By: Olkeriil Eoghan Ngirudelsang
Concerns have been raised regarding President Surangel Whipps Jr.s’ authority to administer an oath of office to individuals who will hold public office. Legal experts have been commenting on whether an oath of office administered by the president is valid or not.
As previously reported, this significant concern must be clarified whether president has the authority under the law to administer an oath of office to public officials; if not agreements signed and any undertakings performed by those public officials maybe nullified.
Last Wednesday’s press conference, AG Rengiil stated “there is a law; I have not looked at it in a long time, but I think there is a law that states only certain officials can swear in people who will take an oath. I have to take a look into it.”
In September last year, civil action 20-118 was filed by the Special Prosecutor to acquire a temporary restraining order to stop then President Tommy Remengesau Jr. from administering oath of office to Ngarchelong state assembly members.
In the said case of Republic of Palau vs. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, it stated that “pursuant to 4 PNC section 109, members of the judiciary, not the President have the authority to administer oaths and affirmations, take acknowledgements, and exercise all power of notary public” It further claimed that “the Special Prosecutor and the Attorney General each have the authority to administer oaths. However, the attorney general’s power to administer oaths and affirmations is limited for this may only be exercised to accomplish the objectives and carry out the duties of [the consumer protection] chapter. While the president may have some authority over the actions of the attorney general, he may not be able to use her authority to administer oaths” stated the civil action.
While oath giving by the President was challenged last year, Civil action 20-118 became moot since then President Remengesau refrained from swearing in officials and gave way to Judge Skebong to administer the oath of office. Having not been clarified in the court of law, the legality of President Whipps giving oaths of office to public officials is yet to be proven valid.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. had administered oaths of offices to Post Master General Santy Asanuma, Director of Bureau of Public Safety Ishmael Aguon, Associate Justice Honora Remengesau-Rudimch and four part-time justices.