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Labatt Jolly fights back at attempt to discredit him

29 August 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

Labatt Jolly at one of the outreach missions he pioneered during his HK stint

You can never put a good man down.

This was the recurring message posted on the Facebook page of former Labor Attache to Hong Kong Jalilo dela Torre, after he denounced the latest effort by a shadowy group to discredit him and one of his legacy projects.

Dela Torre called those behind the sinister move “forces of evil” and “cowardly”.

He issued the public statement early on Aug 28, three days after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III sent out a press release to announce a probe on what he called the “haste” with which Dela Torre had tapped a new provider for the online system of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.
The press statement also said a fact-finding team had already been formed to look into the alleged improprieties, without identifying the source of the allegations.

Dela Torre said he welcomed the investigation, as he was confident it would lead to his name being cleared. But he minced no words when he pointed out to a “shadowy group of agencies” as the source of the unfounded charges.

He said the group had written to President Rodrigo Duterte and to Bello days before he was told to give up his Hong Kong post by July 7, to question the change in the system provider, and impute ill-will on him.

The embattled labor official said that on learning about the poison letter against him, he sent out a memo to Bello to explain his side, but “he has chosen to go to the media anyway,” he said.
Bello with some HK agency owners during President Duterte's visit last year

That forced him to take to social media to clear his name, said Dela Torre.

In his post, he asserted that there was really no need to conduct a public bidding for a new system provider because no money from the government was spent on the process.

But “for the sake of transparency,” he said he sent out a request of proposal to four groups, including the previous provider, EmployEasy.
All the proposals were vetted by a team from Polo and an agency representative over two months, before Polaris was chosen.

“Polaris was adjudged the clear winner because it was obviously the most superior in terms of capabilities and the data protection it offered,” said Dela Torre. He pointed out that the system’s developer is a 22-year-old magna cum laude BS Computer Science graduate of Stanford University.

The decision to upgrade the system he attributed to the need to improve POLO’s efficiency, and protect it while it waged a dangerous campaign against human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

But he also pointed out to a conflict of interest on the part of EmployEasy, which he said had operated an online matching service for workers and employers, while handling sensitive data belonging to agencies.

“If those agencies are really interested to preserve the principle of transparency, and to protect data security, they should embrace the new system because the old provider has failed to protect the private data of hundreds of thousands of workers and employers,” he said. “In fact, with its own online matching service, it could very well have compromised those data already.”

Dela Torre ended his post by saying he will not allow his name to be sullied by corrupt agencies and their allies.

“I have always served the government and our people with honesty and integrity. I will not allow my name to be tainted by baseless prejudgments and insidious innuendoes hatched by rogue agencies and their cohorts,” he said.

Many of the Filipino community leaders who “liked” his post expressed their continued support for him.
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