What PH presidents promised in their inaugural speeches 2
From left: Ramon Magsaysay, Diosdado Macapagal, and Manuel Roxas on their presidential inauguration. Photos from Wikimedia Commons

From Aguinaldo to Duterte—what PH presidents promised the nation in their inaugural speeches

As the nation makes way for a new leader, we look back on the pledges of presidents past
ANCX | Jun 29 2022

It is the first official message from a country’s new leader. Meant to inspire, motivate, and set the country’s trajectory. Curb corruption; bridge the gap between the rich and the poor; uphold peace, justice and unity; establish a clean, honest and efficient government. These pledges always seem to make it to inaugural speeches (although General Aguinaldo’s doesn’t really express a promise but instead locates the status of a nation and how it’s expected to move forward). Whether they are fulfilled or not is another story. As the historian Ambeth Ocampo wrote in his column on the subject: “All these inaugural speeches are best read in retrospect if only to check what came to pass and what remained broken or unfulfilled promises.” 

So on the eve of the inauguration of a new Philippine President, here are excerpts from inaugural speeches past—from Aguinaldo to Duterte, Malolos to Malacañang. 

President Emilio Aguinal Official Portrait at Malacañang Palace
President Emilio Aguinaldo's official portrait at Malacañan Palace. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

General Emilio Aguinaldo

“We are no longer insurgents; we are no longer revolutionists; that is to say armed men desirous of destroying and annihilating the enemy. We are from now on Republicans; that is to say, men of law, able to fraternize with all other nations, with mutual respect and affection. There is nothing lacking, therefore, in order for us to be recognized and admitted as a free and independent nation.”

[Delivered at Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan, on January 23, 1899]

Manuel Quezon
First inauguration of Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon at the steps of the Legislative Building in Manila on November 15, 1935. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Manuel L. Quezon

“We shall build a government that will be just, honest, efficient, and strong so that the foundations of the coming Republic may be firm and enduring—a government, indeed, that must satisfy not only the passing needs of the hour but also the exacting demands of the future.”

“The establishment of an economical, simple, and efficient government; the maintenance of an independent civil service; the implantation of an adequate system of public instruction to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience, and vocational efficiency; the safeguarding of the health and vigor of the race; the conservation and development of our natural resources… Having been elected on the virtuality of that platform and the policies enunciated by me in the course of the presidential campaign, I renew my pledge faithfully to carry them into execution.”

“Goodwill towards all nations shall be the golden rule of my administration… Amity and friendship, fairness and square deal in our relations with other nations and their citizens or subjects, protection in their legitimate investments and pursuits, in return for their temporary allegiance to our institutions and laws, are the assurances I make on behalf of the new government to Americans and foreigners who may desire to live, trade, and otherwise associate with us in the Philippines.”

[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, on November 15, 1935]

José P. Laurel
Jose P. Laurel giving a speech after his inauguration as President of the Second Philippine Republic on October 14, 1943. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Jose P. Laurel

“Our first and foremost duty as a free and independent nation is to maintain peace and order within our borders. No government worthy of the name will countenance public disorder or tolerate defiance of its authority. Unless we enjoy domestic tranquility, we cannot prosecute to a successful conclusion those labors essential to our daily existence and to our national survival. Without public security, our natural resources will remain undeveloped, our fields uncultivated, our industry and commerce paralyzed; instead of progress and prosperity, we shall wallow in misery and poverty and face starvation."

“In the ultimate analysis, all government is physical power and that government is doomed which is impotent to suppress anarchy and terrorism. The Constitution vests in the President’s full authority to exercise the coercive powers of the State for its preservation. In order to make those powers effective, my administration shall be committed to the training, equipment and support of an enlarged Constabulary force strong enough to cope with any untoward situation, which might arise.”

[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, on October 14,1943]


Sergio Osmeña

“We shall, as a free and self-respecting nation, fulfill our duties not only to ourselves but also to the entire freedom-loving world by participating in the establishment and preservation of a just peace for the benefit of mankind.”

“Our path of duty is clear. It is the path of national honor, dignity, and responsibility. It was laid out for us by the great heroes of our race—Rizal, Bonifacio, and Quezon. We shall move forward steadily to reach our goal, maintaining our faith in the United States and fully cooperating with her.”

[Delivered at Washington D.C., on August 10, 1944]

The first inauguration of Manuel Roxas.
The first inauguration of Manuel Roxas on May 28, 1946. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Manuel Roxas

“This government is pledged to maintain the rights of the underprivileged with all its strength and all its power. It will see justice done to the poor, the lowly, and the disinherited… The show of arms and terror will not daunt us. Defiance will not obtain from us a single additional iota of justice. Justice is absolute and is not to be measured by strength of contention.”

“The government will undertake to protect each man, woman, and child in the security of his person, of his liberty, and of his property. That protection is an absolute requisite of progress.”

