OFW accused of murder in Saudi Arabia returns home after release – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   September 22, 2020   •   279

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipina migrant worker who was charged with murder in Saudi Arabia has returned home following her release from prison, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement, the DFA said Rose Policarpio arrived in Manila on Tuesday after spending almost six years in jail for a crime she did not commit.

“Ms. Policarpio’s eventual acquittal is an example of the government’s commitment in protecting and promoting the rights of our OFWs. With her new lease on life, we wish her success in her future endeavors,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.

Policarpio, 31 years old, was deployed as a food server in Saudi Arabia in 2013. A few days after her arrival in Riyadh, she was imprisoned for murder after being accused of killing her employer.

She had consistently denied the crime and was eventually found not guilty by the lower court, the verdict of which was sustained by the court of appeals, leading to her eventual release from detention and repatriation.

The DFA said that through its Legal Assistance Fund (LAF), it provided for the services of her legal counsel. The Philippine Embassy also regularly visited her in jail and provided her with welfare assistance.

After securing her release, the DFA settled her incurred immigration penalties and secured her exit visa.

“This is a vindication of Ms. Policarpio and a clear declaration of her innocence. This is also a testament that the DFA and its people are willing to go the extra mile in order to protect and safeguard the rights of our kababayan wherever they are in the world,” Arriola said.

The DFA said Policarpio will be reunited with her family once COVID-19 health protocols are complied with.

Duterte OKs probe on PH envoy accused of mistreating staff

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to proceed with the investigation into a Philippine envoy’s alleged maltreatment of her service staff in Brazil, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Thursday.

“In light of the gravity of the allegations against the ambassador, the President has given the green light to proceed with the investigation of the official concerned, as recommended by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” Go said in a statement.

The DFA earlier said it needed the approval of the president to conduct a probe against Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro who was caught on CCTV maltreating her unidentified Filipina household service staff on several occasions.

Section 51 of the Foreign Service Act states that “Chiefs of Mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary shall not be investigated by the Board [of Foreign Service Administration] or separated from the service unless there is an express written directive from the President.”

“The President has always been firm – the protection and promotion of the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas is a paramount responsibility of our government,” Go said.

“Our ambassadors are duty-bound to carry out this mandate, no questions asked,” he added.

Go further stated that the “impartial investigation will be carried out consistent with relevant provisions of the law, particularly the Foreign Service Act of 1991.”

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said a team has been formed to investigate Mauro and the circumstances surrounding the issue.

Mauro has been ordered to return home to face the investigation.

She has yet to issue a statement regarding the allegations.

20 new confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded among Filipinos abroad—DFA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 29, 2020

Cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among Filipinos abroad increased to 20 more as of Thursday (October 28), according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Total confirmed cases, based on the recent report of the DFA, went up to 11,224 with 3,153 undergoing treatment and 7,254 recovered. Meanwhile, the total number of deaths reached 817.

“Figures [today] show 20 new confirmed cases, 6 new recoveries, and 1 new fatality due to COVID-19 among Filipinos in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa,” the DFA said.

The total number of countries and regions with confirmed cases among Filipinos remains at 81.

“The DFA, together with its foreign service posts, remains fully committed to monitoring and assisting our nationals abroad amidst this ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department said. AAC

Senators seek probe on PH envoy to Brazil accused of mistreating service staff

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some senators are seeking a thorough investigation into the alleged maltreatment of a Filipino household worker by Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Joel Villanueva both expressed outrage, calling the actions of the country’s envoy “deplorable” and “conduct unbecoming a diplomat official.”

Mauro was caught on CCTV maltreating her unidentified Filipina service staff on several occasions.

The video footage was shown on the Brazilian news channel GloboNews last Sunday and was picked up by international news organizations.

“While watching the video, I was horrified to see the brazenness of our ambassador to Brazil in physically maltreating the embassy service staff. I cannot imagine how people in her position could enact such violence to the very people they are sworn to protect,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“How can we demand foreign employers of our OFWs, especially domestic helpers, to respect their rights and not maltreat them, when the very people who are supposed to protect and defend them abroad are the ones abusing them? This is such a terrible incident and a black eye on our image abroad,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered Mauro to return to the Philippines and explain the matter.

Zubiri called on the DFA to immediately conduct an investigation and “prosecute the official if found violating labor laws and the Kasambahay Law.”

Villanueva also condemned the incident, stressing that the country’s embassies should be taking care of the welfare of Filipinos overseas.

“The incident should also serve notice to the diplomatic service that ‘as representatives of our country to a foreign land, one is expected to protect the well-being of our people starting with the ones at their own backyards,’” Villanueva added.

The senator also urged the DFA to examine existing grievance mechanisms in our posts to ensure that Filipinos have immediate recourse to the department’s head office in Maninla when incidents such as this happen to prevent its recurrence and escalation.

“This incident must give focus on what kind of grievance procedure our Embassies provide our OFWs. The DFA should recheck if there is an active system that actually works in providing protection to OFWs and any case of abuse and maltreatment does not go unchecked,” he said.

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