In defense of Secretary Silvestre Bello III
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 13, 2019 - 12:00am

The honorable secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, Silvestre Bello III, is one of the most competent and honest public officials we have under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. He is a former Cabinet secretary under GMA and a former solicitor general and secretary of justice under FVR. He has served with distinction and honor under three presidents, mostly in the field of administration of justice. Now, he is a victim of injustice.

 

Bello is the most overworked and underpaid public servant, unlike Central Bank governors, Landbank presidents, and SSS and GSIS executives who are paid more than quadruple his salary. He has been assigned too many tasks, from taking care of 12 million Filipinos working in 200 countries abroad, to negotiating peace with the extremely devious and recalcitrant triumvirate of Jose Maria Sison, Fidel Agcaoili, and Fr. Luis Jalandoni of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Bello is also a member of the boards of SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, Landbank, Employees Compensation Commission, National Wages and Productivity Commission, PEZA, POEA, OWWA, and over a dozen other agencies and government-owned corporations. He supervises the NLRC, the NCMB, the 17 DOLE regional offices, and so many agencies.

For all these, Bello is being rewarded with a preposterous charge of extortion by disgruntled recruiters. President Duterte used to joke Bello could not even afford to buy socks. He is a very simple man who goes to the wet market to buy food for his family. He dresses decently but frugally and he is not the bad guy the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission portrays him to be. Yes, I do agree with Bello that Commissioner Manuelito Luna committed grave injustice by prematurely issuing press releases about the charges against him, along with TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapeña, former Customs commissioner, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Leonor Oralde-Qintazo.

The PACC is a duplication of the work of the Ombudsman and is an additional appendage in the Office of the President. Bello said Luna was one of those who filed a disqualification complaint against then presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. To show that Duterte is not vindictive, Luna was appointed to such a sensitive position along with Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crimes and Corruption. Whatever their motives, I concur that Bello is presumed innocent and must not be subjected to trial by publicity. Those who know Bello seethe with anger at these harassment charges.

Bello doesn’t know me but I know him to be a man of unquestionable integrity. I have no case pending before his office or need a favor from him. But I am angry that some small Indians can besmirch the reputation of a former Secretary of Justice. Bello is a gift to the country and should be respected. He also deserves some measure of fairness and compassion. He has a family who must be suffering. Thus, we should always be careful in making allegations that can stain the character of a very straight man.

SILVESTRE BELLO III
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