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NGO wants stiffer penalties on labor attaché linked to cover-up of frustrated rape of OFW

February 21, 2014

Labor advocate Susan Ople called on the Department of Labor and Employment to reconsider its decision to merely impose a one-month suspension without pay on a labor attaché accused of covering-up the frustrated rape of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW).

Describing the decision an “insult to all OFWs”, Ople noted that the offense was far greater than a simple delay in officially reporting the incident to his bosses.  She cited that the essence of the complaint of OFW Grace Sales is that labor attaché Adam Musa allegedly conspired to conceal the crime of frustrated rape committed by his driver, Jose Casicas, against the OFW.  (Read full text of Susan Ople’s Open Letter to DoLE)

In a decision signed by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz dated January 30, 2014, the department chose to forego the investigative team’s recommendation that Labor Attache Adam Musa, formerly assigned to Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, be charged with Gross Neglect of Duty for his inaction on the complaint of OFW Grace Sales in 2012 of sexual harassment, molestation, and attempted rape against Musa’s driver, Jose Casicas. The complaint was included in the so-called “sex-for-flight” cases that were heard by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Instead, the Office of the Secretary decided to impose a one-month suspension without pay for Musa, citing as mitigating factors his 25 years of service and that the failure to immediately act on the complaint was his first offense. (Read full text of DoLE Decision)

The DoLE in its decision, said:

“As noted by the Panel, this Office gives due recognition to the Respondent’s more than twenty five (25) years of service and this being his first administrative case during that span of service in government, as mitigating factors in the determination of the imposable penalty.”

Still, it ruled that Labor Attache Musa was negligent in failing to report the frustrated rape attempt and conducting further inquiries. “Hence, said failure to give due attention to the performance of his duty which is to protect the general welfare of the overseas workers amounts to an omission, without sufficient excuse, to perform a duty which he was legally obligated to perform.”

The attempted rape was brought to Musa’s attention in August 2012 but he only reported the incident to the embassy and his home office in October of that year. He also failed to immediately recommend the sacking of his driver and the latter’s eviction from the Bahay Kalinga in Al Khobar, a shelter for runaway domestic workers where the driver had a room to himself right beside the wards of the shelter.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization headed by Ople, noted that the decision seemed to be lopsided, and failed to take into account the trauma suffered by the OFW complainant who decided to run away from the embassy shelter the day after she was almost raped.

In her letter to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Ople countered:

“The length of service is secondary to the quality of service being rendered. In failing to help Grace as a distressed OFW and victim of an attempted rape, he may be, in effect, an accessory to the crime and this merits a much graver punishment.”

“That you and the department didn’t even see that, or wondered about it aloud, is what worries me most.”

In a sworn affidavit submitted to both the DOLE and NBI, Sales described what the labor attache’s driver did to her while they were alone in the POLO office in Al-Khobar:

“…tinaas ni Jojo ang damit ko at hinimas yung dibdib ko. Dahil doon ay nasira ang suot kong abaya. Wala akong sapat na lakas upang labanan siya, kaya’t sumigaw  na lang ako. Ganunpaman, wala pa ring tigil si Jojo. ….Tumigil lang siya noong itulak niya ako ng malakas at tumama sa kanto ng mesa ang tagiliran ko malapit sa bewang. Sinabi kong nasasaktan na ko.” (Excerpt from the Complainant’s sworn statement)

 The Ople Center said it supports the OFW’s plan to seek a reconsideration of the DoLE’s decision.

“The position of a labor attache was created precisely to protect and safeguard the rights and welfare of our OFWs. If a labor attache plainly and utterly fails to do so, then he or she has no right to said position,” Susan Ople stressed in her letter to Secretary Baldoz.

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