MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has left Malacañang, minutes before his successor takes over the reins of the country that the outgoing Chief Executive led for the last 6 years.
Aquino arrived in Malacañang past 10 am on Thursday, June 30, for his first-ever meeting with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte after the latter won in the May 9 elections.
Duterte paid a brief courtesy call on Aquino at the President’s Hall Sala, where they chatted until 11 am.
Aquino and Duterte then headed to the Palace grounds for the outgoing president's departure honors, where Aquino was given a 21-gun salute.
Duterte saw off Aquino, who was with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, then returned to the Palace for his inauguration at the Rizal Hall.
Aquino is headed to the family home in Times Street, Quezon City, where hundreds of neighbors, supporters, and other well-wishers awaited him with welcome banners.
Outgoing Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described the last 6 years as a "fantastic journey" for the Aquino administration, which had been ridiculed early on as a "student council" government.
"This 'student council' arguably did the country right by all counts, by any standards," Lacierda had said.
In speeches and exit interviews after the May elections, Aquino had said that he was leaving office with a smile and his head held high, satisfied with what his administration had accomplished during its term. (READ: The emotional journey of Benigno Aquino III) – Rappler.com