Human Rights Activists and Martial Law Victims Demand the Removal
of Philippine Constabulary Relic Gen. Lina Sarmiento
from the Martial Law Victims Board

 

Mendiola, Manila

 

February 24,  2014

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Photos courtesy of SELDA - PILIPINAS
           
     
     
     

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February 24, 2014


PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III
President, Republic of the PHILIPPINES
New Executive Bldg., Malacañang Palace Compound
1000 J.P. Laurel Sr. St., San Miguel, Manila

Dear Mr. President,

Our warm greetings to you!

We welcome your move in constituting the HR Victims’ Board of Claims that will finally set the implementation of R.A. 10368 that you signed almost a year ago from now.

However, we are quite dismayed and outraged that the provisions of the law as regards the qualification of the members of the Board of Claims were not diligently followed when you appointed former PNP General Lina Castillo-Sarmiento. Not only does she not, we think, fit the qualifications of the member of the Board of Claims, much less the chairmanship of the said body; but she comes from the institution which the majority of the victims pinpoint as one of those that committed grave abuses against their persons and properties during the dictatorship years and even up to now.

That is why, today, the eve of the anniversary of People Power I that catapulted your mother, former President Corazon Aquino; and yes, even you; we are here at the foot of the historic Mendiola bridge AGAIN, EVEN IN OUR SENIOR YEARS, to express our protest at your appointment of former PNP General Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as head of the Victims’ Claims Board. Please understand that her presence in the said body will not inspire respect or confidence in the hearts of the victims whose applications, with all their personal details, the Victims’ Claims Board will process.

There are members of your yellow army who may have been victimized during martial law but are now your administration’s apologists and scoff at our righteous indignation against your action and consider it as something we are afraid of because maybe upon Gen. Sarmiento’s use of her investigative skills, fake claimants will be found out among our ranks. We tell these advisers of yours to perish such thoughts because our years as being human rights defenders investigating human rights violations since martial law up to now have led us to the conclusion that there are very few among our police forces with such skills and that many of them are being used by elements of the AFP to whitewash the cases by bungling the investigations.

In the same breath that you ask us to give General Sarmiento a chance, we ask you TO PLEASE GIVE THE VICTIMS A CHANCE. For far too long have the government security forces including the PNP, lorded it over our political landscape, we think that it is time for the victims to be heard in matters that concern them. R.A.10368 or the Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 has been fought for by the victims for so long; we think that their voices must be heard in the law’s implementation.

Thank you very much for your time and we hope that we, the remaining victims of martial law, who fought very hard a very lonely, oftentimes, thankless battle to let the dictatorship account for its sins against the Filipino people, can be listened to at this time. Mr. President, please be informed that as long as we are alive, we will always struggle for the Filipinos’ collective and democratic rights. On behalf of the National Executive Board of SELDA, I remain,


Very sincerely yours,

(Sgd) Marie Hilao Enriquez
Chairperson

 

     
           
     
     
     

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RECALL PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY RELIC GEN. LINA SARMIENTO FROM THE MARTIAL LAW VICTIMS CLAIMS BOARD

Press Statement
24 February 2014


We denounce the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento as chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB). After prolonging the formation of the HRVCB for almost a year, the Aquino government made a historical affront to the victims by appointing a former member of the Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of the PNP, as head of the Claims Board. It is not only her credentials as former PC officer that is an anathema to the historic struggle against martial law, but her zero track records of any involvement in asserting human rights nor any understanding or knowledge ofthe plights and struggles of martial law victims during and after the dark days of Marcos Dictatorship.

On 13 February 2014, Malacañang announced the formation of the HRVCB a year after the passage of RA 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III appointed Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, a retired 2-star general of the Philippine National Police as chair of the HRVCB. To complete the members of the board, also appointed are Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Byron Bocar, Aurora Parong, Galuasch Ballaho, Jacqueline Mejia, Glenda Litong, Wilfred Asis and Erlinda Senturias.

