MANILA, June 24 (UPI) -- Filipino diplomats in the Middle East and Asia are being accused of running sex rings built on exploiting Filipino women trying to return home, officials said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Albert del Rosario said he has opened an investigation into the allegations. The issue was first raised by Walden Bello, a Filipino congressman who heard from victims and began an investigation. Several women have come forward and said they sought help from Filipino embassies in Jordan, Oman, Syria, Kuwait, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
The diplomats extorted sex or forced the women into prostitution in exchange for a flight home, The New York Times said Monday.
"Our initial investigation into sex for flights revealed something bigger," Bello said. "They were running a prostitution ring out of Philippine embassies in Kuwait and Oman. The information was shocking."
It is common for women from the Philippines to leave the island nation and travel to find work to support their families back home. Some become domestic servants in Middle Eastern countries, often under very trying circumstances because they are subjected to lower class status. Other women who have received a better education travel to North America to pursue employment as hospital nurses or other skilled jobs.
Del Rosario said his office is investigating the matter and he's recalled ambassadors from the affected embassies to question them on what's happening there.