DOLE vows aid for OFW ‘abused’ by recruiter, employer in Saudi

July 6, 2021

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday assured assistance to an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was raped by her foreign recruiter and abused by her employer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has 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 and molested by one of her employers before she was repatriated recently.

“The rape committed against our OFW may not result in a criminal case being filed in Philippine courts against the owner of the foreign recruitment agency. This is due to lack of jurisdiction. The crime happened outside of the Philippines and the principle of extraterritoriality can’t be applied on the case,” Bello said in a statement.

In an urgent memorandum, Bello ordered Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag 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 the OFW.

He also directed the POLO to suspend the recruitment agency’s accreditation and ordered 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.

He also orders the agency to sanction the recruitment agency and Qahtani and to build up an administrative case against SAMA International Recruitment Agency 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. (PNA)