Thursday, June 30, 2016

A metamorphosed president

Who would ever think that Philippines' President-elect Rody Duterte would behave in a manner that appeared to be presidential the day he took his oath as the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines on June 30 in Malacanang Palace?
Oath-taking of President-elect Rody Duterte
in the presidential palace in Manila on June 30.
Photo: ABS-CBN

With his trademark as a foul-mouthed and fond of incendiary statements that could be misinterpreted as out of civility and at times, demeaning to one's rationality, President Duterte just did what he promised a couple of weeks back that he'd change for the better when he sets foot in the presidential palace.

Wearing a simple long-sleeve barong tagalog, which was made and designed by local designers in Davao City, and a brown corduroy pair of pants that was matched with a ordinary black pair of shoes, Duterte calmly and confidently walked the red carpeted aisles leading to where the outgoing President Benigno Aquino III was waiting for the new leader who's comfortable wearing casual t-shirts and maong pants while serving as a tough mayor of Davao City for more than 22 years.

But just the same, he made it through. But not without the guidance and procedural protocol of a ranking foreign affairs official in the person of Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., former director-general of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Council, who took patience in leading the new president on what to do and where to go next around the presidential palace prior to his formal oath-taking rites administered by Duterte's fraternal brother in the person of Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes at exactly 12 noon that day in the presence of members of the diplomatic corps.

The oath-taking ceremony was capped by a meaty speech, which lasted for about 15 minutes, sending signals to the audience that the president didn't want to waste his time.

What sets the short speech apart from the other speeches made by previous Philippine presidents was the conveyance of a strong message across on what he wanted to accomplish outright. Hence, he immediately gave orders to his cabinet secretaries and heads of agencies to reduce the redundant requirements in the processing of applications in some government offices as these are giving so much burdens to ordinary citizens. President Duterte also ordered line department heads not to mess around with approved government contracts. "This is wrong," Duterte emphasized strongly in his speech.

He also issued a warning to those who wanted to derail his programs against illegal drugs and criminality. He urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to paddle its own canoe. According to him, they have to mind their own business and "I'll mind mine."

Prior to the handing down of the decision of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague on the disputed territories in the South China Sea, President Duterte said that his administration would respect international treaties and bilateral relationships.

Right after his speech, he proceeded to meet his cabinet members. Unlike the other meetings in the past, President Duterte held the steering wheel across the table by making it clear to his cabinet officials that he'd be using commercial flights and toe the line just like other ordinary passengers. He didn't want to give him special treatment when he and his staff are boarding commercial flights.

On disaster preparedness, as he narrated his bad experiences when Super typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, he ordered concerned cabinet officials to make food, medicines and other equipment closer to disaster-prone areas in the Philippines. In this way, transport of relief goods and other stuffs would reach the typhoon victims much faster.

President Duterte doesn't want a repeat of what happened to the victims of the Super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas, Philippines. From July to November every year, the Philippines is hit by at least 18 to 20 typhoons.

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