Friday, April 25, 2014
MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada called on the Blue Ribbon Committee to complete and resolve the investigation on the sex-for-flight issue, ultimately to introduce remedial measures to existing protection and welfare laws for the overseas Filipino workers.
The sex-for-flight scheme refers to the racket allegedly perpetrated by labor and embassy officials in the Middle East which victimized distressed OFWs in their custody into prostitution and sexual exploitation in exchange for repatriation ticket to the Philippines.
The Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, headed by Sen. Estrada, is jointly conducting the public hearings with the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations on the issue. The committees have already conducted three hearings on the issue, the last of which was on August 29, 2013.
The inquiry was caused by Sen. Estrada’s privilege speech entitled “Maginoo Pero Sobrang Bastos.”
“I would like to call the attention of the Blue Ribbon Committee to continue the hearings on the sex-for-flight issue. Or if it does not have intention of pursuing the probe further, I believe we should wrap up the inquiries and release a report soon,” Jinggoy said.
It can be recalled that the victims surfaced and decried the double standard with respect to the preferential treatment of witnesses in the pork barrel scam in contrast to the attention given to the victims of sexual harassment and sex-for-flight modus who also exposed the illegal activities in the government.
Moreover, certain quarters expressed their disappointment with the decision issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regarding the lenient penalties imposed against the implicated labor officials.
Riyadh Labor attaché Adam Musa was meted with suspension without pay for one month for simple neglect of duty. On the other hand, Acting Labor Attaché Mario Antonio was sanctioned with a four-month suspension without pay for simple misconduct.
Recently, it was reported that assistant labor attaché to Riyadh Antonio Villafuerte was found guilty of sexual harassment and meted with a penalty of reprimand.
“Did the DOLE consider the evidence and testimonies presented before the Senate hearings before coming up with its own findings and ruling?” Jinggoy asked, adding: “I believe that whatever had been disclosed in the Senate proceedings could have been helpful in ferreting out the truth with regard to the sex-for-flight scheme and the accountability of the officers mentioned.”
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