Vows to lead on the rough road ahead in his quest to fix a divided nation
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. took his oath of office Thursday at the National Museum of Fine Arts as the country’s 17th President, vowing to repair a divided house and to take the country far under his watch with policies that would benefit every Filipino people.
In his 30-minute inaugural speech, considered one of the shortest by a Philippine President, Marcos thanked the public for delivering what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
“We are here to repair a house divided, to make it whole, and to stand strong again in the Bayanihan way, expressive of our nature as Filipinos. We shall seek not to scorn dialogue, listen respectfully to contrary views, and be open to suggestions coming from hard-thinking and unsparing judgment, but always from us Filipinos,” he said.
The President said solutions from outside have only divided the country.
“They were always at our expense. Never forget we are Filipinos. One nation. One Republic. Indivisible,” he said. “You will not be disappointed, so do not be afraid.”
“I’ve listened to you and this is what I have heard. We all want peace in our land. You and your children want a chance at a better hope in a safer and more prosperous country,” Marcos said.
“I am here not to talk about the past, I am here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even plenty of readily available ways and means to get done what needs doing. By you, by me,” he said after he was sworn in as the country’s new leader.
“We do not look back, but ahead. Up the road that we must take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic. Gains made and lost, opportunities missed, well laid plans superseded by the pandemic. Indeed, ours was the fastest growing economy in ASEAN by ways now outdated. We shall be again, by a radical change in the way the world must now work to recover what we have lost in that fire and move on from there,” he added.
He also vowed to fix the government’s shortcomings in its pandemic response, saying there will be “no more secrets” in public health.
The new President cited his own bout with COVID-19, saying he was among the first in the country who got infected with the coronavirus.
“It was not a walk in the park,” he said.
He said his administration will fix the shortcomings “out in the open.”
He also vowed that the Philippines will not be “caught unprepared, under-equipped, and understaffed to fight the next pandemic.”
“To start with, we never got over the pandemic of poor, if any, free public health. The last major upgrade of our public health system exemplified by the resources poured into PGH predates the current shambles by three generations,” the new President said, referring to the Philippine General Hospital.
Marcos mentioned how medical workers, including workers, seek opportunities abroad because the Philippines “cannot pay them for the same risks and workload that we have back here.”
The President, who has appointed himself Agriculture secretary, said he would improve food sufficiency, infrastructure, waste management and energy supply and give full support for millions of overseas Filipino workers.
“I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility you put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly but I am ready for the task,” he said. “I will get it done.”
“Our nurses are the best in the world, they have acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties with the same exemplary dedication. At home, they just got by,” Marcos said.
“They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risks and workload that we have back here,” he added.
“All that is within reach of a hard-working, warm, and giving race. Your dreams are mine. Pangarap ninyo ay pangarap ko,” the new President declared.
He said the administration is currently drawing a “comprehensive, all-inclusive plan for economic transformation.”
“We will build back better by doing things in the light of the experiences that we have had, both good and bad. It doesn’t matter. No looking back in anger or nostalgia,” he said.
Marcos, who ran under the platform of national unity and reconciliation, acknowledged the enormity of the tasks before him as successor of President Rodrigo Duterte, who formally bowed out Thursday to return to being citizen Digong.
“You people have spoken… You rejected the politics of division” and yearned for national unity,” Marcos said in his inaugural speech.
“You picked me to be your servant… I am ready for the task,” he said.
“We’ve been through times of bitter division but united we came through to this when we shall begin again. But better,” Marcos said.
In his speech, Marcos also warned of expanded conflict should “great powers” take the “wrong lessons” from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“We face prospects from the war abroad of which we are totally blameless. We seek friendship with all, but countries like ours will bear the brunt of it. And if the great powers draw the wrong lessons from the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, the same dark prospect of conflict will spread to our part of the world,” Marcos said.
During the campaign period, Marcos said it is not necessary to take a stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, later in the campaign, Marcos called on Russia to respect Ukraine’s freedom amid the ongoing conflict.
At a UN General Assembly, the Philippines voted to condemn Russia’s attack against Ukraine.
Marcos vowed to give priority to programs and measures to attain food self-sufficiency, a promise of every administration that none but one delivered. He did not elaborate.
Marcos also assured the public that infrastructure projects would be finished on schedule during his administration.
“We will continue to build, I will complete on schedule the projects that have been started. I am not interested in taking credit. I want to build on the success that’s already happening. We will be presenting the public with a comprehensive infrastructure plan, six years could be just about enough time,” Marcos said.
Marcos lauded even his father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, for building “more and better roads” than the administrations before them.
“My father built more and better roads. Produced more rice than all administrations before him. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte built more and better than all the administrations succeeding my father’s,” Marcos said.
Addressing the foreign dignitaries in attendance, he highlighted the importance of strengthening and cultivating relationships with the other states, saying the transformation of the world economy and post-pandemic recovery depend on its partnership with other countries.