MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported on Tuesday, July 16, that it had completed the fact-finding mission on the alleged sex-for-flight scheme involving embassy officials in the Middle East.
In a press statement, the DOLE announced that the fact-finding team – composed of Atty Ophelia Almenario of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Atty Rose G. Duquez of the Philippine Oversease Employment Administratio, Atty Leah T. Fortuna of DOLE, and Atty. Edna Yasay, an observer from Department of Foreign Affairs – arrived on Monday afternoon.
DOLE reported that the team was able to interview several Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Filipino community leaders, “including those who may have information and knowledge on the allegations.”
The fact-finding team also interviewed Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) officials and employees.
According to the statement, the team will evaluate all the information gathered and will determine whether “a prima facie case exists against [DOLE] personnel for any wrongdoing that they may have committed at the post.”
The hearing panel, chaired by Asst Sec Gloria Tango, has 60 days to conclude its investigation under the DOLE Rules on Disposition of Administrative Complaints and Cases. The panel also has 15 days to submit its report to the disciplining authority after the conclusion of the formal investigation, the statement added.
Last month, Akbayan Rep Walden Bello exposed the sex-for-flight scheme in the Middle East. He said embassy officials there allegedly promised victims they will be prioritized in repatriation in exchange for sexual favors.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier submitted an updated report on the “sex-for-flight” controversy to President Benigno Aquino III.
Baldoz also ordered the deployment of more female labor officers in the Middle East amid the sex-for-flight scandal.
The DOLE statement said the additional personnel are expected to be deployed by the end of July or immediately after the issuance of the accreditation document by their host government. – Rappler.com