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Bello linked to extortion, says PACC exec

/ 07:22 AM January 09, 2019

The complaints filed against Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) are credible, PACC Chair Dante Jimenez said on Tuesday.

Jimenez said the commission had received complaints accusing Bello of extorting money from manpower agencies sending workers abroad.

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“I’m pretty sure it’s a tight case. We’re just waiting for the opportunity to hear his side,” he said in a TV interview.

Jimenez said Bello was aware of the allegation against him as early as last year, when one of his former undersecretaries was embroiled in a P6.8-million extortion case involving Azizzah Manpower Services.

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The amount was supposedly meant for Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say so he would reverse the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s cancellation of the company’s recruitment license.

Cash gifts

Another recruiter, Amanda Araneta, also alleged that P100,000 in cash gifts were sent to the agency.

Say resigned in April last year, just when then presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that he was about to be booted out of the Department of Labor and Employment.

Samahang Pagbabago National Movement for Change, which filed the case against Bello in the PACC, claimed at the time that Bello was involved in extortion, an allegation that the labor chief had denied.

3 Cabinet members

On Tuesday, Bello said he wanted a PACC official sacked a day after the agency announced that he was one of three Cabinet members being investigated for corruption.

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Bello said PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna committed “grave abuse of authority” when he disclosed on Monday that the agency was looking into corruption allegations against him, Director General Isidro Lapeña of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Chair Leonor Oralde-Quintayo of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“The investigation should be discreet, in fairness to the respondent. He is going ahead of it that’s why I’m going to ask the President to dismiss him from office for grave abuse of authority,” Bello said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

He said that if there were allegations of corruption against him, he should be informed of these for him to be able to respond properly.

The labor secretary lamented that he learned about the matter only through news reports.

Jimenez came to the defense of Luna, saying Bello was aware of the allegation against him as early as last year.

Prerogative

The PACC head said it was Bello’s prerogative to seek Luna’s dismissal but that the commission would stick with its findings and continue with its probe, assuring the labor secretary of due process.

While Luna tagged three Cabinet officials for possible involvement in corruption, he refused to disclose any specific information on the allegations.

He, however, said the Cabinet officials would be given due process and the “opportunity to present their side on the issues brought against them.”

Asked whether President Rodrigo Duterte would side with Bello or Luna, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said: “The President will take the side of people who [are] always right.”

Speaking as a lawyer, Panelo said the PACC should have given Bello and the two other Cabinet officials a chance to respond to the allegations against them.

“You should not release this complaint immediately because otherwise you might be unnecessarily maligning a reputation without basis eventually,” he told reporters. —Reports from Jovic Yee and Christine O. Avendaño

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TAGS: Dante Jimenez, extortion, PACC, Silvestre Bello III
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