President-elect Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos (right) is sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo during the inauguration ceremony at National Museum on June 30, 2022 in Manila, Philippines. (AARON FAVILA / AP)
MANILA – Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, 64, was sworn in as the 17th president of the Philippines on Thursday at the National Museum in Manila with thousands of people witnessing the inauguration.
Wearing a native Barong Tagalog formal shirt, the son of former president Ferdinand Marcos took his oath of office, as his 92-year-old mother Imelda and family members look on.
Marcos said ensuring food sufficiency for a country battling soaring inflation will be among his top priorities as he began his six-year term.
"The role of agriculture cries for the urgent attention that its neglect and misdirection now demands," he said after being sworn in.
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More than 15,000 police and security personnel have been deployed across the capital for the inauguration. Foreign dignitaries, diplomats, and three former Philippine presidents –Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – attended.
The Marcos administration needs to address a slew of problems besetting the Philippines, such as unemployment, inflation, a high debt-service ratio to the GDP, and rocketing gas and oil prices
Ahead of the swearing-in, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte received Marcos at the Malacanang presidential palace.
On May 25, the Philippine Congress proclaimed Marcos winner of the May 9 presidential election, with over 31 million votes or more than 58 percent of the votes cast. He succeeded Duterte who has finished his six-year term. The Philippine constitution permits the president to serve a single six-year term.
The Marcos administration needs to address a slew of problems besetting the country, such as unemployment, inflation, a high debt-service ratio to the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as rocketing gas and oil prices.
Last week, Marcos said he would serve as the secretary of agriculture temporarily after taking office as the problem of food supply "is severe enough”.
Managing inflation is also on the top of Marcos' to-do list. Government data showed that 23.7 percent of the country's nearly 110 million population lives in poverty.
The new administration will also inherit over $240 billion in accumulated debt by the end of March, mainly due to the COVID-19 expenses. Bureau of Treasury data showed that the country's debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 63.5 percent as of end-March, well over the internationally recommended threshold of 60 percent.
"The priority is economy," Marcos said earlier this month, assembling his economic team to steer the economy.
The Philippine economy grew by 8.3 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2022. The government is optimistic that the solid first-quarter 2022 GDP growth will help the country attain its target of 7 to 8 percent growth this year.
Incoming Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos (left) and outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (second left) shake hands during Marcos' inauguration ceremony in Manila, Philippines, June 30, 2022. (FRANCIS R MALASIG/POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
In a speech early this month, Marcos vowed to foster "stronger and deeper" Philippines-China relations.
He said the relations with China are "very important" and "advantageous to both countries," while considering China as his country's "strongest partner" in pandemic recovery.
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"We look forward to continuing fostering this relationship. Making it stronger. Making it deeper and to the advantage of our two great countries," Marcos said, adding that he sees the future of Philippine-China relations "developing in many ways."
Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos gather to wait for his inauguration ceremony, June 30, 2022 in Manila, Philippines. (AARON FAVILA / AP)
On Wednesday, outgoing President Duterte also agreed with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan to further promote bilateral relations and advance cooperation between the two countries in various fields.
Under the guidance of the two countries' leaders, the relations between China and the Philippines have achieved a complete turnaround over the past six years, said Wang.
The two sides have redefined their relationship as comprehensive strategic cooperation, enhanced good-neighborly friendship and cooperation, properly managed differences, and jointly worked for common development, which have ushered in a new era for furthering cooperation in various fields, he said.