FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. yesterday said he would first get clearance from the Office of the President if the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) task force which he created to investigate the alleged maltreatment of a household staff by the country’s ambassador to Brazil.
Locsin said Ambassador Marchu Mauro is a presidential appointee and under the Foreign Service Act, chiefs of mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary cannot be investigated or separated from the service without an express written directive from the President.
Locsin has created a task force to look into allegations that Mauro physically abused her househelp as shown in video footages inside her residence and which was shown on a Brazil news station. The task force is spearheaded by a foreign affairs official with a rank of ambassador.
“But first the DFA will get authority from the Office of the President to proceed as a young lawyer reminded all of us or it will be an exercise in futility,” Locsin said, who has already recalled Mauro to headquarters pending the investigation.
Locsin said that the recall of Mauro “will enable the DFA to conduct an expedient and thorough investigation” into the allegations.
“Rest assured, the DFA’s response on this matter will be sever to the fullest extent of the law especially when it involves a high-ranking DFA official setting an example to ensure that matters like these will never be tolerated,” Locsin added.
He said the DFA is now reviewing its policies which allow Filipino diplomats to take Filipino domestic helpers from the Philippines rather than getting the services of locals.
Mauro’s maid left Brazil on October 21 and is now back in the country. Locsin said the DFA has reached out to her to ensure her well-being and cooperation in the probe.
“Under my leadership, the DFA will not tolerate in any way whatsoever actions by any of its ranking officers or staff that go against our primary mandate which is the promotion and protection of the welfare of all overseas Filipinos,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center has offered assistance to the allegedly maltreated household staff of Mauro.
In a statement, Ople Center president Susan Ople said her group is willing to extend legal and livelihood assistance to the domestic worker in running after her employer.
“We just want her to know that our organization is willing to help her get through this, legally and even financially,” Ople said, adding: “We know how difficult it is to be caught in a situation, wherein you need to defend yourself against a person of authority, which, in this case, is no less than a Philippine ambassador.”
Ople, though, stressed that it would always be a personal decision of the abused worker on whether or not to pursue a case, both criminally and administratively, against her employer.
“The aggrieved household staff of Ambassador Mauro can contact mobile # 09618114288 and look for case handler Jenny Sespene, or she can message Miss Ople via Facebook: www.facebook.com/susan.ople,” said the Ople Center.
Ople expressed belief that it would be difficult for Mauro to refute the video clips seen in a news report of a Brazilian network. – With Gerard Naval