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Former HK Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre responds to DOLE Secretary Bello accusation of “midnight deal”

| September 26, 2019

Labor Attache Jalilo Dela Torre

Regarding this unbelievable and unprecedented action of the Secretary’s cancelling the “midnight deal” between myself and Polaris, let me clarify the following:

1) The decision to change the provider has been considered for a long time because it had become obvious that EmployEasy, the old provider, had become unresponsive to our requests for changes and improvements in the system. Agencies and POLO users had been complaining about the difficulty in using it. The vulnerability of private data was clear from the provider’s business procedures and policies.

Later on, we uncovered something more sinister: the owner of EmployEasy and Helper DB, an online job matching service, are one and the same person, a clear conflict of interest. Agencies have complained of the old provider wearing two hats: they go to Manila and talk to Philippine agencies selling HelperDB, no doubt offering the incentive that they have the data of hundreds of thousands of employers and workers registered under Employ Easy.

Changing the system and the provider was therefore an obvious, moral and legal choice. Keeping the old system would’ve tolerated inefficiency, negligence and wrongdoing.

2) Despite there being no law requiring public bidding of an online system where no government money is to be spent, we wanted to be transparent and requested several companies, including the old provider, to submit proposals and asked them to present before a panel of POLO HK officials and an agency. Four companies submitted and presented. It was obvious to the panel that Polaris was the best model and would have made our task of fighting rogue agencies and human traffickers a lot easier. What was “hasty” about the procedure?

3) A few weeks before I left Hong Kong, a group of agencies styling itself as “seeking justice” wrote to the President and the Secretary alleging lack of consultations, no public bidding, and that the contract was hastily entered into. Curiously, the Secretary took up the cudgels for these shadowy agencies and ordered a probe.

4) The probe team went to Hong Kong and interviewed people. Strangely, they neither called me nor Polaris to testify. The team must’ve interviewed the agencies who complained about Polaris. How did the team know whom to talk to, if the complaint was unsigned?

5) The Secretary has been heard and seen publicly “rescinding” the contract, to which he is not a party, and describing the contract as “midnight”, implying there was corruption. At the same time, he ordered a probe of my possible administrative and criminal liability.

I am compelled to go online and clarify things, as my name and reputation are being sullied unnecessarily by forces that have a dirty agenda.

I have worked for the government for almost 30 years and my name has never been dragged into any corrupt deals or transactions. I am a recipient of many awards for performance, of which I am very proud, including the following:

1) DOLE Lingkod Manggagawa Award for Innovation, Individual Category, 2010;
2) Pusong OFW Award by the Blas F Ople Policy Center and Training Center, 2017;
3) Certificate of Appreciation, The Sun newspaper, HK, 2018
4) Certificate of Appreciation, Centre for Pro Bono Services, HK, 2019
4) Gawad Tanggol Migrante by the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, 2019

and hundreds of other plaques and commendations from Filipino communities in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia and in various regions in the country. These memorials glitter and crowd every inch in and around our stairs landing in our Cebu home. I am proud of these awards because these are what I signed up and worked hard for. I am proud of the communities I have served. I am proud of what I have done throughout my government career.

I’m not the one who has been involved in many cases of corruption. I’m not the one siding with rogue agencies. I’m not the one with a shady reputation.

I will defend my name no matter what it takes.

Source: Labatt Jalilo Dela Torre’s facebook post

 

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