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

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020   •   1235

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.

Phl protests China’s unilateral fishing ban in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   May 19, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has rejected China’s unilateral imposition of a fishing moratorium in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines does not recognize China’s unilateral imposition of a fishing ban in the area which runs from May 1 to August 16, 2021.

“As announced by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the ban covers ‘waters north of 12 degrees north latitude’ in the South China Sea,” the DFA said.

“These waters include areas over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,” the agency added.

The DFA explained: “According to Paragraph 716 of the Award of the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on 12 July 2016, China, by promulgating its moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea, ‘without exception for areas of the South China Sea falling within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and without limiting the moratorium to Chinese flagged vessels, breached Article 56 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone.” The 2016 arbitral award also affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen.”

China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond it’s legitimate maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and is without basis under international law, the DFA said.

“China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea,” it stressed.

Thus, the Philippines strongly urges China to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law, the DFA said.

Only Roque, DFA’s Locsin allowed to speak on WPS issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday defended the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte for his Cabinet officials to refrain from talking about the West Philippine Sea issue in public.

Duterte issued the order after he was advised by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to just ignore the critics of his foreign policy and his approach in resolving the maritime dispute with China.

Enrile appeared in Duterte’s weekly public address on Monday night to discuss the issue on the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said only his spokesperson, Harry Roque, and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. are allowed to speak up on the issue.

“The instruction of the President was clear. Only the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and myself can speak on the issue now,” Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

When asked if the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) can still issue press statements about its maritime patrols in the region, Roque said the task force will now have to forward its reports to the DFA for appropriate action.

“Reports of the NTF are forwarded to the DFA and they will determine if they will file diplomatic protests so these are matters, facts which are relevant to diplomatic communications covered by executive privilege,” Roque said.

“Although there is transparency, an exemption to transparency are diplomatic communications and that includes also input which forms part of diplomatic communications,” he added.

The NTF-WPS regularly releases statements and images of Chinese vessels encroaching the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The DFA has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests over the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

No plans yet for repatriation of OFWs in Israel yet — DFA exec

Marje Pelayo   •   May 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is closely monitoring the situation in Israel amid fresh attacks from Hamas militant groups in the Gaza Strip in recent days.

According to DFA Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos, the agency has no plans yet to repatriate Filipinos in Israel though tensions seem to escalate between the two conflicting forces.

“Wala pa po dahil may mga safe areas naman po doon,” Abalos said when asked about possible repatriation.

Based on DFA’s record, there are at least 30,000 Filipinos living and working in Israel.

Most of this number work as caregivers or household helpers.

Since Monday (May 10), the Hamas militant group launched almost a hundred of its rockets aiming at Israeli forces to which the latter intercepted with its iron dome system.

To date, the DFA said there is no report of any casualty or injury among Filipinos in Israel.

“No new updates pa po. Wala pa ring report of any Filipino casualties,” Abalos said.

While the situation on the ground remains volatile, the DFA advises Filipinos in Israel to remain vigilant and be aware of the situation.

In its advisory, the DFA warns Filipinos not to go to sensitive areas near Jerusalem including Temple Mount; Damascus Gate; Herod’s Gate; Al Wad Road; Mustata Road; and East Jerusalem and near the West Bank.

Also, Filipinos are discouraged to come near Israeli Security Forces and immediately go to nearby bomb shelters at the sound of the siren.

Filipinos are advised to keep the Philippine Embassy in Israel Hotline number +972 54 466 1188 and immediately communicate with any Embassy representative in any case of emergency. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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