4:35 pm | Thursday, June 20th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello threatened on Thursday to reveal more damaging evidence against overseas welfare officer Mario Antonio if he would insist on his “brazen lie” that illegal recruiters had made up the “sex-for-flight” scandal.
“We don’t want to preempt the investigation, but if he continues with his brazen lies, we’re going to make more of his misdeeds public,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone following a meeting with Assistant Labor Secretary Rebecca Chato at the House of Representatives.
Bello also called for a parallel investigation independent of the one promised by the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Labor and Employment. He said his informants from both agencies were more willing to talk in a Malacañang-initiated inquiry.
“They’ll feel safer and more confident in an independent investigation initiated by the Palace,” he said.
In the meeting with Chato, Bello said, he asked that DOLE expand its investigation to cover Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Bello earlier alleged that female overseas Filipino workers were being sexually exploited by some Philippine labor officers in Kuwait, Damascus in Syria, and Amman in Jordan.
Antonio denied the allegation, saying it might have been floated by illegal recruiters who wanted him out.
The response incensed Bello, who said his information had come from “mid- to high-level” officers of both the DFA and DOLE.
“What he is saying, that’s a brazen lie,” he said.
Also tagged by Bello in the alleged prostitution ring were Blas Marquez, a labor officer in the Philippine embassy in Kuwait, and one Mr. Kim in Damascus.
Bello vowed to resign from Congress if criminal charges are not be filed against Antonio and Marquez “within a reasonable period.”
“I will resign if that happens because that would mean that the system is not working,” he said.
“I will not be satisfied with a mere investigation. Criminal cases must be filed,” he recalled telling Chato during their meeting.
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