Duterte takes his oath as 16th President of the Philippines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines at noon on Thursday.

Looking uncomfortable in a formal Barong Tagalog, Duterte arrived at the Malacañang palace exactly at 10:25 a.m., earlier than expected. He climbed the main staircase of the palace and was welcomed at the top by outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.

Duterte took his oath before Supreme Court Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, his law fraternity brother, inside the Rizal Hall of Malacañang.

This was followed by his 15-minute inaugural address, which served as Duterte's “promise speech” to over 100 million Filipinos.

“The ride will be rough but come and join me just the same. Together, shoulder to shoulder let us take the first wobbly steps in this quest,” Duterte said.

He said the biggest problem of the country is the people's lack of faith in the government, which his administration will address.

Also read: President Duterte vows to restore Filipinos' faith in government

Duterte also issued his first directive as president to all department secretaries and heads of agencies: “Remove redundant requirements, and compliance with one department or agency shall be accepted as sufficient for all."

This order targeted government red tape – a universal complaint of ordinary Filipinos, which also breeds corruption.

Amid fears his presidency would disregard the law in his fight against drugs and crime, Duterte said he knows "what is legal and what is not" and urged the Congress, Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to “allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate” – a request to give him some elbow room to perform his tasks.

He assured them he has uncompromising adherence to the due process and the rule of law. “You mind your work and I will mind mine,” he said.

After his much-applauded speech, Duterte was given full military honors as the country's new leader. There was also a reception line for foreign diplomats.

The presidential swearing-in rites was followed by a mass oath-taking of Duterte’s Cabinet members.

Incoming Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told CNN Philippines that the agenda of the first executive meeting covered organizational matters, and typhoon and emergency preparedness, among others.

More than 600 guests – government officials, diplomats, Duterte's family members, campaign donors, and select supporters – filled Rizal Hall.

To keep the inaugural rites and the reception simple and frugal, guests were served monggo soup, smoked fish, durian tartlet, banana fritters, pandesal, kesong puti, longganisa and lumpiang ubod, plus mango and dalandan juice.

LOOK: All set for Duterte inauguration

CNN Philippines' Pinky Webb and Ina Andolong contributed to this report.