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'Sex for flight' scandal linked to Saudi crackdown on illegal workers — Migrante

June 22, 2013 6:49pm
Amid the alleged "sex for flight" scandal involving Philippine officials facilitating repatriation of  distressed overseas Filipino workers, a migrant workers' group said the problem has "intensified" since the beginning of the crackdown on undocumented workers in Saudi Arabia.

Migrant workers group Migrante International in a statement on Friday said Philippine government's failure act on the immediate repatriation of illegal OFWs in Saudi Arabia has  resulted in the exploitation of women migrants by embassy and consulate officials in the kingdom.

“The bottom line here is abusive embassy and consulate officials are taking advantage of the desperation of OFWs... a further exploitation of the exploited," said Migrante International chairman Garry Martinez.

"This is not an isolated matter that has nothing to do with the overall condition of stranded OFWs seeking immediate repatriation... due to the crackdown that started last March,” he said.

King Abdullah declared a three-month reprieve in April to give time for workers to correct their statuses. The reprieve is set to end on July 3.

On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said about 6,000 OFWs in the kingdom are expected to return to the Philippines soon as the deadline of the reprieve nears.

Following the exposé of the alleged "sex for flight" scheme perpetrated by Philippine embassy and labor officials in the Middle East, the DFA had ordered envoys and staff members of foreign offices there to return to the Philippines and face an investigation.

“Failure to repatriate our OFWs before the deadline will be a bigger nightmare and the Aquino [administration] knows this," Martinez said.

"If they cannot repatriate the stranded OFWs in time it will definitely result in more and graver human rights abuses against our stranded OFWs," he added. Gian C. Geronimo /LBG, GMA News
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