The PC and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the main apparatuses of the Marcos dictatorship in implementing the worst of human rights abuses under Martial Law. It is the PC and the AFP that dispersed rallies, “salvaged,” abducted, tortured, arrested and detained thousands of Martial Law activists. Her presence in the Claims Board does not command respect nor confidence in the hearts of the Martial Law victims.

In appointing Gen. Sarmiento, the Aquino government junks altogether the state’s admission of the atrocities and repression used against the Filipino people, the supposed objective of the law. Instead, it promotes into position those who violated the people’s human rights. This is no different from the Pres. Aquino’s appointment of military officials to higher positions under his presidency.

BS Aquino’s Claims Board does not represent the victims of Martial Law. The Aquino government completely disregarded the provision in the law which underlines that members of the HRVCB should have deep knowledge, capacity and experience in defending human rights. Not a single nominee of SELDA, most of them widely known as Martial Law victims and human rights champions, was appointed to the Claims Board. Much to our dismay, CHR Chairperson Etta Rosales and DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima even came to the rescue by saying said that Gen. Sarmiento is qualified for the job.

However the Aquino government justifies it, the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento goes way beyond the issue of qualifications. It is a travesty of justice. It is a conscious effort to discredit and dishonour Martial Law victims. The Aquino government, which has banked on the people’s clamor for justice and change, is trying to push the people’s struggle for justice farther in the sidelines. The appointment of a PC relic to head the claims board is not only considered a grievous insult to the struggle against martial law but a shameless denial of the ideals in asserting freedom and democracy that was highlighted during the first Edsa People Power in 1986.

With its brandishing of human rights violators in the military and the appointment of Gen. Sarmiento, the people who fought the dictatorship cannot expect anything more from the current administration. It is rather just to continue to fight for justice. SELDA demands the immediate recall to Sarmiento’s appointment.

SELDA has formed the People’s Claims Board (PCB).This will be the primary body to stand for the victims of Martial Law. It will ensure that all who suffered atrocities during the Marcos dictatorship shall be recognized and indemnified. The PCB will also ensure that RA 10368 will be implemented. It will formulate an Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) which will be submitted to the HRVCB as basis of the law’s implementation.

The PCB will continue to assert that, based on conclusive presumption, the 2,013 Martial Law victims that were delisted (who were part of the 9,539 members of the class suit against the Marcoses filed in Hawaii in 1986) and thosewho will step forward to make themselves recognized will be rightfully recognized and indemnified.

The PCB is composed of individuals actively in defense of human rights, and were victims themselves. They are Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo; SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez; SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan; former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza; University of the Philippines Prof. Judy Taguiwalo; Dr. Edelina dela Paz; Atty. Kit Enriquez, Atty. Marcos Risonarand Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr.

Martial law victims in the regions of Southern Mindanao, Bicol and Panay launched also similar protest actions to express their grievances on the formation of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

SELDA will continue to fight for justice for the victims of human rights violations.As long as the perpetrators are in power, and the Aquino government continues to implement the same policy of extrajudicial killings, abduction and enforced disappearances, illegal arrest and detention, torture and the wanton use of martial law tactics against the struggling people, we will continue to stand and assert for justice. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800
Jigs Clamor, SELDA national coordinator, 0917-5965859

 

     
     
     
     
           
     
 
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Sarmiento, apologist of human rights violators, has no place in the ML victims’ Claims Board – SELDA

News Release
18 February 2014


“An apologist of human rights violators has no place in the Martial Law victims’ claims board,” said SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez in protest of the appointment of retired PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Enriquez explained that victims of human rights violations do not deserve an unqualified person, much more a representative of State forces, to head what is supposed to be a mechanism to recognize state atrocities during the martial law period.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB), according to RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims and Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013, is the body tasked to evaluate and process the application for claims of the martial law victims.

“The appointment of an ex-PC officer to head the Claims Board is honoring the Philippine Constabulary that committed grave atrocities during the Martial Law regime,” Enriquez said.

The defunct Philippine Constabulary is the forerunner of the current Philippine National Police, which along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines implemented “salvages”, illegal arrest, detention, abduction and torture against people who fought the dictatorship.

