Gov’t didn’t act against ‘sex-for-flight’ scheme, says House panel report
MANILA, Philippines – The government has failed to “use all means to gather sufficient evidence” to hold accountable alleged perpetrators in the “sex-for-flight” scheme and should pursue criminal charges against them, a committee that investigated the controversy at the House of Representatives said.
Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, in the report by the Overseas Workers Affairs committee, said in a letter attached to the report:
“We have …seen a sordid scheme perpetuated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to ensure that the officials involved in these abuses are not held accountable for their crimes.”
The committee noted that DOLE and DFA should have used all means to gather sufficient evidence against officials “if both agencies are truly committed to hold erring officials accountable and restore our OFWs’ trust in these institutions.”
“Sadly, we did not see such efforts,” Bello said.
“While both agencies have promised reforms…we are worried that such reforms would be an exercise in futility unless the erring individuals are prosecuted.”
The committee said it wanted the Department of Justice to file criminal charges against the accused in court.
Bell cited the case of Labor Attache Adam Musa, who was accused of coddling his driver accused of raping a Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia.
Musa was tagged in the scheme that involved asking sexual favors from distressed OFWs in the Middle East for repatriation.
Bello hit the labor department for only meting out a one-month suspension without pay for grave offense against Musa.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had said that the penalty was final and executory because there was no motion for reconsideration filed.
“The committee maintains that the penalty of one-month suspension without pay …is a mere tap-on-the-wrist, that he must no longer be posted abroad henceforth, and that he should have been meted a penalty that is more commensurate to the actual offenses committed,” the report read.
Besides coddling an accused rapist, Musa was also accused of extracting 2,500 to 3,000 Saudi Riyals from a distressed OFW for a ticket back home, the report read.
Another OFW also accused Musa of referring her to a certain Rene Garduce, who in turn advised her to prostitute a policeman if she wanted repatriation.
Another official Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte was accused by another OFW of telling her to go “part time” while waiting to be sent home. “Part time” apparently meant engaging in prostitution.
Villafuerte was given a reprimand by the labor department, the report said.
The others accused in the sex scheme were OIC Labor Attache Mario Antonio, Jose Casicas, Blas Marquez, Elky Malvas, and NGO leader Albert Guanzon.
Guanzon and Marquez were accused of running sex rings in the Middle East.
None of the accused has been convicted in court, the report said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.