All roads lead to BBM inauguration rites 

THE historic inauguration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. as the 17th President of the country at the National Museum in Manila on Thursday noon is set to draw over 1,200 people, prompting authorities to enforce stringent screening measures.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said this is the total audience capacity near the stage at the venue, but it noted more people could be accommodated in the Golf Club around Intramuros, Manila.

“It [golf club area] could accommodate almost 300,000 [people], but we have to observe social distancing, so it could be less,” PNP Director for Operations Valeriano T. de Leon said in a televised interview last Wednesday.

Marcos will take his oath as president before Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo.

Only three other Filipino presidents, namely, Manuel L. Quezon, Jose P. Laurel, Manuel A. Roxas, held their inauguration at the National Museum, which was previously known as the Old Legislative Building.

Usually, the presidential inaugurations, including that of Marcos’s father, the late Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., were held in the Quirino Grandstand in the Rizal Park.

Initially, Marcos considered holding his “simple and traditional” inauguration at the Grandstand, but his camp reconsidered due to the existing field hospital in that area.

Presidential activity

IN a statement,  the Inauguration Committee organizing the event said Marcos is expected to head first to Malacañan Palace on Thursday morning for the traditional meeting with the outgoing president, Rodrigo R. Duterte, before proceeding to the National Museum for the inauguration.

The ceremony will start with the singing of the National Anthem and an interfaith prayer, to be followed by a 30-minute military civic parade.  After Senate President Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto reads his proclamation from Congress, Marcos will take his oath of office at exactly 12 noon as mandated by the Constitution.

He will then deliver his inaugural speech, followed capped by the singing of his inaugural song, Pilipinas Kong Mahal, by Cris Villonco and the Young Voices of the Philippines.

Marcos will then return to Malacañang for the mass oath-taking of his designated Cabinet secretaries.

A People’s Concert is set Thursday evening as part of Marcos’s thanksgiving to his supporters.

Among those to perform there are world-renowned classical pianist, Cecile Licad, and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra—both were personally hand picked by Marcos.

Screening process

WITH the sheer number of participants expected to witness the inauguration, PNP said it will implement a strict screening process for participants in the event.

Very important guests will undergo prescreening and orientation at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City before being transported to the National Museum for the start of the event.

Meanwhile, the general population will be screened by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

De Leon said they want to prevent the inauguration from becoming a superspreader event for Covid infections.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire urged those who will participate in the event to strictly adhere to minimum health standards (MHS).

She urged people to always wear their mask properly, making sure it covers both their nose and mouth; and to always wash their hands and bring alcohol.

Vergeire also appealed to the attendees to be first fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before going to the inauguration.

PNP and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) will preposition over 9,000 personnel  around the National Museum.

Allowed demonstrations

THE advice on MHS compliance, de Leon said, also applies to groups  expected to hold protests on Thursday in Manila.

The PNP official said demonstrators will be allowed to hold their activities at the designated freedom parks in Manila—Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda, Plaza Moriones, and Plaza Dilao.

“The moment they step out of the area as a group, they will be prevented [by the PNP],” de Leon said.

“We know that the world will be watching us and we would like to showcase how orderly and how disciplined Filipinos are,” he added.

He noted the restriction aims to prevent not only the disruption of the inauguration ceremony, but also the large-scale traffic rerouting scheme being implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the event, which led to the closure of several main thoroughfares in Manila.

Among those affected are P. Burgos Avenue, Finance Road, Taft Avenue, Ayala Boulevard, Gen. Luna Street, and C. Victoria Street.

De Leon said they appreciate the initiative of several cities in Metro Manila to declare June 30, 2022 as a special non-working holiday to minimize traffic movement in NCR during that day.

As of Thursday morning, the local governments of Manila, San Juan, Pasay and Navotas have already declared a special non-working holiday to allow people to attend the inauguration, and to help ease traffic congestion.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes

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