“I recognize that government, in order to maintain respect for law, must in itself bear the unassailable stamp of integrity. Public officials must render public service. That is their duty. That is their responsibility. Every centavo of the people’s money must be spent for the people’s benefit. I intend to maintain these standards during my administration.”

[Delivered in front of the ruins of the Legislative Building on May 28, 1946]

Elpidio Quirino
Vice President Elpidio Quirino was inaugurated as the 6th President of the Philippines on April 17, 1948 at the Council of State Room, Executive Building, Malacañan Palace following the death of Pres. Manuel Roxas. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Manuel Moran.

Elpidio Quirino

“I place myself and my administration at the service of all the people without distinction as to creed, class, or station, and pledge my whole effort to the protection of their fundamental rights, the improvement of their livelihood, and the defense of their free institutions.”

“…I gave the solemn assurance that the Government shall not be wanting in generous appreciation and civic recognition. Sincerity will be met with an equal measure of sincerity, and voluntary submission to authority will be matched by a compassionate regard for the requirements of justice.”

“Our people should not expect me to do anything but what is right, and I expect everyone to support me to the limit in this resolve. I shall give constant battle to graft and corruption and will not tolerate irregularities of any sort under whatever name. Buying one’s way to any political preference, economic advantage, or social distinction will not be allowed.”

[Delivered at the Independence Grandstand, Manila, on December 30, 1949]

Ramon Magsaysay
Ramon Magsaysay took his oath as the 7th President of the Philippines on December 30, 1953. Photo from Philippine Presidential Museum and Library via Wikimedia Commons

Ramon Magsaysay 

“I pledge that we shall extend the protection of the law to everyone, fairly and impartially–to the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered–recognizing no party but the nation, no family but the great family of our race, no interest save the common welfare.”

“‘Land for the landless’ shall be more than just a catchphrase. We will translate it into actuality. We will clear and open for settlement our vast and fertile public lands which, under the coaxing of willing hearts and industrious hands, are waiting to yield substance to millions of our countrymen.”

[Delivered at the Independence Grandstand, Manila, on December 30, 1953]

Carlos P. Garcia
Vice-President Carlos P. Garcia was inaugurated as the 8th President of the Philipines upon the death of President Ramon Magsaysay. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Ricardo Paras at the Council of State Room, Executive Building, Malacañan Palace. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Carlos P. Garcia

“…I serve notice that the war against graft and corruption will continue with unabated zeal without fear or favor. Dishonesty and inefficiency in public service will be dealt with firmly but justly. By the same token, honesty and efficiency should be rewarded generously. In dealing with these things I intend to use preventive measures to minimize, not abolish, punitive measures.”

[Delivered at Luneta, December 30, 1957]

Diosdado Macapagal
Diosdado Macapagal being sworn in as President of the Philippines at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila on December 30, 1961. Photo from Malacañan Palace archives via Wikimedia Commons

Diosdado Macapagal

“The primary function of the President is not to dispense favors but to dispense justice. The presidential oath of office contains the special pledge to ‘do justice to every man.’ These shall not remain empty words, for with God’s help, I shall do justice to every citizen, no matter how exalted or how humble may be his station in life.”

“Never within the span of human memory has graft permeated every level of government… I shall consider it, therefore, my duty to set a personal example in honesty and uprightness. We must prove that ours is not a nation of hopeless grafters but a race of good and decent men and women.”

“We must help bridge the wide gap between the poor man and the man of wealth, not by pulling down the rich to his level as communism desires, but by raising the poor up towards the more abundant life. I shall therefore from this day onward vigorously exert all efforts to increase the productivity of the farmer and the laborer, to teach the common man scientific methods to lighten his burdens, to give land to the landless and in time to place within his means the essential commodities for a decent living.”

[Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila, December 30, 1961]

Ferdinand Marcos
The first inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos on December 30, 1965. Photo from Philippine Presidential Museum and Library via Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinand E. Marcos

“As I take the oath today as president of the republic, I promise you only one thing, that the power of the presidency will be utilized in order to free our people from the bondage of the old weaknesses and vices, and we will lift our people. We will utilize the powers of the presidency in order that we can lift our people to the heaven of progress, peace, and security in this land.”

[Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila on December 30, 1965


“The time is now. In government I pledge the severest leadership in integrity as well as discipline. Public officials shall set the vision for simplicity within the bounds of civility. I ask in turn a response from the privileged. Let us be true to ourselves as the people of a poor nation struggling to be prosperous; whatever our personal circumstances, rich or poor, we are all citizens in poverty.”

“The presidency will set the example of this official morality and oblige others to follow. Any act of extravagance in government will be considered not only an offense to good morals but also an act punishable with dismissal from office.”

[Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila on December 30, 1969]

Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines
Corazon Aquino being sworn in as President of the Philippines at Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986. Photo from Malacañan Palace archives

Corazon C. Aquino

“I am grateful for the authority you have given me today. And I promise to offer all that I can do to serve you. It is fitting and proper that, as our people lost their rights and liberties at midnight fourteen years ago, the people should formally recover those lost rights and liberties in the full light of day.”

