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Labor chief strikes back at accuser

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who has been accused of extortion, will ask President Rodrigo Duterte to oust Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Manuelito Luna for abuse of authority for making public an investigation against him and two other Cabinet officials.

Bello, together with former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and National Commission on Indigenous People chairman Leonor Oralde-Quintayo, are being charged with graft by the PACC. 

But Malacañang said Tuesday Luna should not have publicized the names of the three officials facing corruption allegations because they should have been given a chance to respond to the charges against them. 

“If you ask me, you should have given a chance for the defendants to respond to the complaints,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

Panelo, a lawyer, said he normally asked the response of the particular agency or person concerned with the complaints that he or she receive in his or her office.

“In my office, when we receive complaints against a particular agency or a government official, I send the complaints to the person concerned or agency concerned,” Panelo said.

Bello reacted following the PACC’s announcement that he, Lapeña and Oralde-Quintayo were under investigation, saying the investigation should have been discreet in fairness to them. 

In a radio interview, Bello said he did not receive a copy of any complaint against him and only learned of the investigation in news reports after it was announced by Luna.

“That is why I’m going to ask the President to dismiss him from office for grave abuse of authority,” Bello said.

Bello is a known Duterte ally but the Palace said there would be no sacred cows under the Duterte administration, which has already dismissed several ranking government officials for alleged graft and corruption.

In a separate radio interview, Luna said the PACC was mandated by an Executive Order to issue regular updates on pending cases so that the war on corruption would be successful.

He disputed Bello’s allegations that the Secretary was not informed of the investigation because the case against Bello was already “public knowledge” for denying the corruption charges in his press conferences.

PACC Chairman Dante Jimenez welcomed Bello’s pronouncement to seek the ouster of one of he PACC commissioners, saying it was the Labor Secretary’s prerogative but the investigation against him would continue.

 “We have received a lot of complaints against Bello over his alleged extortion from manpower agencies sending workers abroad,” Jimenez said in a television interview.

He said the complaints were filed last year, similar to the complaints filed against former Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say who resigned.

 Jimenez said Bello was being  linked to two extortion allegations: One involving P6.8 million allegedly extorted from Azzizah Manpower Services, another involving P100,000 in cash gifts from recruitment agency owner Amanda Araneta.

Topics: Silvestre Bello III , Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , Rodrigo Duterte , Manuelito Luna , Isidro Lapeña , National Commission on Indigenous People
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