by Quennie Ann J. Palafox

Change comes on June 30 every six years as a new president takes his oath of office to assume the highest government position in the Philippines for six years. The inauguration of a new president is a much awaited event among the Filipinos especially for those who are yearning for the promise of reforms in governance for transparency and efficiency in the delivery of public service by the newly-elected president, as the leadership is passed on to him by the outgoing president. The inauguration of the president is not a regular public holiday in our country. The new president and vice president are sworn into office at noon on the thirtieth of June as stipulated in Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

The tradition of the new president taking his oath of office on 30 June dates back to the third inauguration of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos on 30 June 1981 at the Quirino Grandstand.  On 17 January 1981, six months prior to his election for third term as president, Marcos officially lifted Martial Law, and on 20 April 1981, he signed Batas Pambansa Blg. 125 calling for a presidential election on 16 June 1981, the first since 1969. Hence, Marcos was the first president to be sworn into office on 30 June, following the changing of the date of election from November to May and inauguration from 30 December to 30 June under the 1973 Constitution.  On the other hand, the 1935 constitution provides the date of the inauguration of the president on Rizal Day 30 December. Under President Manuel L. Quezon, and from President Diosdado Macapagal to President Marcos’s first and second inaugural in 1965 and 1969, the new president started his term of office at noon of 30 December. However, two presidents, Elpidio Quirino and Carlos P. Garcia, were sworn into office to succeed the presidency on 17 April 1948 and 18 March 1957, respectively, following the untimely death of President Manuel A. Roxas on 15 April 1948 and President Ramon Magsaysay on 17 March 1957. During the time of Presidents Jose P. Laurel, Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas, the inaugural dates also varied.

Glitz and glamor mark the oath-taking ceremony and inauguration ball of the new president of the country to signify his assumption as leader of the nation. With a huge Philippine flag as backdrop, Ferdinand Marcos took oath as the first president of the fourth republic and his third term as president in a grandiose ceremony before Chief Justice Enrique Fernando on 30 June 1981 at the Quirino Grandstand. This event was graced by several foreign dignitaries and other heads of states led by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and US Vice-President George Bush.  Towns and cities all over the country were directed to have their own celebration with band music and town plaza bells ringing in the morning. Metro Manila residents were encouraged to participate in this fanfare as they were treated to a free disco marathon at the grandstand from 10pm to midnight.

Dressed in barong tagalog, Fidel Ramos took his oath of office as 12th president of the republic before Chief Justice Andres Narvasa. He delivered his 30-minute inaugural speech in front of the about 20, 000 people and 8000 prominent personalities from government, private sector and diplomatic corps. This inauguration rite was witnessed by two former presidents of the country, outgoing President Corazon Aquino and former President Diosdado Macapagal.

Joseph Ejercito Estrada broke the tradition of holding the inaugural rite at Quirino Grandstand when he selected the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan to be the venue of his oath-taking ceremony as the 13th president of the Philippines on 30 June 1998. His oath-taking ceremony was officiated by Chief Justice Narvasa and witnessed by two former presidents, Fidel V. Ramos and Corazon C. Aquino, cabinet members, and diplomatic corps. His inauguration was sort of a throwback when he sought to revive a chapter in our history that transpired in that historic church.  Estrada signed his oath of office using the pen that Aguinaldo used in signing the Malolos Constitution. President Estrada proceeded to Quirino Grandstand in the afternoon to deliver his inaugural speech before a huge crowd.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the second woman and 14th president of the republic, was sworn into office at the Cebu Capitol grounds in Cebu City by Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.  It was her second inauguration as president since her succession to the presidency in 2001 when President Joseph Estrada stepped down. Wearing a green chiffon gown and nine-inch Janilyn shoes, she delivered her speech in 20 minutes  before a crowd of about 30, 000 at the Quirino grandstand in the morning, a few hours before she took her oath of office in Cebu City. Her speech was shorter than the speech of Corazon Aquino which lasted less than 10 minutes and was written on paper napkin in her inaugural as president on 25 February 1986 at Club Filipino. Former president Fidel V. Ramos, members of the cabinet and some member of the diplomatic corps graced the ceremony. Mrs. Arroyo changed into a simple aqua gown in her inauguration in Cebu City which was attended by foreign dignitaries and thousands of Cebuanos. Nora Aunor sang the national anthem in Cebu while Sarah Geronimo did the honors at the Quirino Grandstand.

The inauguration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino on 30 June 2010 also at the Quirino Grandstand, was star-studded with a good number of celebrities attending the ceremony. The oath-taking was administered by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales. Former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada and foreign dignitaries were present at the inaugural rite. President Aquino wore barong tagalog delivered his speech in 23 minutes in front of a crowd of more than 50, 000 crowd and 4500 VIPs.  A big crowd dressed in yellow gathered to express their support for the newly-elect president.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte broke the 35-year tradition by holding his inauguration ceremony in Malacañang at noon on 30 June 2016, the fourth time an oath-taking ceremony was held there since former President Ferdinand Marcos. The event yesterday marked the start of term of the new leader of our country.