MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Monday, June 24, investigators “confirmed” certain allegations in the sex-for-flight case hounding embassy staff in the Middle East.
In a press conference, Del Rosario said the confirmed allegations involve one staff member of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the Middle East.
“Certain allegations were confirmed, and this was accomplished by 3 witnesses from Riyadh coming forward and providing us their testimony,” Del Rosario said.
He said the DOLE staff member allegedly committed sexual harassment, molestation, and abuse of authority. “He has been recalled and he will be investigated once he arrives," Del Rosario said.
For other allegations, he said investigators will wait for more witnesses to come out. Otherwise, other allegations will remain allegations “to be further investigated.”
DFA: 'Come forward'
Del Rosario said: “That is the way democracy works, and what we need to do now is, we need to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward. And we hope that we can convince them to do this not only to help themselves, but to help others like themselves who have been taken advantage of."
He assured potential witnesses that the government will protect their identity. He said the government will also ensure "that their right to work abroad is not impeded by their cooperation."
Last week, Del Rosario hinted that "internal politics" could be at play in the sex-for-flight exposé. He noted that the person who exposed this alleged scheme is a senior DFA officer.
Despite the confirmed case, he said the DFA may still entertain this angle. “I think that's a possibility, but as we now know, certain allegations have been confirmed, while others remain as allegations to be confirmed but are being investigated."
While the investigation is ongoing, the Philippine government eyes changes in its halfway houses in the Middle East, the supposed starting point of the sex-for-flight scheme. One of these is to designate one "house mother" for every halfway house, according to Del Rosario. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.