• Leave, corrupt Cabinet men told

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    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Friday separately vowed to weed out corrupt officials in their departments.

    Bello said his move will be effected through a performance audit, “especially [of]those exercising quasi-judicial functions.”

    Aguirre, however, did not say how he plans to carry out the cleansing in the Department of Justice (DOJ).

    Bello said the performance audit is a way of validating derogatory reports that he had received about some officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) even as he spared former Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, whose “excellent” performance, he noted he hopes to replicate.

    He, however, assured that those who honestly perform their duties would continue to keep their jobs.

    Many of the complaints cited in the reports, according to Bello, were about delays in resolving cases at the offices of labor arbiters and commissioners of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

    “We can’t allow that to be perpetrated here in our department. We should fast-track our disposition of cases because it breeds suspicion [if we don’t],” he said.

    “As the President [Rodrigo Duterte] has said, all papers should get out in 72 hours because the longer [they stay]stays, more kotong [bribe money][changes hands]. That is true,” Bello added.

    “To reduce collection [of bribe money], let’s make it a policy in our department that the moment a paper reaches your table, the first thing you do is to see to it that in 72 hours it is out,” he said of his “first policy statement.”

    Bello announced the creation of either a DOLE Task Force or an Inter-Agecy Task Force on Illegal Recruitment to combat illegal recruitment and trafficking, which, he said, also involves Labor officials.

    “They thrive because of the conspiracy of some people in our department. Illegal recruitment won’t thrive without [that]conspiracy, without help from some people in our department. Stop the operations of illegal recruiters and human traffickers. [They] should be watched. That’s my second policy statement,” Bello said.

    The Labor chief added that he is also thinking of a “bounty system” wherein P50,000 will be paid for every valid information that would lead to the arrest of an illegal recruiter.

    “Those in the overseas employment industry are willing to contribute to the bounty,” according to Bello.

    Also atop the DOLE’s agenda, he said, is to put a stop to the illegal “end of contract” or “endo” practice by many establishments around the country.

    Bello added that he would be meeting soon with labor unions and other stakeholders on how to do away with “endo” or contractualization.

    “We have to stop endo, we have to stop contractualization. We have to help each other, both labor and management, and see how we can do this. We have to keep the balance,” he said.

    Bello added that no one would be spared in putting an end to endo because such practice is against the law.

    Contractualization or endo or “555” is a work arrangement wherein workers are only hired for about 5 months or less than 6 months without security of tenure, monetary, non-monetary and social protection benefits.

    Under the scheme, companies undermine the Labor Code by hiring the services of a recruitment or manpower agency or cooperative for the services they needed to avoid a direct employer-employee relationship for less than six months.

    Contractual workers receive less than the mandated minimum wage without social protection benefits such as Social Security System, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth. They are also deprived of overtime and holiday pays, non-cash perks and benefits.

    Legislative efforts to stop contractualization are exerted in every Congress through the proposed Security of Tenure Act.

    But the push for the measure’s approval into law is always opposed by powerful business and employers groups including manpower agencies and cooperatives.

    Meanwhile, the Justice secretary said the cleansing will cover DOJ line agencies, including National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Corrections and Land Registration Authority.

    Although he wanted to scrutinize alleged midnight resolutions signed by his predecessor, Emmanuel Caparas, he said there should be concrete evidence that corruption attended the signing of such resolutions.

    To mitigate corruption, Aguirre added, the salary of prosecutors and lawyers nationwide must be increased.

    In addition, he will push the hiring of 500 new prosecutors to address case backlogs in courts across the country.

    It was learned that former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima stayed with the DOJ for more than 5 years but she left unresolved about 10,000 cases.

    Aguirre said he had recommended to Duterte that Marine Maj. Gen. Alexander Balutan be named to lead the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

    Balutan is a bemedaled officer and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.

    With JOMAR CANLAS

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