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Robin seeks harsh penalties vs PH envoys who abuse OFWs

August 31, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 172 views

AN angry Senator Robinhood C. Padilla called for harsher penalties against Philippine ambassadors and diplomatic personnel who abuse overseas Filipino workers in OFW shelters abroad.

Padilla said that this it is equivalent to betrayal of their oaths to protect their fellow Filipinos, as he learned of the case of an ambassador who escaped punishment after sexually harassing an OFW 10 years ago.

“Sana po magkaroon tayo talaga ng ngipin sa mga ganitong pangyayari. Ang hirap tanggapin talaga. Nahirapan akong tanggapin – ambassador ka, ikaw ang tatay sa lugar na yan. Tapos ikaw ang, unang una nasa shelter pa ang tao (I hope we can give teeth to our laws on such cases. It is so hard to accept that these happen. An ambassador is the father of Filipinos in the host country, yet he commits such offenses, right in the OFW shelter)?” Padilla said at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers.

Ople said the ambassador was not charged criminally for the incident and managed to retire from the service. Ople had helped pursue the complaint against the ambassador when she was still with a non-government organization.

She said she was informed of the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs only last month – to fine the ambassador. She said a strong anti-sexual harassment law that covers diplomats should be passed.

“Hindi ko lang mapalagpas ang ambassador. You have an oath na proteksyunan mo ang Pilipinas at ang mga tao nito sa harapan ng Diyos, sa harapan ng Konstitusyon – tapos gagawa siya ng ganoon. Sa akin po wala akong ano, kahit 10-20 taon, nasaan ang ambassador na yan? Kasi di pupuwede yan (I cannot let this pass in the case of the ambassador. The ambassador took an oath before God and the Constitution to protect the Philippines and Filipinos, then did this. So even if this took place 10 to 20 years earlier, this is unacceptable),” stressed Padilla.

“Kung buhay pa ang kaso baka pupuwedeng habulin pa po natin (If the law permits, perhaps we can pursue it),” added Padilla.

Committee Chairman Raffy Tulfo replied this can be done if the statute of limitations allows it.

Meanwhile, Ople thanked Padilla and Sen. Tulfo, as she expressed hopes that the anti-sexual harassment law can be revisited to cover diplomatic and overseas personnel and make them accountable. “Basta Filipino na personnel ng gobyerno natin abroad, dapat covered ng batas (The law should not exempt Filipino personnel abroad),” said Ople.