Filing case vs envoy could be ‘intimidating’ for helper, says rights advocate

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2020 11:29 PM

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The household service staff assaulted by a Philippine envoy to Brazil can seek legal support from a group that has vast experience handling cases of Filipino worker abuse abroad. 

Toots Ople, an advocate of overseas Filipino worker rights, said the Blas F. Ople Policy Center can provide legal support to the househelp who could be seen on video being repeatedly hit by Ambassador Marichu Mauro. 

On its website, the center said it "has a team of full-time case handlers providing OFW assistance. From repatriation to reintegration, our team believes that every distressed OFW is entitled to a dignified return and unlimited opportunities for self-recovery and economic growth."

"May lawyer kami na pwedeng ibigay for her at mayroon din kaming financial at livelihood assistance na nais ialok sa kanya," Ople said in an interview on Teleradyo, referring to the victim whose identity has not been made public.

The incidents of abuse were caught on video and was reported by Brazilian news channel GloboNews on Sunday.

The CCTV footage showed Mauro berating and laying her hands on her helper multiple times, pulling her ear and slapping her, among others, inside the diplomatic residence in Brazil.

"Nakakahiya 'yung ganoon. Walang dahilan para magmaltrato ka ng tao. Buti sana kung hindi siya naging head ng Office of Middle East and African affairs, organic career personnel siya ng DFA," said Ople.

"Alam naman ng lahat ng personnel ng DFA na ang third pillar ng foreign policy natin ay assistance to nationals."

But Ople acknowledged that the maltreated maid will have to voluntarily pursue the case. Having to pursue a case against a government official such as Mauro can be intimidating, she said.

"We have to respect the decision of the kasambahay. Kung sabihin ng kasambahay out of the goodness of heart na kalimutan na lang natin ito . . . We need to respect that, pero kung gusto niyang ipaglaban ito it's very intimidating," said Ople.

"Kung walang lakas ng loob ang kasambahay, may trauma pa siya, pagod pa siya . . . Unless may aalalay sa kaniya throughout this process kahit nakalimutan na siya ng media, nand'yan pa rin, 'yun ang inaalok namin sa kanya. Tutulungan namin siya."

At least two senators have said they were "outraged" upon seeing videos of the ambassador assaulting her Filipina helper, urging the Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct a "thorough investigation" into the matter. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. himself assured that the DFA's response to the case “will be severe.”