OFWs fall victim to sad state of government officials
MANILA ,Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANNMANILA -- Nothing drives home the depth of shame one is feeling than the urge to cover his or her face and be unrecognizable to the world. But to do this act not in a foreign country but in one's own, among fellow citizens and countrymen, suggests not just a sense of humiliation but also of abject degradation. So what would drive three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to shroud their faces in heavy veils and respond only to their first names when they faced a joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon and labor committees last Thursday?
August 18, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Angel, Analiza and Michelle all wept when they recounted their experiences in the hands, not of their Arab employers in Saudi Arabia, which were harrowing enough, but of Filipino labor officials assigned to minister to distressed overseas workers like them in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Riyadh. Angel, who said she fled to Polo after having been raped by her Arab employer, was not met with assistance and commiseration by assistant labor attache Antonio Villafuerte. She said what greeted her was a barrage of unthinkably offensive questions from Villafuerte, stated in Filipino: Was she really raped? How was she attacked? Was it pleasurable to have sex with her employer? Was he well endowed?
Michelle said Villafuerte also attempted to rape her in the same office last May, an incident witnessed by two other Filipinos who would, she said, corroborate her story. But Villafuerte apparently didn't stop at sexual assault; his harassment extended to text messages to Michelle, one of which she showed to senators. In it, the labor official told the girl that he had bought her underwear, but using startlingly crude language.
Villafuerte didn't deny that he had sent the text message, but claimed that he was not being malicious because he learned the words in school in his Filipino subjects. Asked by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile whether he would use such language with his wife, Villafuerte answered in the affirmative. “I hear those words when we're fooling around.” And more: “I wanted to impress that I was fluent in Tagalog, but I had no intention of malice.”