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Get your act together, Aquino tells officials on sex-for-flight probe


05:33 AM July 4th, 2013

By: Michael Lim Ubac, July 4th, 2013 05:33 AM

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz: No one in the DOLE would be spared. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino has ordered the executive secretary and departments of labor and justice to get their act together in investigating the “sex-for-flight” cases in the Middle East and filing appropriate charges against anyone found to be involved.

Aquino issued this directive on Tuesday during a meeting with Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz in Malacañang.

At the meeting, Baldoz submitted a report to the President outlining several “corrective measures” to address the alleged sexual exploitation of Filipino women in the Middle East by Philippine consular and labor officials.

Spare no one

“I submitted to the President an update report on the matter and discussed with him the measures that we have undertaken—and continuously undertake—after the allegations became public and complainants have surfaced,” said Baldoz in a statement posted on the official government website (http://www.gov.ph/).

“I reiterated my earlier statement that no one in the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) would be spared if any official or employee is found to have violated our laws after a thorough and impartial investigation,” she said.

In turn, the President told Baldoz to coordinate with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

“I was instructed by the President that should the investigating team find basis for the filing of criminal charges, I should coordinate with the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Secretary of Justice,” said Baldoz.

The team that had been set up by Baldoz to conduct an investigation on the sex-for-flight controversy is now in Saudi Arabia. It will also fly to Jordan before flying home to submit its report on or before July 12.

She made no mention of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which has launched a separate investigation of the alleged sex-related offenses.

Corrective measures

In her report to the President, Baldoz outlined several corrective measures relative to the controversy which are as follows:

Issuance last June 28, 2013, of the memorandum order for the deployment of 13 female and one male personnel to augment Philippine overseas labor offices (POLOs) in three countries, namely, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 9 personnel; Jordan, 3; and Kuwait, 2. “These personnel will leave as soon as accreditation by the respective host governments is obtained,” Baldoz explained.

Immediate installation of the Foreign Labor Operations Information System (FLOIS) in all 37 POLOs overseas, with the Middle East POLOs as a priority. The system will record all POLO transactions and make the data immediately accessible to DOLE, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“The FLOIS will allow us to monitor the number of wards being accommodated in our Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Resource Centers, commonly known as Bahay Kalinga,” she remarked.

Development of a streamlined process of recruitment and deployment in both Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, and the development of a joint onsite dispute settlement system, case handling, repatriation and operation of the Saudi megarecruitment agencies.

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