SECRETARY Mel Senen Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said he is ready to face charges reportedly filed against him in connection with a face-off between farmers and the police in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, that led to a violent dispersal earlier this month.
Sarmiento made the statement after concerned groups reportedly filed criminal charges against him, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and ranking local police and military officials before the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao on Monday.
“As of now, we have not received a copy of the complaint nor have we received an order from the Office of the Ombudsman to comment on or respond to the alleged charges filed against me and other officials,” he said.
“However, we stand ready to answer all allegations pertaining to the incident if and when required to do so,” Sarmiento added.
The DILG secretary said that based on the reports that he has received, he believes that government actions are defensible and that officials involved will be able to answer or respond to all allegations hurled against them.
“As for myself, I only became aware of the incident after the fact. I personally had no hand in the order to disperse the protesters,” he pointed out.
Immediately after the incident, Sarmiento created two fact-finding panels to look into the circumstances behind the April 1 violence.
He vowed transparency on results of the probe being undertaken by the department, as well as full cooperation of the DILG on the Senate investigation, and now the reported Ombudsman inquiry.
The dispersal left at least three farmers dead and at least 99 policemen injured.