DoLE includes Saudi Arabia in sex scandal probe

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http://ro2.dole.gov.ph/ photo

MANILA, Philippines—The fact-finding body tasked by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to investigate the alleged sexual exploitation of distressed Filipino workers in the Middle East is expanding its probe following  new allegations against another labor official in Saudi Arabia.

In an interview, Assistant Labor Secretary Rebecca Chato said that apart from Kuwait and Jordan, the investigating team would now include Saudi Arabia, particularly Riyadh, in the itinerary of their fact-finding mission.

This came after an overseas Filipino worker, identified only as “Michelle,”  surfaced in the media and claimed to have been asked by a Philippine labor officer in Saudi Arabia to sleep with him at his home instead of at a temporary shelter put up by the embassy. She also claimed that she was offered to an Egyptian client, who instead of taking advantage of her, took pity on her and bought her a plane ticket to Manila.

“Michelle” went to the Overseas Workers  Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Friday to seek assistance, according to OWWA head Carmelita Dimzon.

“She (“Michelle”) came to see me but I referred her to the investigating panel,” Dimzon said, adding that “Michelle,” who was accompanied by another OFW, sought assistance for self-employment, livelihood and scholarship for her children.

As of late Friday afternoon, the Department of Labor and Employment had yet to take an official statement from “Michelle” or any other complainant.

The alleged victims appeared reluctant to file formal complaints for fear of repercussions from the officials implicated in the sex scandal, according to DoLE.

But Chato said they were exerting all efforts to convince the victims to come forward and testify.

“We appeal to the victims  to come out and help us help you. We will protect you and your identity,” she said.

A labor official  who requested anonymity  said they would continue with their investigation even without signed affidavits.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the department was doing everything to get to the bottom of the allegations.

Baldoz, who is in Milan together with  Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for the Agribusiness Investment Forum for the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, said the DOLE has an understanding with the Department of Foreign Affairs that the parallel investigation the two agencies are conducting would be thorough and complete.

“There is such a thing as due process, and we would like to abide by it…. But until now, there has not been a single person who had filed a formal complaint against the DOLE personnel named in the allegations that continues to play out in the media,” said Baldoz in a statement.

“It is our people who are being accused in the media, but isn’t it ironic that it is us who are looking out for complainants?” said Baldoz, as she appealed for cooperation so that the investigating team, whose main task involves gathering information and pertinent documents and to interview the concerned OFWs, can conclude its work fast.

The head of the Dole investigating panel, lawyer Leah Fortuna, has reported to Baldoz that the team has identified three of 48 alleged victims, but they said they had no personal knowledge of or information about the allegations. She said the investigating panel was looking for the remaining OFWs through the DOLE, POEA, and OWWA regional offices.

Baldoz also expressed appreciation over the concern of some members of Congress for the fast resolution of the matter, including Rep. Walden Bello and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and she appealed to them to provide the DOLE with any information available to them to speed up the investigation.

“We are determined to get to the bottom of this issue as the DOLE does not condone any inappropriate act of any of its officials and personnel, most especially if it involves the performance of their official duties, particularly those mandated to protect our OFWs. Integrity and sincerity in public service are among the core values that we in the DOLE have sworn to uphold and abide by in everything we do,” she said.

Migrante International said in a statement that the “sex-for-ticket” issue was an exploitation borne out of the Aquino government’s failure to carry out the immediate repatriation of distressed OFWs and that the abuse of OFWs by embassy and consulate officials intensified during the crackdowns on undocumented OFWs in the Middle East.

“The bottom line here is abusive embassy and consulate officials are taking advantage of the desperation of OFWs. The further exploitation of the exploited. This is not an isolated matter that has nothing to do with the overall condition of stranded OFWs seeking immediate repatriation from the Philippine government in light of the crackdowns,” said Migrante International chair Garry Martinez.

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  • albert

    halos lahat ata ng PH embassy officials na pinadala ni pNOy mga sex maniacs..

    • Marx Louis Wang

      ???

  • NoWorryBHappy

    Where is VICE-PRESIDENT JEJOMAR BINAY ?
    Kapag may charity at rescue with publicity na OFW ay laging front page siya.
    Bakit biglang naglaho na parang bula?

