Aquino takes power in Philippines

Benigno Aquino took over as president of the Philippines on Wednesday with a vow to lift his nation out of poverty.

Aquino takes power in Philippines

Benigno Aquino took over as president of the Philippines on Wednesday with a vow to lift his nation out of poverty and wipe out crippling corruption that he said thrived under his predecessor.

In his inauguration speech to a mass of supporters wearing his family's signature yellow, the 50-year-old bachelor promised to honour the trust of the millions of Filipinos who delivered him a landslide election victory.

In his first speech as president, Aquino said he would fight poverty, improve the investment climate, and seek a "just" resolution to demands of Muslims in the south.

"My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflict, inclusive of the interests of all," he said. He made no mention of the Maoist insurgency.

"My parents sought nothing less, and died for nothing less, than democracy, peace and prosperity," Aquino told an adoring crowd that police estimated at about half a million people.

"I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward," he said at the ceremony at the Quirino Grandstand near Manila Bay in the old part of the capital.

One crucial factor in Aquino's election victory on May 10 was his status as the son of democracy heroes Benigno and Corazon Aquino, who remain revered for their efforts to overthrow dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

His father and namesake was shot dead at Manila airport in 1983 as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.

The new president's mother took over from her martyred husband and led the "people power" revolution that overthrew Marcos in 1986, then earned a reputation as an incorruptible leader during six years as president.

"Reviewing appointments"

After the inauguration, Aquino headed to the Malacanang presidential palace for a working lunch with his new cabinet, which he announced on Tuesday.

Aquino also has to tame a budget deficit that reached nearly 4 percent of GDP in 2009, which he said he will first do by enforcing existing tax laws to improve collections before considering any increase in tax rates.

Aquino's surge to the presidency was driven by a wave of emotion following the death of Corazon Aquino last August, with the family's reputation for propriety and honesty a powerful lure after two administrations dogged by allegations of corruption.

"I am hopeful he will fulfil his promises. I believe he is sincere like his mother," said Pedro Reyes, who was selling inauguration T-shirts. "He is truly for poor people like us."

Many in the crowd were dressed in yellow, the colour of the 1986 People Power revolution that drove dictator Ferdinand Marcos from office and swept Aquino's mother Corazon to power. Yellow confetti was sprinkled over the crowd from a helicopter shortly before Aquino took his presidential oath.

"I was here 24 years ago for his mother's political rally and I came here to see Noynoy take his oath because I want him to succeed," said Sonia de la Cruz, using Aquino's nickname.

"I will pray for him. I hope he stops people in government from stealing and delivers his promises to us," said de la Cruz, 60, who had left home before dawn with her daughter and grandson to get a good spot for the ceremony.

Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not stay for Aquino's inauguration, which was watched by former presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos. The pro-Aquino crowd cheered wildly as she left the ceremony.

On Tuesday, Aquino said he was setting up a "Truth Commission" to investigate allegations of corruption, electoral fraud and rights abuses against Arroyo and her administration. Arroyo denies any wrongdoing.

"To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice," Aquino said.

Aquino said he would review Arroyo's "midnight" appointments -- those made late in her term. He took the oath of office from as associate justice rather than the chief justice, whom Arroyo appointed after the May 10 election.

Arroyo is not departing the political scene, having won a seat in the lower house of Congress in the May election.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Haziran 2010, 17:11

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