Revamp pushed to end abusive embassy practices

By Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2014 09:59 AM | Updated as of Jan 25 2014 05:59 PM

MANILA – Overseas Filipino workers who have been abused by their employers in Kuwait sought refuge in the Philippine embassy not knowing that they would end up in the company of officials and staff who used their misery to make money, or worse force them into prostitution.

Assistant Secretary Lila Ramos-Shahani, of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster, now recommends an extensive revamp in the foreign affairs department to put a stop to these abusive practices.

"The point is not to slap someone on the wrist, have them come back to the Philippines and then send them to another country where they will continue doing what they did," she said.

But DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said they've already reshuffled staff.

A new envoy was sent to Kuwait and the department is doing an audit of management practices.

Still, even non-profit organizations helping OFWs believe this is not enough.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center has given assistance to several victims of sex-for-flight scheme, including the maid of ex-ambassador Shulan Primavera who has filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

That case has not moved in the courts.

"Hindi kaya dapat kapag nagdesisyon na yung Court of Appeals saka nila itigil yung pagdinig sa kaso dahil ang dami ng delaying tactics eh tapos mahigit isang taon na. Ang kawawa yung OFW," said Susan Ople.

The justice department's task force will hold a preliminary inquiry as it prepares to file various criminal cases against former officials and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.