Third of a Series
Now that the decadent record of Labor Secretary Bello III has slowly unraveled in public view, he again positioned himself to steal the thunder of the Balik-Probinsya Program being pushed by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Bello announced that he is preparing a post-Covid crisis recovery plan aimed at generating jobs and providing wage subsidies for workers in various sectors whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic.
He even has an acronym already for a P25 billion project which he said is “anchored” on Senator Go’s program. Aba e, sumipsip pa.
“Tulong Panghanapbuhay for Displaced and Disadvantaged Workers” (TUPAD) for the next three (3) months will employ “returnees” and those in the barangays,” Bello said.
This rushed project insults the best intentions of the senator. Who will go back to the countryside when they are being offered stop-gap and temporary jobs? This is just another branding of the same mendicancy genre that is attached to the government’s 4Ps, which is really a dole-out scheme.
Calling the attention of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez over this insatiable appetite of the labor secretary to get near humungous funds! Watch out for this “P25 billion bright idea” of Bello. It is definitely yet another caper being staged by a septuagenarian fossil in the Cabinet who is very good at covering his bloody tracks.
OFW deaths and suffering in Kuwait
Madulas talaga si Bebot who often boasts that they were boardinghouse-mates with President Duterte at the YMCA dormitory in Arroceros, Manila when they were law students.
As an offshoot of the return of OFW Joanna Demafelis to the Philippines in a wooden crate on February 2018, welcomed by grieving family members who still couldn’t believe that she had been dead for nearly two years with her corpse kept in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, the President instructed Bello to include four specific preconditions to a new bilateral agreement to ensure the safety and welfare of our overseas workers in Kuwait.
Disobeying the President, the labor secretary normalized deployment signing a labor deal in May 2018 that the Kuwaitis were instead amenable to.
On January 2020, another box arrived at NAIA, this time bearing the remains of another OFW in the name of Jeanelyn Villavende who was raped, tortured and killed by her employer.
Appearing like a hands-on problem-solver when actually he was the cause of the problem, the elusive septuagenarian negotiated in record time the approval of the Kuwaiti officials, and signed a new agreement this time including the Duterte preconditions in order to forestall a permanent deployment ban of domestic helpers to that backward Middle East country.
Again, Bello went scot-free.
Anak ng pating, Si Bello pa ang lumabas na bida sa katungkulang hindi nya ginampanan! Kaya naman pala, kinailangan pang may bago na namang mamatay.
Many asked, pinagkaperahan pa muna ba ito ng sindikato sa POEA at DOLE?
Marami tuloy nagtanong kung kanino ba s’ya nagtatrabajo? Kay Digong ba o sa mga Kuwaiti?
Villavende only worked abroad for five months. It is obvious that if the stiff preconditions of Duterte were earlier imposed, her life could have been preserved.
False hopes to workers
Earlier, Secretary Bello found himself again in hot water after announcing to formal workers that the Department of Labor and Employment will be giving P5,000 to each of them of cash aid amid the coronavirus crisis.
In a televised interview, the labor secretary bragged that he had established yet another acronym CAMP for “Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program” whereby he asked employers to submit an application to DOLE and attached therewith the last payroll of their company.
Bello went further that the purpose of the submission of the payroll is to make it the basis for determining legitimate employees of a company that will receive the cash assistance. Many companies whose workers were laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic responded immediately to the call of Mr. Bello and filed their application with DOLE.
However, after a month of implementing his CAMP, many workers whose names were included in the payroll submitted by their respective employers to DOLE started to question why the promised P5,000 cash aid as taking too long for them to receive. As a result, the TV networks got swarmed with complaints related to the promised cash aid.
It turned out the reason why many workers still did not receive the P5,000 cash aid was because DOLE did not have the funds as promised by Bello.
Reports have it that employers submitted to DOLE around 1.2 million names of workers in response to Bello’s CAMP.
Verification with my canaries at DOLE, Bello knew from the very beginning that he only had P1.6 billion pesos, good to provide 320,000 workers only at P5,000 each.
So, the 10k dollar question here is, why did Bello make that irresponsible announcement?
Did he even clear that plan with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease?
PRRD should not tolerate
This shallow “lone ranger” style of Bello to concoct and boast “amelioration” packages like CAMP is again having a relapse in his plan at out-staging Bong Go with TUPAD and a cheap trick to capture mainstream media headlines and evidence of incompetence or negligence bordering on stupidity that President Duterte should not tolerate.
Sinubo na naman nya si Duterte sa alanganin banking perhaps on his close friendship with the latter, that in the middle of the CAMP implementation, the President will instruct the Department of Budget and Management to augment his deficit.
