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