Bello warns overseas labor exec of libel
MANILA, Philippines—Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello on Thursday warned Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Amman, Jordan assistant labor attaché Mario Antonio of possible libel charges if the overseas welfare official continues to accuse him of being a tool of recruitment agencies.
“This guy is crazy. He’d better not repeat it or we will file a libel suit,” Bello, chairman of the House committee on overseas workers affairs, told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
Antonio in a statement said that Bello’s exposé, linking Philippine Embassy officials and labor welfare officers to prostitution rings in the Middle East, has the backing of labor recruiters.
“He is implying that we are tools of recruitment agencies. That is a horrible lie and for his own good, he’d better not repeat it,” Bello said.
The party-list lawmaker said he was willing to resign from the House of Representatives should the government fail to file appropriate charges against those involved in “sex-for-repatriation” complaints in the Middle East.
“I am willing to resign if the government does not file criminal charges against these officials,” he said.
Earlier this week, Bello tagged three Philippine officials in the Middle East in the sex scandal.
He identified them as Antonio, Kuwait Polo officer Blas Marquez and a certain “Kim” in Damascus.
The lawmaker has earlier maintained that his sources from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment were “fairly reliable.”
Bello has discussed the cases with Undersecretary for Labor Relations Rebecca Chato and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Del Rosario has ordered the officials implicated in the said cases to return to the Philippines for investigation.