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Proud Filipinos Celebrate a Peaceful Transition of Power

President Rodrigo Duterte takes his oath of office as president from Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes. The president's youngest daughter Veronica holds her grandmother's bible. Photo: Malacañang/PCOO

ilipinos everywhere need to take a bow. Not many countries in Asia—or the world for that matter—can do what we just did: elect a new leader chosen by the people. Thanks to the United States of America, despite its shortcomings during and after our Commonwealth period, Americans instilled in Filipinos the principles of democracy that have endured and continue to grow stronger over the years.

China, our large menacing neighbor to the north, has the military power and the economic wherewithal to bully and intimidate its Asian neighbors—but its 1.3 billion citizens don't have a way to choose their leaders the way we Filipinos can. Hopefully, at some date in the not-too-distant future, the Chinese government will give its people what every Filipino now has: the right of suffrage.

As we've been saying since Duterte won the May elections, we don't know what the future holds for his administration. We hope he leads with fairness and wisdom; we hope he keeps within the bounds of the law; and most important (and likely most difficult) he reigns in those acting on his behalf to make sure individual rights are not trampled on in the zeal to bring about change.

In his first speech as president, Duterte's pledge to an "uncompromising" adherence to the rule of law raised the hopes and the spirits of Filipinos and some foreign dignitaries attending the inauguration who worried about the likelihood of a heavy-handed Duterte Administration.

Before Duterte's swearing-in ceremony, Vice President Leni Robredo, looking radiant in her Filipinana gown, took her oath of office at a small, yet well-attended, ceremony in New Manila, Quezon City.

Vice President Leonor Robredo takes her oath of office. Photo: ANC screen-grab

So kudos to the Filipino. Democracy is alive and well in our 7,100 islands. Sure, there's a whole lot that needs fixing, and so much more that needs to be done but today let's just celebrate the freedoms we now enjoy. And pray that no person or country ever takes them away. Published 6/30/2016

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