Aside from being a PC officer under Marcos, Sarmiento was the former head of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office during the Arroyo regime. “The Macapagal-Arroyo regime had the worst record of human rights violations post-Martial Law. Sarmiento’s position as human rights officer under Arroyo is similarly deplorable,” Enriquez added.

“Pres. Aquino clearly disregards the provisions of the law which enumerated the qualifications of members of the HRVCB. Gen Sarmiento is bereft of credibility, much more, her deep knowledge of martial law atrocities and empathy to the ML victims are questionable being part of the institution accused of rampant human rights abuses,” Enriquez said.

The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013 or RA 10368 states that members of the claims board

must be of known probity, competence and integrity;
must have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos;
must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy.
“We do not see any clear basis for the appointment of Sarmiento; only a conscious effort to discredit and dishonor Martial Law victims. We demand a recall to Sarmiento’s appointment,” Enriquez said.

SELDA formed the People’s Claims Board that will act both as a watchdog and a monitoring body of Aquino’s HRVCB. The priority of the People’s Claims Board is to ensure that real and legitimate martial law victims will not be marginalized.

Members of the People’s Claims Board are former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan, former Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza, UP Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Dr. Edelina dela Paz, Atty. Kit Enriquez and Atty. Dominador Lagare, Sr. ###

Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-5616800

 

     
           
     
     
     

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Aquino’s macabre message an insult

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Philippine Daily Inquirer
February 7, 2014
Edre_Olalia

Nothing personal, but does Lina Castillo Sarmiento “have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” committed during the Marcos regime? No such evidence on record. And such “deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” are mandated by law.

Does Sarmiento “have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy?” Open to serious challenge.

And yet she will head the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board? Why put a woman in uniform, who represents an institution that has historically played its indispensable role in violating human rights, at the helm of a body on human rights? What sort of macabre message is this?

As a Philippine National Police “human rights officer,” she played into the part of the apologist mechanism during the Arroyo administration’s killing spree and the nightmare of disappearances that claimed scores of civilians as victims. Does this record inspire trust and confidence?

And President Aquino had to take a year before he could finally decide to openly dishonor, insult and scoff at the memory and sacrifice of those who raged against the dying of the light.

Incredible callousness on top of signature indolence.

Save maybe for some on the board who may be sincere, those that were at the forefront in the battle against the fascist dictatorship and incorrigible kleptocracy were obviously shut out from any representation by this son of perceived icons of democracy.

Where does the heart of this government lie? Or is it April Fools’ Day?

—EDRE U. OLALIA,
Secretary General,
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,
Maaralin corner Matatag Streets Central District, Quezon City

 

     
           
     
     
     

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Joker Arroyo writes open letter to President Aquino
By Joker P. Arroyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
4:33 am | Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

This is an open letter to the President with an appeal for him to ask his senior staff to reexamine the basis for the appointment of police Gen. Lina Castillo Sarmiento as chair of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board. It is unfortunate that her credentials do not meet the minimum standards, albeit exacting, set under Republic Act No. 10368, otherwise known as the “Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.”

The law requires that the board “shall be composed of nine (9) members who shall possess ‘among other qualifications’ x x x x a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in the efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”

In fine, the board member must have an ingrained stake in the campaign against human rights violations during the period 1972 to 1986, aside from having a profound appreciation of what human rights violations were during that time.

General Sarmiento, whatever her qualifications in the field of human rights violations might be today, cannot have any track record of involvement in or understanding or knowledge of the human rights situation during the martial law period.

The solemn mandate of the RA 10368 to provide reparation and recognition to the human rights victims of the Marcos regime is invested with the gravitas of a history forged in the struggle against a dictatorship. After all, RA 10368 is the culmination of our struggle between on the one hand, the quest for truth, justice and on the other, the condoning of rash and remorseless assaults against freedom and human dignity. And the success or failure of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board depends upon “the known probity, competence and integrity of its members,” a qualification under the act.

