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Village chief ready to swear in Robredo as VP in historic oathtaking

MARAWI CITY (June 24, 2016) -- An excited village chief will swear in Vice President-elect Leni Robredo on June 30, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA) report in Calabanga, Camarines Sur, on Friday.

Barangay chairman Ronaldo Coner, 51, of Punta Tarawal, Calabanga town in Camarines Sur province, is ready to swear in Vice President-elect Leni Robredo on June 30, said the PNA.

Robredo's oathtaking before a village chief is considered historic as it would be the first ever for a newly elected vice president.

“I was stunned when I was named on the TV newscast. I cannot believe and I cannot sleep at that time, thinking why among the village chiefs in the country I was selected,” Coner was quoted as saying. For the meantime, he stopped his buy-and-sell business of steamed crab until after the inauguration.

Coner said he was told by Robredo’s staff to be ready and prepare himself for the oathtaking ceremony which will be held in Metro Manila. He was given a copy of the oathtaking text to practice on.

The barangay chairman was also told that in the event President-elect Rodrigo Duterte changes heart for a joint inauguration. It was only in their village that all of Robredo’s rivals in the vice presidential race got zero votes.

After the announcement that he will administer Robredo's oathtaking, he said he went on hiding at the house of his cousin in Naga City.

“I went on hiding because I do not know yet what to say before the media because I was not informed. But later, I decided to just go home and face the media who, my wife said, were looking for me,” he said.

Village Councilor Salvacion Templonuevo, 72, said all the major television networks had visited Punta Tarawal since the announcement.

“It is a great honor that our village chief was chosen to administer the oath-taking of Vice President Leni Robredo. You see, our small village is chosen among thousands of villages all over the Philippines,” Templonuevo said.

Coner entered politics at 23 years old when he was elected to the village council in 1988.

He became barangay secretary after one-term in the council; voted twice as the village chief of Punta Tarawal in 1998 and 2001 elections but was defeated in his last term and made a comeback in 2013 and retook the seat of the punong barangay.

On June 17, he was accompanied by Robredo’s staff who bought for him a new Barong Tagalog, black slacks, shoes and belt which he will wear during the oathtaking ceremony on June 30.

Robredo’s oathtaking before a village chief is the first-ever ceremony for a newly elected vice president which, according to Camarines Sur fifth district Rep. Salvio Fortuno, is within the bounds of Republic Act No. 10755.

Fortuno said R.A. No. 10755, of which he is the principal author at the House of Representatives, was signed into law by President Aquino on March 29 this year, amending Executive Order No. 292, or Administrative Code of 1987, to include punong barangay chairs among the authorities who could swear in public officials, including the President.

Earlier, retired Provincial Prosecutor Agapito Rosales warned that the jurisdiction of the village chief is within the village he is serving, and that should the ceremony be held outside of the village it will have “no force and effect” and Robredo will remain to be a de facto official. MNY/tnrs (With story from PNA)
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