A Facebook post accusing Vice President Leni Robredo’s oath taking on June 30 as “simply ceremonial” has been shared and reacted to over a thousand times over.
The post said that while Brgy. Capt. Regina Celeste of San Miguel, Quezon City, where the new Office of the Vice President is located, was with Brgy. Capt. Ronaldo Coner of Punta Tarawal, Calabanga during the oath taking ceremony, Coner was out of his “territorial jurisdiction.” The post added that this rendered Robredo’s inauguration as null and void since the oath that Coner administered was in Quezon City, not in his barangay. It even suggested that Robredo can “re-take her Oath of Office” with Coner, but it must be in Camarines Sur.
The anti-Liberal Party Facebook page that shared the post even wondered why Robredo did not know the repercussions of her decision to take oath before a Camarines Sur barangay chair when she is a lawyer herself.
Robredo chose to take her oath of office before Coner, chairman of barangay Punta Tarawal in Calabanga town, what is described as the “smallest, poorest and farthest” village in Camarines Sur’s third district, which she served as a representative.
One of those who lauded Robredo for her decision to be sworn into office by a barangay captain, noting that this showed humility on her part, was Camarines Sur Rep. Salvio Fortuno.
“By choosing the punong barangay to administer oath of office to her, VP Robredo recognizes their importance in the delivery of frontline government services to our people as she avoids the pomp and pageantry of the ceremony. Her simplicity and humility really precede her persona,” said Fortuno in a statement.
Fortuno is the principal author of Republic Act 10755, which amended Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of 1987). It states that punong barangays are included in the list of public officials who can administer the oath to public officials, including the President of the Philippines.
The bill was signed into law by former President Benigno Aquino III on March 29.
Fortuno also responded to retired Camarines Sur provincial prosecutor Agapito Rosales’ argument that Robredo’s oath would have “no force and effect” if a barangay chair administered it outside of his or her barangay’s official jurisdiction.
“With all due respect, Prosecutor Rosales’ opinion was based mainly on an already superseded old law (Batas Pambansa 868) enacted in 1985,” he said in a statement, as quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Batas Pambansa No. 868 states, “The Punong Barangay is hereby authorized to administer oaths of office within the province or city where his barangay is located to elective public officials for the purpose of qualifying to the office for which said officials have been elected.”
Fortuno said that this law has been amended and it “intentionally removed the phrase that limited the area or jurisdiction where the barangay chair could validly administer the oath of office to give leeway to the choice of the elected public official, especially if he or she is the President of the Philippines.”
He added that the amendatory law, RA 10755, he filed simply states, “The punong barangay is authorized to administer the oath of office of any government official, including the President of the Philippines.”
“If the intention is still to limit the area or jurisdiction where the barangay chair could administer the oath to public officials, what need is there to amend the law?” Fortuno said.
Robredo’s oath taking last June 30 is legal and she does not need to re-take her oath. She is officially the 14th Vice President of the Philippines and will be so for the next six years of her term.
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