Duterte still trusts Bello, says Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte continues to trust in the integrity of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Malacañang said on Wednesday, July 18, after a corruption complaint was filed against the Cabinet official before the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

"He still has the trust and confidence of the President," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a message on Wednesday.

Roque left it to the PACC to decide on the fate of the complaint against Bello, filed by Alie Dizon, a member of a group called Kilusang Pagbabago National Movement for Change.

Dizon alleged that Bello asked for P1.5 million from an overseas Filipino worker recruitment agency. She also claimed that an OFW who left her baby in Saudi Arabia was following up on the status of the recruitment agency because she needed the agency to help bring her baby to the Philippines.

Bello denied the accusations in media interviews and during a press conference on Tuesday, July 17.

He said the OFW had been following up on the status of a recruitment agency whose accreditation was canceled by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for allegedly recruiting underage women.

The labor chief had put his foot down that no follow-ups on legal cases should be entertained to allow the case to be handled without any influence.

"Nagfa-follow up ng kaso sa office. Sabi ko, bawal 'yun. Dapat pabayaan 'yung kaso na umusad (She was following up a case in the office. I said, that's not allowed. The case should be allowed to progress)," he said in an interview with radio station dzBB.

Kilusang Pagbabago National Movement for Change sounds like the Kilusang Pagbabago organization started by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.

But people in his camp denied that Evasco had anything to do with the complaint against Bello. This Kilusang Pagbabago group appears to be a "splinter group" of Evasco's KP, said a source. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.