The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will deploy 13 female officials and one male officer to the Middle East to augment the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices there amid allegations of sexual abuse against Filipinos.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz already signed the deployment order for the 14 officials. Three officers will be assigned to Jordan including Labor Attachè Linda Herrera, two in Kuwait and nine in Saudi Arabia.
“We really planned on adding personnel there because we downgraded in Europe. We did not post labor attachès in Milan and Spain, our plan is to utilize the people and resources in the Middle East and other Asian countries where the concentration of Filipinos is high,” the labor chief explained.
Baldoz added that the department had expanded the scope and coverage of the investigation team to gather facts and information on the sex-for-flight allegations against a labor official.
“The scope and coverage of the team has been expanded even before Rep. Walden Bello revealed over the weekend more tales of sexual exploitation against OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. The team’s specific orders are to include all officers and personnel in Kuwait, Jordan, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, specifically in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Al-Khobar which Rep. Bello mentioned in his interview with the media on Saturday,” the labor chief said.
The investigating team is now in Kuwait and had started its probe. The next stop is Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Investigators have until July 12 to submit their report.
Baldoz has also created a panel that will hear the sex abuse cases after the investigation team submits its report. It is headed by Assistant Secretary Gloria Tango, with representatives from the DOLE’s Legal Service, and the labor’s Organic Employees Association, as members.
The panel will evaluate all the documents, statements, and evidence gathered by the investigating team, after which it will submit its recommendations to the labor chief.
Baldoz assured the public that the labor department will be very transparent in its investigation.