MANILA, Philippines-Migrant rights group Migrante on Thursday bared the alleged “sex-for-flight” modus operandi of some Philippine embassy and labor officials in Saudi Arabia to distressed Filipino women abroad who wanted to return to the country.
John Leonard Monterona, vice-chairperson of Migrante and coordinator in Middle East and North Africa, disclosed the following information which according to Monterona are based on the account provided by overseas Filipino workers OFW victims to Migrante officers in Saudi Arabia:
· The embassy and labor official normally will ask an OFW ward at the Bahay Kalinga or Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC), a run away and distressed, if she has money to pay for her own airplane tickets, payment for penalties being an absconder, and payment to her sponsor-employer who usually ask a reimbursement of her deployment cost.
· Seven out of 10 of the OFW ward as expected would answer on the negative having no money and being in dire need. Then the official, who is an alleged member of the syndicate operating inside the PH embassy/labor offices in the Middle East, will discreetly talk to the OFW ward to offer an ‘indecent proposal’ of having a prospective ‘client’ in exchange for cash.
· During night time, the OFW ward will be fetched by either the driver or any local-hire staff of embassy and labor officials, as ring-leaders in such ‘sex-for-flight’ modus operandi.
· Amount, per information direct from the OFW ward as victims of ‘sex-for-flight’ modus, ranges from 500 rials to 1,000 rials. Some very desperate OFW wards are accepting as low as 100 to 300 rials.
As the issue has now been brought to the public and other concerned government agencies, Monterona urged other OFW victims of ‘sex-for-flight’ to come out and get in touch with their officers in Saudi so they can assist them in filing formal complaints.
“We will also try to arrange with the concerned authorities their security and safety and to protect their real names and identity,” Monterona added.
Monterona also called on Pres. Benigno Aquino III , the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Labor and Employment to also immediately recall Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzadin Tago and the now Riyadh-based Labor Attache Adam Musa.
According to Monterona, both allegedly failed to act on their respective official capacity as top Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia on the alleged sexual complaint lodged on August 2012 by a distressed woman OFW who have sought refuge at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) run and manage by the PH embassy in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
“As we demand in-depth investigation on the reported ‘sex for fly’ modus operandi at various Philippine diplomatic posts in the Middle East (Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, to include Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Bahrain), which we believed, citing verbal complaints from OFWs as victims, was also a common knowledge among the Filipino Community in Saudi Arabia, an impartial probe is highly questionable if Amb. Tago and Labor Attache Musa will remain in their respective offices during the time frame of the investigation,” Monterona said in a statement to Manila Channel.
Monterona added they will arrange to submit all related documentation and affidavits of alleged OFW victims of sexual abuses, harassment, “indecent proposals”, pimping, to DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario.
“We have been exposing this for quite some time that there are embassy and labor officials in the Middle East pimping and forcing distressed OFWs into prostitution just to get money for sustenance and airfare.”
“Philippine government’s higher ups are not just acting on it. We do hope this time they’ll conduct an honest to goodness investigation, gather evidences and eventually file appropriate criminal and administrative raps against the culprits. These corrupt and criminal officials should be immediately dismissed from their jobs… as they are only causing added misery to already abused and distressed OFWs temporarily seeking refuge at various shelters abroad,” said Monterona.