Silvestre H. Bello III, lawyer, human rights advocate, a worker for peace, and a long-time public servant, on 1 July, assumed office as the 28th Secretary of Labor and Employment and the DOLE corps of officials and employees, including tripartite social partners, warmly welcomed him.
In a simple turn-over ceremony at the Labor Governance Learning Center of the Blas F. Ople Hall in Intramuros, Manila, Bello, 72, received from outgoing Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz the DOLE flag, symbol of leadership of and authority at the DOLE, to the wide applause of DOLE officials and employees, tripartite social partners and stakeholders, including union leaders and employers, and international development partners.
A representative of party-list IBAP in the 16th Congress before he was appointed DOLE Secretary by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Bello has held various positions in government in various times.
He was undersecretary of the Department of Justice from 1986 to 1990; served as presidential adviser for new government centers for one year from July 2007 to July 2008; and was Solicitor General from September 1996 to June 1998.
From July 1990 to February 1992, Bello was Secretary of Justice in the government of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, and in the government of President Fidel V. Ramos from January to June 1998.
Under the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he was Secretary to the Cabinet from July 2008 to February 2010, and for three years, from January 2001 to August 2004, held the post of Chairman of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panel for Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
Born in Gattaran, Cagayan, Secretary Bello had been Cabinet Officer for Regional Development for Region II and Cabinet Oversight Officer for IP and NCIP matters. He had also served as General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Reclamation Authority and President and Chief Executive Officer of the PNOC Development and Management Corporation.
Secretary Bello was a law practitioner when he is not in government service, and is actively involved in human rights promotion and defense as a member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG). He is on leave from the Carpio and Bello Law Offices.
He obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the Manuel L. Quezon University in 1961 and completed his law degree at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1970. A member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the new labor and employment chief has served as a director in numerous private sector companies, including Philippine Airlines and San Miguel Corporation. He is multi-lingual, speaking ethnic Ibanag, Ilocano, and Cebuano, aside from English and Tagalog.
In his first official address to the DOLE, Secretary Bello pledged to work immediately to achieve three goals: an end to contractualization; fast resolution of all cases at the DOLE and compliance with the 72-hour completion of all official public transaction; and an end to illegal trafficking and illegal recruitment.
“I came to the DOLE as a friend and I urge your cooperation to achieve these goals. We must work together and not compete against one another,” he said.