Does Aquino still remember his oath of office?


He staged a big funk about being sworn in by then Chief Justice Renato Corona (and substituted then associate justice Conchita Carpio-Morales for the ceremonial task), so we all presume that when Benigno Aquino 3rd finally took his oath as the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, he understood and meant every word he uttered and swore to on June 30, 2010. He intoned then in his baritone:

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as president of the Philippines, preserve and defend its constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the nation, so help me God.”

The oath demands exegesis because of our experience with No.15, and the way words, concepts and meanings have mutated under his erratic governance.

What the President’s oath means
“Faithfully” means loyally and reliably. It should not be confused with the idiom “in good faith,” which became fashionable in our recent public discourse because of the Supreme Court’s decision on the DAP.

“In good faith” has nothing to do with loyalty, and could probably denote its opposite.

Good faith means only a sincere intent to deal fairly with others.

It derives from the translation of the Latin term bona fide.

Courts use the two terms interchangeably.

“Conscientiously” means “painstaking, taking great care.”

It is a world away from the phenomenon/habit of “noynoying,” which became fashionable under the Aquino presidency. “Noynoying” connotes laziness and obliviousness.

“Preserve and defend its constitution” means that the President is duty-bound to preserve and defend the Philippine Constitution. The oath of the US president says “preserve, protect and defend the constitution”; our charter-framers saw some virtue in economy of language.

This is fundamental to presidential duties, because the Constitution is the law of the land. It creates the nation’s governing institutions, including the presidency, and the rules prescribing a political process that these institutions must follow to reach and enforce collective agreement.

Constitutional commission member and author Jose N. Nolledo, in his textbook The Constitution Explained, explains the other elements of the oath as follows:

“Execute its laws” embodies the basic duty of the president, that he is bound to execute the laws of the nation, without fear or favor. No man, no matter how high or mighty he may be, is above the law.

“Do justice to every man” means that the president must execute the law and judicial decisions with fairness and equal treatment to all. Regardless of their status in life.

“Consecrate himself to the service of the nation” means this: The president holds the highest position within the gift of his people, the latter trusting that in offering his candidacy, he is offering himself to the service of the whole nation, not to the service of himself or those close to him.

“The word ‘consecrate’ means ‘dedicate to a sacred purpose or service,’ and sacred means holy and inviolable. In no case must the president violate the sacred duties of being the head of state and government. His service belongs to the people.”

Nolledo concludes his explanation with some pregnant words. “He holds the highest and exalted position of the land as a trust. For if he becomes unworthy of that trust, he must resign because he becomes a disgrace to the presidency.”

Defending the Constitution vs. Aquino
There is a very sound and practical reason why Filipino presidents, judges, legislators, and soldiers must swear to preserve and defend the Constitution.

We are a free and democratic republic because of this charter of our national life. It is what makes us a country of laws, rather than one ruled by mobs or dictators.

If we stray away from the Constitution, we court national peril and decline.

Today, perhaps more than ever, since its ratification in 1987, there is need to defend the Constitution against those who seek to dilute its provisions, skirt its commands, and twist its meaning.

In issue after issue, the Supreme Court has been asked and is being asked by petitioners to interpret the Constitution on the given issue and render its judgment.

We speak grandly about the Congress wielding “the power of the Purse” and about the Executive wielding “the power of the Sword.”

Against these mighty powers, what the Supreme Court and the judiciary gives us and wields is “the power of judgment.”When it speaks, the whole nation must listen.

There is urgency for the defense of the Constitution because the need of the hour is to protect it. Today, we must also protect it from the one person who should be the main protector of our charter and who takes an oath to “preserve and defend the Constitution” the president of the Philippines.

It is the President who has been found by the High Court to have committed unconstitutional acts detrimental to the nation.

As more facts are found in the inquiry into the Disbursement Acceleration Program, there is emerging a pattern of serial immorality and illegality in the highest posts of government.

The more facts are found, the more President Aquino becomes defensive and adamant that the DAP was good for our people and must continue.

He who never studied a single course in law, and was found to be at most a mediocre student, insists on portraying himself as the equal of our justices in analyzing the issues and judging the constitutionality or legality of the DAP.

He insists on the authority of his government to continue implementing and amassing funds for the DAP.

He whines against the curtailment of his powers by the Constitution, as though the charter is itself to blame.

This is very serious, indeed. And it requires the strongest response of our judicial and legislative processes so things can be set to right.

A president, not an emperor
To bring things down to basics, when we elected Aquino president of our republic in May 2010, we did not elect him emperor. We elected him only as the designated head of the executive branch of our government.

