DOLE supports labor attaché

Published January 8, 2021, 4:32 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Friday that there is no compelling reason nor legal basis to place Labor Attaché (Labatt) Nasser Mustafa under preventive suspension following the dismissal of the criminal charges filed against him. 

In a letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, he said the agency’s legal service recommended the dismissal of the charges filed against Mustafa after conducting a “thorough review on the complaints submitted by the Mayores couple and evidence presented by both parties.” 

The recommendation was affirmed by the Labor Secretary as well as the Undersecretary for Legal and International Affairs cluster. 

Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh Adnan Alonto had earlier placed Mustafa under preventive suspension over his actions deemed as “inimical to the national interest” to serve and protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos overseas.

This came after an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) couple filed a complaint against Mustafa last year before the Philippine Embassy for acts of lasciviousness and sexual harassment that reportedly occurred in the morning of Feb. 13, 2020 inside the labor attache’s office in Riyadh when she was following up some job orders on behalf of her sponsor.

The couple was then directed by the Philippine Embassy to seek assistance after sensing that their jobs were already at stake due to the alleged pressure being employed by Mustafa’s office against their employers and sponsors. But the labor attaché, in turn, charged the nationals with cyberlibel.

“Considering that there is no pending investigation to speak of since the complaint against Labatt Mustafa was already dismissed, there is no longer any reason nor legal basis for him to be placed under preventive suspension,” Bello said in his letter dated January 7, 2021. 

The Labor Secretary stressed that Mustafa filed the libel case against the Filipino couple “in his capacity as private citizen to defend his right(s) and dignity”, citing that both complainants have resorted to maligning his reputation “with their malicious imputations through trial by publicity”. 

According to Bello, a case of illegal recruitment was also filed in the call of the labor attaché’s sworn duty in protecting the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from illegal recruitment activities of the Filipino couple. 

“May we likewise clarify that upon submitting his counter affidavit, Labor Attaché Mustafa has requested an audience with the Ambassador along with the complainants to settle the conflict at his level but the request has been denied,” he said. 

“It is for the protection and welfare of the OFWs in the Kingdown who are potential victims of the illegal recruitment scheme of the complainants that prompted Labor Attaché Mustafa  to file the case against them,” Bello emphasized. “Such an act supports the Philippine government’s commitment to protect its nationals in the Kingdom.”

However, “in the spirit of cooperation and due courtesies”, the labor chief said they decided to transfer Mustafa to another post. 

He also requested the immediate revocation of the cancellation of Mustafa’s exit/re-entry visa for him to wind up his official functions and personal affairs in Riyadh. 

Before his posting in Riyadh, Mustafa was commended for his “heroic” service after “risking his life” to rescue and repatriate two Filipino domestic workers from Gaddafi Compound in Tripoli owned by a close relative of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.