Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday (January 20) as the 46th president of the United States.
Biden took the oath in Washington DC, saying the “will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded”.
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden declared in his speech.
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve,” Biden said.
Biden defeated then incumbent US President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
Trump did not attend the ceremony.
Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris became the first woman to be vice president.
The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency.
Harris also becomes the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the U.S. government.
Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were present to witness the transfer of power.
Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, was in Florida when the swearing-in took place.
The Philippines will maintain “close and friendly” relations with the U.S. under Biden, Harry Roque, spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte said.
“We look forward to having close and friendly relations with the Biden administration,” Roque said.
Though Duterte has spoken positively about Trump when the latter was in office, he has remained critical of American foreign policy.
Duterte’s Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said he sees no reason for the friendship between Duterte and Biden to not materialize.
Duterte “has been widely respected by state leaders, including President Donald Trump, as he manifests the same respect to — and has gained deep and genuine friendship with — them,” Panelo said.
Panelo declined to comment on how the Biden presidency could affect the Duterte administration and the Philippines.
“There are a number of pending matters between the Philippines and the USA on diverse subject matters, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement, as there have been several local commentaries on how the Biden Presidency will affect how the Philippine government will run its affairs, including its campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.
“All discussions regarding these are based on conjectures or surmises and we do not wish to join these commentators in such futile practice,” he said.
What he is sure of, Panelo said, is that the Philippines “is no longer a vassal state to any foreign entity and as such, it will not allow any co-equal power to disrespect its independence.”