Australia and the Philippines welcome new heads of state
Australia and the Philippines witnessed transitions in government as a new Prime Minister and President and Vice President were chosen during recent elections.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte was formally inaugurated 16th President on 30 June 2016 in a ceremony in Malacañang Palace and Vice President Maria Leonora “Leni” Robredo as 14th Vice President in the Quezon City Reception House on the same date. Both Duterte and Robredo were formally proclaimed President and Vice President by the joint Houses of Senate and Congress on 30 May 2016.
In Australia, Malcolm Turnbull gets another mandate as Prime Minister after an exceptionally tight election last 2 July. Despite its lost, the Labor party celebrated the strong swing just three years after it was dumped from power in the previous election. The Labor heavily used the Medicare issue to weaken Turnbull’s campaign.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, however reckons that Turnbull’s government might be short lived and says that “Australians would head back to the polls by the end of the year,” in his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
New Philippine government
In the President’s inaugural speech, Duterte reiterated his crusade against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption in government, but assured the people that he will do so within the limits of the law. He said, “My adherence to due process and the rule of law is uncompromising,” and echoed the drive against these social ills to be “relentless and sustained”. The President also noted that these are only symptoms of a greater problem—the people’s erosion of faith and trust in government to address quality of life, health and safety.
The new President advocated for streamlining government processes and transparency in government contracts and transactions with direct orders for the department secretaries and heads of government agencies to follow suit. He also urged the people to work with him towards a better Philippines. “The ride will be rough, but come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder, let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest.”
Vice President Robredo, on the other hand, emphasised her advocacy for those in the fringes of society and elevate it to a higher level. “Ours will be a listening office. We seek to unite the government and the private sector in a partnership for change, for those at the fringes of society that we have vowed to serve.” Her office would focus on hunger and food security, universal health care, rural development, education and people empowerment, as she pronounced in her inaugural speech.
President Duterte is former Mayor of Davao City, while Vice President Robredo is former Representative of Camarines Sur. The two officials made their first public appearance together on 1 July 2016 during the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. On 8 July 2016, President Duterte appointed the Vice President as Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Secretary.
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