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New rights claims board chief to ignore critics

/ 02:43 PM February 19, 2014

Human Rights Victims Claims Board chair Lina Sarmiento. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Retired police general Lina Sarmiento said she would rather focus on her job than heed her critics over her controversial appointment as chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

“Ayaw ko na lang sila patulan, dahil mayroon tayong mandate na dapat gawin,” Sarmiento said in an interview at Inquirer Radio 990 AM on Wednesday.

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(I just want to ignore my critics because we have a mandate to do.)

Sarmiento, the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) first female third level official who held a director rank, was criticized by militant groups for being appointed as chair of the board tasked to facilitate the distribution of compensation for human rights victims under the Marcos regime.

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“Lahat naman tayo, entitled to our own opinion… Ayaw nating madiskaril dahil sa mga ganitong pangyayari,” she added.

(Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion… I don’t want my work to be affected because of this.)

Critics said Sarmiento is not qualified to head the board.

Sarmiento, as former director of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office, “used to deny these human rights violations and in fact defended the PNP from charges of human rights violations.” Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares had said.

Under Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, members of the claims board must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts to heal the effects of human rights violations under the Marcos regime; must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy; and must be known for probity, competence and integrity.

Colmenares also said Sarmiento used to defend human rights violations during the administration of former president Gloria Arroyo.

“In fact, this kind of whitewashing human rights violations is a form of human rights violation itself as it facilitates its commission,” said Colmenares, a torture victim under the Marcos regime.

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Despite criticisms, Sarmiento said she would follow the mandate of the law to provide compensation to human rights victims.

“Sa mga biktima nang pang-abuso ng karapatang pantao, makakaasa po kayo na ang inyong board ay magiging impartial at gagawin ang lahat sa abot ng makakaya ang ipinag-uutos ng batas,” she said.

(We assure human rights victims that the board would be impartial and would follow the mandate of the law.)

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TAGS: Appointments, human rights abuse, Lina Sarmiento, Philippines, Police
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