MANILA – The decision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to clear a former assistant labor attaché in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia of three counts of administrative charges of sexual harassment for lack of merit is deemed an insult to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
"Disappointed talaga kami na ang desisyon rito is simply a reprimand na para tayong niloloko ng DOLE at nagpapakita na ang paghahanap na hutisya ng ating mga OFW, di sila mabibigyan ng DOLE," said Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello.
The DOLE only found Antonio Villafuerte guilty for uttering filthy jokes to one of the three complainants. He will be meted the penalty of reprimand.
Bello helped former OFWs who claimed to have been sexually harassed by some government officials deployed to overseas posts.
"Yung main charge ko against him yung attempted rape kay 'Michelle' at mayroon pang witness dito at lumabas nga yung witnesses sa mga hearing," he said.
Villafuerte was cleared of other charges due to lack of factual basis. The DOLE said the complainants did not appear in the hearings and have not submitted testimonies of other witnesses to support their claims against the former assistant labor attaché.
He said the DOLE should have made an effort to help the complainants instead of only protecting its personnel.
"Magpo-protesta kami dito sa desisyon na ito para magkaroon ng real thorough investigation. We will ask for reconsideration," he said.
Bello now hopes that the Department of Justice will deliver a "good judgment" and criminally prosecute Villafuerte.
"Ang pagasa na lang namin rito yung DOJ," he said. With reports from DZMM and Philippine Star