Unfortunately, Secretary Carlos Dominguez III denied his request because the finance department chief had his own program similar to CAMP whose implementation will be conducted by the Social Security System.
It would seem that Dominguez did not approve of Bello’s modus. DOLE released its P1.6 billion using remittance agencies, wasting in the process around P165 sending fee per P5,000 sent or P40 million that could have also been distributed through Landbank (like what LTFRB did) or through SSS for free.
This fumble of Bello is nothing new.
Other members of the Cabinet know that Bello has pending cases of graft and corruption, usurpation of authority and powers of the President, treason and unexplained excessive trips abroad where Bello always brings with him a young lady DOLE employee as a “travel companion.”
Rosary of faux pas
In my immediately preceding columns, I mentioned two other instances where Secretary Bello operated on his own, without coordination with the IATF during this Covid pandemic crisis.
The first was Philippine Overseas Employment Authority Resolution No. 09 Series of 2020 signed on April 2, the POEA ruling the health workers cannot be deployed “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until Covid-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination country.”
Of course, Bello is the chairman of the POEA Board. Negotiations of bilateral labor agreements for government-to-government deployment of healthcare workers were also suspended by the resolution until the duration of the national state of emergency.
But the ban was not disclosed to the public until April 10, albeit by surprise, when immigration officials prevented Filipino nurses working for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service from catching their flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The cancellation of their flight to fulfill their signed contracts abroad was met with overwhelming protests from formal as well as informal sectors.
Social media bled for days.
The Inter-Agency Task Force-EID had to work posthaste to cover up for Bello in search of a Solomonic solution.
The second was when over 300 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were blocked by residents of Lian, Batangas at about 2 o’clock in the morning, as their convoy of 13 buses were on their way to Matabungkay.
The OFWs arrived last Wednesday from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar and were about to begin a 14-day quarantine protocol according to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
After the blockade by the town residents, they were finally accommodated in a hotel in nearby Nasugbu this, after waiting half-a-day for their pick-up from the airport and being stranded in their buses for four (4) hours until 6 a.m. as an unwelcomed climax to their three-day sojourn from various countries in the Middle East.
The convoy was not accompanied by any government official of a considerable rank that could manage the situation that Labor Undersecretary Hans Cacdac had to be summoned to Batangas in the wee hours of the morning to mollify the situation and to make an appeal to Lian Mayor Isagani Bolompo to help intervene and finally, to apologize to the OFWs for the awful inconvenience.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also could not understand why the 13 buses did not have any police escort.
In a text message to me, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (IATF-EID chief implementor) said: “If I were the local chief executive, I would like to be assured that all returning OFWs are COVID free. The fear is not unfounded. Our infection came from abroad. Just a single infected person coming in imperils the whole community.
“Hence we crafted a procedure to assure the LGUs that their returning residents coming from abroad are free of the virus. We will coordinate with the LGUs about the impending return of their people before they are sent home.”
No more peace talks
Well, it seems our men in uniform are not too far behind his sleazy hide. Finally, nakahalata na rin yata ang Pangulo na binobola s’ya ni Secretary Silvestre Bello at ni Jose Maria Sison.
It should be remembered that towards the end of last year the labor secretary diverted public attention from 10 criminal cases I filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman and the appropriate administrative cases in the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, by whispering to the ears of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the resumption of peace talks with the communist terrorist groups.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to shelve the possible resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front as they continue to attack civilians and military personnel even during the Covid-19 crisis.
“It is indeed the apex of futility to continue the talks for peace with a terrorist group like them whose illegally armed members continue to oppress the needy, kill their community and tribal leaders, and senselessly kill the soldiers who help the poor receive vital government support – and worse, rob the indigents of relief packages during this pandemic,” AFP spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.
Besides Secretary Bello never delivering the President’s only precondition – that Sison and his cohorts come to Manila for the peace talks, Arevalo also slammed the communist movement for committing at least 17 acts of violation of its own truce, which was belatedly declared on March 26 to April 15, much later than the March 19 to April 15 ceasefire declared by the President due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Arevalo said: “Since the beginning and despite countless chances for peace that they unduly took advantage of, the terrorist CPP-NPA has no intention to genuinely pursue peace negotiations but to buy time to consolidate, recruit, and strengthen their ranks and resume their offensives,” he said.
How can Bello further justify peace talks when NDF negotiator Luis Jalandoni himself admits that they see that negotiations are another form of legal struggle in order to advance their armed revolution?”
Are 50+ years of sowing havoc and depriving the people of peace and development by these terrorists not yet enough time to prove that Bello’s comrades is an isolated spent force that uses guns and violence for their livelihood?
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Only Bello is left alone who wants to negotiate with terrorists. So how do you solve a problem like lone ranger Bello and his tontos?