The one-month suspension without pay slapped on an official who covered up the sexual abuse of a migrant worker smacks of gross insult, lawmakers said Thursday.
Party-list Representative Walden Bello of Akbayan and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela was referring to the punishment meted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Riyadh Assistant Labor Attaché Adam Musa who bribed the abused OFW with 10,000 Saudi riyals in exchange for keeping her mouth shut over the sexual abuse committed against her and legalization of her status in Saudi Arabia.
“The punishment was adding insult to injury, considering the gravity of Musa’s actions. It is disappointing and clearly inadequate. We cannot take this sitting down,” Bello, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, pointed out.
A congressional hearing on the case identified the OFW’s abuser as Jose Casicas who is Musa’s driver. The victimized OFW sought Musa’s help in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, since she ran away from her abusive employer.
“Our OFWs expect and deserve labor officials with the highest moral integrity and will look out for their interests. Apparently, DOLE doesn’t see eye-to-eye with our migrant workers,” Bello, who made the expose on labor officials making distressed OFWs work as prostitutes, argued.
“That is not a punishment at all! It’s not even a slap on the wrist. It is a very serious violation of the OFW’s rights and DOLE failed to protect the workers’ welfare from Musa’s grave abuse of power,” Ilagan added.
Bello and Ilagan then warned that DOLE’s mafia-like treatment on Musa where criminals protect fellow criminals will breed more sexual abuses against distressed OFWs.
“This sets a disastrous precedent for future cases of abuse and sends a message that bad apples in our diplomatic posts can commit more abuses against our migrant workers given since the crime they will commit will be taken lightly by our government,” Bello stressed.
“Many victims are already reluctant to report the misdemeanor of our officials abroad. With this light treatment of Musa, these abusive officials would all the more think that they could get away with these crimes,” Ilagan added in a separate text message.