Labor chief fires back at detractors

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DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III — BW FILE PHOTO

LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III on Wednesday said he will pursue legal charges in connection with recent controversies thrown at him.

“I am left with no recourse but to do what is legal and proper under the circumstances. All of you detractors, I’ll see you in court,” Mr. Bello said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Also present in Mr. Bello’s press briefing were Labor Undersecretaries Joel B. Maglunsod, Claro A. Arellano, and Renato L. Ebarle, recently appointed to his post. Labor Undersecretary Jacinto V. Paras, who’s reported to have a rift with the labor chief, was not among them.

On Wednesday, recruitment agency owner Amanda Lalic-Araneta claimed in an interview with reporters that she gave Mr. Bello P100,000 and an iPhone as a gift. She also claimed that he demanded P10-15 million pesos to approve the license for MMML Recruitment Services, Inc. of which she is president.

Ms. Lalic-Araneta has brought her allegations against Mr. Bello to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), soon after after Monalie Dizon of the Kilusang Pagbabago National Movement for Change filed graft charges against the labor chief also before the PACC.

Mr. Bello said the license for Ms. Lalic-Araneta’s firm “was cancelled not by me but by the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration),” adding that he had nothing to do with the cancellation.

He said she sought him “to ask me to reconsider the cancellation of her license and I promised a case, provided if she files a motion for consideration. According to her, she filed a motion for consideration pero di ko pa nakikita ang motion for consideration na yun (but I haven’t seen that motion for consideration yet).”

Mr. Bello said that “(b)efore her motion could come to me,” he received “a report from NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency)” that her agency was “involved in recruiting underaged women.”

“I asked NICA to submit additional facts to support their allegation,” Mr. Bello said, adding that the intelligence agency gave him another report which he forwarded to the POEA.

Hindi totoo na iniipit ko lisensya niya (It’s not true that I’m keeping her license on hold),” Mr. Bello said.

Mr. Bello declined for now who he will charge in court. “As soon as I confer with my lawyer and (collect) the evidence,” he said.

“Go to court and sue me if you have any evidence against me,” he added. “You are clearly engaged (in) trial by publicity.”

Regarding his Ombudsman application, Mr. Bello said his case with the Department of Justice, which was cited in his disqualification by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), has been pending for seven years.

“There was a case filed against me as early as 2012. Seven years ago, I was charged (with) syndicated estafa as a chairman of the board of an alleged corporation,” the labor chief said.

“I filed my counter-affidavit,” he said, on which he wrote, “Wala akong alam na korporasyon na ako ay(I don’t know any corporation that I am a) member (of) board of directors, at lalong lalo na wala akong alam na korporasyon na ako ay (and most especially I don’t know a corporation of which I am) chairman of the board. To support my allegation, I presented the articles of incorporation of the said corporation at wala po akong pangalan sa (my name is not on the) board.”

“If they had that case against me, why did they not (ask) me about the case?” Mr. Bello said of his interview with the JBC.

“In fairness to the JBC, hindi ko kinikwestyon ang pagpili nila ng nominees (I do not question their choices for nominees). That is their privilege,” he added.

“But the process, I think, was very unfair. They denied me due process,” Mr. Bello also said. — G. M. Cortez