CALBAYOG CITY- Newly-appointed Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said that he is ready to take charge of his new position in the government as he revealed that his brother will run to take his post as a congressman. Sarmiento was formally named by President Aquino on Tuesday, Sept. 8, to replace Mar Roxas as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Roxas is the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) for next year’s elections. Sarmiento, currently the congressional representative of Samar’s first district, is the secretary-general of the LP. In his first interview as DILG Secretary just hours after Pres. Aquino formally announced his appointment, Sarmiento said he was humbled that he was chosen to replace Roxas.
But at the same time, he is ready to face all the challenges that go with his new position as the latest member of the Aquino Cabinet. Prior to his appointment, Sarmiento was already rumored to take place Roxas’ position, considered one of the most powerful Cabinet positions. As DILG chief, Sarmiento is also considered the head of the more than 150,000 members and officers of the Philippine National Police. “I am ready to accept any new challenge to be able to serve our people better and advance the cause of good governance and daang matuwid (straight path)” Sarmiento, one time mayor of Calbayog, said. The newly-appointed SILG thanked President Aquino for the trust, confidence and for the opportunity given to him to continue the reforms being implemented in the DILG. He added that when the position was offered to him, the President gave him enough time to decide and weigh in on what is best for his constituents in Samar and for the entire country.
“This is an honor given by the President as a Calbayognon, as a Samareño to serve the country. I can see that I will be much more effective in running the department and will serve best not only the first district of Samar but the nation as well,” Sarmiento said. He further said that he will continue to modernize PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and other agencies under the DILG and will remain steadfast in the fight against corruption.
“We will continue the high standards of the institution in public service and guarantee that the national police and the entire uniformed service under the DILG will be neutral in ensuring a peaceful, honest, and orderly election in 2016.” Sarmiento further added. He likewise assured his constituents in the first district of Samar that services, programs and projects he initiated will continue despite his new assignment. “People in the district need not worry for the coming months, I will talk with House Speaker (Feliciano Belmonte) and most likely he will assign a caretaker to look into the needs of the district and the people will not be deprived of any services due to vacancy in the position of a representative,” Sarmiento said. During the interview, Sarmiento likewise announced that his elder brother Engr. Edgar Sarmiento will be the one to run as congressman in the district in next year’s elections. Sarmiento said that although his brother has not held any elective positions, he has been helping him in his various programs and projects in the district.