The alleged prostitution sex ring involving Philippine representatives and distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in foreign lands have been confirmed by at least three Filipinas who got stranded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"Certain allegations were confirmed and this was accomplished by the three witnesses from Riyadh (in Saudi Arabia) coming forward and providing us their testimony," Albert Del Rosario, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, said during a televised press briefing on Monday.
Three Filipinas Confirm Sex for Repatriation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Philippine Foreign Affairs Ofc Widen Scope of Investigation to Southeast Asia and Hong Kong
Last week, Walden Bello, an Akbayan partylist representative, shocked the entire Philippine nation when he disclosed sex prostitution rings have been formed in the OFW shelters around the world where distressed workers temporarily stay while awaiting for repatriation.
The three women, whose identities will remain a mystery, in a meeting with Mr Del Rosario on June 21, reportedly confirmed the allegations of sexual harassment, molestation, and abuse of authority. They corroborated allegations that they have been molested and was asked for illicit favors in exchange for repatriation and a plane ticket.
"What we don't understand is, why there is exploitation happening in terms of getting the tickets, because the tickets are, in one way or another, guaranteed," Mr Del Rosario said.
The Philippine Foreign Affairs agency had been consistent in saying that it is the government that shoulders the the full cost of repatriating distressed migrant workers back to the country. Therefore, embassy officials cannot use the repatriation costs as leverage in asking for favors from the migrants, the department said.
"However, until such time as other people are able to come forward, all other allegations will remain as allegations to be further investigated," Mr Del Rosario said.
On the particular hot seat was Riyadh-based assistant labor attaché Antonio Villafuerte, who has been ordered to return to the country to answer the charges. A team formed by the labor department tasked to investigate the allegations hurled against Mr Villafuerte believed the case against him was strong.
The Philippine Foreign Affairs agency has likewise expanded its investigation to include Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong which also have shelters for distressed Filipino migrant workers.
As the investigation expands, Mr Del Rosario said he hoped more people will come forward to bolster the other allegations.
"We need to encourage victims and witnesses and we hope that we can convince them to do this not only to help themselves but to help others taken advantage of," he said.
This so they can corroborate the authenticity of the allegations.
"In one location where this sex ring is being alleged, the head of post has not heard of it... it was to him a new allegation," Mr Del Rosario said.