Sunday, July 31, 2011

P.Noy takes the helm

'P.Noy' Takes Helm in Philippines

AOL News

(June 30) -- Benigno Aquino III was sworn in as president of the Philippines today, vowing to turn the tide on corruption and poverty in this longtime Asian underachiever.

A crowd estimated at about 500,000 witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of the son of democracy icons, who rode to power on a wave of nostalgia and emotional outpouring following the death of his mother, Corazon "Cory" Aquino, nearly a year ago.

Corey led the famous 1980s "People Power" movement that ended martial law, following the murder of pro-democracy activist Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, her husband and the new president's father, in 1983.

"You are the reason why today, the suffering of the people will end," Aquino told crowds, according to The New York Times. "Here, on this day, ends the reign of a government that is indifferent to the complaints of the people."

The new president, perhaps taking a page from U.S. rap mogul P. Diddy, has changed his nickname from "Noynoy" to "P. Noy", according to "Pinoy" refers to a person of Filipino descent.

A free inaugural street party and concert followed the ceremony, featuring top Filipino stars and entertainers.

In his inaugural address, Aquino vowed to pursue justice against human-rights abusers and corrupt officials. On a lighter note, he also promised an end to noisy, red-light-running presidential motorcades that have become an irritant in metropolitan Manila and a symbol of the elitism of the Philippines' political leadership.

"No more wang-wang," he told the crowd, according to The Associated Press, using local slang for wailing sirens.

Aquino takes power after a decade of popular disillusionment over corrupt and allegedly corrupt leadership. Former President Joseph Estrada stepped down amid a corruption scandal in 2001; he was convicted of plunder and later pardoned.

Estrada's successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, stands accused of vote-buying and left office a deeply unpopular figure. She maintains her innocence.

Aquino repeated his campaign pledge to investigate allegations against Arroyo, who was also sworn in today as a member of the Philippines' House of Representatives. That sets the stage for a showdown between Aquino's fresh government and Arroyo's powerful base of allies in Congress.

Aquino immediately swore in a cabinet and convened his first cabinet meeting, according to the Inquirer.

The 50-year-old bachelor has drawn much gossip over his love life, particularly on whether he will soon marry his girlfriend, Shalani Soledad. Then there's the question of who will assume first lady duties. His four sisters -- Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris -- have said they will "take turns" helping him.

He's also drawn fire over his smoking habit. He regularly lit up on the campaign trail, and has brushed aside calls for him to quit, saying he'll need to puff away more than ever as president due to the massive stress of the job.

He told the media that U.S. President Barack Obama offered moral support on quitting during his congratulatory phone call earlier this month.

"Mr. President, I understand we have the same issue with smoking," Aquino said he told Obama, according to the AP. "He [Obama] said, 'Well I quit that already. I have quit. It's your sole problem. At the time that you decide to quit, I'll send the advice.'"

Some are skeptical that Aquino will be able to solve the Philippines' deeply rooted problems. The archipelago was rated 139 out of 180 countries on Transparency International's corruption perception index, the lowest of any major southeast Asian country.

One in four Filipinos live at or below the poverty line, according to the World Bank, and the Philippines has a per-capita income of just $1,900. As many as 11 million out of a population of 90 million have moved abroad to work, unable to find decent-paying jobs at home.

Economic power remains concentrated in the hands of a landed elite, many of them dynasties whose massive wealth and lavish, sprawling estates date to the days of Spanish colonization (1521-1898).

Aquino himself is from just such a family, and his extended family's own plantation, Hacienda Luisita, has been the subject of controversy. He himself, like his late mother before him, is widely viewed as "clean," but he will oversee a political structure in which corruption is endemic.

See a CNN "Talk Asia" interview with Aquino here.

Original site

No comments: