The Long View: Notes for the coming inaugural

The Long View
Notes for the coming inaugural
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:47:00 05/31/2010

THE inauguration of a President is rich in symbolism which is generally little known or understood, but which can be utilized to lend solemnity, a sense of democratic continuity and a spirit of national consecration to the occasion.

The location is the Quirino Grandstand (formerly the Independence Grandstand) where the inauguration of every president from Quirino to Marcos and thereafter, of Ramos, and the inaugural addresses of Estrada and Arroyo, were held.

Prior to independence, inaugurals were held on the front steps of the Legislative Building (Quezon, Laurel, Roxas) but the wrecked condition of the building in July 1946 suggested the need for a different location.

The independence ceremony in July 1946 was held, instead, in front of the Rizal Monument, and the large flagpole in front of the monument is now known as the Independence Flagpole precisely because it marks the spot where Rizal’s dream of national independence was finally achieved.

Thus, the Quirino Grandstand directly faces the execution site of the Gomburza martyrs; the monument and grave of the country’s foremost hero and martyr, Rizal; and the flagpole which commemorates the achievement of independence in 1946 and which bears aloft the flag, symbol of the sovereignty first asserted before the world in 1898. This symbolically presents a vista of the nation’s path to freedom.

Tradition dictates that the president-elect arrive at the presidential palace before the inaugural, to pay a courtesy call on the outgoing, incumbent president. The president and the president-elect then go together to the Luneta.

From 1946 to 1965, the tradition was that at the Luneta, the president received his final military honors as commander in chief, and then departed to go home as the president-elect in turn ascended the Quirino Grandstand.

The vice president-elect is sworn in before noon to secure the constitutional succession; at 12 noon, the president-elect is sworn in. The chief justice administering the presidential oath is tradition and not mandatory.

Immediately upon conclusion of the oath, the traditional presidential anthem, “Mabuhay” is played with the appropriate ruffles and flourishes, and the armed forces shall render its first 21-gun salute to the new commander in chief.

The new President of the Philippines then delivers his inaugural address.

The President then takes symbolic possession of the presidential palace and holds his first Cabinet meeting. Traditionally this was done in the Council of State Room (the Quirino Room) in the Executive Office Building (Kalayaan Hall) but because of Marcos’ failing health, this has been held in the Aguinaldo State Dining Room since the Marcos years.

The Palace itself is rich in meaningful associations: the new President can arrive either at Kalayaan Hall, the old Executive Office Building, now restored, or at the Palace itself. In the Palace, the President takes symbolic possession by means of ascending the main stairs, which legend attributes as having been climbed by Rizal’s mother on her knees, to beg for clemency for her son: a reminder to every president of the portion of the oath of office which pledges justice to every man.

From the main stairs, the President passes Luna’s painting of the Blood Compact, and enters the Reception Hall, lined with the portraits of the past chief executives and which traditionally has, at its center, the table given to President Quezon by inmates who had received a presidential pardon: again, a tangible reminder to every administration of the power to grant clemency and do justice.

To the left is the Presidential Study, with the presidential desk; to the right, the Aguinaldo State Dining Room, where President Aguinaldo was held prisoner by the Americans and where Cabinet meetings have been held since the Marcos administration. At the end of the Reception Hall is the Rizal Ceremonial Hall, where the rituals of sovereignty are undertaken: the receipt of credentials from foreign ambassadors, and the conferment of state awards and decorations.

President Corazon Aquino restored the distinction between the term Malacañan Palace as referring to the official residence of the President of the Philippines, and the use of the term Malacañang to refer to the Office of the President.

The first concern will be whether or not the new president will reside in his official residence.

The President has the option of residing in Bonifacio Hall (the Premier State Guesthouse) or the traditional family quarters of the Palace.

The President has the option of weekday residence in the Palace and returning to his private residence on weekends, which would permit the public to visit the Palace on weekends, in a symbolic gesture of opening up the Palace to the people.

The second is the physical layout of the new President’s working spaces; the location of the heads of the various executive offices. The President has three offices. The Presidential Library, located in the Palace itself, more suited to actual executive work; and the Executive Office (the Quezon Room) in Kalayaan Hall, more suited to ceremonial occasions; and the Private Office, which is traditionally located within the residential quarters of the Palace.

Because of President Marcos’ illnesses, the traditional demarcation between executive working spaces, the rooms of state and the private quarters were blurred.

The great size of the Office of the President in recent years has also led to a pell-mell and willy-nilly growth that increases pressures for executive officials to prove clout by means of demonstrating physical closeness to the working areas of the President.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

20 thoughts on “The Long View: Notes for the coming inaugural

  1. I think that Noynoy’s inauguration will be devoid of most symbolism and traditional ceremonial activities done by past presidents. For one, those ceremonial activities have nothing to do therefore irrelevant to whether a president wants to govern cleanly, honestly, and effectively, so better to just dispense with them for a change. And Noynoy had promised us a change. Better to start at the very beginning.

