CEBU CITY (Mabuhay) – President Aquino defended his appointment of retired Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Lina Sarmiento to head the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board saying she has the skill and energy to lead the verification and processing of compensation claims of martial law victims.
Sarmiento once headed the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and led the directorate for Police Community Relations before she retired.
“Bakit si Lina? Number one, she is approaching the age of 56, which I think will give her the maturity, parang time for the experience and the necessary physical ability to be able to complete the job in two years. And also to fend off those who would want to sabotage what this law intends to do and the aim for this particular law,” Aquino told reporters after leading the People Power anniversary celebration here.
Aquino said there are “at least two camps” that do not want the board to succeed: those who do not want the government to recognize the abuses committed during the martial rule and another group that allegedly wants to control the compensation funds.
“Sigurado ako na merong at least dalawang kampo na ayaw magkaroon magtagumpay itong board na ‘to. Merong ayaw magpalagay sa kasaysayan, mangumpisal na minsan nagkaroon ng panahon na ang gobyernong tinatag para pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng sambayanan ang nang-api sa taumbayan. Ang purpose of the law is primarily to put officially on the record na nagkamali ang estado o ang gobyerno sa panahon ng batas militar at makabawi doon sa mga naapi,” Aquino said.
“May pangalawang grupo naman na tila ang inaasam-asam ay magkaroon ng control doon sa pondo at hindi… mabigyan maski paano ng pagkilala at kaunting tulong dito sa mga nabiktima.”
Aquino added that Sarmiento is young enough to address the challenge of finishing the task within two years. He revealed another candidate to the board begged off due to old age.
Human rights commission chair Etta Rosales and her predecessor, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, also vouched for Sarmiento.
“All three of us have had experiences with Lina Sarmiento tackling human rights issues, which I think is the essential skill necessary. So she has the skill, she has the physical energy, she has the drive, she has the right direction to be able to accomplish the job in two years or less,” Aquino said.
Aquino also invited critics to look at the track record of the other members of the board.(MNS)