Labor chief orders probe into 'sex for fly' scheme in Middle East
Baldoz , who is in Geneva for the 102nd International Labor Conference, ordered the probe after one of the 46 distressed female OFWs in Kuwait claimed that an embassy official asked for sexual favor in exchange for swift repatriation to the Philippines.
The 46 distressed OFWs, most of whom had abusive employers, are temporarily housed at the Kuwaiti Deportation Center.
In a statement on Tuesday, Baldoz said, "I am resolved to get into the bottom of any accusation of wrongdoing against our people to uphold their credibility and integrity, whether or not the allegations are malicious or with basis."
"We take this kind of allegations very seriously," she said. “We believe that for us to be able to protect the rights and welfare of every Filipino worker here and abroad, it is a must that we keep ourselves clean; that we keep the Department graft- and corruption-free.”
Baldoz signed Administrative Order No. 239, Series of 2013 creating the investigating team composed of lawyers: Atty. Leah Fortuna of the Office of the Secretary as the Chairperson, Atty. Ophelia Almenario of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Atty. Rosemarie G. Duquez of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Baldoz said the team will gather the necessary information and documents, interview the concerned OFWs, interest groups, and POLO/Embassy officials.
She explained that “if the allegations were proven as facts, the team will assist in the filing of appropriate charges against erring individuals.”
“The DOLE does not condone any inappropriate act of any of its official and personnel, most especially if it involves the performance of their official duties. Integrity and sincerity in public service are among the core values that we in the DOLE have sworn to uphold and abide by in everything we do,” she said.
Meanwhile, Baldoz urged the victims and those who may have information on the modus operandi to get in touch with the investigating team at telephone numbers (02) 527-3000 local 705, (02) 551-1560, (02) 551-6641, (02) 722-1144, (02) 722-1155.
Meanwhile, at a press briefing Tuesday, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello identified two of the officials, but GMA News Online is witholding their names until they have issued their respective comments.
Bello, chairman of the House committee on overseas workers' affairs, said the two were from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Jordan and Kuwait.
"Sexual abuse on our womenfolk perpetrated by their hosts in a foreign country is an awful crime," Bello said. "But there is something more awful, and that is their exploitation by their own compatriots in that strange land."
These alleged cases of exploitation were uncovered when Bello's committee investigated the reported "sex-for-flight" activities where overseas Pinays were allegedly offered repatriation by officials in exchange for sex.
Bello said his office is still investigating the reported "sex-for-flight" transactions. He described the cases of sexual exploitation they discovered as "equally, if not as horrible, as 'sex-for-flight." - with a report from Gian C. Geronimo,VVP, GMA News