PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte is not attending the presidential inauguration that would mark the presidency of Joe Biden in the United States.
Instead, Duterte would be sending Manila’s envoy to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez to represent the Philippines in the event today.
In a television interview, Romualdez, however, would rather see the strict health protocols imposed by the US federal government for the presidential inauguration as the reason behind Duterte’s delegation of a representative.
He added that attendance of foreign leaders and top government officials is customary and as such, the Philippine government – as always sees to it that the Philippine Embassy in Washington would be able to make up for the President’s inability to attend such a monumental event.
“As the invited representative of the Philippine government, the Ambassador will be attending in-person the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at the US Capitol on Wednesday, 20 January 2021, together with other members of the Washington diplomatic corps,” the embassy said in a statement sent to the media.
A briefer on the presidential inauguration posted by the US State Department said the event will be a “seriously pared down ceremony” due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
The ceremony, it added, is ticketed and not open to the public, but will be televised and live-streamed, including the presidential parade.
“They have encouraged the public not to attend,” Dr. Lara Brown of George Washington University said in a briefing arranged by the State Department’s Foreign Press Center.
“Elected officials, members of Congress are literally only going to get one guest, so you can imagine that the stands are going to be quite sparse and there will not be many people there,” she said.
Expected in attendance are former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. However, Jimmy Carter, America’s oldest living former president at 96, will not be present due to health reasons.
Interestingly, outgoing President Donald Trump, who contested the election results, is not attending the event, but his Vice President, Mike Pence has confirmed his attendance in lieu of Trump.