Duterte to take oath in Rizal Hall; no lunch but pritong saging will be served

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 June) — It will be a different kind of inauguration on Thursday noon, June 30, 2016, when Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the first Mindanawon to lead the country, takes his oath as the 16th President of the Philippines.

There will be no inaugural luncheon after Duterte takes his oath at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall in Malacañan Palace, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Duterte’s executive assistant and incoming head of the Presidential Management Staff told MindaNews in a text message.

But there will be a “simple diplomatic reception” after the mass oath-taking of Duterte’s Cabinet and only “light finger food” such as pritong saging (fried bananas), biko and bibingka (rice cakes), will be served, Go said.

Instead of wine, guests will be served tablea (hot chocolate) from the world-famous single-origin Malagos Chocolate in Davao City.

Go also said there will be a tour of the Presidential Museum and Library after the program and the President will not fly back to Davao City that evening but stay in Bahay Pangarap, presently the official residence of outgoing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

RIVERFRONT FACADE of Malacañan Palace as seen from Bahay Pangarap located right across the Pasig River. Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau RIVERFRONT FACADE of Malacañan Palace as seen from Bahay Pangarap located right across the Pasig River. Bahay Pangarap is the official residence of the outgoing President, Benigno Simeon Aquino III and according to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Assistant Bong Go,  is where Duterte will stay while in Manila. Photo courtesy of Malacañang Photo Bureau

Inaugurations mark the transfer of power from the incumbent President to the President-elect and are usually marked with pomp and pageantry. But Duterte is doing away with that by insisting on holding a simple inauguration within Malacañan, the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the Philippines.

In his campaign sorties, Duterte repeatedly said he would not have his inauguration at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, venue of the oath-taking of seven Philippine Presidents including outgoing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

Quirino Grandstand was where Duterte held his miting de avance on May 7, 2016, two days before the nation gave him a 6.5 million lead over administration bet Mar Roxas. Duterte’s miting de avance attracted the most number of supporters – by the hundreds of thousands — among the five Presidential candidates.

In the hinterlands of Tulunan, North Cotabato where he fetched an Army soldier held captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) on April 27, Duterte announced to a crowd of civilians and NPA combatants that if he wins the Presidency, the Filipino people should not expect him to have an oath-taking at the Luneta because he does not want to cause traffic and disrupt the lives of the citizens and because the traditional oath-taking would require him to feed the rich who do not need to be fed, anyway. If he will have to spend, he said, he would rather that the money intended for the inauguration be used to feed the poor.


Duterte, however, will not be the first President to break from tradition. A review of past inaugurations show that the President-elect can decide how his/her inauguration would be. His predecessor, Aquino, followed the tradition set by those who preceded him but also built on the rites that marked his first day in office.

“Actually, a President-elect can theoretically do what he pleases because the Constitution only specifies taking oath at twelve noon and the text of the oath but nothing on where or how. The only limits might be public expectations and of course the weight of tradition, Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III, officer in charge of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) said in reply to a query from MindaNews.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the 64th founding anniversary of M'lang in North Cotabato on August 3, 2015. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the first Mindanawon to become President of the Philippines,  speaks at the 64th founding anniversary of M’lang in North Cotabato on August 3, 2015. He told the crowd that the next President of the Philippines would have to deal with the peace processes with the Moro people and the National Democratic Front but more than just talking peace, should understand the root causes of the conflicts and honor peace agreements. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

“Even in protocol we forget that as head of state, a President can redefine protocol: the only limit being whether such changes will alienate others,” said Quezon, a historian who, under the Aquino administration, made available online the Official Gazette and the Presidential Museum and Library containing documents and photographs of all 15 Philippine Presidents. Quezon is also the grandson of the first President of the Commonwealth, Manuel Quezon.

According to “The Protocol, Ceremony, History, and Symbolism of the Presidential Inauguration” posted on the Presidential Museum and Library page of Malacanang.gov.ph, tradition dictates that the President-elect fetches the President from Malacañan Palace “which would, that day’s end, be his official residence and office.”

When the President-elect arrives at Malacan Palace, he pays a courtesy call on the outgoing President and together they travel to the venue of the oath-taking.

