In the limelight: Village chiefs tapped to swear in nat'l officials

MANILA, Philippines – The transition to the new administration has proven itself as unique as how the 2016 elections went. One distinctive point about the ceremonial switch of leaderships is how barangay chairmen are tapped to swear into office elected national officials.

Executive Order Number 292, the Administrative Code of 1987, originally allowed the chiefs of the basic unit of government to administer the oath of an official within a specific area or jurisdiction.

Last March, however, President Benigno Aquino III signed an amendatory law (Republic Act 10755) that removes the restrictions. It effectively allows the barangay captains to lead the oath-taking of national officials, including the President.

Aquino, for his own inauguration in 2010, wanted to take his oath before a barangay captain in Tarlac, although he ended up being sworn in by then Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, whom he later appointed as Ombudsman.

In 2016, here are some of the barangay chairpersons who have been given the responsibility – and the honor – to administer the oath of office of national officials:

 

Regina San Miguel, Quezon City

Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, staying consistent with her pro-poor advocacy, chose Ronaldo Coner to swear her into office. Coner, a 20-year barangay official leads Barangay Punta Tarawal, the smallest, poorest and farthest village in the district of Camarines Sur, where Robredo served as congresswoman.

Aside from Coner, Robredo has also asked Regina Celeste San Miguel of Barangay Mariana in Quezon City, where the Reception House (more popularly known as Boracay Mansion) is located. The newly-renovated property will be used as Office of the Vice President. (READ: 'Quick, simple' inauguration for Robredo in Quezon City)

“Excited, wala akong masabi (I’m speechless),” San Miguel said about her big assignment in an interview with Rappler.

She initially served in her barangay as kagawad (councilor) from 1994 to 1997. She then won as chairperson and served 3 terms from 1997 up to 2010. She worked as chief of staff in the barangay for 3 years before she could run again for another term in 2013.

San Miguel said she has no specific preparations for the event since it will all be done by Robredo’s team. She said all she was told was to wear a simple dress that runs just below the knees.

Admittedly conscious about how she looks, she quipped: “I don’t have a simple dress.” 

On a serious note, she said that she is working on the security of their area since Robredo’s inauguration will be held at the Reception House.

“I coordinate the security for that day. Of course, we do not want to cause traffic. We have to designate parking slots for the visitors. We are also informing our residents what to expect given that there will be this event next week,” she told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino.

 

Imelda Bolivar, Camarines Sur  

Nabua town’s Imelda Bolivar led the oath taking of reelected Camarines Sur 5th District Representative Salvio Fortuno. Fortuno was the principal author of RA 10755 in the House of Representatives.

Bolivar, who is on her first term, is the head of Barangay San Roque, where Fortuno’s house is located. She was previously a barangay councilor, but the chairperson at the time died so she had to assume the position. She ran for the chairmanship and won in 2013.

The 50-year-old mother used to be a housewife, tending to her 3 kids while her husband works as an employee in the municipal hall.

She is proud to share that since she became barangay captain, she has been able to lead several projects in their area.

“Bloodletting para makatulong sa mga tao kung sakaling may mga nangailangan. Meron kaming mga stock sa blood bank. 'Yung mga drainage canal na 'binibigay ng LGU at ni Congressman [Fortuno], marami rin po. Kami ang namumuno [sa project implementation],” she said.

(We led a bloodletting activity to help people in case they are in need of blood. We have stock in our blood bank. We also led the construction of drainage canals [with funds] granted to us by the local government and Congressman [Fortuno].)

 

Engineer Cromwell Kiril Dinlayan, Bukidnon

The head of Barangay 1 in Malaybalay City swore into office Bukidnon 2nd District Representative Florencio Flores Jr. Flores’ family is a resident of his barangay, where their ancestral home also stands.

Dinlayan, an agricultural engineer by profession, hails from a family of politicians. Their family had been in politics for so long, starting from his grandfather, the late Malaybalay City Mayor Lorenzo Dinlayan. The elder Dinlayan also served as assemblyman, vice governor, congressman, and board member before becoming mayor.

Dinalayan was named by his father after Lord Cromwell of England and Russian Orthodox bishop, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Dinlayan said his father, an incumbent provincial board member, loves world history.

 

Rumel Castilla, Bukidnon

Juan Miguel Zubiri made his senatorial comeback distinct by taking his oath before a barangay chairman in Bukidnon. Barangay 5’s Rumel Castilla swore him into office in May at the Bukidnon Folk Arts Theater.  

Unlike Zubiri who comes from a prominent political clan, Castilla said he is the only one in his family to enter politics.

Castilla is a businessman. He supplies squash to Manila and Cebu from a farm that he also owns. He said he is known in his barangay because he lives just a 100 meters away from the barangay hall.

He ran for the first time in 2013, and is now keen on continuing with public service.

 

Not a first

Asking barangay chairmen to lead the oath taking of national officials is not a new practice, to be sure.

In 2013, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao took her oath before Annie Morales of Barangay Santa Cruz of Loreto town.

Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Neri Colmenares in 2013 was sworn in by Apolonio Trinidad of Barangay Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.   

The oath taking of Antonio Trillanes IV for his first term as senator in 2007 was administered by Ruben Gatchalian of Barangay 169 in Caloocan City, where the former rebel soldier is a registered voter. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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