16th President of the Philippines.
The rest of the names on the short guest list were chosen by Duterte’s team, according to Ambassador Marciano Paynor, head of the Palace inaugural committee.
The guest list was trimmed down to 627 because of Duterte’s decision to take his oath of office in Malacañang, where space is limited, instead of the vast Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Paynor said in a phone interview.
Before taking his oath, Duterte will call on President Aquino in his Malacañang office, for one-on-one talks, Paynor said.
“It’s mostly pleasantries. It’s too short for serious discussion,” he added.
The meeting in Mr. Aquino’s office takes the place of the usual ride by the incoming President and the outgoing President from the Palace to Quirino Grandstand for the inauguration, Paynor said.
After the meeting, Mr. Aquino will be given departure honors, then he rides to his Quezon City home and returns to private life.
There will be a short program before Duterte takes his oath of office before Supreme Court Justice Bienvenido Reyes.
This will be followed by the mass oath-taking of Cabinet members and full military honors for Duterte.
Next up is the full reception line for the members of the diplomatic corps led by the papal nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto. After this, Duterte will hold his first Cabinet meeting.
A source said Duterte might also attend a feeding program later in the day.
Regular working day
Despite the historic turnover of power, today is a regular working day, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
In 2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the inauguration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III as President a nonworking holiday to allow Filipinos to witness the historic event.
Duterte is raring to get down to brass tacks, but took the time to try on his Manobo-inspired outfit for his oath-taking, according to Martin Andanar, incoming chief of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
“His wardrobe is the least of the President’s concerns, but he went to fit his barong. He is raring to start work right after the inauguration,” Andanar said in a statement.
As he steps up to the plate, Duterte will wear an ecru barong with beige and light brown details and a pattern evoking the Manobo tribe, one of Mindanao’s minorities.
Boni Adaza from the Davao-based fashion house Chardin is the designer of the barong made of piña jusi.
“He wanted to incorporate a symbol to represent the 11 minorities in Mindanao. The tribal prints of the Manobo is the least complicated, that’s why we have chosen that. It also shows the President’s simplicity,” Adaza said in a statement.
All SC justices invited
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the Supreme Court’s associate justices were invited to the inauguration, Paynor said.
It was unclear on Wednesday who among the justices would go to the inauguration, but Sereno was expected to attend it.
The Chief Justice traditionally administers the oath to the incoming President, but Duterte, following the lead of Mr. Aquino, is breaking tradition and will take his oath before Associate Justice Reyes, his schoolmate at San Beda Law School and brother in Lex Talionis fraternity.
Mr. Aquino took his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales in 2010. Morales is now the Ombudsman.
The papal nuncio, the dean of the diplomatic corps, was also invited, as well as other ambassadors. Duterte is scheduled to meet them after taking his oath.
Paynor said outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon were also invited to the inauguration.
Both are members of the Liberal Party, but have pledged support to the incoming administration.
“The invitation is a function of the position, not the political party,” Paynor said.
Senators were also invited, he said.
Among the senators are incoming Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Pimentel, president of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, said in a text message that he would attend the inauguration.
Also expected to be at the Palace for the inauguration is Duterte’s running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who lost the vice presidential race to Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
The Inquirer tried to confirm Cayetano’s attendance at the inauguration, but he did not return the paper’s calls and text messages.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will attend the inauguration, according to Duterte’s executive assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go.
Marcos’ sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, was also invited to the inauguration.
Usually, all members of the House of Representatives are asked to attend the ceremonies, but this time, only the Deputy Speakers were issued invitations, given the smaller venue, he explained.
Outgoing Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on Wednesday said he was the only member of the Aquino Cabinet who would be at Duterte’s inauguration.
Ochoa heads the Aquino administration’s transition team, which worked closely with Duterte’s camp on the turnover.
Paynor said there would be only one performer during the ceremony, Freddie Aguilar, who would sing a four-minute song.
Simpler, less expensive
The inauguration would be simpler and less expensive this year because it would be held in Malacañang, Paynor said.
“The venue itself dictates that it will be as simple as it can be. It will be limited by the physical space,” he said.
When the oath-taking is held at Quirino Grandstand, there are about 5,000 guests in the main area and another 100,000 in the rest of Rizal Park, he said.
There is also a civil and military parade then, he added. With reports from Tarra Quismundo and Christine O. Avendaño in Manila; Nestor Corrales, Inquirer.net; and Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon