MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said his goal as the country's 16th president is to effect real change in society, and assured that he would do this by adhering to due process and the rule of law.
In his inaugural speech, Duterte said criminality, drugs, and the breakdown of law and order are symptoms of a more virulent social disease in the Philippines - which is an erosion of faith and trust in the country's leaders.
He said the nation's leaders must "listen to the murmuring of the people, to feel their pulse, supply their needs..."
"No leader, however strong, can succeed at anything of national importance or significance unless you have the support and cooperation of the people he is tasked to lead," he said.
Duterte, the firebrand mayor who won on an uncompromising campaign against drugs and crime, noted that some sectors do not approve of his methods to fight criminality.
But unlike his statements during the election campaign which seemed to support extra-judicial killings of criminals, he assured the country that he would follow the law.
"My adherence to due process and rule of law is uncompromising. You mind your work and I will mind mine," he said.
'MALASAKIT, TUNAY NA PAGBABAGO'
The President also reminded the public to subordinate one's personal interests for the common good while showing concern for the helpless and impoverished.
"That change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us. To borrow the words of F. Sionil Jose: 'We have become our own worst enemies and we must have the courage and will to change ourselves.'"
"The ride will be rough but come join me just the same."
The President also ordered all department secretaries and heads of agencies to reduce requirements and processing time of all applications "from the submission to release."
He also told them to refrain from changing and bending the rules of government contracts and transactions already approved and awaiting implementation.
"Changing the rules when the game is ongoing is wrong. I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions," he said.
Duterte, who won with a six-million-vote lead over his closest rival Mar Roxas, said he was elected to the presidency to serve the entire country and "not the interest of any one person, or any group or any one class."
"I serve everyone and not only one...I have no friends to serve. I have no enemies to harm," he said.
Going off his prepared speech, he then asked. "Why am I here?"
"I am here. Why? Because I am ready to start my work for the nation," he said.