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Marcos Jr. takes oath as president using Bible from father's inauguration

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 01, 2022 11:42 am Updated Jul 01, 2022 12:58 pm

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. took his oath as the country's 17th chief executive using the Bible his father and namesake swore on during his inauguration in 1965.

The National Library of the Philippines shared a video of the process it took to repair and recondition the Bible that Marcos Jr. used during his oath-taking on June 30 at the National Museum of Fine Arts.

The 1987 Constitution, however, doesn't actually require using a Bible during the swearing-in ceremony. But with a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines, past presidents have made it a point to do so and it has since become tradition.

The tradition started on Dec. 30, 1953, during the inauguration of Ramon Magsaysay at the Independence Grandstand (now Quirino Grandstand) in Manila.

Ramon Magsaysay takes his oath as the seventh president of the Philippines.

During the oath-taking, the president traditionally lays their left hand on a closed Bible and raises their right hand, as they state the following:

“I, (name), 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.”

In case of affirmation, Article VII Section 5 states that the last sentence is omitted. This is in line with the principle of the separation of Church and State, as well as Section 5 of the Bill of Rights which states that no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

There's also a Filipino version of the oath, which Marcos Jr. used during his inauguration:

"Ako, si (pangalan), ay taimtim na nanunumpa, na tutuparin ko nang buong katapatan at sigasig ang aking mga tungkulin bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas, pangangalagaan at ipagtatanggol ang kaniyang Konstitusyon, ipatutupad ang mga batas nito, magiging makatarungan sa bawat tao, at itatalaga ang aking sarili sa paglilingkod sa bansa. Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos."

Personal or historical significance

The Bible the Philippine presidents used for their oath-taking also has a personal or historical significance.

In the case of Magsaysay, he used two Bibles, one each from his mother and father's side.

In 1965, Marcos Sr. also used two Bibles, one owned by his father Mariano Marcos and another given by his wife Imelda.

In 1986, Corazon Aquino swore on a Bible owned by Aurora Aquino, the mother of her husband Ninoy. Her son Noynoy used the same Bible during his inauguration in 2010.

Corazon Aquino takes her oath of office as her mother in law Aurora Aquino holds the Bible for her.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 took her oath using the Bible used by her father Diosdado Macapagal in 1961.

Last 2016, Rodrigo Duterte swore on the Bible of his mother Soledad.

Bible holders

The tradition also includes significant people holding the Bible for the president during oath-taking.

The Bible holders are usually the spouses. In the case of Fidel V. Ramos, his wife Amelita Ramos held it for him during his inauguration in 1992. Ramos, though he's the first non-Catholic president of the country, still kept with the tradition.

Fidel V. Ramos and his wife Amelita.

In 1998, Loi Estrada held the Bible for her husband Joseph “Erap” Estrada, while Mike Arroyo held the Bible for his wife Gloria.

Other presidents also opted for different personalities to hold the Bible for them, like Carlos Garcia, who in 1957 had Bohol Gov. Juan Pajo, a fellow Boholano beside him.

Corazon's mother in law Aurora held the Bible for her, while Noynoy had Jesuit theologian Fr. Catalino Arevalo.

Duterte's youngest daughter Kitty took the role of a Bible holder.

Rodrigo Duterte swears on the Bible being held by his daughter Kitty.

As for Marcos Jr., the Bible he swore on was placed on a lectern while his wife Liza and children Sandro, Simon, and Vincent were beside him.

The Bible Marcos Jr. used in his inauguration is the same one used by his father and namesake.