MANILA, PHILIPPINES, July 6, 2010 - Benigno Simeon Aquino III has just been sworn in as the President of the Philippines and is riding a wave of optimism. But can he resurrect the nation's democracy?
With a clear mandate from the electorate, he is in a strong position to institute long overdue reforms. And, unlike his predecessors, he should be able to craft policies without worrying about instability or doubts about the legitimacy of his leadership.
President ‘Noynoy' or ‘P-Noy' -- as he is now fondly called by Filipinos -- has followed a path his late parents took in service to the country. He is the son of two of the most enduring icons of Philippine democracy - Ninoy Aquino, who was assassinated while fighting the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, and President Cory Aquino, the champion of ‘People Power' that eventually toppled Marcos and sparked other freedom movements across the world.
For the first time in 12 years, the Philippines has a head of state whose electoral mandate is beyond doubt. He led his closest rival, disgraced former President Joseph Estrada, by more than 5 million votes.
At his June 30 inauguration, President Aquino spoke to a crowd of half a million Filipinos and millions more watching on TV. His speech was devoid of lofty political rhetoric speech and instead was brief and full of candor. His messages resonated loudly in the hearts and minds of Filipinos who endured 12 years of under two presidents - Estrada and Gloria Arroyo -- who were both accused of corruption, human rights abuses and dictatorial proclivities.
President Aquino opened his speech by recognizing his servanthood to the people. He stated his strength came from the people and that his government exists "to serve and not lord over" the citizens.