MANILA – Advocates for overseas Filipino workers and a group of civil society leaders want to be included in the investigating panel tasked to probe the 'sex-for-flight' complaints against certain embassy personnel particularly in Middle East posts.
Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said they sent a formal letter of request addressed to the secretaries of foreign affairs and labor and employment to air the following recommendations:
- Include at least 2 NGO representatives and a social worker from the DSWD to sit in the investigative panel;
- Expand the probe to include all forms of sexual exploitation including sexual harassment by embassy personnel;
- Regardless of the outcome of the probes, for the government to formulate a more gender-sensitive, professional and developmental approach to shelter management and OFW services.
"If our request is declined then we would have to discuss amongst ourselves the possibility of having our own inquiry with the representatives of the OVP, DOLE, DFA, DOJ, and DSWD present as observers. The NGO report will be submitted to the heads of these agencies and to the Office of the Vice-President and the Office of the President with an executive summary to be made available to members of media," Ople said.
Former OFW Jun Aguilar of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Group (FMWG) and Loreto Soriano of LBS Recruitment Solutions join the Ople Center, PEBA, the Philippine Migrant Rights' Watch, Kabalikat ng mga OFWs, and other groups in calling for the expansion of the current probe.
"We believe that the 'sex-for-flight' allegations should lead to a wider probe into the kind of services and assistance that distressed overseas workers, particularly the women, receive from our embassies and consulate while they seek refuge in welfare centers," said OFW advocate Jun Aguilar of the Filipino Migrant Workers' Group.