[Delivered at Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986]

Fidel V. Ramos
Fidel V. Ramos taking his oath of office as the 12th president of the Philippines on June 30, 1992. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Fidel V. Ramos

“Graft and corruption we will confront more with action results than with words. We will go after both the bribe-takers and the bribegivers. The bigger the target, the greater will be the Government’s effort. We will prove that effective and efficient government is possible in this country. Not just in national administration, but in the governing of our local communities.”

[Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila on June 30, 1992]

President Joseph Estrada
President Joseph Estrada taking the oath of office as the 13th President of the country from Supreme Court Chief Justice Andres Narvasa (left) during a ceremony at Malolos, Bulacan. Photo by Edwin Tuyay, AP/ EPA PHOTO POOL

Joseph Ejercito Estrada

“Kaya sa ating maliliit at mahihirap, narito ang pangako ni Erap: kayo ang unang makikibahagi sa biyaya mula sa ekonomiya, at mula sa pamahalaan. Sa abot ng aking makakaya, bibigyan natin ang masa ng disenteng tahanan, sapat na pagkain, at pag-asa sa hinaharap. Pag-aaralin natin ang kanilang mga anak, at aalagaan natin ang kanilang kalusugan. Sa kanilang mga pamilya, ihahandog natin ang katahimikan, hanapbuhay at dangal sa araw-araw.”

“Ipinangangako ko ngayon: gagamitin natin ang buong kapangyarihan ng pamahalaan upang labanan ang krimen–maliit man o malaki. Walang makakalusot. Itatangi. I will use all the powers of government to stamp out crime, big and small. There will be no excuses, and there will be no exceptions. I have sent friends to jail before, I can send them again.”

[Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila on June 30, 1998]

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (left) taking her oath of office as the 14th Philippine president during inauguration rites in Cebu. Photo by Rolex Dela Pena, EPA

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

“…I come to you today with a mandate from the people to unite the nation and fight for change. I come to you today with a mandate to govern by the clear call of the sovereign people. I pledge to bring you a pro-poor agenda that will lift up our poorest brothers and sisters, invest them with dignity and imbue them with hope.”

“I pledge to you a government that will live within its means and put every spare peso to real work. I pledge to reduce spending where government does not work and increase spending where a government can make a difference for better. And while I am doing that, I will crack down on wasteful and abusive officials and influenced peddlers.”

“I pledge to collect taxes mandated by law even as I stop extortion masquerading as tax collection. Pay your taxes; do not pretend to be innocent when you are caught. I will crack down on tax cheats. And I pledge to do everything necessary to expand the economy, engage it deeper in the world of commerce and advance the interests of our country and our people the world over.”

[Delivered at Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, Mandaluyong on January 20, 2001]

Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III
Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III taking his oath as the Philippines' 15th president at the Quirino grandstand on June 30, 2010. Photo by Val Handumon, EPA

Benigno S. Aquino III

“Kami ay narito para magsilbi at hindi para maghari. Ang mandato ninyo sa amin ay pagbabago–isang malinaw na utos para ayusin ang gobyerno at lipunan mula sa pamahalaang iilan lamang ang nakikinabang tungo sa isang pamahalaang kabutihan ng mamamayan ang pinangangalagaan.”

“Sigaw natin noong kampanya: ‘Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.’ Hindi lamang ito pang slogan o pang poster–ito ang mga prinsipyong tinatayuan at nagsisilbing batayan ng ating administrasyon. Ang ating pangunahing tungkulin ay ang magsikap na maiangat ang bansa mula sa kahirapan, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapairal ng katapatan at mabuting pamamalakad sa pamahalaan.”

“Walang pangingibang-bayan at gastusan na walang wastong dahilan. Walang pagtatalikod sa mga salitang binitawan noong kampanya, ngayon at hanggang sa mga susunod pang pagsubok na pagdadaanan sa loob ng anim na taon. Walang lamangan, walang padrino at walang pagnanakaw.  Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang tong. Panahon na upang tayo ay muling magkawang-gawa.”

(Delivered at the Quirino Grandstand, Liwasang Rizal, Maynila on June 30, 2010]

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte as he is sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines, June 30, 2016. Photo from Presidential Communications Operations Office

Rodrigo Duterte

“I direct all department secretaries and the heads of agencies to reduce requirements and the processing time of all applications, from the submission to the release. I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to remove redundant requirements and compliance with one department or agency, shall be accepted as sufficient for all.

“I order all department secretaries and heads of agencies to refrain from changing and bending the rules government contracts, transactions and projects already approved and awaiting implementation. Changing the rules when the game is on-going is wrong.

“I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions from submission of proposals to negotiation to perfection and finally, to consummation.

“Do them and we will work together. Do not do them, we will part sooner than later.”

[Delivered at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall, Malacañan Palace, on June 30, 2016]