Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today said administrative and criminal cases can be filed in the Philippines against labor and embassy staff if incidents of sexual harassment, rape, abuse or maltreatment happened inside the Philippine embassy compound.
Binay said the embassy is considered an extension of Philippine territory. If the offense was committed outside the embassy grounds, then the host country has jurisdiction and the Philippine government is duty-bound to extend legal help to complainants.
“Maaari silang sampahan ng administrative at criminal charges at makakapag-proseso lamang tayo ng criminal charges kung nangyari ang krimen sa loob ng embassy,” Binay said.
“Ang embassy ay itinuturing na bahagi ng Philippine jurisdiction. Kapag sa labas ng embassy nangyari ang krimen, saklaw na iyon ng host country. Maaari pa ring magsampa ng kasong kriminal ang biktima pero iyon ay ipo-proseso na sa lugar kung saan nangyari ang krimen. Ang magagawa ng ating gobyerno ay tulungan ang biktima para ipaglaban ang kanyang kaso,” he added.
The Vice President cited the women who testified against some labor officials for their bravery, and urged other victims and witnesses to the “sex for flight” scheme to come forward and submit formal complaints and testimonies.
He assured them of protection and vowed that government will prosecute labor and embassy staff found to have committed acts of sexual abuse, harassment, rape or maltreatment.
“Huwag kayong matakot. Ang dapat matakot dito ay ‘yong mga nang-agrabyado. Isumbong ninyo agad sa amin ang anumang kaso ng pang-aabuso nang sa gayon ay magawan agad namin ito ng aksyon,” Binay said.
“Determinado ang ating pamahalaan, sa pamumuno ni Pangulong Aquino, na protektahan ang kapakanan ng ating mga OFW. Kaya makakaasa kayong tutulong kami sa pagtugis sa sinumang mananamantala sa inyo,” he added.
The Vice President said the swift action of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Del Rosario is proof that the administration is determined to address the issue. He welcomed Del Rosario’s order to expand the probe to include all other posts.
Binay also said he was informed that the Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that directly assists distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), is also in touch with two former OFWs who are prepared to file complaints of sexual harassment against certain labor personnel.
While these OFWs are not involved in the “sex for flight” controversy, Binay said their experiences at the shelters would help in making sure that what they experienced would not happen to any other OFW seeking refuge in these half-way houses.#