MANILA, Philippines-“OFWs demand dismissal, conviction of alleged sex for flight offenders.”
Thus, said today by the Filipino migrants’ sectoral group Migrante a day after Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief Albert del Rosario confirmed that a labor official in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia may have committed sexual advances, breach of public officials code of conduct and ethical standards and abuse of authority over some distressed women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have sought refuge at the Bahay Kalinga.
“We believed the 3 OFWs, namely ‘Michelle’, ‘Analisa’, and ‘Angel’ (not their real names) as they swear to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” said Migrane vice chairperson John Leonard Monterona, also the group’s coordinator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Monterona said when he first heard the verbal testimony of the three, he’s quite sure that they are not lying.
“What they have told us firstly by Michelle who had sought our Migrante officers’ assistance in Riyadh so that she’ll be repatriated, is a sort of deja vu. The same testimonies of sexual abuses and exploitation by some alleged criminal-minded officials at various PH embassy and labor offices in the Middle East I have heard since 1998 and the succeeding years just like in 2008 and 2010 when I personally have handled high-profile cases of sexual abuses victimizing OFWs,” Monterona lamented.
Monterona added if the OFWs victim of sexual exploitation who have previously sought assistance to his group never gave up and have the determination to pin down their abusers, it could have made a difference as it may deter the ‘sex for flight’ offenders from doing their scheme.
Monterona, however, said he understood well the dilemma of the previous sexploitation victims who have asked his group assistance.
“They were threatened not to speak aside from being maligned. If they will speak against the alleged embassy and labor officials, they will not be repatriated and could no longer stay at the Bahay Kalinga. They really feared that their offenders –the sexually abusive officials- would retaliate if they bare the truth and eventually file formal complaints,” Monterona added.
Monterona said he had told Michelle, Analiza, and Angel –who have already made, signed and submitted their respective affidavit to the DFA- their decision to came out, speak up and bare the truth was ‘very inspiring and I salute to their courage’.
‘We are still hoping that the like of Michelle, Analiza, and Angel will come to us and help us in our fight versus sexploitation of women OFWs,’ Monterona averred.
The OFW leader added that he is expecting 3 more victims to come out and eventually submit their affidavits to pin down other alleged criminal-minded embassy and labor officials.
“Two are in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, awaiting their repatriation. Both decided to leave the Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh after they experienced sexual abuses and ‘indecent proposal’ from a labor official. The two may not be necessarily referring to assistant labor attache Antonio Villafuerte who was tagged by OFWs Michelle, Analiza, and Angel,” Monterona revealed.
The other one is in Kuwait, according to Monterona adding that it was the OFW victim friend who directly contacted him asking for assistance.
‘I am also receiving feelers from distressed women OFWs in Amman, Jordan. They would like to reveal about selling of airplane tickets, which are supposed to be given free of charge, by some alleged PH labor and welfare officials, and the various incidents that some OFWs ward at the Filipino Workers Resource Center were allowed to go out at night,’ Monterona added.
“Our fellow OFWs in the Middle East would like to see dismissal from public office and conviction of alleged sexual offenders. Above all, we demand drastic reforms to be instituted at various diplomatic posts, make the Bahay Kalinga or FWRC an OFW-friendly and safe refuge, and pro-active on-site services and welfare programs for OFWs,” Monterona concluded