  • Marx Louis Wang

    Simulan natin ang root cause ng bagay na ito (hindi kasali ang desisyon ng pag-apply sa abroad). Isang recruiting agency ang nangakong may trabaho sa abroad halimbawa, office work, inaplayan ng isang pinay, college graduate with excellent qualifications aside from having good personality, nagbayad ng inutang na placement fee, pagdating sa middle east, sinalubong ng “employer”, maganda natural ang trato sa kanya, sinabihan na ang opisina niya ay under construction pa, walang suweldong natatanggap sa una at pangalawang buwan habang ang interest sa inutang niya ay tumatakbo, hindi raw natuloy ang project na kung saan siya ay magtratrabaho, in-offer-ran siya na kung kailangan talaga niya ng pera para may maipadala siya sa naiwang pamilya na umaasa lang sa kanya, kumapit siya sa patalim, inisip niya papaano pa niya haharapin ang naiwan din na boyfriend, hindi naman siya makauwi dahil hindi niya hawak ang passport niya, at kapag siya ay nagreklamo tinakot siya na baka siya makulong. Sa ganitong situwasyon, ano ang magagawa niyo kung kayo ang nasa lagay niya.

    • batangpaslit

      Louis…magandang case study ang na post mo.
      Ano kaya, ang tanong mo ang gawing selection criteria for those who aspire to be the Amabassor or Labor Attache offshore?
      I know an associate, she’s an engineering graduate, merong dalawang anak, at employed ng municipal government. She’s getting a montly salary of PhP15K.
      May nag recruit.
      Qatar ang destination.
      Tinanggap nia. Kasi, trabahong abroad.
      Nangutang ng PhP150,000.00 pangbayad sa Placement Fee.
      Kuwidaw, suweldo nia, equivalent lang din ng PhP15K pag na convert into pesos ang dollar nia.
      Ang mga anak, iniwan sa Tiya. Lumayas si mister kasi ayaw niang umalis wifey nia.
      Dahil nahiwalay ang nanay sa mga anak, nagkasakit ang mga anak nia sa lungkot—-emotional anxiety.
      Ang nanay, bumabayad na sa Tiya nia ng caregiving services, bumabayad pa sa Placement Fee.
      Humingi ng tulong ang Nanay, sagot ko, may kamag-anak ka. Buhay pa parents mo at mga kapatid. Sa kanila ka dumulog.
      Ayaw daw makialam dahil hindi sia nakinig na may trabaho naman sa bayan nila, pero, bakit pinili pa magngutang at mag abroad, eh, pareho lang naman pala ang suweldo.
      Marami pa akong ma share tungkol sa mga sad stories sa pag work abroad.
      Kaya lang kulang na nang space.
      Thanks for posing a very tough question.
      I cannot provide a pat answer. But, you made me think and ponder.

      • Marx Louis Wang

        Thanks for your input. Sa katunayan noong nagtrabaho ako sa Oman, may nakita akong distressed na pinay na sakay sa kotse ng amo niya na nagsisigaw, isa siyang domestic helper sa palagay ko. Sana i-share mo sa susunod ang mga sad stories.

  • dabs

    Migrante should help find ways and means so that we OFW’s will no longer have to go abroad to work. Just blaming the government be it Aquino, Arroyo or Marcos or Binay will not solve the problem of OFW exploitation. Ask yourselves guys, what have you done to improve the economy of the philippines so we no longer have to go abroad? Anything else, is just politics, just like those names above….

    • batangpaslit

      may punto…

  • opinyonlangpo

    Way back in the nineties, I have seen how an Arab sexually exploited a Filipina asking for a release from contract from her employer. It is however horrendous and unforgivable for these officials to do such exploitation, people expected to provide them protection and shelter.

  • batangpaslit

    the social cost of being separated from home had been taking a toll to many.
    what is $250.00 slave wages, 24/7 hours of hard toil, exploited and abused both by employers and embassy officials?

  • mangpepe

    totoo na nangyayari ito palagay niyo ba pag ako ang naibugaw lalantad pa ba ako para lang mapahiya may mapapala ba naman ba ako sa aking paglantad, putang ina alam yan ng ating mga embassy official pero nagbubulag-bulagan na lang, galing ako ng middle east kaya alam ko

  • PrivateEye

    Itigil na ang pagpapadala ng kasambahay lalo na sa middle east, gumawa kaya ang gobyerno ng proyekto upang mapapaunlad ang bawat mamayanan upang sa ganoon ay ‘di na makapag-isip mangingibang bansa. Ang pinakamataas na may maraming pang-aabuso ay ang sa kasambahay. Itataguyod sana ng gobyerno ang mga proyekto para sa mga mamamayan para sila makapagtrabaho.

  • boldyak

    ang mga embassy officials sa Riyadh noo, may mga bugaw na may dala dalang pictures ng mga babae sa, gumagala sa BATHA, pakikita sa iyo ang mga pictures at sasabihin mo kung may kursunada ka at i arrange nya na madadali mo ang babae…of course at a price…i have encountered such situation…and personnaly i can say that it is true…

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