    Here are my takes:

    – there will be no courtesy call on the outgoing president at the palace before the inaugural.
    – no oath taking before the chief justice.
    – no Luneta inaugural ceremony

  2. YOu can also put it the other way, breaking a tradition like
    taking oath with the baranggay captain has no bearing at all as to the incoming preisdent will be able to govern effectively. So what the point of breaking a tradition? Just to be mean and rude? Aw common…

  3. alden40,

    Do you want to know what’s mean and what’s rude? I will tell you.

    Those midnight appointments…those are mean, and very rude, too, didn’t you noticed?

  4. The pageantry translates to television time. Right there (think Kris and Boy Abunda) may be the answers to what will happen.

  5. If he imitates his mother, Noy won’t care too much for pomp and ceremony and rightly so, in my opinion. What he needs to be mindful of however being a politician unlike his mother is preserving the integrity of his administration.

    Paul Hutchcroft calls his party the Liberal Party “the partial exception to the rule in an array of weak and poorly institutionalised political parties”. Just as the LDP embraced and welcomed tradpols into the administration’s tent, so too might the Liberal Party if it is not too careful.

    Mr Aquino must try and strengthen the parties in the country in order to guarantee that our democratic rites and ceremonies aren’t a sham.

  6. The embrace and welcome of tradpols began during the elections. And there’s no reason for it to stop after the LP assumes power. The concept that politics is addition, isn’t in danger of being repudiated. The unimaginative and widely criticized cabinet choices so far already indicate that the incoming administration won’t be breaking new barriers.

  7. I’m thinking all these inarte is his special way of copping out on controversial issues, especially in land reform. The appeal to our sense of compassion, the big shows of humility, living in his little house in Times Street, taking his oath from a Kapitan del Barrio. Inspiration over building real foundations?

  8. Noynoy Aquino’s manner of scoring brownie points with the public is very amateurish. He still hasn’t come to grips with the magnitude and complexity of the situation. It will ultimately sink in. And he will ultimately backtrack. Just as he has with previous other statements.

    There’s a world of difference being the Chief Executive of the country and being just one of the boys in the Senate. You can no longer play the blame game or try to make cute sound bytes because the buck stops with you.

  9. The Cusp,

    You mentioned strengthening the party system. Well, here’s what will get the Philippines there:

    1. Remove term limits for the Presidency. Yuko Kasuya clearly stated in her observations that the lack of party discipline is related to the fact that there is no real “continuity” thanks to the single-term Presidency that the 1987 Cory Constitution imposed on us. Every single Presidential Election is seen as an ad-hoc one shot deal that only temporarily brings people together in clique-teams that are meant to just defray election campaign costs such as printing posters, flyers, and other ads.

    By removing term limits, teams can be formed on a more-or-less longer-term basis which means the formation of what real parties are all about: consistency based on central ideals and common platforms. An incumbent can then assemble pretty much a similar team as before and campaign on the same platform (or one based on the original one) and this promotes consistency.

    2. Promote a system of bloc-voting. You got it… No ability to vote someone for President and then another person for Vice President from a different party. Or someone for your local district from another party as well. By creating a system that forces the electorate to choose teams instead of individuals, the electorate ends up forced to look more at the commonalities that the people who form the same bloc share. In the last election, the only real bloc that was consistent and solid was the Bagumbayan bloc. Both Gordon and Bayani Fernando represented Political Will, Discipline, Progress/Development, and the ability to Transform a backwater into a prosperous engine of economic growth.

    Alas, the system we have in place caters to the Filipinos penchant for favoring personality over issues/platforms. Aquino won because well, he’s an AQUINO, and Binay won because he’s the Freebie-King whose platform is “Let them eat Cake.”

    3. Shift to the Parliamentary System. Essentially, the Parliamentary System already includes both 1 and 2. There are no term limits as capable and competent Prime Ministers can serve indefinitely as long as their parties continue to have a majority (or continue to hold together a majority coalition) and if their own parties (or coalitions) continue to have them as their own leader. Likewise, the Parliamentary System is essentially a bloc-voting system. You cannot choose your Member of Parliament (district-constituency level) separately from the Prime Minister.

    Essentially, the Prime Minister is the leader of the party which wins an absolute majority of all parliamentary seats or is the leader of a coalition that is formed to dominate parliament.

    The fastest way to fix the Party System is 3… Go the Parliamentary Route.

    Notice that Malaysians (whose indigenous majority are like Filipinos) think more in terms of PARTY and party-platform as well as issues, while Filipinos primitively continue to cling to personalities and name-recall.

