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Two cleared, one charged for sex mess in Mideast

The Labor Department’s fact-finding team on Friday recommended the filing of sexual harassment charges against Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte, the official who had been linked to the sex-for-repatriation scam in the Middle East. The department cleared two other labor officials—Labor Attache Adam Musa and OIC Labor Attache Mario Antonio—in the case, but Musa will be charged with gross negligence and Antonio with grave misconduct. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the probe team made its recommendations after concluding its investigation of the sex-for-repatriation scam and other sex-related infractions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan. Three Filipinas had accused Villafuerte of sexual abuse in a scam in which Filipinas desperate to go home were given plane tickets in exchange for sexual favors. “The Team did not find the involvement of any of the [Labor Department’s] organic personnel in any “sex- for-fly” or “sex-for-hire” activities,” Baldoz said in a statement. “However, on the basis of the team’s findings on the existence of a prima facie case, I have approved its recommendation to file administrative charges against Musa for gross negligence,   Antonio for grave misconduct, and  Villafuerte for simple negligence.” “In addition to the charge of simple negligence against  Villafuerte, I have approved the team’s recommendation to refer the complaints for sexual harassment to the [department’s] Committee on Decorum and Investigation or CODI. “The CODI has five days from receipt of the complaint to conduct a preliminary investigation and, if warranted, to proceed to formally charge Mr. Villafuerte. The CODI has 15 days from the filing of the formal charge to submit its report and recommendation.” “Depending on the gravity of the offense, and the application of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, the imposable penalties under R.A. 7877 ranges from suspension to dismissal from the service.”
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