The fundamental proposition of RA 10368 is that the human rights violations were perpetrated by the certain members of the Armed Forces and the defunct Constabulary. The appointment of a general from the uniformed services to preside as chair over the adjudication of the claims for reparation and recognition of the human rights victims is a stinging repudiation of our 15 years of struggle for freedom and democracy, which culminated in the national incandescence at Edsa. It is brazen travesty of the historical legacy of the human rights movement that was integral in the people’s crusade against oppression during the Marcos regime.

Mr. President, in your hands lays the final and real vindication for those who suffered indignities in their fight for freedom, but have been consigned to irrelevance by contemporary history’s tendency toward historical amnesia. We appeal for help to nurture our nation’s sense of history. The unsung heroes deserve the long-overdue recognition of a grateful nation.

 

     
           
     
     
     

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On Target | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ramon Tulfo
February 20, 2014


Former police director Lina Sarmiento, the first woman to hold a two-star rank in the Philippine National Police (PNP), has been appointed head of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

The board oversees the distribution of P10 billion in compensation to victims of military abuse during President Marcos’ martial law regime.

Sarmiento who?

Sarmiento’s resumé says she was former director of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office.

As someone often approached by people victimized by abusive policemen, I should have been aware of such an office.

I knew Sarmiento headed the Police Security and Protection Group which assigns bodyguards to very important persons or VIPs.

I never heard her defending the human rights of civilians, much more heading an office within the PNP that protects the rights of civilians.

No kidding, is there really such an office?

 

           
     
 
     
     
SELDA-Southern Mindanao Region protests the appointment
of a PNP General to the Claims Board
Photos by KARAPATAN-SMR
     

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Recall the apppointment of Gen. Sarmiento as head of HRV Claims Board! Justice to all Martial Law Victims!

PRESS RELEASE |
SELDA-Southern Mindanao Region
February 24, 2014

DAVAO CITY – Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto-Southern Mindanao Region (SELDA-SMR) joins the National Day of Protest today, February 24, 2014 to mark the eve of commemoration of the 28th anniversary of People Power 1 with a protest over Pres. Benigno Aquino’s appointment of a retired police general and former Philippine Constabulary as head of Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

PNP Director Lina Castillo-Sarmiento, was part of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines who implemented Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law that resulted to gross human rights violations during 1970’s to mid-80’s.

“We are disgusted with the Aquino-formed Claims Board! This is the gravest insult that BS Aquino government inflicted upon the victims of Martial Law. It is unjustifiable that a former PC, the most dreaded human rights violator will lead a group that will process the recognition and reparation of Martial Law victims? How ironic, we cannot simply accept that!” expressed Fe Salino, secretary-general of SELDA-SMR.

It was also last year’s commemoration of People Power 1 when Pres. BS Aquino signed Republic Act 10368 known as “Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Act of 2013”, with its solemn mandate to provide reparation and recognition of human rights victims of the Marcos regime is invested with the gravitas of history forged in the struggle against a dictatorship. The law is also a culmination of the victims’ struggle and the quest for truth, justice and the condoning of rash and remorseless assaults against freedom and human dignitiy.

Republic Act 10368 states that members of the Claims Board must be of known probity, competence and integrity; must have a deep and thorough understanding of knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos; and must have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion, and advocacy.

Salino asserted that, “The appointment of Gen. Sarmiento manifests Pres. BS Aquino’s arrogance that is bound to marginalize the tens of thousands of human rights violations victims right from the very start. The task of the Claim’s Board is not only monetary compensation but most of all to render justice for the Martial Law victims. Thus, we demand to recall the appointment of Gen. Lina Sarmiento and we will vow to support the formation of a People’s Claims Board. The People’s Claims Board is composed of known anti-dictatorship activists and human rights advocates, mostly victims of martial law themselves: Makabayan President Satur Ocampo, SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, and SELDA vice-chairperson Bonifacio Ilagan.”#

FOR REFERENCE:
FE SALINO, secretary-general, SELDA-SMR,Mobile No. 0921-715-8403

 

     
     
           
     
     
     
           
     
     
     
 

 

2013 KARAPATAN YEAREND REPORT web.pdf

 
           
           
           
           

 

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