No timetable for PH probe on OFW sex abuse
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has not set any deadline for the investigation of concerned Philippine embassy staff who have allegedly sexually abused and prostituted Filipino workers in the Middle East, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Friday, June 21.
In an interview over dzRB, Valte said, “The President (Aquino) does not like giving timetables (but) the President's order is to conduct a thorough investigation with speed in mind but will not sacrifice the quality of the investigation.”
This does not mean a delay in justice for victims of the alleged prostitution, she said, adding that government will not spare anybody in the ongoing probe.
Details of the sex-for-flight scheme were disclosed on Tuesday, June 18, by Akbayan Rep Walden Bello, chairman of the House committee on overseas workers' affairs.
Bello named 3 officials involved in the scheme, branding the 3 envoys as "predators."
Aid for victims
In the radio interview, Valte said the administration is prepared to render aid to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who fell victim to the reported abuse.
The government, she added, will pursue charges and impose punitive measures on those who have sexually exploited distressed OFWs.
“And if it is determined, based on evidence, that there are those who must really be punished, then we will not hesitate to hand down the corresponding punishment against them," Valte said.
Keeping their identities confidential, Valte said there are OFWs who have come forward and coordinated with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario.
She urged other concerned OFWs to respond to the DFA, which has already contacted those whose testimonies might be of value to the investigation.
In addition, the DFA issued an invitation to its consul-generals and ambassadors in the Middle East to come home to take part in the inquiry.
According to Valte, the Palace is open to hear other complaints against the embassy officials and staff through the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
She said separate investigations on the reported sexual abuses are being conducted by DOLE and DFA, adding that both agencies have “expanded the scope of their investigations.” – Rappler.com