Press Release
June 20, 2013


Acting Senate President Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to render justice to distressed overseas Filipino workers alleged to have been victimized into prostitution and sexual abuse by Filipino embassy and labor officers.

Sen. Estrada also challenged the government agencies to dismantle this network operating in Middle East countries and preying on our distressed Filipina workers and to put an end to this exploitative practice, beginning from the expulsion of erring embassy and labor officials from their posts and prosecution with criminal and trafficking offenses.

Jinggoy further conveyed that he will work for P1 budget for the DFA and the DOLE should they fail to resolve this case with dispatch and to punish unscrupulous Filipino diplomats involved in this "sex-for-flight" modus.

"Gaya marahil ng mga nakarinig ng istoryang ito, ako ay nanggagalaiti sa galit nang aking malaman na ang ilang opisyal ng ating embahada at POLO ay nakuha pang pagkakitaan ang kalunos-lunos na sinapit ng ating mga kababayang OFW. Sila na tinatakbuhan ng mga OFW at inaasahang magtatanggol sa kanilang karapatan at kapakanan ang siya palang magsasamantala sa kanila," Jinggoy laments.

Sen. Estrada, who is chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and Congressional Oversight Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, says that officials found guilty of this heinous offense must be immediately put behind bars and slapped with administrative sanctions, including perpetual disqualification from public office.

Sen. Estrada is reacting to an exposé alleging some embassy and labor officials posted in the Middle East, particularly in Kuwait, are involved in "sex-for-flight" scheme where distressed OFWs are forced to have sex in exchange for a ticket back to the Philippines. Another report states that embassy officials are running prostitution rings victimizing female wards in OFW shelters.

Sen. Estrada, who visited numerous Filipino welfare centers around Middle East in the past few years, notes that hundreds of OFWs, mostly women who absconded from their employers due to physical abuse and who fell victims to illegal recruitment, are housed temporarily in Philippine Overseas Labor Office - Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) shelters while waiting for the processing and release of their repatriation and employment documents.

Both the DOLE and the DFA have launched their separate investigation into the matter and have called on victims to come out and file complaints before the authorities.

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