Bello must explain “scandals” with employees–Paglinawan

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Last week, Public advocate Ado Paglinawan swore before the Office of the Ombudsman that the complaint affidavit he filed against Labor secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III contains information that, to his knowledge, is true.

A co-convenor of anti-graft NGO, Solidarity for Sovereignty, Paglinawan gave some copies to members of the media, and Currentph is fortunate to have been given a copy of the complaint. Reading the complaint, we find some damaging information that if exposed publicly, could cause serious embarrassment to the Duterte administration, especially to the President and the men and women of the Department of Labor and Employment.

Paglinawan charged Bello of violating ten counts of graft and corruption, of varying degrees and substance. One thing that caught the media’s attention, is the charge that Bello made 40 foreign travels within a span of just three years–a feat which never led to his termination from his office, unlike what anti-Poverty commissioner Terry Ridon and another got from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. 

In an interview over DZRH, Bello defended his foreign travels, even his side trips to the Netherlands to talk with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison–these were all approved by the President himself.

Paglinawan found out that Bello toured the world and probably spent more than 4 million pesos most of them with his rumored “flavor of the month” (as described by several labor department employees) whom many swear Bello lavished not just attention but with other so-called “rewards.”

These Pretty Young Things (PYT), unfortunately, are not “outsiders” but “insiders”–employees of the department which Bello heads. The first one, Bello dispatched when his name was dragged into the controversial Say scandal and the second one also met the same fate as the first one, when graft and corruption charges grew this year.

Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III with a certain Jessica Abad an employee of the labor department. Photo courtesy of Ado Paglinawan as part of his complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman

Photos of these so-called PYT’s are attached at Paglinawan’s submitted complaint before the Ombudsman, copies of which were submitted to Currentph.com.

In the name of public interest, we are publishing the photos of these two ladies whom we encourage to come forward and explain these allegations of their “close association” with the 76 year old cabinet secretary. 

Paglinawan charged that each of these women got “rewards” for their “closeness” with Bello. Each got to travel several times with Bello despite a long standing regulation prohibiting travels for non-supervisorial or non-managerial employees such as these ladies. We are asking these two employees to send us an email to explain their sides of this issue (our email is at editorial@currentph.com)

Paglinawan alleges that the first one, a certain Claire Recio, was made to travel several times with Bello inspite of her status as a mere employee of the finance department. She was transferred to ILAB, where she was able to justify her accompanying the 76 year old labor secretary in his travels abroad. Records show that Recio went on flights together with Bello, stayed at the same hotel and ate at the same restaurants and diners with the cabinet secretary. They even had a very intimate photo together, says Paglinawan. (We advise Ms. Recio to send us an email at editorial@currentph.com   for us to publish her side of the story and clear her name against Paglinawan’s charge. Curiously, no one knows the exact number of Recio since we wanted to publish her side of this highly scandalous story. )

Secretary Silvestre Bello III with DOLE employee Jessica Abad. Photo courtesy of Ado Paglinawan which are part of his complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman

When Bello reportedly got tired of her, Paglinawan charged, he reportedly found a foreign posting as labor attache for Recio, which many in the labor department reportedly found highly irregular given that she has not earned enough credentials or work performance to merit such a posting. The real reason why Bello allegedly threw her abroad was when the labor secretary drew heat from the Dominador Say scandal which nearly caused him his post. Say got the boot from Duterte after a businesswoman complained of extortion.

This case of extortion pends before the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission under Deputy Commissioner Atty. Manuelito Luna. Reportedly, this case has not reached the eyes and ears of the President since two of the commission’s commissioners reportedly did not agree with the findings.

What Recio did not know, Paglinawan found out, was that a co-employee by the name of Jessica Abad, drew Bello’s attention. Like Recio, Abad is also an employee of ILAB. When Recio disappeared from the scene, Abad replaced her. She is seen quite frequently with Bello several times, and these included those so-called “side trips” to the Netherlands. Many questioned Abad’s inclusion since she does not have the expertise, or the experience necessary for Bello’s purpose, which is essentially serve as back-channel or official negotiator for the government.

Currentph.com had made several inquiries but no one seems to know the number of Ms. Abad for her to be able to give her side of this story.

Like Ms. Recio, we advise Ms. Abad to send us an email to clear her name on this developing scandalous story. Our email is editorial@currentph.com. 

For Paglinawan, these acts of Bello constitute the crime of malfeasance which is punishable under the graft and corrupt practices act. Likewise, Paglinawan discovered that Bello also possibly committed treason for allegedly making those side trips to the Netherlands despite a standing order by Duterte for all government functionaries not to talk, negotiate or initiate back channel talks with the CPP-NPA. These orders are covered, according to Paglinawan, of executive orders.

An interview of Bello by DZRH Palace reporter Henry Uri indicates that the labor secretary finds nothing wrong with these trips. These are all official travels, known to the President, defends Bello. ” I had to administer our offices abroad and most of my travels are in conjunction with the department’s efforts in creating POLO offices (Polo offices are extensions of DOLE’s services for OFWs).”

“Probably,” says Paglinawan in a follow up interview. ” I am however interested to know why Bello was with these two young ladies from his department, whom he very well knows, do not have the qualifications or enough experience to be a valuable assistant of the labor secretary in his official travels.

” Why so frequent? Why did Bello spend more times with them? Looking at the photos which several labor employees gave me, our Labor secretary appeared very, very close to two of his employees? Nakaakbay pa si sec kay Abad with a romantic backdrop. I don’t know with you, but those are clearly sexual harassment acts in my book and also under the law. But of course, we will let our labor secretary explain these things. Let him explain before the Ombudsman,” Paglinawan adds in an interview with Currentph last Saturday.

Currentph.com encourages our labor secretary to explain these things in public. Did you or did you not Mr. Secretary? Currentph opens its ears to the good Secretary.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has since, time and again, pleaded with his “fellow public servants” not to embarrass their own government by committing acts of corruption and graft. Such acts of corruption, generally, causes demoralization among the ranks and even encourage corrupt men to do wanton damage against the labor department since most of the time, the department head is away “on official trips.” As they say, when the cat is away, the mouse sneaks in to play.

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