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POLO official denies running sex ring in Jordan

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MANILA -– A Philippine official accused of allegedly running a prostitution ring using runaway overseas Filipino workers in Jordan vehemently denied the allegations against him.



Mario Antonio, the officer-in-charge of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), believes that the alleged 'sex-for-fly" scheme is the work of recruitment agencies engaged in illegal activities.

"Siguro po yan po ay bunga po ng mga nasasagasaan natin na mga ahensiya na pinipilit na kinukuha ang mga workers natin doon na humihingi ng tulong para sila ay tugunan," said Antonio.

Antonio said these illegal agencies are out to destroy people like him in Jordan.

"Sila po sigurado ang gumagawa ng ganyang mga balita sapagkat nasasagasaan po ang kanilang modus operandi pagpapapunta po ng mga trafficked OFWs sa Jordan na hanggang sa ngayon po ay ilegal po ang pagpunta," he said.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, the chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, revealed Antonio's name as one of the officials who allegedly operates a prostitution ring in Jordan.

"Hindi pa po ako nakakausap ni Congressman Bello pero naiintindihan ko naman po yung kanyang hangarin. Syempre po vigilante po yan, kapag may natanggap yan na ganyang balita syempre gusto po nyang imbistigahan," he said.

Aside from Antonio, Bello also accused a foreign affairs department employee in Syria who was allegedly caught having sex with a runaway Filipina at the embassy compound, and another Philippine official in Kuwait said to be pimping workers under the embassy's custody.

On Tuesday, Bello said that even the government of Jordan has asked the Philippine government to recall its official in Jordan.

"Pinayuhan lang po ang ating ambassador. Kasama po yan sa pagtatanggol natin sa mga OFWs kasi nga po minsan nakipagpulong tayo sa Ministry of Interior. Binanggit po natin na bakit pinapayagan yung mga workers na pumasok sa Jordan eh meron tayong existing ban. Una po itinanggi nila na di nila natatanggap yung ban na yan pero ipinakita ko po yung kasulatan ng ating embhaada, yung note verbale, di na po sila kumibo," he said.

Antonio also clarified that in all his 30 years of government service, no case has been filed against him. He added that many recruitment agencies were not happy with how he managed POLO.

"Dahil di sila nakakadiskarte sa kanilang nais para sa mga workers natin," he said.

Over 70 distressed OFWs are still with the POLO, he said. Many of them fled their employers due to unpaid salaries.

"Ako naman po ay handang humarap para po pabulaanan yung mga akusasyong ibinabato laban po sa akin," he said.

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