By: Olkeriil Ngirudelsang
Individuals including seasoned legal experts have questioned President Surangel Whipps Jr.’s authority to administer oath of office to public officials including ministers Charles Obichang, Kaleb Udui Jr. and Post Master General Santy Asanuma. Oath giving for public officials is read as a duty reserved to justices and not the president.
This is not the first time the legality of the President’s authority to administer an oath of office has been questioned. Last year, a similar dispute arose where a temporary restraining order was obtained against then President Tommy Remengesau Jr. from administering oaths of office to elected Ngarchelong state assembly members.
This civil action 20-118 was later called off as a moot (matter is ended) following a turn of events where then President Remengesau refraining from administering such oath, Land Court Judge Skebong administered the oath of office to Ngarchelong assembly members.
One legal commentator cited 4 PNC section 109, saying it says only members of the judiciary and not the President of the Republic of Palau have the authority to administer oaths and affirmations, take acknowledgments and exercise all powers of a notary republic.
While this has not been tested in the court of law and considering legal counsels questioning the legality of President Whipps practice of oath giving, many in the public are giving a doubting eye to the validity of public officials who got their oath of office by a sitting president and not justice from the judiciary.