Not involved in sex-for-flight scheme, says labor officer

Posted at 01/08/2014 2:25 AM | Updated as of 01/08/2014 4:04 AM

MANILA – A former labor official in Jordan denied anew his involvement in the so-called sex-for-flight scheme victimizing distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Former Acting Jordan labor official Mario Antonio described as "malicious" news reports that came out last December that his suspension was related to the sex-for-flight investigation.

"The suspension is not related to the sex-for-flight issue but on administrative matter and does not involve 'my alleged operating a prostitution den'," he said in a letter to ABS-CBN Network Ombudsman Jose Vitug.

Last month, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz announced that she ordered a four-month suspension on Antonio for simple misconduct.

"In fact, when the investigating team went to Jordan to investigate and ask questions regarding the prostitution ring I was suppose to operate, they found out there was no such activity in Jordan," he said.

Baldoz had also said last month that the implementation of the suspension order will be deferred once Antonio files a motion for partial reconsideration.

Last year, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello claimed some labor officials were involved in the sex-for-flight scheme, but Antonio, in his letter to ABS-CBN, said no witnesses in Jordan came forward to support the claim.

"Remember last June Cong. Bello exposed alleged three predators from Syria, Jordan and Kuwait. And after that, witnesses appeared from Riyadh and Alkhobar. But none from Syria, Jordan and Kuwait. There have been no witnesses who have come forward to corroborate the exposure used in the media. The report of the Team will show negative findings," Antonio said.

Antonio appeared in a press conference in Manila last June 2013 to deny the allegations that he was operating a "prostitution ring" in the Middle East.

Antonio said he was unfairly dragged into this controversy, "ruining my reputation and integrity," and that it has affected his "family, relatives and close friends."