Our political system follows the sound principle of limited government—meaning, a government whose powers are defined and limited by a constitution, which includes a Bill of Rights that places limits on the government’s power over citizens.

The best safeguard against abuse in this system is the separation of powers among the three branches of government, and the Constitution‘s internal checks and controls.

It is these checks and controls that the DAP has fundamentally violated. And it is because of these violations that P150-billion of the people’s money has been put at hazard, and could be lost to graft and foolish spending.

When power or authority is used in an unjust and arbitrary way, government becomes tyranny.

When a few individuals in positions of authority use their positions to gain more power over the people and the treasury, you have an aristocracy, not a democracy.

What is at stake in this great issue in our public life today is nothing less than the nation’s “vital interests.”

What are those vital interests? The great Walter Lippmann said, “They are those interests which the people of the nation are agreed they must defend at the risk of their lives.”

The Constitution and the national treasury are among those vital interests. This we all know now.


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  1. puro mga kurap ang mga nakaraang gobyerno at husgado hangang sa ngayon ngayon sinusugpo ni pnoy .wag ninyong kalimutan si corona ay inagawan niya nang yaman ultimong pamilya nang asawa niya….mga kunsintidor sa mga mag nanakaw nang kaban nang bayan .ang madlang pilipino ay madaling bilhin…
    bakit pagkeyayaman nang mga husgado?saan galing ang mga pera nila.nagtatanong lang sa mga taong matatalino…

  2. Aba, doon sa nag komento sa “So help me God” na nais pa yatang idahilan sa di-pagtatagumpay ni PNoy sa pagtupad ng tungkulin ay baka nakakalimot po kayo sa kaakibat na pasubali na nagsasabing, “Do your part and God will do His” – no more, no less. Kun ayaw mo, huwag mo. Kung ayaw kang pasaklaw sa katarungan ng Diyos, malaya kang gawin ito sapagkat nilikha ka N’yang may malayang kalooban at gamitin ito sa harap ng isang hinaharap na isang bagay na dapat mong desisyunan. At ang kalayaang ipinagkaloob sa bawa’t tao ay nararapat lamang gamitin sa mabuti. Kaya, sino mang di kumporme ay tadaan n’yo ang sabi ni Hesus sa kanyang mga alagad nang S’ya’y lisanin ng marami N’yang taga-sunod: “Ako ba’y lilisanin na rin ninyo?” Sumagot si Pedro: “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life.” That was 2000 years ago, and today, sa kasalukuyang panahon dito s’ating bayan, ‘yong mga “MAMBUBUTAS at mga SENATONG naman ay ganito ang sinagot “loyalty check ni … (alam n’yo na kung sino)… “at saan kami pupunta, ikaw lamang ang may DAP at PDAP!!! Tayong mamamayang Pilipino lang ang may karapatang sumigaw ng: SO, HELP US GOD!” sa harap ng karumal-dumal na pagpapahirap na dinaranas natin ngayon dahilan sa kagagawan ng PENOY at BALOT sa Malakanang.

  3. Long live President Benigno “Noy” Aquino we are very proud being your boss. Keep up with your good work for the sake of the Filipino race.

  4. “Does Aquino still remember his oath of office?” “Heaven knows, Mr. Allison!”, Mr. Makabenta, unless he had fallen into a kind of “psychogenic fugue”; or, just “pretending, just pretending”… to make it sound more musical! Don’t you think it would do well for PNoy to submit himself to a thorough clinical check up? Well, just in case…

  5. Pnoy has a good memory. Just way too short though. worse, he’s got selective amnesia.

  6. PNoy would not know and understand the constitution even if it was read to him word for word or explained to him line for line or sentence for sentence. hell, he could not even understand why DAP was wrong even after 13 justices of the supreme court said it was illegal. even worse it was far more harder for him to understand why it was 13-0 or in other words, unanimous on the part of the supreme court. well what would one expect from a C student? as much as he smokes, one would assume that he’s all smoke in his lungs. even worst, in his brain. i would not be surprised if he would also question the graphic warnings on a cigarette pack.

  7. If there was a principled statesman in that meeting, the likes of Legarda and the rest of the Senatongs, and may I include Binay for that matter, not to mention the Nuns. They should have stood up and walked out when Abnoy was chastising the SC Magistrates.
    As expected they all humbled themselves by clapping and shaking the hand of the tyrant. What hypocrites it seems they are from the same ilk. SHAME!!

