NBI Recommends Filing of Criminal Charges Against DOLE Official Allegedly Involved in the "Sex-For-Flight" Scheme

25 September 2013


The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) its FINAL REPORTS on its probe into the so-called "sex-for-flight" scheme.

Said Final Report recommends that charges for Attempted Rape and three (3) counts of Abuses Against Chastity be filed against a male Assistant Labor Attaché (hereafter referred to as "the ALA") assigned to a Philippine Embassy in the Middle East, for acts allegedly committed against three (3) distressed, female Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were seeking assistance from the Philippine Embassy. Also recommended to be charged with Attempted Rape and Abuses Against Chastity, is a local hire, who served as the driver of a Labor Attaché (hereinafter referred to as "the LA") assigned to the same Philippine Embassy.

The investigation stemmed from an exposé about the so-called "sex-for-flight" scheme, wherein someone in authority, particularly those serving the government through one of its embassies or consulates overseas, demands sexual favour from a  distressed OFW, in consideration for the rendering of official assistance, including the issuance of travel documents (in lieu of passports illegally withheld by the OFW's employer) and clearances from the police and labor courts, as well as procurement of plane tickets to get back home to the Philippines.

One of the victims (hereafter referred to as "AAA"), whose complaint is the basis for the Attempted Rape charge and one (1) of the 3 counts of Abuses Against Chastity against the accused ALA, alleged that  the ALA was the Case Officer assigned, to her, when she sought help from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA), after she escaped from her employer on 18 April 2013. She was, thereafter, housed by the ALA at the "Bahay Kalinga", where other distressed OFWs are housed, and she  sometimes helped in the POLO office by performing cleaning services. On 18, May, 2013, she claimed that she was sexually accosted by the ALA in one of the offices in the POLO Office, refusing her pleas for him to stop. When the latter had difficulty getting into her "abaya" (robe-like dress, worn by some women in Islamic countries) through the neckline, he then tried to remove her clothes. She was able to escape his advances, when she succeeded in pushing him off. She explained that she felt helpless against the ALA, he being the Case Officer assigned to her, and in whose hands her return in the  Philippines, she believed, depended.

She also cited several occasions when she felt disrespected and was verbally abused by the ALA. On one occasion, when there was an opportunity for her to get her things back to her employer, who was expected to appear at the POLO Office, the ALA offered to give her a ride to the office if she agreed to come with him to his house for lunch, and asked her about her menstruation and whether she was fertile at the time. She also narrated, in her Sworn Statement, occasions when the ALA tried to convince her, to go with an Egyptian national, suggesting that the latter will buy her ticket back to the Philippines. She also recounted how, on one occasion, she saw the Egyptian national give the ALA a new cellphone and tablet.

One witness, a male distressed/runaway OFW and a volunteer worker at the POLO Office, stated in his Sworn Statement that he witnessed the attempt of the ALA to rape complainant AAA on 18 May 2013, as he was inside the pantry, where the divider was only made of glass and through which he could clearly see the room or office where the assault was taking place. He saw the ALA forcibly kissing AAA, while the latter tried to get away. The ALA, however, held her hands and, thereafter, pulled her into a rest room. Two (2) to three (3) minutes thereafter, the witness saw AAA run out of the room. khjlh

Another complainant ("BBB"), on whose account the second count of Abuses Against Chastity is based, was an OFW who escaped from her employer who, aside from overworking her (which resulted in her falling unconscious and being hospitalized), raped and sexually abused her. According to her, after she escaped, she went back to the hospital/clinic where she had previously met a Filipina who gave her the contact number of POLO-OWWA; there, she stayed and received treatment until she was rescued by the ALA. She was shocked, however; when, as soon as she got into the car, he started asking questions that were very offensive to a woman's feelings, especially a rape victim.

Another complainant ("CCC"), on whose account the third count of Abuses Against Chastity against the ALA is based, sought help from POLO-OWWA after escaping from her abusive employer, who, at some point, had locked her in a room for two days and two nights without any food and water, causing her to pass out and be hospitalized. She was interviewed at the POLO Office, the last of which was conducted by the ALA, who also brought her to Bahay Kalinga. She, too, in her Sworn Statement, alleged that she was verbally abused and disrespected by the ALA, including one occasion when, while they were inside a car, the ALA asked her if she was ever touched by her employer end, if not, whether he (the ALA) could touch her instead.

She also recounted receiving phone calls from a certain "Muhammad", who offered her a part-time job involving "going to heaven" or just a one-night stand, in exchange for her ticket to the Philippines. She received such calls on more than one occasion, and when she rejected his offer, he requested a photo of her in her underwear instead. She reasons to believe, however, that "Muhammad" is actually the ALA, based on, among others, her familiarity with his voice, the fact that he was the only one who knew her contact number, and the person's knowledge about personal details about herself that only the ALA knew about. When she finally arrived back in the Philippines late in May 2013, she found out that she already had a ticket as far back as February 2013, which the ALA never disclosed to her.

The fourth complainant ("DDD"), on whose account the charges of Attempted Rape and Abuses Against Chastity against the locally hired chauffeur of a Labor Attaché is based, is another distressed OFW, who sought help from POLO-OWWA. The LA gave her a job as a janitress in the POLO Office, where she met the LA's driver. She stated that she experienced sexual abuses in various forms from the LA's driver, but it was on 21 August 2012 that she was almost raped. Despite said day being a non-working holiday at the Embassy in celebration of NINOY AQUINO DAY, the LA went to the office, which obliged DDD to work as well. Aside from the LA, the driver and herself, there were two other women present. The LA and the two other women left earlier, thus: leaving her with the driver. At around 6:15 in the evening, when the driver turned off the lights, she was surprised when, by force, he started hugging and kissing her. She begged for him to stop, but he refused, stopped her from screaming, pushed her to a table, pulled down her leggings, and tried to insert his fingers between her legs, while persistently trying to kiss her in the mouth. He only stopped when she hit the corner of the table, causing her terrible pain.

According to DDD, she reported the matter to the LA, but the latter  ever acted on it. Instead, he told her to just settle the issue and not pursue the case anymore. He even said that even if she refused to let the matter go, the case would only be forwarded back to the Embassy and referred to him. He gave her money through emissaries, and promised to remove the driver and give her an authorization to legalize her stay in the foreign country.

Aside from the Sworn Statements of the complainants and a  witness, also attached to the Final Report is the Comment-Affidavit of the ALA and the Counter-Affidavit of the LA.

The recommendation, which also includes the filing of administrative charges against the same Assistant Labor Attaché accused of Rape, and the Labor Attaché who employed the locally hired chauffeur, was submitted to the Secretary of Justice, through a letter-referral signed by then Director NONNATUS CAESAR R. ROJAS addressed to the attention of the Prosecutor General of the-National Prosecution Service (NPS). There was also a recommendation for further investigation in connection with the account of other complainants, which indicate that there is cause to conduct further probe into other possible violations of law by recruitment agencies and/or public officers and employees.

The Final Report has been forwarded to Prosecutor General CLARO A. ARELLANO for appropriate action, such as the conduct of preliminary investigation, as well as to Secretary ROSALINDA D. BALDOZ of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in relation to the recommended administrative charges and further probe into other possible violations of labor laws, rules and regulations.


Nota bene:

Names or actual identity of the alleged perpetrators and alleged victims are being concealed due to the nature of the offenses recommended to be filed.

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