News & Events

Villar extends financial assistance to victims of sex-for-fly scandal
By Mario B. Casayuran

Senator-elect Cynthia Villar, managing director of Villar SIPAG, gave assistance to the three victims of the "sex-for-flight" scandal that hit the Philippine embassy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on Wednesday. Villar personally extended the financial assistance to the victims at a Taguig city restaurant which would cover the expenses of the victims returning to their respective families.

The Villar SIPAG, which has been giving assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), also donated groceries to the three to allow them to start their small businesses.

The three victims identified Riyadh Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte as the one who offered them part time jobs as "sex workers" to raise money for their return ticket to the Philippines.

Because of the ordeal that three female OFWs suffered, Villar stressed the need for the coming 16th Congress to push for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW).

The bill, authored by her husband, out-going Sen. Manuel Villar, is solely dedicated to OFWs, she said. The proposed department would simplify and harmonize efforts of the national government to look after OFWs and secure their welfare and rights, she added.

"We should ensure that our OFWs are always protected since they are our 'modern day heroes', and we draw a lifeline from the remittances they send to their families in the country," she explained.

Two of the three victims, Angel and Annaliza (not their real names) said that while at Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Villafuerte told them that they had to work as a part time 'sex worker' to raise money for their plane ticket to return to the Philippines. They refused.

The 28-year old Angel, who is from Mindanao, told Villar she left the country last May 8, 2013 and worked as domestic helper in Riyadh. Unfortunately, she was raped by her employer so she ran away and sought refuge at the Philippine Embassy.

Annaliza, 38, who hailed from a province in Luzon, was physically abused by her employer and was not fed well since she started her job in Riyadh last December 27, 2012.

Her employer also failed to comply with the contract after her salary was reduced from $400 dollars to around $213. She escaped from her employer's house last February 5, 2013.

On the other hand, Michelle (not her real name), 39, accused Villafuerte of sexually molesting her.

Michelle recalls that on May 19, 2013, she went to the Philippine labor office at the embassy to follow up her case after escaping from her employer's house due to the former's non-compliance of her contract. She was then directed by Villafuerte to bring his bag upstairs to his office and open the air conditioning unit.

Upon entering the room, she said Villafuerte touched her breast and kissed her prompting her to fight back and rushed towards the door and went out of his office.

Michelle, who lives with a relative in the National Capital Region (NCR), said she left the country last March 28, 2013 to work as beautician in Riyadh.

However, her employer's salon was still under construction so she was asked to be the family's personal groomer. Last April 18, she ran away from her employer's house and stayed at Bahay Kalinga. She visited Villafuerte on several occasions to coordinate her case.

Villafuerte has been recalled to the country for investigation while the three has already submitted their sworn statements to the Labor Department.

Sen. Manuel Villar, also the Villar SIPAG chairman, assured the parties concerned that he will closely monitor the cases of the three even though he becomes a private citizen next week. "I will watch over their cases, and make sure that something will happen. We will not allow any whitewash," promised Villar who cited the need to pursue the creation of the DOFW to have coordinated efforts in addressing all concerns of OFWs," he said.

© 2011 Villar SIPAG. All Rights Reserved