Ban male attachés in OFW shelters, solon says
MANILA, Philippines –To prevent a repeat of “sex-for-flight” cases, the congressman who exposed these called for an “organizational shake-up” that includes banning male labor attachés in migrant workers' shelters.
Akbayan Rep Walden Bello on Thursday, August 1, recommended doing away with male labor attachés, assistant labor attachés, and welfare administrators in shelters for distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
He said the sex-for-flight scheme begins in these shelters.
“I think you create a very, very volatile mixture especially once you have unprincipled individuals that take care of these shelters. So this is really, really very problematic,” Bello said in a #TalkThursday interview with Rappler CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa.
He noted this is “no guarantee” that the sex-for-flight scheme would end, “but certainly, I think, that will help to reduce it.”
Bello said another problem lies in the interaction between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine ambassadors.
“The problem here is, the DOLE seems to exist as an autonomous kingdom within the embassy set-up, and I think that some of our ambassadors are willing to live with that because I think they also are afraid and don’t want responsibility,” he said.
“We really need a real organizational shake-up at this point in time, in terms of our posts, especially in the Middle East,” Bello added. (Watch Bello's #TalkThursday interview below.)
Rappler is still trying to reach DOLE for comment as of posting time.
DOLE: No whitewash
In a press conference on Tuesday, July 30, Bello said his party fears whitewash on the part of the government in its sex-for-flight probe.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Thursday, however, said “there will be no whitewash or delay in the investigation.”
Baldoz noted a long process as mandated by law. Probers have 15 days from the end of the investigation to submit their report to the “disciplining authority,” and this authority has 30 days from receiving the report to issue its decision.
"We are just following the rules and adhering to due process,” she said.
Baldoz added the DOLE will attend the congressional probe into the sex-for flight scheme.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday, July 31, said the DOLE has direct responsibility over the halfway houses. He said despite this, the Department of Foreign Affairs has some responsibility over the issue.
Del Rosario said he is “not running away from the fact” that all embassies run on a one-country team approach. In such a system, he said, an ambassador “has overall responsibility.”
“In essence, we want to tighten that up as well, to make sure there is effective oversight of these halfway houses through the DOLE officials,” the secretary said. – Rappler.com