A senator over the weekend chided the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for imposing a mere one-month suspension against the labor attaché involved in the sex-for-flight controversy, saying that the paltry sanction sends a “wrong signal” that one’s length of service in the government trumps the gravity of the offense charged.
Sen. Cynthia Villar asserted that labor attaché Adam Musa should have been sacked for his failure to investigate personnel accused of soliciting sex from distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia in exchange for a flight back home.
Villar said that the sanction imposed by DOLE sends a wrong signal to its overseas personnel because the department gave more weight to Musa’s length of service than to the gravity of the offense.
“How can Labor Attache Adam Musa still be credible as a guardian of our OFWs when he failed to investigate an incident of frustrated rape that happened in his very own office?” the lawmaker asked after learning about Musa’s sanction.
She said that the one-month suspension would hardly even qualify as a “slap on the wrist” and the token punishment will only erode OFWs’ trust in government officials sent supposedly to protect them and promote their best interests.
Musa was mentioned by Grace Sales, a runaway domestic worker who stayed at the Bahay Kalinga shelter in Saudi Arabia, during the joint committee hearing of the Senate blue ribbon and labor and employment committees last year.
Sales told senate investigators that Musa’s driver, Jose Casicas, sexually harassed her. She claimed that the labor attaché offered her SR 10,000 to keep the incident a secret instead of helping her.
The labor attaché, during the said hearing, admitted that he knew about the incident but did not report it to the embassy or his home office because he was told that both parties have settled their differences amicably.
“Any decent boss would be outraged that such a crime happened in his or her office. In this case, the crime of frustrated rape was committed inside the office of the labor attaché and the victim involved is an OFW. The primary defense of the labor attaché is that the incident was an internal matter between his two staff. He failed to take into account the vulnerable status of Grace Sales as a distressed OFW,” Villar pointed out.
The decision of the DOLE is also far from what Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier claimed to have been the appropriate charge against Musa—gross negligence.
Based on the recommendation of said fact-finding team, Labor Attache Musa deserved to be charged with gross neglect of duty for failing to act on the complaint of sexual harassment, molestation, and frustrated rape filed by Sales against Casicas.