Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III just got a big boost to his morale and self-confidence after industry leaders and members of the country’s land-based manpower (recruitment) agencies signed a ‘joint manifesto’ expressing their full confidence in his leadership.

The manifesto, signed by at least 160 industry leaders and owners of recruitment agencies during a meeting yesterday in Manila, declared they “believe” in the “integrity and leadership” of Bello and “pray” that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte retain him at his post “so that he (Bello) can continue with his programs both for local and overseas labor.”

The signatories want the Chief Executive to ignore the ongoing ‘demolition job’ against Bello that is aimed at influencing him to remove the labor secretary.

The signatories also nixed the accusation that the labor chief received “cash or gift of any kind” from any recruitment agency “in exchange for favors.”

“We are partners of the government in facilitating overseas job for Filipinos and we adhere and comply with government rules.”

“We do not tolerate or encourage the practice of bribing government officials and employees in exchange for personal favors by our officers,” the manifesto read.

The manifesto also emphasized the industry’s trust in the integrity and leadership of Bello amid vicious attacks and allegations of bribery and corruption hurled against the labor secretary.

“…(W)e believe in the integrity of and leadership of labor secretary Silvestre Bello III… we have known Sec. Bello as an approachable person who is ready to help, if the request is meritorious,” the group said.

“…(W)e have not known Sec. Bello to have received cash or gifts of any kind from any recruitment agency in exchange for favors,” the group also stressed.

Among those who affixed their signatures to the manifesto are: Lucita Sermonia, representing ‘PHILAAK, Inc.’ (Philippine Association of Agencies for Kuwait) and ‘CLADS’ (Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers);

Alicia Devulgado, representing ‘OPAPI’ (Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines); Madolyn Uanang, ‘PAMA-UAE’ (Philippine Association of Manpower Agencies for the United Arab Emirates); Miriam Mondragon, PAMA-Qatar; Thelma Uanang and Alfredo Palmiery, ‘AMBA’ (Association of Manpower Agencies for Bahrain);

Danilo Navarro, ‘APLATIP, Inc.’ (Association of Philippine Licensed Agencies for Technical Internship); Jessie Gutierrez, ‘PRAASA’ (Philippine Recruitment Agencies Accredited to Saudi Arabia; Estrelita Hizon, ‘PAMADEL’ (Philippine Association of Mediterranean Deploying Labor); Milagros Abuhussein, ‘PAMAJOR’ (Philippine Association of Manpower Agencies for Jordan); and, Myrna Luz Manansala, ‘AMBRUPHIL’ (Association of Manpower for Brunei-Philippines).

Other signatories include leaders of industry groups deploying Filipino overseas workers (OFWs) in Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Macau and Singapore, as well as owners of over 100 recruitment agencies.

Bello has been the target of an unrelenting media campaign that has intensified in the last few weeks by a “cabal” that, DOLE sources said, is “interested” in his post.

Last week, finally expressing his exasperation, Bello vowed to sue in court all his detractors and all those allegedly conspiring to bring him down.

### Abegail De Vega

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