Press Release
February 22, 2014

Villar says DOLE's one-month suspension of erring labor attache
sends wrong signals to OFWs

Senator Cynthia Villar (Nacionalista Party) expressed dismay over the one-month suspension meted by the Department of Labor and Employment on Labor Attache Adam Musa, a labor official accused of covering-up a frustrated rape attempt on an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia by his own driver.

Villar said that the one-month suspension would hardly even qualify as a "slap in the wrist" and the token punishment will only erode the OFWs' trust in government officials sent supposedly to protect them and promote their best interests.

She said that DOLE's decision sends the wrong signal to its overseas personnel because it 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?" Villar said, while adding that labor attaches must possess integrity, compassion, and the highest degree of professionalism to be effective in their post.

Grace Sales, a runaway maid staying in the Bahay Kalinga shelter in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, testified that the labor attache connived with his driver, Jose Casicas, to keep the incident a secret in exchange for a financial settlement of SR 10,000. Sales said, that even prior to the attempt to rape her, Casicas had sexually harassed other wards.

The senator noted that during the sex-for-flight hearing in the Senate, the labor attache 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. He cited a letter signed by Grace Sales acknowledging the receipt of SR 10,000 from Jojo Casicas as proof of said settlement. Sales countered that a staffmember of the labor attache dictated the contents of the letter to her.

Sen. Villar noted that the attempted rape transpired in August 2012 but was officially reported by Labor Attache Musa to his home office in October of the same year.

"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 attache and the victim involved is an OFW. The primary defense of the labor attache 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 signed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz dated January 30, 2014 resulted in a much lighter penalty than that recommended by the fact-finding team sent by DOLE to look into the alleged sex-for-flight cases in Saudi Arabia.

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 OFW Gace Sales against Jose Casicas.

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