Benigno Aquino III sworn in as Philippine President
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 23:33
Manila: Benigno Aquino III, sworn in on Wednesday as the Philippines' 15th president, promised to prosecute the corrupt and banish poverty as he urged Filipinos to help him in a job he likened to a biblical burden.

The son of two Philippine democracy icons, Aquino, 50, succeeds Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose stormy nine-rule was rocked by four failed coup attempts and allegations of corruption, vote-rigging and human rights abuses, which she denied.

Some 5,00,000 attended Aquino's oath-taking at a seaside park in the capital Manila, police said. Aquino aimed his speech at the many Filipinos exasperated at the Southeast Asian country's enduring problems, that also include decades-long Islamic and communist insurgencies.

"This day marks the end of a leadership that has long been insensitive to the suffering of the people ... and this is the beginning of my own Calvary," Aquino said, referring to Christ's crucifixion.

"But if many of us bear the cross, we will lift it, no matter how heavy."

Aquino, called "Noynoy" by his supporters, was a low-key legislator until he swept to a landslide win in May 10 elections - buoyed by his illustrious family name, his anti-corruption platform and Filipinos' longing for moral and political renewal.

"He signifies change and hope," said businesswoman Marivic Roy, who joined the crowds at the inauguration, accompanied by her husband and two sons.

"That's why people gravitate toward him. We feel there is hope for this country."

Aquino's parents were revered for their opposition to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by a 1986 "people power" revolt - a defining moment in the Philippines' political history.

Marcos, who had ruled for two decades, was succeeded by Aquino's popular mother, Corazon Aquino. She died last year, prompting a mass outpouring of sympathy that turned into a groundswell of support for her son.

Diplomats from more than 80 countries and two former Philippine presidents - Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada - attended today's ceremonies. East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta, a longtime supporter of the Aquino family, was among the foreign dignitaries.

The nationally televised event resembled a grand concert with celebrity singers and an orchestra belting out patriotic music and folk songs. Yellow confetti - the signature color of Corazon Aquino in the people power uprising - rained from two helicopters. Vice President Jejomar Binay was sworn in before Aquino took his oath.


First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 23:33

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