PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday took his oath of office as the country’s 16th president with a promise to cut red tape in government, fight corruption and criminality.
Just minutes into the presidency, Duterte gave two specific orders to the heads of the different departments and agencies.
He appealed to the public to support him in the journey towards a “better Philippines” in the next six years, as he assured them that he will serve everyone equally.
“The ride will be rough but come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder, let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest,” said Duterte, the oldest president to be elected and the first from Mindanao. He is 71.
He delivered a 15-minute speech after taking his oath of office in front of around 630 guests at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace yesterday noon.
He was sworn in by Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, and was accompanied on stage by his children, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Sebastian and Veronica.
After his speech, Duterte administered the oath of his hand-picked Cabinet members.
Duterte was also given full military honors by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as its new Commander-in-Chief.
In his speech, Duterte laid down the first policy he wants his administration to implement—reduce red tape in government.
He ordered the department secretaries and heads of agencies to reduce the requirements and the processing time for all applications.
“I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to remove redundant requirements and compliance with one department or agency, shall be accepted as sufficient for all,” the President said.
Duterte also ordered the department secretaries and heads of agencies to honor the sanctity of government contracts by not changing or bending the rules, as well as transactions and projects that have already been approved and are awaiting implementation.
“Changing the rules when the game is ongoing is wrong. I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions from submission of proposals to negotiation to perfection and finally, to consummation,” he said.
Duterte then warned those who will fail to implement his directive.
“Do them and we will work together. Do not do them, we will part sooner than later,” he said.
Duterte, who, reiterated his call for genuine change in the country, a battle cry that started when he decided to run for president.
“Tinud-anay nga kabag-uhan. Mao kana ang tumong sa atong pang-gobyerno (Genuine change, that’s the goal of our government). But the change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us...We have become our worst enemies and we must have the courage and the will to change ourselves,” he said.
Duterte also vowed to continue to fight corruption in the government, criminality on streets and the rampant sale of illegal drugs.
He pointed out there are many who criticize him or don’t agree with his way in addressing these problems, but he asked them to change their perspective by looking at corruption that bled government funds intended for the poor, illegal drugs that destroyed individuals and families and crimes committed that are very foul.
But more than these ills, Duterte said the country is facing another problem that needs to be addressed.
It is the public’s lack of trust for the government and the officials who lead them.
He then asked Congress and the Commission on Human Rights to allow him to do his mandate.
“The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained. As a lawyer and a former prosecutor, I know the limits of the power and authority of the president. I know what is legal and what is not. My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising,” he said.
“You mind your work and I will mind mine,” he said.
Duterte reminded that he was elected to the presidency to serve the entire country and not the interests of one person or any group.
“I serve everyone and not only one. I have no friends to serve, I have no enemies to harm,” he said, the last phrase he lifted from a writer whose name he said he can no longer recall.
To the international community, Duterte promised that the government will honor treaties and international obligations.
In the domestic front, he committed to implement all signed peace agreements that are in line with constitutional and legal reforms.
He assured inclusivity in the peace process by involving all stakeholders, particularly the indigenous people.
Duterte ended his speech by saying that he is now in Malacañang “because I am ready to start my work for the nation.” With a report from Sunnex