SC asked to stop appointment of new rights claims board head

Tetch Torres-Tupas | Inquirer.net
February 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — A group of human rights victims during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos asked the Supreme Court to stop the appointment of retired General Lina Sarmiento as head of the Human Rights Claims Board.

In a petition filed Tuesday, they urged the high court to nullify Sarmiento’s appointment.

Petitioners represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers include former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares, Maria Carolina Araullo, Trinidad Repuno, Tita Lubi, and Josephine Dongail. They were all arrested, detained and tortured during the Martial Law years.

They said President Benigno Aquino III gravely abused his discretion when he appointed Sarmiento who is not qualified to head the Human Rights Claims Board.

Under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act of 2013, the head of the board must have a “deep and thorough understanding of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations committed during the Marcos time.

Sarmiento was a former member of the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police who were among those who allegedly committed human rights violations during Marcos time.

Then, she became chief of the PNP Community Relations Group under the counterinsurgency program of the government, a machinery which petitioners say “attempted to deodorize the stench of the internationally condemned cases of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.”

“The issue of whether respondent Sarmiento meets the exacting qualities [to head the board] is therefore put to serious question. This does not inspire, merit or command trust and confidence in the head of the Board,” petitioners said.

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