  8. Benigno KUHA-KO AKIN-NA on

    Iba ang nasa isip ni PeeNoy habang nanunumpa during his oath of office in Luneta – “ang makaganti sa mga kalaban”.

  9. Jacinto Decena Jr. on

    Where are those very vocal persons during the past situation like this, Riza Hontiveros, Teddy Casino etc. They are already an ally of BSA. That is why they are now quiet and keeping their mouth shut.
    Their true colors came out, a yellow cronies.

  10. jesus nazario on

    A movement MUST be formed which can be called DEFCON (Defend the Constitution) for our nation is in great danger from very few people who have gone berserk just to save their skins resorting in the desecration of the Constitution with impunity.

  11. Thank you for bringing up this topic of the inaugural oath of office.

    However, your exegesis of, “I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties” missed the most important word, the verb ‘fulfill.’ The words you did explain are the adverbs to this verb.

    A president who merely preserves and defends the constitution, executes the laws, does justice to every man, and consecrates himself would be unsatisfactory to the people. Such a presidency would be a caretaker government.

    It is through difficult reform, dealing with opposition, addressing criticism, daily judgment calls, and yes even some discretionary spending that a presidency fulfills its mandate.

  12. that bsa remembers his oath of office, granted. but understanding it is a totally different matter as demonstrated by what he has been doing ever since he took his oath of office. serve, defend and protect his and his cronies’ personal interests that’s what!!!

  13. What constitution that make PDAF and DAP unscontitutional,can somebody answer that,Maybe your friend Corona can answer it,Mr.Macabenta.

    • eagle, akala ko isa kang magiting na aguila, pero sa
      sinabi mo, isa ka lang palang sisiw na pipit. Your like penoy
      who needs to enroll in his own K12, kahit sa last 11, 12yrs nalang
      para malaman ninyo na kung may conflict gaya ng ginawa
      ni Panot, the constitution prevail. At para maka intindi ka kahit
      katiting at di ka magmukhang tangga basahin mo nalang
      ang column ni Prof emeritus briones sa issue ngayon.

  14. victor m. hernandez on

    Limang Importanteng Puntos ng Korte Suprema ukol sa maling paggamit ng DAP.
    The Supreme Court was kind and generous to the Executive Branch, and above all firm in deciding (13-0) against the continuing illegal practices of DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).
    1. Magmula sa araw (petsa ng Supreme Court decision on DAP) na ito, hindi na puede dahil hindi ayon, at hind pinapahintulutan ng Constitution ang mga illegal na practices na ang inaakalang savings ay ginagamit sa mga projects na walang karampatang appropriation ng Batas (General Appropriation Act, o Supplemental Budget), at hindi dumaan, ne-rebisa, diniskusyonan ng Kongreso at Senado, at gayunding inaprobahan ng Pangulo.
    2. Iyung mga nagawa na ay pinapahintulutan at pinapabayaan na ng Supreme Court na hayaan na lang na nagastuhan na at nagawa na (ayon sa Operative Fact doctrine).
    3. Subali’t kailangan patunayan ng mga gumawa na iyung kanilang action ay ayon sa ‘good faith’. Ito ay hudyat ng Supreme Court sa COA, Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission, na gawin nila ang kanilang obligasyon at tungkulin na ang mga pinagkagastuhan ng pondo ayon sa DAP ay na-aayun sa proceso na ayon sa Batas (Bidding procedures, procurement procedures, at disbursement procedures.
    4. At sa pagkatapos na gastuhin yan, ay mag-sumite at gumawa ng liquidation report na naayon sa Liquidation process nung mga nagastong pondo.
    5. Sa ma-ikling pananalita, sinasabi ng Supreme Court sa Executive Branch na itigil na yan maling pagasta ng pera na galing sa ‘savings’, kuno, dahil saliwat ito sa Constitution.

  15. gabriela silang on

    kayo naman. masyado kayong demanding. nanumpa na nga gusto nyo sundin pa nya ang sumpa nya. he’s incapable of fulfilling that oath and no intention whatsoever.kasumpasumpa talaga.

  16. Thou shall not Steal..I do not think that he steal. Only the group of people who was not able to steal and who steal before keeps on accusing the present president.

    • Hindi nga nag steal ang presidente dahil akala niya sa kanya ang pera…Good Faith eh!!

