Ex-Philippine Envoy to Sue Govt over Dismissal for Abusing Maid

Nonoy Espina and Marielle Lucenio
Manila and Bacolod, Philippines
Ex-Philippine Envoy to Sue Govt over Dismissal for Abusing Maid Overseas Filipino contract workers arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila after disembarking from a flight from Hong Kong, May 13, 2020.
Basilio Sepe/BenarNews

The ex-Philippine ambassador to Brazil, who was fired this week after videos that went viral showed her hitting a Filipina maid at her residence in Brasilia, said Wednesday she would sue the government over what she called an unfair dismissal.

The firing of former diplomat Marichu Mauro has resonated deeply in the Philippines, which is among the world’s top exporters of overseas workers.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte sacked Mauro, a 26-year veteran of the Philippine foreign service. He also stripped her of retirement benefits and barred her from holding public office again over videos showing how she had “repeatedly inflicted physical harm” on her maid while serving as the country’s envoy to Brazil.

In a statement released Wednesday, Mauro did not deny the allegations against her but asked whether her dismissal was “a fair and equitable decision.”

“My lawyers and I are constrained to resort to our courts to obtain an unbiased judgment,” she said. Mauro returned to the Philippines late last year shortly after the video footage, captured by CCTV cameras at the ambassador’s official residence, was aired on Brazilian television.

“I completely regret the incidents in the videos and the shame it has brought upon the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Mauro said, adding that her maid, who had been employed by her family for the past three decades, had forgiven her for the alleged physical abuse.

But she lashed out at the department for mishandling her case “as if the intention was to make an example of me.”

“Clearly, there was a deep desire to see me punished and to deny me my pension that I have worked so hard for many years,” the former ambassador said.

“There was absolutely no interest in giving me the benefit of the doubt and considering possible mitigating and even aggravating circumstances that have contributed to my behavior,” she said.

Mauro also defended her record, saying she had often sought to protect the rights of Filipino migrants during previous postings abroad.

According to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., the maltreated maid was a distant relative of the Mauro family.

“Sadly it was videotaped. But the law is cut and dried,” he said over Twitter.

“She’s appealing in court. That is her right,” the top Philippine diplomat said of Mauro.

Migrante International, a group that represents migrant workers, on Wednesday demanded that Mauro not only be fired but be held “fully accountable and prosecuted” for mistreating the maid.

“As a government official who abused her authority and undeniably committed cruel and inhumane treatment against her domestic helper, Mauro deserves no less than jail time and removal from all opportunities to serve in any government position,” the group said.

About one tenth of the country’s population of 108 million work abroad, many as laborers, seamen and maids. Four years ago, Manila suspended the deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait after gruesome deaths of Filipinos there, including that of a maid whose body was found stuffed inside a freezer.

Migrante noted that Filipino overseas workers endure long working hours with little or no rest, suffer inadequate living conditions, insufficient food and low pay on top of physical and psychological abuse.

“It does not come as a surprise that there are thousands of exploited Filipino migrant workers all over the world have not attained justice under the leadership of Duterte,” the group said in a statement.


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May 16, 2021 11:29 AM

Duterte's fault again? And to whom this Migrante affiliated to?