With the noontime sun bearing down on him and the estimated 30,000 people who gathered for his inauguration, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was sworn in as the country’s 17th President on Thursday, in a program highlighted by a military-civic parade matched only in color by the outfits of the dignitaries and celebrities present.
The crowd of mostly red-clad supporters who gathered in front of the National Museum in Manila cheered three times during the President’s oath-taking before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, who read the oath from a big folder also colored red—the color most identified with the Marcos clan.
They cheered when the Supreme Court chief asked the President to state his name—Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr.—and again when he repeated the part of the oath that said “as President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
The supporters then cheered for a third time at the end of the oath, drawing a big grin from the new First Lady, lawyer Liza Araneta-Marcos, and her sons Ferdinand “Sandro” Alexander III—who was elected congressman of Ilocos Norte— Joseph Simon, and William Vincent.
Mrs. Marcos was later seen wiping away tears beside her husband and was caught on video playfully sticking a tongue out to the crowd who teased her about it.
Behind the Marcos family, some of the 2,000 guests and organizers fanned themselves furiously to ease the midday heat, as the instrumental to the song “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” played and the new President, wearing a native Barong Tagalog designed by Pepito Albert, prepared to read his inaugural speech.
Also on stage were former First Lady Imelda Marcos – now 92 years old — and her daughters Senator Imee Marcos and Irene Marcos-Araneta, likewise wearing exquisitely-tailored “terno” gowns.
Selected health workers, farmers, firemen, law enforcement personnel, and laborers joined the military and civic parade, after which outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III read out the proclamation of Marcos’s electoral victory.
This paved the way for the oath-taking of the incoming Chief Executive. Marcos put his hand on the Bible held by his wife Liza and took his oath before Chief Justice Gesmundo.
Before his inaugural speech, the new President greeted and recognized the presence of foreign delegates and Philippine government officials—including Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio and the three former Presidents, Joseph Estrada, Fidel V. Ramos, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
President Rodrigo Duterte did not attend the ceremony, opting to fly to his hometown of Davao City.
Also present during the program were former and newly elected senators, including Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan, Migz Zubiri, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr., some Cabinet members of the new administration, outgoing House speaker Lord Allan Velasco, and presumptive Speaker Martin Romualdez.
At least 15,000 police and security personnel were deployed across the capital for the inauguration. Several groups observed supporters and protesters alike who held their activities at freedom parks such as Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda, Plaza Dilao, and Plaza Moriones, the Manila Police District said.
Militant groups at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila rejected the celebration of the Marcos family, claiming the dark past of martial law haunts their return to power.
Originally, progressive groups were supposed to hold a rally in Liwasang Bonifacio, but Marcos supporters were already at the venue. The inauguration was also met with protests against historical revisionism and high prices.
After the inauguration, Marcos led the mass oath-taking of his Cabinet members at Malacañang.
“I suppose this is the first act of actual work that we will be doing for this administration. So, let’s get the official part done so that we can get over the job,” Marcos said before administering the oath to the 23 Cabinet members he had named to serve under him, including Duterte-Carpio who will head the Department of Education.
Legislators led by Romualdez, the President’s maternal cousin, on Thursday said the new Chief Executive will be “a great President.”
“He made history by being the first majority President in modern times. I am sure he has his eyes on other extraordinary feats by having a legacy Filipinos will be proud of for many years and by being a great President,” Romualdez said.
“President Marcos will play a pivotal role in uniting the nation, which is key to moving the country to greater heights. We offer him our prayers–that the Lord Almighty guides him in steering the nation to unity and progress,” he added.
Reps. Bernadette Herrera Dy of Bagong Henerasyon, Patrick Michael Vargas of Quezon City, and other congressmen likewise extended their congratulations to President Marcos on his inauguration.
Former legislator Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor and former chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, called on President Marcos to prioritize social programs in his first 100 days in office.
Senators committed to rally behind the President to achieve his aspirations for the Filipino people.
Senator Christopher Go said he looks forward to working hard with his fellow legislators and helping realize the aspirations of the Marcos administration for the people.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said: “Together with the entire nation, we pray for the success of the Marcos administration.”
Returning Senator Francis Escudero urged Filipinos to support the new administration as it charts the country’s future amid the many challenges facing the nation.
However, the Philippines’ largest business group said the President’s inaugural speech failed to address the needs of the business community.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said the President’s speech seemed to lack specific plans on how to deliver more investments into the country.
“The business sector wants specifics. While the President touched on agriculture and other points of interest, he did not mention anything that will help improve the business climate. His speech was too feel-good,” said George Barcelon, PCCI president.
In addition, the President also failed to touch the issue of graft and corruption, bureaucracy as well as the ease of doing business (EODB) in the Philippines.
Other issues that were not properly addressed include job creation, industry development and the issue of connectivity, Barcelon added.
“His audience is not just the Philippine citizenry. The whole world is listening,” he said.
However, the PCCI credited the President for wanting to save Philippine agriculture which has been neglected for many decades.
The group added that the President should be discerning and sensitive to the needs of the sector, which he vowed to lead during the first few months in office.