    Notice too that the Indians (whose masses are behaviorally similar to Filipinos: Indian masses worship their Bollywood stars and their Cricketeers just as Pinoy masa worship showbiz stars and basketbolistas/boxers, etc) talk a lot more about isses and platforms that Filipinos ever have and ever will (unless we shift systems), simply because they have a Parlimentary System. Also notice that India or Malaysia have never ended up with Showbiz or Sports celebrities ever becoming Prime Minister.

    A mere shift in system goes a long way in not just improving the Party System, but it also improves the results of governance as well.

    It’s high time we stop erroneously equating the Parliamentary system with “GMA’s lust for power.”

    Those who don’t want GMA, it’s all too simple to avoid her once we shift to a Parliamentary System… Don’t vote for candidates from her party!

    Simple as that.

    Alas, that simple fact is almost always lost among the vast majority of the vacuous, brain-dead and starstruck ignoramuses called Filipinos.

  10. I agree that Noynoy should move in to Arlegui.

    Noynoy should then sell Malacanang and auction all its contents.

    Then he should present the profits from the sale in the form of a single bank check to present to the congressmen at the opening of the congressional session.

    His opening line will be: “I present to you, our very first revenue raising measure. This is the beginning of the Noynoy Aquino presidency austerity measures”.

  11. “alden40,Do you want to know what’s mean and what’s rude? I will tell you.Those midnight appointments…those are mean, and very rude, too, didn’t you noticed?”

    Nick, so you are saying that since Gloria has been mean, rude, and dirty. Noynoy has to do teh same too.

    This what Im have been protesting all along since thats why I never joined the anti Gloria movement at all. You and your ilk has wanted to drag the whole nation to Glorias weaknesses instead of motivating it to rise above Glorias weaknesess.

    I have no problem if Noynoy is doing things becuase thats what he really wants to do, thats what his principles dictates . But if he is doing things out of his hatred and revenge to Gloria, then that I belive is a problem. Because his administration will be all about GLoira then not about what he wanted to accomplish for this country.

    Sabi nga ni Bencard, Hnaggang ganito na lang ba ang pinas , It will always be governed by the hatred or revnege of the incoming president or group of people to the previous administration? That people voted for Noynoy not becuase of what he stand for or plans or to do what teh peopel would want the Country go but because they hated Gloria

  12. The nation spent the whole six years of its existence catering to Glorias weaknesses. Shoudl we go spent another six years Noynoys administration still catering to Glorias weaknesses? Gosh!

  13. Noynoy is not only recycling Arroyo cabinet members, Kris Aquino wants her alalays in government as well. As reported in the news:

    “PRESIDENT-ELECT Benigno Aquino III will appoint his sister’s show business companion, TV host Eugenio ‘‘Boy’’ Abunda, to help market the country but revoke the appointment of Efraim Genuino as chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.”

    “Aquino also said he would keep a number of Arroyo administration officials in the Cabinet, including Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral and National Police chief Jesus Versoza, on the job for the next three to six months after he took his oath on June 30.”

    “Speaking to reporters at his residence on Times Street, Aquino said that while he had chosen his longtime legal adviser, Paquito Ochoa Jr., to be his executive secretary, he might yet decide to make him Justice Secretary if no suitable candidate could be found before June 30.”

    “The position of Justice Department head was initially offered to constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas SJ and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, but both of them turned it down, Aquino said.”

    “But he said he would keep Puno as a consultant on judicial reforms.”

    “Cabral aside, the incoming president is also reportedly inclined to keep Energy Secretary Jose Ibazeta in his current position.”

    It has also been reported that Noynoy plans to backtrack on his campaign pledge not to raise taxes:

    “PRESIDENT-APPARENT Benigno Aquino III has changed his tune over taxes, saying he is keeping an open mind about imposing new taxes over the next six years “if there is a need” for fresh revenue-enhancing measures.”

    On the other hand, ABS-CBN reports more recycled names being considered in an Aquino administration:
    “Other names reportedly being floated for the Aquino Cabinet and other top positions are Cesar Purisima for finance, Alberto Lim for budget and management, Willie Parayno for the Bureau of Customs, Cayetano Paderanga for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Alberto Romulo for foreign affairs.”

    It also reports that:

    “But even as the search for Cabinet members continues, reports are surfacing that the jockeying for positions among the different factions in the Aquino-Roxas campaign is intensifying.”

    “Several in the camp of Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II believe there are those in the group that supported Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) vice presidential bet Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, and not Roxas.”

    “An office in Araneta Center in Quezon City is known as Balay, and served as the campaign headquarters of the Noy-Mar campaign. Among the groups that used Balay are the “Hyatt 10″, the Liberal Party, and the Bantay Balota vote protection group.”

    “Meanwhile, a house along Samar St. in Quezon City was used as an office by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero; Jojo Ochoa, head of Pinoy Lawyers; and, Maria Montelibano, media and communications head of the Aquino campaign.”

