By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
AN OFFICIAL of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Monday said the commission is currently investigating corruption allegations against Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, Director-General Isidro S. Lapeña of the Technical and Skills Development Authority, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo.
PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna told Palace reporters in a phone patch interview that Mr. Bello, Mr. Lapeña, and Ms. Quintayo are being investigated, adding that the PACC is also investigating corruption complaints against some officials in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Finance (DoF).
Asked if the officials being probed include Secretaries Mark A. Villar and Carlos G. Dominguez III, Mr. Luna said: “May mga tao sa mga departments na ‘yan na iniimbestigahan namin. Hindi secretaries. May mga director-level, RDOs (regional director of operations).” (There are individuals in those departments whom we investigate, but they are not secretaries. There are director-level [officials], RDOs).
In a phone message, PACC Chairman Dante L. Jimenez confirmed Mr. Luna’s disclosure.
Mr. Luna said, “Si Lapeña, motu proprio ‘yun, in connection doon sa magnetic lifters.” (Mr. Lapeña is under motu proprio investigation in connection with the magnetic lifters [found in Cavite that allegedly contained P11 billion in methamphetamine or shabu]).
As for Mr. Bello and Ms. Quintayo, he said: “May complaints sa amin laban sa kanila (We have received complaints against them).”
Mr. Luna cited complaints of corruption and neglect of duty against Ms. Quintayo.
“May mga leaders ng IP (indigenous peoples) na nag-complain na parang kumakampi siya sa isang grupo na hindi legitimate, tapos yung pera doon ni-release,” Mr. Luna said. (There are IP leaders who complained that a certain illegitimate group favored by the Chairperson had received funds from the commission).
“Plus neglect of duty kasi may mga (there are) IP…who say that they are being left out. Hindi inaasikaso (Their concerns are not being addressed).”
Sought for comment, lawyer Erwin M. Caliba, executive assistant to Ms. Quintayo, said in a phone interview the NCIP Chair “welcomes” the investigation.
“She welcomes any investigation to be conducted by the PACC. ‘Yun ‘yung reaction niya (That is her reaction). We will be cooperating with the PACC for whatever investigation that they will be conducting,” he said.
Regarding Mr. Bello, recruitment agency owner Amanda Lalic-Araneta claimed in July last year that she gave him P100,000 and an iPhone as a gift.
She also claimed that Mr. Bello demanded P10-15 million to approve the license for MMML Recruitment Services, Inc. of which Ms. Araneta is president. She then brought her allegations against the Labor Chief to the PACC.
Mr. Luna said the commission has found prima facie evidence against Mr. Bello.
Sought for comment, Mr. Bello told reporters in a phone interview that he is not aware of the PACC’s investigation.
“Ay wala naman akong alam na kaso against me dahil wala namang pina-file,” he said. (I do not know any case against me because nothing has been filed.)
The Labor Chief also said he is confident he can answer the allegations against him.
“Oo naman. Wala naman akong alam na katiwalian na involved ako,” he said. (Yes, of course. I do not know any corruption in which I am involved).
Sought for comment during a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said: “You must remember the President’s policy ever since: There are no sacred cows in this administration. You violate the law, regardless of your status — whether you’re a friend or ally or a political adversary or a relative or a friend or a fraternity brother — wala lahat iyon (It does not matter). You violate the law, you are accountable.”