MANILA, Philippines – A male assistant labor attaché working for the Philippine Embassy in a country in the Middle East was charged with the attempted rape of a female overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and 3 counts of abuses against chastity.
The case was filed by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Department of Justice on Wednesday, September 25, after the agency completed its fact-finding probe.
The investigation hoped to get to the bottom of a complaint filed by 3 female OFWs that the official, an employee of the Department of Labor and Employment, was sexually abusing them in exchange for flights back to the Philippines.
The official’s identity and the identities of the alleged victims have been withheld “due to the nature of the offenses recommended to be filed,” according to DOJ chief Leila de Lima.
Since June, numerous cases of similar sex-for-flight schemes have been reported to the department.
READ: De Lima: 3 more cases in ‘sex-for-flight’ scheme
In the scheme, officials from Philippine embassies or consulates demand sexual favors from distressed OFWs in exchange for official assistance like the issuance of travel documents, clearances from police and labor courts, or the procurement of plane tickets to return to the Philippines.
The complainant cited the case of an OFW, who said the unnamed assistant labor attaché sexually accosted her last May 18 in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration where the official was assigned as her case officer.
She had sought the agency’s help after running away from her employer a month eariler.
While performing cleaning services at the POLO facility, the labor official allegedly forcibly kissed her and tried to remove her clothes. This account was affirmed by a witness, a male OFW volunteering at the office who was near the room where the incident took place.
“She explained that she felt helpless against the Assistant Labor Attaché, he being the Case Officer assigned to her, and in whose hands her return to the Philippines, she believed, depended,” read the complaint.
For this, the diplomat has been charged with attempted rape and one count of abuse against chastity.
The two other victims whose cases were cited in the complainant were also housed at the POLO after escaping from their abusive employers in the same country.
They claimed that the official persistently asked them sexually offensive questions. In several instances, the DOLE official asked for a one-night stand in exchange for a ticket to the Philippines. When the complainant refused, he asked instead for a photo of her wearing only underwear.
For this, he has been charged with two more counts of abuses against chastity.
More to be charged
The NBI also recommended filing charges of attempted rape and one count of abuse against chastity against a local in the Middle Eastern country hired as a driver by a labor attaché assigned to the same embassy.
A fourth complainant accused the driver of attempting to rape her in the POLO office. He allegedly started hugging and kissing her against her will, pulled down her leggings and attempted to put his fingers between her legs.
The complainant told the labor attaché about the incident, but the official allegedly refused to do anything about it. He even said attempts to pursue the case would be futile since it would be sent back to the embassy anyway and referred to him, claimed the complainant.
The NBI recommended the filing of administrative charges against the assistant labor attaché accused of attempted rape and the labor attaché who hired the driver.
While the criminal complaints were submitted to the DOJ, the administrative complaints were turned over to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz “in relation to recommended administrative charges and further probe into other possible labor violations.” – Rappler.com