    “This is why the two factions involved in the fighting are known as the Balay group and Samar group.”

    Sooner or later, people will see that Noynoy is a lot of hot air and cannot be taken at his word. The threats to mount another EDSA, the travesty about the barrio kapitan, the brouhaha about living in Times Street, the promises not to raise taxes, are just instances of a cavalier, even reckless, attitude towards the Presidency. In the meantime, the fight for the division of spoils has already begun. 🙂

  14. alden40, it’s you and bencard and a few others who love catering to what you called “Gloria’s weaknesses”. You and your ‘ilks’ love her for those ‘weaknesses’, heheh. Your love for her is the only reason why you hate Noynoy for wanting to do what he wants to do, :).

  15. Nick, I unlike youand your ilk , we dont live by hatred and revenge. We want Nonoy to suceed we want this country to move forward. Yes I did not vote for him becuase I really believe he other candidate si better than him. Unlik eyou and your ilk I did not vite out of hatred to other candidates. I viote dbase don cabaplity and effectiveness to run a government. . But results is already there and peopel have spoken. They wanted noynoy to be their president. And so I respect and embrace Nonoy as my president.

    I just wanted him to govern effectively and stop wasting time with Gloria and all other things that really doesn’t matter at all.

    Gloria is past and already a goner. Nonoy is the new and the furture. So why waste time and energy for her. The ONLY BEST thing that Noynoy can really do with Gloria is to put her to jail and thats it.

    Now all I having nothing against all these “inarte” as Brian termed it. If swearing in by a baranggay captain. the breaking of traditions , living in Times St, breaking traditions etc etc… will make him an effective leader. Im all for it. Eh kung hinid rin lang naman, eh puleezzz, whats the point.

    And the most positive thing that Nonoy can really do to para mapahiya talaga is Gloria. IS TO MAKE SURE THAT HE CAN REALY DO MUCH MUCH BETTER THAN GLORIA AS PRESIDENT. Wag nang mag inarte.

  16. By remaining on the national stage, Pres Arroyo is actually providing Noynoy Aquino her apparent successor with the ability to maintain an anti-Gloria campaign while in office unlike his mom’s regime which lost its focus after the Marcoses fled into exile.

    And as for the appointments. It should be no wonder that Noynoy has opted to retrieve some of GMA’s former cabinet members. After all the LP formed part of the original pro-reform coalition that backed her in EDSA Dos. They only broke from it after she resorted to excessive transactionalism and cronyism to remain in Malacanan.

    The reformist v populist cleavage (borrowing from Mark Thompson) created during the campaign will help define the key policy decisions that Noynoy’s cabinet has to navigate. Given that Binay represents the latter, it will be interesting to see how the politics of it will play out.

  17. Binay has unequivocally stated that he wants DILG. Binay, besides being close to Noynoy himself, represents a very powerful, yet shadowy, faction. This is the Peping Cojuangco faction. There is no doubt that Binay will be Peping’s hatchet man. They will not hesitate to use traditional, yet shady, means to lock up power, such as taking control of the PNP, arm twisting local officials, and taking over “jueteng”.

    This dual personality of an Aquino administration, one mouthing an anti-corruption line, and another cutting the shady deals, is a possibility feared by some of the more uncompromising supporters of Noynoy. This was expressed by Solita Monsod in one of her articles, in which she expressed misgivings about the results of the elections:

    “But totally neutralizing the we-are-tired-of-corruption message of the Filipino voters in the case of the presidency was their vote in the vice presidency. The leading contender, and possible vice president no matter how close the vote is, is someone whose reputation for corruption in his bailiwick is legend, whose campaign expenditures bespeak of unexplained wealth, and who in fact faces cases filed by the Ombudsman, not to mention that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has dunned him for over a billion pesos worth of unremitted withholding taxes on the salaries of municipal employees. Not a savory record, the reader will agree—but the voters still chose him over a contender whose reputation is unsullied by charges of corruption or enrichment in office.”

  18. Reminds me of the old song-and-dance: “I take the high road, you take the low road”.

  19. I got tired of perenially finding things to hate about current presidents, perenially looking for something to complain about, even rebel about…
    I really hope we finish this business of proclamation etc, so we can get right down to work already…
    I agree with rego, Noynoy should not waste valuable time in going after Gloria, just delegate it to somebody, so he can focus on the present issues…personally, I really believe Noynoy can even learn from Gloria, she has her strengths (good work ethics, international relations, management, etc.) God knows there are so many issues, I can even see some in-fighting within his core group – precisely why I was complaining about so many primadonnas, experts, etc., that its hard to make a cohesive team around here…
    The election is over, lets accept it already, and those who lost, better luck next time and stop all this nonsense.
    All I ask from Noynoy is to have friends in jail released and reinstated in the service…after that, everything he does, right or wrong, I will support him as best as I can…

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