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A healing presidency

PRESIDENT-elect Rodrigo Duterte has yet to be proclaimed but his lead in the election count is such that everyone is now watching his every move, listening to all that his close aides and advisers have to say, speculating on what he is likely to do on the host of problems that he and the nation face.

Many names have been mentioned for possible appointment to his Cabinet. One prospective Cabinet member has even announced an eight-point economic agenda covering reforms in the bureaucracy, infrastructure, foreign investments, agricultural development, land administration, a strengthened basic education system relevant to the needs of the private sector, changes in the tax system to help low-income earners, and expansion of the Conditional Cash Transfer program.

Because he first drew attention to his candidacy with his vow that he would solve the drug problem in three to six months, the nation is waiting to see how Duterte plans to carry out a seemingly impossible task. Other urgent problems calling for attention and action came out in the series of presidential public debates during the campaign – notably the need for more jobs to help solve the greater problem of mass poverty, the Metro traffic problem with its economic consequences, the insurgencies and other security problems in Mindanao, the South China Sea maritime dispute.

In the first few months of the Duterte administration, these and many other problems that have mounted all these years are expected to be dealt with by the new administration of President Duterte who set himself apart from the other candidates as the one who was most capable of taking decisive action.

Before all these programs even begin to move, the nation will be watching Duterte in his first official action as the new president of the Philippines – his induction into office at the Independence Grandstand at the Luneta at noon on June 30.

Outgoing President Aquino set the tone for his presidency when he set aside the tradition of the new president being sworn in by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who, he charged, was a midnight appointee of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The first executive order from the new president called for the formation of a Truth Commission to look into corruption and other irregularities in the Arroyo administration. Impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona followed some months later.

When President Duterte takes his oath of office this June 30, he can restore the old tradition of being sworn by the chief justice. Or he can have one of his old San Beda law fraternity brothers in the court administer the oath. Or he can take his oath before a barangay captain, as is now allowed by a new law. This first official presidential act will give us an inkling into what we can expect in the next six years.

This is bound to be a decisive presidency, with drug lords No. 1 on the target list. But it can also be a healing presidency, drawing unto itself other leaders of the nation each one contributing his or her particular strength and ability, thereby inspiring others in the nation to do likewise. There will, of course, be justice but it must not be the selective kind – which is no justice at all.

A healing, uniting presidency. It is an ideal we can all hope for.