Rodrigo Duterte sworn in as Philippines president

By BBC

Rodrigo Duterte has been sworn in as president of the Philippines, after a landslide election victory in May.

The controversial former mayor of Davao City, 71, overthrew the political establishment, promising a “bloody war” on crime and action on corruption.

In his inaugural speech he promised to make sweeping changes to the country’s political system.

“I see the erosion of the people’s trust in their country’s leaders,” he said.

“The erosion of faith in our judicial system. The erosion of confidence in the capacity of our public servants to make the people’s lives better, safer and healthier.”

Mr Duterte, who has barely left Davao in the south since his election win, took his oath at a small ceremony at the Malacanang Palace in Manila. Only state media were permitted to cover the event, but it was streamed live online.

Under the constitution, Mr Duterte and the new vice-president, Leni Robredo, will both serve a single six-year term.

Ms Robredo was sworn in at a separate ceremony in Quezon City.

Rodrigo Duterte revels in his reputation as an outsider and a political maverick .

During 22 years as mayor of Davao, he built a reputation for blunt speaking and for supporting the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals.

Crime rates fell dramatically but human rights groups estimate that more than 1,000 people were killed with no legal process. Many were executed by shadowy death squads.

Mr Duterte’s election campaign was littered with obscenities and populist promises but light on details.

So the country must now wait to see how he delivers on pledges to end corruption, restore the death penalty, and shift to a more federal system of government.

On the international front, despite his having bombastically promised to drive a jet-ski to a contested island in the South China Sea, relations between the Philippines and China could be about to improve.

Mr Duterte has indicated that despite differences, and an upcoming ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration, he is ready for a more pragmatic, development-focused relationship with the Chinese.

After a period of stability under Benigno Aquino, the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte marks a leap into the unknown.

The two swearing-in ceremonies were being held separately for the first time in the Philippines, which local media attributed to Mr Duterte’s decision to a opt for a relatively small event.

But there is a notable political and personality gulf between the two leaders.

Ms Robredo is from the same Liberal Party as outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, who oversaw big improvements in economic growth and foreign investment.

He had less success tackling endemic corruption and inequality.

Self-styled socialist Mr Duterte has promised to change that, by ending corruption and improving the lot of the roughly quarter of the population said to live below the poverty line, while promising to continue the economic policies which have attracted money from abroad.

Ms Robredo, an anti-poverty campaigner and human rights lawyer, was sworn in by the chairman of the poorest ward of a district in her province, as well as the chairman of the ward in which her new office is located.

She won her new position by a wafer-thin margin against Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son of late former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose family has staged a remarkable political comeback since being toppled in 1986.

  

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