MANILA - Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Undersecretary Manolo Quezon on Thursday confirmed that this is the first time the country's highest elected officials will be inaugurated separately.
"First time. The closest case would be in 1986 when Tolentino did not attend FM's swearing-in held at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañan Palace. I believe Tolentino claimed later he was sworn in separately a few days prior to that, but you would have to double-check press accounts. But definitely this is first time separate ceremonies for regularly elected president-elect and VP-elect," said Quezon, a known historian.
Quezon, however, pointed out that nothing requires a joint oath-taking of the president and vice president.
"Actually a president-elect can theoretically do what he pleases, because the Constitution only specifies taking oath at 12 noon and the text of the oath, but nothing on where or how. The only limits might be public expectations and of course the weight of tradition. Even in protocol, we forget a head of state, he can very well redefine protocol the only limit being whether it will alienate others," he said.
The camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed that he prefers separate inaugurations, citing space constraints at Duterte's preferred venue in Malacañang.
Duterte wants a simple ceremony, ruling out the Quirino Grandstand which has been the venue for most presidential inaugurations.
READ: No Leni in 'simple' Duterte inaugural, says aide
Should it happen, Duterte will only be the second regularly elected president to take his oath inside the Palace.
"This will also be the second swearing in to be held in Rizal Hall, the first was FM (Ferdinand Marcos) in 1986. In Kalayaan, Elpidio Quirino and Carlos Garcia were sworn in but that was upon the sudden demise of their predecessors," Quezon said.
An ally of Vice President-elect Leni Robredo criticizes the semblance of disunity created by the separate inaugurations of the country's highest officials on June 30.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, one of Robredo's congressional colleagues and partymates in the Liberal Party, said the separate inaugurations for the incoming president and vice president send a message of distrust.
"Tanggapin natin na prerogative yan ng incoming president. Masama ang loob ko 'di lang bilang LP kundi bilang mamamayan. Gusto mo ang simulain na kahit galing sa ibang partido, itong nahalal, makita may spirit of unity," he said.
"Yung paghiwalay ng inauguration, may mensahe na gusto parating, wala pa siguro tiwala."
Baguilat, however, continues to hope that Robredo and Duterte will eventually get to work together and build some confidence in each other.
"We were hoping when they settle in, ma-build up yung trust, eventually mabigyan ng role si VP Leni," Baguilat said. "It's going to be a personal thing between the VP and the president.
NO WORRIES, BUT...
Baguilat reiterated that the Duterte administration need not worry about the LP, which, critics have claimed, is working to sneak back into the Palace by installing Robredo as president.
"Una, ang daming members ng LP nagsilapatan na. Karamihan sa naiwan, gusto sumama sa majority... Gusto namin mag-succeed itong administration.
"LP doesn't have machinations endangering the Duterte presidency. Ultimately nasa sa tao [yun]. The people have spoken. Lahat tayo punta sa administrasyon ni Duterte. Kung maganda yung pamamalakad, tuloy-tuloy yan hanggang 2022, but ang kasaysayan, pag 'di maganda ang pamamalakad, nagkaka-EDSA Revolution, People Power. You cannot also discount it. Sana 'di mangyari. Nobody wants that to happen."
Meanwhile, Robredo's transition team is meeting with the local government of Quezon City at the QC Reception House in New Manila.
The reception house, owned by the local government, is Robredo's preferred office. Both sides are expected to discuss the terms for the rental of the place.