No sex-for-flight case, just simple negligence rapsBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Not finding any evidence of a sex-for-repatriation racket, the labor official in Riyadh who was the subject of recent complaints from distressed overseas women workers will face charges of “simple negligence” for other work-related matters, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
Baldoz said two other labor officials implicated in the sex-for-repatriation controversy will also face unrelated charges “for apparently not performing their duties well.”
Baldoz has approved the filing of administrative charges against Riyadh Labor Attache Adam Musa for gross negligence; Jordan officer in charge Labor Attaché Mario Antonio for grave misconduct; and Riyadh Assistant Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte for simple negligence.
In a statement, Baldoz said the fact-finding team tasked to look into the controversy has found prima facie evidence against the officials, not for the sex-for-repatriation allegations but for other infractions, including their “failure to do their duties well.”
She clarified that the team did not find the involvement of any of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) organic personnel in any “sex-for-fly” or “sex-for-hire” activities. The investigation report said some distressed workers had apparently been recruited into a prostitution ring, but it did not involve their personnel.
In addition to the charge of simple negligence against Villafuerte, Baldoz also approved the fact-finding team’s recommendation to refer the complaints for sexual harassment against the Riyadh official to the DOLE Committee on Decorum and Investigation.
Nicon Fameronag, DOLE spokesperson, said in an interview that Villafuerte’s case of “simple negligence” will be endorsed to the DOLE Legal Service for a formal hearing.
“A case of simple negligence will be treated as a regular case so it was referred to the legal department,” Fameronag said, explaining that the charge stemmed from Villafuerte’s apparently “failing to take care of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)” in his jurisdiction.
Musa and Antonio’s cases, on the other hand, were endorsed to two special hearing panels that have been constituted to preside over the formal investigation.
“These cases were referred to two panels to expedite the hearings of the case,” Fameronag said, adding that both Musa and Antonio, based on the fact-finding investigation, were found to have committed “flagrant, willful and deliberate violations of the civil service rule” and that they allegedly manifested behavior unbecoming of a government official.
Of the three labor officials, it was only Villafuerte who had complainants. He had been accused by three OFWs of sexually molesting and pimping them in exchange for plane tickets. He denied the allegations.