dilg-secretary mel senen sarmiento

Newly appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento today warned that he would not hesitate to use the full force of the law to go after people and groups who are using his name for extortion and jueteng protection rackets.

Sarmiento said he has received persistent reports that certain people and groups are using his name this early to extort and demand protection money from vice syndicates particularly those involved in illegal gambling like “jueteng” and warned that he will never allow anyone to tarnish his good name.

Sarmiento said that he has already instructed Philippine National Police chief Director General Ricardo Marquez to look into these reports and arrest anyone who is using his name for financial gains.

He said he has also asked Marquez to intensify anti-gambling operations amid reports of increased jueteng activities for fund raising because of the upcoming local and national elections.

” I will never allow anyone to represent me or my office to extort or demand protection money from jueteng and other vices. I intend to keep my good name now and for the rest of my life as a public servant,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento made this statement shortly after his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments Tuesday where he promised to serve his office the “Department of the People.”

In his speech before the CA, Sarmiento maintained that he was appointed by President Aquino not merely because he is a party mate but because of his experience and credentials as a public servant.

He said that although his appointment as Secretary of the DILG is a big gamble considering that he still has one term as Congressman, he decided to accept the responsibility “knowing that I can do more for our country given my experience.”

“For the remaining eight months of this administration, I intend to strengthen DILG’s existing programs by ensuring closer coordination with all local governments in all levels and the Department’s attached agencies,” said Sarmiento who used to head the House contingent to the CA.

“With your help, I will work to ensure that all DILG programs reach each LGU regardless of party lines of its local leaders. With your help, we shall make the DILG the Department of the People,” Sarmiento added.

Sarmiento faced no opposition on his appointment and was confirmed in just a matter of 15 minutes by his former colleagues in the CA.