Aquino will take oath in Tarlac with a Barangay Captain?

SENATOR Benigno Aquino III, the apparent winner in the May 10 presidential election, he said that he would take oath rather than having an oath with a chief justice that was assigned by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Actually the barangay captain has no barong yet to wear to the oath of Aquino..

Aquino opposes Arroyo’s appointment of Associate Justice Renato Corona to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who retires on May 17, saying it violates a constitutional ban on election-period appointments.

“I think his appointment will be questioned at some future time… At the end of the day, I do not want to start out with a question mark on the validity of my oath of office,” Aquino told reporters at Tarlac Funeral Homes.

Aquino was attending a wake for retired Col. Arnulfo Obillos, who was killed in a poll-related shootout in Cavite with police. He and his running mate Senator Manuel Roxas II held the news conference in a nearby chapel.

Aquino likened Corona’s appointment to an “insurance policy” for Mrs. Arroyo, whom Aquino has vowed to investigate for any acts of corruption in office.

“She probably assumes she’ll be facing a whole ton of cases… [and] she is looking for sympathetic or friendly faces from those who will try her case,” he said.

It is traditional for the chief justice of the Supreme Court to swear in the incoming president at the Luneta in Manila, but there is no law or constitutional provision requiring it. The Constitution merely spells out the oath that the president and vice-president must take.

Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, took her oath at the Club Filipino in San Juan in 1986, while her rival for the presidency, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in at the Malacañang Palace.

A Palace spokesman said Aquino may take his oath before any other officer, but he could not refuse to recognize Corona as the next chief justice because Mrs. Arroyo followed the law when she appointed him.

In a radio interview, presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the incoming president must follow the law whether he liked it or not, adding the public would judge Aquino by his actions.

In a separate interview, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said it was unlikely that Mrs. Arroyo would heed Aquino’s call to withdraw Corona’s appointment because she was within her rights to appoint him.

Mrs. Aquino’s former election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, told radio dzBB that Aquino’s plan not to take his oath before Corona would be an embarrassment for the country.

Breaking from the traditional oath-breaking ceremony would send the wrong signal and tarnish the Philippines’ image.

In a separate press conference Friday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel said he had suggested to Aquino that he take his oath before “the lowliest barangay official’’ to demonstrate his concern for the poor.

He said Aquino could revoke Corona’s appointment once he became president, but acknowledged that could create a constitutional standoff between the executive and judicial branches of government.

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