RIYADH: Abdul Hannan Tago
Published — Sunday 23 June 2013
Last update 28 June 2013 7:14 pm
RIYADH: Three women migrant workers have come forward to accuse a Filipino labor officer in Saudi Arabia of demanding sex from them in exchange for their repatriation to the Philippines, Manila media said, quoting a Department of Foreign Affairs official.
The victims and a witness met with officials of the Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Labor (DOLE) departments led by Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario to identify the official, said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez.
The meeting was part of a “continuing effort to get to the bottom” of the “sex for repatriation” racket allegedly run by labor officers in Philippine embassies in the Middle East, Hernandez was quoted as saying.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello earlier tagged three officers at the Philippine missions in Kuwait, Syria and Jordan of engaging in sexual exploitation, including running a prostitution ring using stranded women OFWs.
Yesterday’s meeting between DFA and DOLE officials with the victims was arranged by television network ABS-CBN.
In Riyadh, a group called SPMUDA International Complaint, Action and Referral Center, urged Manila to create a presidential team to investigate Philippine Embassy staff officials in Middle East about negligence and abuses to ensure that there would be no whitewash.
Said Camad Ali, chief executive officer of the UN-recognized organization, described the new revelations as “a very disturbing and embarrassing scandal.”
Ali lamented that OFWs are working hard to promote their country as a tourism and economic investment hub, but "these embassy crooks” are negating such efforts.
Migrante, a migrant advocacy group, said abused and maltreated Filipino women household workers who seek refuge at Philippine government shelters in the Middle East are vulnerable to “predators” because of the unacceptably slow pace in which their cases are handled.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante coordinator for the Middle East, said the excessively slow repatriation of these “distressed OFWs” provides a “fertile ground for exploitative conditions” inside such shelters that are called the Filipino Workers Resource Center.
“That’s why we are moving heaven and earth for the immediate, free and mass repatriation of all distressed and stranded OFWs, especially women, children, and the sick and old,” he said.