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Completing Cabinet team is top task as Marcos begins term

FERDINAND “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. took his oath of office as the 17th president of the Philippines before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila on Thursday, June 30, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZJOHN ROSALES

PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. administered on Thursday afternoon the mass oath-taking of the Cabinet members he has so far nominated.

Mr. Marcos has yet to name the chiefs of some departments that have crucial roles in the Philippines’ pandemic recovery.

“I suppose this is the first act of actual work that we will be doing for this administration,” Mr. Marcos said in a speech before the ceremony held  at the presidential palace.

Mr. Marcos, who was sworn in as the country’s 17th president on Thursday morning, started his six-year term without announcing his secretaries for the Department of Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Energy (DoE).

In his inauguration speech that lasted for more than 20 minutes, Mr. Marcos mentioned the global oil crisis, which he partly attributed to the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“Surely, a free world awash with oil can assure supplies or we will find a way,” he said. “We are not far from oil and gas reserves that have already been developed.”

Mr. Marcos also touched on the coronavirus pandemic, mentioning the “gains made and lost, opportunities missed” because of the health crisis that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

The former senator also mentioned climate change, an issue that needs to be addressed by both the DoE and DENR, among and other agencies.

He has also yet to announce the chiefs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

Mr. Marcos, 64, earlier said he would take over the Agriculture department to address the “severe” problems facing the sector.

He gave an emphasis on the need to achieve food self-sufficiency during his inaugural speech, which analysts said lack actual plans.

“Food sufficiency must get the preferential treatment the richest free trade countries always gave their agricultural sectors,” Mr. Marcos said. “Their policy boils down to, ‘Don’t do this, we do. Do what we tell you to’”.

“I’m giving that policy the most serious thought if it doesn’t change or make more allowances for emergencies with long-term effects.”

Among the Cabinet members appointed are: Vice President Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio (education), former SMC Tollways president Manuel “Manny” Bonoan (public works); former Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista (transportation); Bienvenido “Benny” Laguesma (labor); Susan “Toots” Ople (migrants workers); Benjamin E. Diokno (finance); Alfredo E. Pascual (trade); Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla (justice); Ivan John Uy (information and communications technology); Erwin Tulfo (social welfare); Christina Frasco (tourism); and Conrado Estrella III (agrarian reform).

The Philippine economy grew by 8.3% in the first quarter, slightly faster than government expectations, and analysts said that could give Mr. Marcos time to adjust and think of his game plan.

His predecessor, Rodrigo R. Duterte, left a record amount of debt used to bankroll infrastructure projects as well as for the pandemic response. A day before the former president ended his six-year term, the peso sank to its lowest in more than 16 years.—Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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