Malacañang on Sunday rejected the appeal of former senator Joker Arroyo to recall the appointment of police Gen. Lina Sarmiento to the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Aquino respects the views of Arroyo, but noted the President’s views were different.
“We respect the views of former Sen. Joker Arroyo, who was an ardent freedom fighter and human rights advocate in the martial law period,” Coloma said on state-run dzRB radio.
“But his views only differ from our President’s views regarding the appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento,” he added
According to Coloma, the President is aware of the issue of human rights as he and his family had suffered human rights violations under martial law.
“As the appointing authority, the President has a thorough understanding and appreciation of the mandate of the Board, having personally experienced the hardships and difficulties imposed by the dictatorship on victims of human rights violations, including his own family,” he said
“Ito ang sinaalang-alang niya sa pagpili ng kasapi ng claims board [He factored this in when he chose the members of the claims board],” Coloma added.
Arroyo had written an open letter to Aquino, appealing to have the President’s senior staff reexamine the basis for the appointment of Sarmiento.
The former senator argued that Sarmiento “cannot have any track record of involvement in or understanding or knowledge of the human rights situation during the martial law period.”
But, Coloma asked Arroyo and the public to give the claims board a chance, saying that they will have only two years to do its job and must get working soonest.
“The law that created the Board [Republic Act 10368] has a sunset clause [section 29]that provides for a limited period of two years, from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations, within which to complete its work. Hence, it is imperative that the Board be allowed to begin its task as soon as possible in order that it may fully comply with its mandate within the required time period,” he said.
“Sa amin pong palagay ay dapat ay bigyan na lang ng sapat na pagkakataon ang mga miyembro ng board na patunayan ang kanilang kapabilidad [In our opinion, we should give the members of the board enough chance to prove their capabilities],” Coloma added
The Palace announced the appointment of the members of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 10368 for the Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, with Sarmiento as its chairperson.
Sarmiento was the director of the Directorate for Police Community Relations and is the second female Chief Superintendent of the Philippine National Police (PNP). She is also the first woman to head a national support unit of the PNP as Chief of the PNP Community Relations Group.
She began her career in police service as a forensic chemist of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police Crime Laboratory in 1980.
Sarmiento retired from police service on January 31, 2014.