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Mar turns over DILG to LP exec Sarmiento

WESTERN Samar Representative and Liberal Party secretary general Mel Senen S. Sarmiento officially takes over as the new secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government on Friday after simple rites at the DILG main office in Quezon City.

Responding to complaints of rising criminality, Sarmiento said said it’s up to the Congress to decide whether the Philippine National Police should be separated from the Department of the Interior and Local Government as proposed by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Changing of the guard. Outgoing Interior Sec. Mar Roxas (right) turns over the standard of the Department of Interior and Local Government to incoming Sec. Mel Senen Sarmiento in simple  rites at the DILG office in Quezon City on Friday. LINO SANTOS

“It’s up to the Congress to decide, but our Constitution says that the PNP is really under the DILG. It’s up to our law makers to look on that,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento talked about his plans for the DILG, saying that he will be following Aquino’s marching orders to continue with the existing programs of the department, especially that of the Oplan Lambat Sibat program of the Philippine National Police to further reduce criminality.

Sarmiento, who is the former Secretary-General of the League of Cities of the Philippines said he plans to work closely with the Local Government Authority to develop a Participatory Governance System to ensure that local government priorities are in line with the national government.

Outgoing Secretary Mar Roxas handed over the post to Sarmiento even as she praised the new secretary’s capacity to fulfill the mandate of his office.

“His competence is well-established, his integrity [with] nearly 20 years of public service, not once was he ever tarnished by any anomaly,” said Roxas.

Roxas, who is the standard bearer in the 2016 presidential polls, perceived a striking similarity between late DILG secretary Jessie Robredo and Sarmiento, highlighting that “he has received every award, every accolade” that Robredo received.

He also recognized the DILG family and assured Sarmiento that he will be working with a dedicated, persevering, and self-sacrificing government staff.

“They have always stepped up, always delivered, and have always given all that they can for the welfare of our people,” Roxas commended.

One remarkable moment during the ceremony was Roxas handing over a framed set of slippers to Sarmiento to serve as a “constant reminder” that there are still a lot of people to serve and reach out to.

Sarmiento started his public service as vice mayor of Calbayog City from 1992-1995. In 2001, Sarmiento won as mayor of Calbayog City and has served its people for three terms before winning as congressman of the first district of Samar in 2010. With two decades worth of experience, he has earned recognition and respect deserving of being the newly-installed DILG secretary.

DILG is responsible for supervising local governments, ensuring public safety, and promoting peace and order. Under this department are Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and other attached agencies.

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