    • Hindi man siya nagnakaw, kung siya naman ang dahilan kaya
      nanakaw dahil sa eng, eng nga, di ba dapat sipain mo na.
      Kung may security guard ka bang binabayaran para
      magbantay sa bahay mo, at tutulog tulog o nag nonoy noying
      lang, kaya naubos ang malaking halaga sa bahay mo, at
      ng tanungin mo ang sagot sayo, sir di naman po ako nag nakaw,
      Ayaw nga niya ipa audit yung mga releases ng saro di alam
      mo na may itinatago at inaayos pa. Ikaw na lang siguro
      hindi nakaka alam na bayad ka para pumuri.

  17. Unfortunately, on the last sentence ‘So help me God’, Abnoy was relying on God to help him understand and fulfill his promise – but he did not get the help at all. Now, Abnoy can use that as an alibi – God did not help him defend the Constitution.

  18. Jose A. Oliveros on

    PeNoy has been interpreting the word “execute” in his oath of office as “to kill”, and not in the context it was used in his oath which is to perform, to implement.

  19. Dominador D. Canastra on

    From the beginning, even during the campaign for the presidency, President Aquino and His Gang have been cynically treating their vows and oaths.

  20. Samuel Santos on

    Yes, PNoy certainly remembers his Oath of Office. It’s just that, since he took it, he didn’t mean to abide by it.

  21. P. Akialamiro on

    The last tirade of Pres. BS Aquino against the SC completes his image as a person and as president: (1) Unapologetic, as shown in the Luneta masacre; (2) insensitve, as shown during the aftermath of typooon Yolanda; (3) Vindictive, as in the case of CJ Coronna and Divinadera; (4) Biased as in the case of the three senators now accused of plunder; (5) Lack of foresight and wisdom as in the case of DAP, for not having thought of the possible expose’; and, finally, (6) Divisive, as shown by the fact that ‘everyone’ who doesn;t cater to his like or, even his ‘whims’, is an ‘enemy. With all these observations, it seems that the ‘matuwid na daan”, ‘walang mahirap kung walang kurap’ and ‘kayo ang boss ko’ are nothing but, “facades” of an oligarchic leadership. “Puwede ba, wala na’ng bolahan”? We need a true leader and a statesman!

  22. I don’t believe Abnoy has an understanding of the oath he was sworn to. He acts like a despot. He got intoxicated with the power in his hand disregarding the rule of law.

  23. King of DAP PNoy will merely say that he just read it, he did not understood what he was reading. Remember, this man does not have a brain function to understand what he is reading about. Just to review all his speeches or when he talks, many of them are so elementary and conveniently expected. If he does not blame the past administration, he blames the public. And when things go bad in his administration concerning huge and small mistakes of his men and women, he automatically forgive and defend him. The reason why the country is in such a mess for the past 43 years is simple, King PNoy, does not know what he is doing.

  24. Alejo Rosete on

    Very well said and explained, Columnist Yen Makabenta.

    Mabuhay sa inyo and the Manila Times for having an “Exceptional” Journalist like you.

  25. you hit the right and relevant question!…..but who in the cabinet or adviser will be able to remind him of his oath!…

  26. The oath or affirmation is dictated word for word by the Constitution, so no question there. And yes it contains 5 commitments (“I wills”)

    1. Fulfill my duties as president

    2. Preserve and defend constitution

    3. Execute its laws

    4. Do justice to every man

    5. Consecrate myself to service

    The question is, what if commitment #1 conflicts with the others? Commitment #1 is not merely to show up for work and sign stuff.

    I think commitment #1 relates to the mandate of the electorate, the needs of the nation, and the stated agenda (if any) of the administration. It means he or she commits to get needed tasks done that only the presidential power can do, and not merely react to events like a caretaker.

    Being a good and effective president is easier said than done.

    • Edith Gerona on

      Mr. BenC,
      How can commitment #1 be in conflict with the other commitments of the president ?
      And who ever said being president is easy ? That is why it is for the good of everybody, for the Filipino people as well as for the incompetent president Aquino to resign and make way for somebody more competent and more able to do the job of being president.

    • Ms Edith,

      Not that I consider it the best choice of analogy, but for brevity’s sake, consider PNoy’s “no parking” analogy nalang.



    In his speech the other this president said that he cannot not understand the
    decision of the Supreme Court about the DAP. Is this not a proof that as president
    of this country he cannot even understand a simple or a no brainer decision
    such as DAP decision. By his own admission, he clearly is incompetent In the
    today’s Daily Tribune of Charlie Manalo entitled Hyatt 10 Almost Revisited, it
    is clear that this president rejected abad’s resignation to avoid abad squealing.
    He sacrificed his sworn duty mainly to protect himself. This president has a lot
    to hide because if he did let go of abad, then abad will make a repeat of Hyatt 10.