Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Arroyo bids farewell to Malacañang

Kimberly Jane Tan/YA

After more than nine years in power, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has finally left Malacañang and formally turned over the reins of government to incoming President Benigno Aquino III.

Mrs. Arroyo served as president of the Philippines from January 21, 2001 to June 30, 2010.

In a symbolic gesture, Mrs. Arroyo left the Quirino Grandstand - the site of the presidential inauguration - before Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay take their respective oaths of office at noon Wednesday.

Before Mrs. Arroyo left the Quirino Grandstand, she was greeted by a 21-gun salute by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to honor her as the head of state for the very last time.

She arrived at the inauguration venue together with Aquino from the Malacañan Palace, and departed on board a private black SUV amid cheers from the crowd.

Mrs. Arroyo will head straight to San Fernando City in Pampanga, where she will take her oath of office as congresswoman of Pampanga's second district.

"As per tradition, at the moment the President-elect takes his oath as President at 12 noon, the incumbent is already at home to mark his reverting to being an ordinary citizen," said inauguration spokesman Manolo Quezon on his blog.

He said this is a tradition which dates back to the inauguration of President Ramon Magsaysay in 1953. "The symbolism is that the old administration has come to an end, and the new one begins," he said.

He said that only President Sergio Osmeña (1946), President Corazon Aquino (1992), and President Fidel Ramos (1998) attended the inaugurals of their successors.

He said Osmeña attended because it was the first time power was to be transferred from one party to another; Aquino, to symbolize the first peaceful and constitutional transfer of power since 1969; and Ramos as part of the centennial celebrations of 1998.

Arroyo was first sworn in as president after former President Joseph Estrada was overthrown over corruption charges in 2001. In the 2004 national elections, she was proclaimed as president over the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. amid electoral fraud allegations that surfaced the following year.

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