According to “The Protocol…,” this tradition of the President-elect fetching the outgoing President “dates back to the inauguration of President Manuel Roxas—the

first transfer of power from an incumbent (President Osmeña) to a president-elect (Roxas), who was his rival for the presidency.” Roxas took his oath on May 28, 1946.

While still President-elect on June 30, 2010, Aquino left his residence at Times Street in Quezon City at nine in the morning, fetched President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from Malacañan Palace and together they traveled to the Quirino grandstand for the inauguration. Upon arrival at the grandstand, Arroyo was given her final military honors and departed for home.

When Arroyo left, the President-elect Aquino and Vice-President elect Jejomar Binay were escorted to the ceremonial platform by the Inaugural Committee headed by the Executive Secretary.

After the national anthem, ecumenical invocation and inaugural song, outgoing Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile read the Proclamation by Congress announcing the results of the elections, to reiterate the mandate of the Filipino people.

Separate inaugurations

By tradition, the Vice President-elect is sworn in first to secure the constitutional succession. The President-elect then takes his oath, followed by a 21-gun salute, four ruffles (drumrolls) and flourishes (trumpet blasts), and the playing of “Mabuhay,” the presidential anthem composed by Tirso Cruz Sr. and used since the Quezon administration.

The Duterte Camp has just informed the camp of Vice President-elect Leni Robredo that he wants a separate inauguration on June 30.

In a statement on June 15, Boyet Dy, chief of staff of Robredo’s transition team, said they were informed by the Duterte team “about their preference to hold the inauguration separately.”

Dy acknowleged they had been preparing for a joint inauguration but “we respect their decision and will begin our own preparations for a simple and modest ceremony.”

Robredo was the running mate of the Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas while Duterte was standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban).

Duterte has not named Robredo to any Cabinet post. The Constitution does not mandate the President to appoint the Vice President to a Cabinet post, but he “may.”

By tradition, the President-elect and Vice President-elect take their oath in the same venue.

Undersecretary Quezon said there was one instance when the President-elect had his inauguration without the Vice President – in 1986 – when Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. had his inauguration in Malacanan Palace without Arturo Tolentino, his Vice President.

Emilio Aguinaldo and Jose P. Laurel had no Vice President, hence Robredo is 14th Vice President while Duterte is 16th, Quezon said.

By tradition also, from the inaugural venue the President proceeds to Malacañan Palace for the inaugural luncheon, oath-taking of Cabinet and first Cabinet meeting, diplomatic reception.

The Rizal Ceremonial Hall where Duterte will be sworn in as President, is the largest room in the Malacanan Palace and is used for large dinners and large assemblies. The first President to take his oath there was Ferdinand Marcos, on February 25, 1986 although he delivered his inaugural address in Maharlika Hall (now Kalayaan Hall).

On the same day, Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel took their oath as President and Vice President. By evening, the Marcoses were fetched by helicopter of the Untied States and flown to the Clark Air Base in Pampanga en route to Hawaii.

“Comfort zone”

Duterte, a resident of Davao City in Mindanao where he served as mayor for 22 years, has to fly to Manila for the inauguration. Earlier he told reporters he would fly back to Davao City which he described as his “comfort zone.”

But Go told MindaNews on Wednesday morning (June 15) that Duterte will not fly back to Davao after the oath-taking. “Stay na Manila” (he will stay in Manila), he replied. Asked where in Malacanang Duterte would stay, Go said, “Pangarap.”

Bahay Pangarap is the official residence of the outgoing President. Aquino chose Bahay Pangarap because he found Malacanan Palace and the Arlegui Mansion where her mother stayed, too big for him.

Like Aquino, Duterte’s civil status is “single,” having separated from his wife in 2001. He lives with his partner and 12-year old daughter in a modest subdivision in Davao City. Duterte had earlier said he will not have a First Lady.

It is not certain if Duterte will spend more days in Malacañan Palace than in Davao City.

Since May 31, a day after Congress proclaimed him winner in the Presidential race, Duterte has been holding office from afternoon to dawn at the Presidential Guest House inside the seaside compound of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Panacan which had been dubbed by locals since the Arroyo administration as “Malacanang of the South” and recently dubbed by the media as “Panacañang.”

Duterte has received Ambassadors and interviewed potential Cabinet members as well as held two press conferences (May 31 and June 2) where he presented his Cabinet members. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)