When President Rodrigo R. Duterte turns over the reins of government to president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on June 30, he will cease to be the No. 1 citizen of the Philippines but will become a member of the distinguished association of government retirees.
This is the exclusive group composed of living former Philippine executives. It is considered exclusive and distinct because membership in it is not open to all 110 million Filipino citizens.
It has three members at present – former presidents Fidel V. Ramos (June 30, 1992 to June 30, 1998); Joseph E. Estrada (June 30, 1998 to Jan. 20, 2001); and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Jan. 21, 2001 to June 30, 2010).
The group used to have four members but its youngest and fourth member, former president Benigno S. Aquino III (June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2016) died on June 24, 2021.
After the return of Duterte, the country’s 16th president, as a private citizen on June 30, the group will again have four members.
The oldest among the three living presidential retirees is Ramos who turned 94 years old on March 18.
The second eldest is Estrada, 85, and the youngest is Macapagal-Arroyo, 75.
The other deceased former Philippine presidents were: Emilio F. Aguinaldo (1898-1901); Manuel L. Quezon (1935-1944); Jose P. Laurel (1943-1945); Sergio S. Osmeña Sr. (1944-1946); Manuel A. Roxas (1946-1948); Elpidio R. Quirino (1948-1953); Ramon F. Magsaysay (1953-1957); Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961); Diosdado P. Macapagal (1961-1965); Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. (1965-1986); and Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992).
Of them, only Aguinaldo did not have the privilege to reside in Malacañang due to his being a wartime president during the American occupation of the Philippines.
He was only able to enter Malacañang as a prisoner of then Gen. Arthur MacArthur after his capture by American soldiers in Palanan, Isabela in March 1901.
According to the Malacañang Presidential Museum and Library, Malacañang only became the official residence of the Philippine president during the time of Commonwealth President Quezon in 1935.
It used to be the residence of the Spanish governors-general and American civil governors- general in the Philippines. (PNA)