Sarmiento vows not to use DILG, PNP for partisan politics
Newly appointed Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento on Thursday vowed not to use the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the police force for partisan politics in the 2016 elections.
In an interview after the budget hearing of the DILG at the House of Representatives, Sarmiento, LP Secretary General-on leave, said it would not be fair to local officials from different parties under him if he were partisan.
The DILG has direct supervision of the PNP.
“Marapat na mag-leave ako para ang DILG, ‘di magamit sa partisan politics… ‘Di mangyayari ‘yan. Asahan ng publiko na ‘di magagamit ang DILG sa mga bagay na ‘yan,” Sarmiento said when asked about the possibility that appointments of allies of President Benigno Aquino III are used to benefit the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
(Then I will just take a leave from DILG to make sure that it is not used in partisan politics. That will not happen. The public can expect that the DILG will not be used that way.)
He said he as a former mayor experienced harassment by the police because of politics.
“Hindi mangyayari na ang mga pulis magagamit para sa eleksyon. Naging kandidato din ako, naranasan ko ma-harass, ayaw kong mangyari sa iba ‘yun,” Sarmiento said.
(The police will not be used in the elections. I was also once a candidate and I experienced being harassed, and I don’t want others to experience it.)
He said he was a mayor at the time of the late Interior Sec. Jesse Robredo’s death due to a helicopter crash.
“May mga existing na programa— nung buhay pa si Jesse Robredo, ito yung mga bagay na aming napag-uusapan that the DILG will provide us noong mayor pa lang kami. Naumpisahan niya ito kaso lang bigla siyang nawala kaya nga sa burol niya, hinawakan ko ang coffin niya at sabi ko, ‘Kung kelan tayo nagsimula at tsaka ka nawala,'” Sarmiento said.
(There are existing programs when Jesse Robredo was still alive—these were the programs we discussed the DILG will provide us when we were still mayors. He already started implementing these programs, but he died. I told him during his wake, “Just when we have gotten the ball rolling, you have left us.”)
Sarmiento took over the DILG post after Manuel “Mar” Roxas II resigned to pursue his presidential bid under LP in 2016.
Sarmiento was Calbayog city mayor from 2001 to 2010. He was vice mayor from 1992 to 1995. He was also secretary general for the League of Cities of the Philippines from 2004 to 2010.
The DILG has a proposed P124.153 billion budget for 2016, up from its approved P104.567 billion budget in 2015.
The appropriations committee dispensed with the interpellation of lawmakers over the budget owing to the fact that Sarmiento had just been appointed to the DILG post.
“It’s been our tradition to dispense with the budget briefing of a new member of the Cabinet. We support our former colleague. We’re confident he will lead the DILG with utmost dedication, loyalty and integrity. He deserves our support so we should give this day to honor to honor him,” Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
Sarmiento said he would only be deemed resigned from his post once he has taken his oath of office.
“I’m going to miss this House,” Sarmiento told his colleagues during the budget hearing. Marc Jayson Cayabyab/IDL
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