Labor chief urged to resign over alleged corruption

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2018 04:50 PM | Updated as of Jul 17 2018 01:41 AM

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MANILA - An advocacy group on Monday called for the resignation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for alleged graft and corruption.

Samahang Pagbabago National Movement for Change claimed that Bello has been involved in several corrupt activities, particularly extorting money from employment agencies in the country.

“Hindi ka na karapat-dapat dyan. Wala kang puso, wala kang malasakit sa tao. Wag kana magpapogi,” said Alie Dizon, the groups Secretary General.

(You no longer deserve that post. You don't have a heart, you don't have compassion. Stop trying to look good.)

The group was citing the complaint of Azizzah Salim, owner of Azzizah International Manpower Services, who had filed a complaint against Bello and Usec. Dominador Say for supposedly extorting some P6.8 million.

Dizon also claimed that Bello was signing transactions in Philippine Overseas Employment Administration instead of the agency’s administrator, giving him more access to corruption.

“Siya ang gumawa ng Administrative Order 277, pirmado ni Sec. Bello. Nilipat niya ang power ng POEA sa kanyang kamay,” she said.

(He created Administrative Order 277, Sec. Bello signed it. He transferred POEA's power to his own hands.)

The group also alleged that Bello did not help the cause of OFW’s particularly with the case of “Mercy,” who was separated from her 9-month-old baby in Saudi Arabia. 

Bello allegedly promised to help Mercy, but there had been no results for the past 4 months and the overseas worker had been appealing to the labor chief to fulfill its supposed promise to unify their family.

“Hindi ko lubos akalain na ganito ang mangyayari. Kung alam ko lang, hindi na ako umuwi para makasama ko yung anak ko,” she said.

(I couldn't imagine that this would happen. Had I known, I would not have come home so I can be with my child.)

But Bello denied all of the allegations and said he will resign from his post if the group can show evidence that he was involved in corruption.

“Kung meron man lang isang agency na magsasabing tumanggap ako o humingi ng pera, ora mismo aalis na 'ko, wala ako karapatan umupo dito” he said.

(If a single agency can say that I received or asked for money, I will immediately leave. I won't have the right to stay here.)

Bello said Malacanang did not believe Azizzah's complaint when it first surfaced few months ago. 

“Usec Say tumanggap, alam ko daw. Naisingit lang pangalan ko. Sinabi niya pag tingin niya, di alam andun pangalan ko, yun sinabi ni Medialdea," he said, referring to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

(Usec. Say supposedly received it, I allegedly knew about it. My name was just inserted. Medialdea said when he looked over it, he didn't know that my name was there.)

Bello also said there is no truth to allegations he is signing transactions in POEA.

“Under the law ako nag-iissue ng prangkisa, ako pumipirma sa mga employment certificate,” Bello said.

(Under the law, I issue the franchises, I sign the employment certificates.)

“Yung pag-a-approve ng lisensya, bago ko pirmahan, dumadaan muna yan sa legal bago dumating sa'min 'yan” he said.

(On the approval of licenses, before I sign, that would pass through legal before it reaches us.)

Bello also said “Mercy” was not seeking assistance for her baby but for the agency, whom the department has received information that it has been involved in recruiting underage women for employment abroad. 

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency is now investigating the matter, but Bello said the DOLE is willing to repatriate the baby as long as the family will properly coordinate with them.

“Basta ipaalam samin kung sino at nasaan, it is our responsibility to repatriate the baby,” he said.

(As long as they inform us who and where, it is our responsibility to repatriate the baby.)

Bello believes accusations may have been due to his being among possible successors of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who will retire later this month.

He, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires, and President Rodrigo Duterte's former lawyer, Edna Batacan, could be the front runner in the race, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz, Former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, Judge Carlos Espero II, and lawyers Rey Nathaniel Ifurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez, and Rex Rico are also in the running.