Extortion claims vs Labor chief 'credible,' says PACC chair

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2019 01:50 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2019 02:35 PM

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MANILA - Complaints of extortion against Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III have a strong basis, President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-corruption body insisted on Tuesday. 

Dante Jimenez, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair, said they have received a lot of complaints against Bello over his alleged extortion from manpower agencies sending workers abroad.

"We have received affidavits alleging that Secretary Bello received this much amount so we have to ask his position about this," he told ANC's Dateline Philippines. 

Jimenez said the complaints against Bello filed last year were related to those that led to the resignation of former Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say.

Last year, Bello was 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. 

Asked if the complaints against Bello filed before the PACC were credible, Jimenez said: "I believe so because there are bases on that."

"I'm pretty sure it's a tight case. We're just waiting for the opportunity to hear his side," the PACC chair added.

Bello earlier said he would ask Duterte to sack PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna for alleged abuse of authority in the investigation against him and two other Cabinet members.

The Labor chief said he only learned about the investigation against him in a press conference Luna held and that he did not receive any copy of documents pertaining to the investigation. 

But Jimenez said it was Bello himself who made the investigation against him public when he mentioned it during press conferences last year.

Jimenez 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 chief of due process.

Aside from Bello, the PACC earlier said it was also investigating former Customs Commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Isidro Lapeña and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chairman Leonor Oralde-Quintayo.