MANILA, Philippines—Akbayan Representative Walden Bello asked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to provide protection for Filipino women who came out and exposed the sexual exploitation of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East by Philippine officials.
“He said they are asking for protection…some of them were hesitant for fear of reprisals,” De Lima told reporters Tuesday.
De Lima met with Bello on Monday and sought the Department of Justice’s help in the investigation of the scandal.
De Lima said Bello expressed worry that the abused OFWs were not only victims of exploitation but also of human trafficking.
She said both the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Labor and Employment are conducting separate investigations.
“Depending on the result of the fact finding of the two agencies (DOLE and DFA), then there is a possibility that appropriate criminal charges will be filed and therefore that is with us (DOJ), especially those that have been proven to have been committed either in Philippine territory and syempre sa extensions of Philippine territory such as embassy, consulate,” De Lima said.
The Justice chief added that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting an investigation on similar cases. On the first case, De Lima said the NBI has finished its inquiry and submitted the report to Bello’s committee. On the second case, she said the NBI finished its inquiry but a report has yet to be submitted while the third case involved the alleged suicide of an OFW last April who died inside a Philippine consulate.
Bello earlier bared allegations that Philippine labor overseas officials had forced distressed OFWs into prostitution to earn money to fly back home.