MANILA, Philippines — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expressed support on Wednesday by moves of the government to investigate Philippine embassy officials allegedly involved in the sexual exploitation of distressed overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.
Father Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), said a thorough investigation should be done to hold culprits liable for their actions.
“If there are real victims seeking justice, the concerned government agencies should really investigate and the culprits should face the consequences of their deeds,” Corros told reporters on Wednesday.
The CBCP official said the commission was not surprised with the reports of the so-called “sex-for-fly” operation, saying that such allegations have already been around for some time and have not been exclusive to the Middle East.
“That allegation has already been existing a long time ago not only in the Middle East. This issue is quite complicated,” added Corros.
On Tuesday, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, chairman of the committee on overseas workers’ affairs of the House of Representatives, revealed that three officials from the Philippine overseas offices in the Middle East were involved in the scandal.
Two of the three officials were allegedly involved in running sex operations in Amman, Jordan and Kuwait while the third supposedly engaged in sexual acts with OFWs staying at the embassy’s shelter for distressed workers in Damascus, Syria.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz immediately ordered an investigation and created a team that would look into the reports.
Over Church-run Radio Veritas, Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas, the CBCP-ECMI chairman, strongly condemned the supposed wrongdoing committed by embassy officials against the OFWs, who he said were struggling to work for their families back home.
“These OFWs are already having a hard time working and then these officials will make it more difficult for them,” said Cantillas.
“It’s a good thing that the government is already doing something to get to the bottom of these allegations and prosecute the guilty,” added the prelate.
But he added that such controversy was another strong indication that the government must continue to look for ways to provide Filipinos adequate jobs in the country.