WORKERS GROUP WANTS SEX PROBE PANEL ABOLISHED

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A migrant workers group on Thursday called for the abolition of the investigating panels formed by concerned government agencies primarily to look into the “sex-for-flight” scheme in the Middle East, saying these will not yield credible results.

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John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East coordinator, doubted the credibility of the parallel investigation being conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) since their officials and personnel are involved in the scandal.

“Its abolishment is imperative if we want a credible and transparent probe,” Monterona told The Manila Times.

The DFA and DoLE have launched separate investigations into allegations that some Philippine embassy officials and personnel in the Middle East have sexually exploited distressed female overseas workers in exchange for their speedy repatriation.

Monterona said that if the government really wanted to have a credible probe, it should change the present composition of the panel, which is composed of lawyers from DFA and DoLE.

“That is why most of the victims are hesitant to come out and file complaints against embassy officials because they fear of a cover up,” he added.

He cited incidents in the past wherein some OFWs filed complaints against embassy officials and personnel before the Philippine embassy.

“But after filing complaints, we found out that OFWs were no longer interested to pursue because they were convinced by embassy officials in exchange for their immediate repatriation,” he added.

He said instead of spearheading the probe, DFA and DoLE investigators should only provide assistance in gathering evidence and affidavits and in debriefing of the victims.

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