Unconstitutional oath-taking and assumption?
AT THE risk of being branded a killjoy, I could not help noticing that Leni Robredo took her oath as vice president at around 9 o’clock in the morning or hours before noon of June 30, 2016, thereby provoking an interesting constitutional question.
Couched in unequivocal language, the 1987 Constitution provides that “The president and the vice president shall be elected… for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the 30th day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter.” And that “The president-elect and the vice-president-elect shall assume office at the beginning of their terms.” (Sec. 4 and 7, Art. VII) This is the clear mandate of the Constitution from which there can be no deviation.
Accordingly, the vice president-elect shall take his/her oath to assume the Office of the Vice President at precisely 12 o’clock noon of June 30 because that is the beginning of his/her term as vice president, which is at the same time the end of his/her predecessor’s term. The constitutional design is a simultaneity in the beginning and end of the terms of the vice president and his/her successor.
So, when Robredo took her oath as vice president at 9 o’clock a.m. of June 30, her six-year term as vice president had not yet commenced, while the six-year term of her predecessor (Jejomar Binay) had not yet ended. In actuality, there was at that point no vacancy as yet in the Office of the Vice President which was still occupied by Binay who remained the incumbent thereto until the stroke of 12 noon of June 30 that tolled the end of his term. Verily, Robredo could not have validly assumed the nonvacant Office of the Vice President.
May it be said then that Robredo’s premature assumption of the Office of the Vice President is of dubious constitutionality?
—BARTOLOME C. FERNANDEZ JR., retired senior commissioner, Commission on Audit
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