Meet Mel Senen Sarmiento: New DILG Chief

 Aerial view of Calbayog City, Samar, from Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Political scion

From the island of Samar, Mel Senen Sarmiento belongs to a family of long-known politicians. He recalls that a member of his family had been in the thick of battle in the island’s political struggles.

Running a business in private capacity

From 1992 to 1995, he won the seat as vice mayor of Calbayog City. However, he met his waterloo the term following after losing his bid for the office of the mayor. Calmly accepting his defeat, he took a long recess from politics for 6 years by venturing into another field of endeavor managing and running his own construction firm. He said few won foreign-funded contracts over foreign contractors, and was proud to mention he was among the few, a healthy sign that Filipinos can compete globally.

Financial shortfall and how he solved it

Then his lucky star started to shine.   With the constituents clamoring for his service, Sarmiento filed, ran and won the seat as Mayor of Calbayog City, serving his people for 3 terms until 2010. During his first year in office as mayor, he met a herculean problem of solving a financial debacle. The city’s coffer was in the red of 144 million pesos, vis-à-vis a city council and city hall that were loyal lapdogs of the past regime.

But only one year after in office, his administration had overcome the financial debacle with impressive gains. Adopting strategies and the CDS process gained from private practice, his regime has increased tax collection performance to 97.65%, from 6.87% in 1997, increased local revenue by 5.4%, and a 130% increase in revenues from business collections.

Leadership style

Mayor Sarmiento prefers seeing his constituents in the fields, farms, streets, market , busses, than sitting in the comfort of a swivel chair in an air-conned  office.  He budgets his time well visiting his people and the time frame devoted to policies and paperwork about effective local governance.       

For his brilliant performance, Mayor Sarmiento received coveted awards, including Galing Pook, Konrad Adenauer, Competitive City Award. Under him, Calbayog competed with Naga City for the distinction as best city, a competition which made him and the late Mayor Jesse Robredo close friends. For the information, they were both prime movers in the League of Cities of the Philippines. Robredo met his untimely death in a plane crash in 2012.

Samar’s First District Congressman

Robredo became DILG secretary on June 13, 2011, while Sarmiento won as congressman of the 1st district of Samar in 2010.   They both pursued the advocacy of effective local governance, of ensuring the systematic review and updating of the Local Government Code.

Sarmiento replaces Mar Roxas as DILG Secretary

 Western Samar Representative and Liberal Party (LP) Secretary General Mel Senen Sarmiento officially took over the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as its new secretary on Friday, September 11, through a turnover ceremony held at the main office in Quezon City.

Sarmiento was officially named DILG Chief by President Aquino vice Mar Roxas II current chief, and administration standard-bearer after he announced his plans to step down.

His intentions

Sarmiento hopes to stay neutral and ensure peaceful, honest and orderly elections in 2016; vows never to allow government instrumentalities under the DILG to engage in partisan politics.

“We will continue to uphold 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. We will remain steadfast in our fight against corruption, he said.

Likewise his vision, he said he would continue to modernize the PNP, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and other agencies under the DILG. He thanked the president for the trust afforded him in implementing the DILG visions and reforms.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. congratulated Sarmiento, saying the former Samar lawmaker was very qualified for the post.

DILG supervises local government units, and promotes 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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