Bello vows justice for raped OFW

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III vowed to give justice to a Filipina overseas worker who was raped by her foreign recruiter and abused by her employer in Saudi Arabia.

Bello on Monday directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh to initiate appropriate legal steps against the suspects, and impose administrative penalties on the local recruitment agency which deployed the victim.

OFW Michelle (not her real name) was allegedly raped by the owner of the foreign recruitment agency (FDA) and molested by one of her employers before she was repatriated recently.

Bello ordered the POLO to go after the owner of Home Comfort Recruitment Office/Home Comfort Manpower Services, Meshail Mabrook Al Bassani Al Qahtani and employer Abdulaziz Ahlas for the rape and abuse of Michelle.

He also directed the POEA to penalize the local company SAMA International Recruitment Agency which reportedly ignored Michelle’s complaints and her ordeal in Saudi Arabia.

In his urgent memorandum to Labor Attaché Fidel Macauyag, Bello instructed the POLO in Riyadh to work with authorities there for immediate legal action on the case.

“The rape committed against our OFW may not result to a criminal case being filed in Philippine courts against the owner of the FDA. This is due to lack of jurisdiction,” Belo said.

“The crime happened outside of the Philippines and the principle of extra territoriality can’t be applied on the case,” he explained.

However, Bello said DOLE can deliver a blow to Home Comfort as he ordered Macauyag to suspend the FDA’s accreditation with the POLO.

He also directed Macauyag to coordinate closely with Arab authorities for the filing of criminal cases and prosecution of Al Qahtani and Ahlas.

On the other hand, Bello tasked POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia to probe Ahlas over violations of POEA rules and impose penalties for the sexual abuse committed against the OFW.

The Labor chief also told Olalia to sanction the FDA and Qahtani.

Likewise, he ordered POEA to build up an administrative case against SAMA and suspend the agency to prevent further violation and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers.

“I will do everything possible to help our OFW fight back against her tormentors,” Bello said.

Upon her arrival in the country, Michelle went to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) where she was given legal assistance in the preparation for her sworn statement.

PAO also conducted forensic tests on the OFW which yielded results indicating sexual abuse and injuries.