SELDA announces the formation of the People’s Claim Board, in protest of the President Benigno Aquino III’s appointment of a PNP general in the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) to implement the law
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA, Association of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and Arrest) has repeatedly urged the BS Aquino government to immediately form the claims board. On 13 February 2014, more than a week before the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 or RA 10368 turns a year old, the Aquino government, through the Commission on Human Rights announced the appointment of Philippine National Police retired General Lina Sarmiento as chairperson of the HRVCB. After a year of shutting off Martial Law victims, the Aquino government arbitrarily appoints a former police general.
BS Aquino’s appointment of Sarmiento is a clear affront to martial law victims. Furthermore, it asserts that the appointment of an ex-Philippine Constabulary officer to head the martial law claims board is tantamount to a shameless honoring of an atrocious martial law apparatus. The defunct Philippine Constabulary is the forerunner of the current Philippine National Police that has records of the gravest human rights violations during the dark days of Marcos dictatorship.
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 its victims is put into question since she is part of the institution accused of rampant human rights abuses during that period.
Apart from being a PC officer under Marcos, Sarmiento was the former head of the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office during the Arroyo regime, which has the gravest post-martial law record of human rights abuses. This does nothing to merit her appointment. We express doubts that under Sarmiento’s chairpersonship the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board will become an independent body.
In forming the People’s Claims Board, SELDA makes this as a parallel body to act both as a watchdog and a monitoring body of Aquino’s HRVCB. The People’s Claims Board’s priority is to ensure that real and legitimate martial law victims will not be marginalized. There is no room for backing out and toning down our call for justice.
2/F, Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets,
Quezon City 1101, Philippines