De Lima: 3 more cases in ‘sex-for-flight’ scheme

Ace Tamayo
Justice Secretary De Lima says she met with Rep Walden Bello to discuss the 'sex-for-flight' scheme

OTHER CASES. Secretary De Lima confirms 3 other cases of sexually abused OFWs being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation. FILE/AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday, July 2, confirmed 3 other cases involving embassy officials who allegedly sexually abused overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) abroad.

In an interview, De Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already been investigating the 3 cases prior to the exposé of Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello on the so-called “sex-for-flight” scheme last month.

Meron na ring 2 or 3 cases na ongoing na yung investigation [in the NBI] but I cannot be disclosing the identity yet of the victims,” she said.  

(There are 2 or 3 cases being investigated but I cannot disclose the identity of the victims.)

Bello exposed the scheme in the Middle East last month and said embassy officials there allegedly promised victims they will be prioritized in repatriation in exchange for sexual favors.

Read: ‘Embassy staff prostituting OFWs’

De Lima did not disclose details of the first case investigated by the NBI, but she said the agency had already submitted its report to the House committee on overseas workers’ affairs, which Bello chairs.

The second case involved an “alleged rape” involving an embassy official, which, according to De Lima, has already been investigated by the NBI but has yet to be finalized.

The third case involved a supposed suicide that happened in a halfway house but which showed indications of a foul play.

In a text message, Bello confirmed De Lima’s statements stating that the third case involved the NBI’s autopsy report on case of Alona Bagayan. 

Bello said Dubai police report said suicide, but NBI autopsy cast severe doubt on this but suggested homicide.

“On basis of this NBI report, we are asking United Arab Emirates to conduct reinvestigation of Alona’s death,” Bello said.

Belo added he will meet with the UAE ambassador on July 9 to formally request a reinvestigation. 

De Lima also confirmed that she met Bello on Monday, July 1, to discuss with him the role of the DOJ and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in the ongoing investigations on the alleged sex-for-flight scheme concerning women OFWs.

Read: Embassy prostitution a case of human trafficking?

She said the IACAT might be involved since the reported abuses may have elements of human trafficking.

She added that depending on the results of the probe, the DOJ might have to step in for the filing of appropriate charges against the suspects. –

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