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Envoy in maltreatment case dismissed from service
Brazil Marichu Mauro
STAR/ File

Envoy in maltreatment case dismissed from service

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has approved the dismissal from service of former Philippine ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro for the maltreatment of a Filipino household helper under her care last year.

Duterte said he has signed the removal from service of Mauro for repeatedly inflicting physical harm.

“I signed the document affirming the decision. The decision metes out the penalty of dismissal from the service with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking Civil Service examination,” he said.

“That’s how it is. I said there are rules to be followed. Kung ayaw mong sundin (If you don’t want to follow), you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” the President said.

Mauro was recalled last year after a video which showed her maltreating a female helper went viral on social media. The 51-year-old helper has since returned to the Philippines.

In his address to the nation on Monday, Duterte also publicly named some government officials who were suspended and dismissed from service due to corruption and other illegal activities.

‘Harsh’

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. described yesterday as “harsh” the decision of Duterte to dismiss Mauro from service.

The DFA formed a fact-finding team that investigated the incident and made its recommendations to Locsin.

In November, Locsin said the hearing panel’s report and charge would be passed upon and approved or disapproved by the Board of Foreign Service Administration and finally by the secretary.

Locsin admitted the President upheld the decision made by the DFA “to the letter” following an internal investigation on the incident involving Mauro, who never got the chance to speak to Locsin to explain the incident after she was recalled in October.

“It was a harsh decision affirming DFA’s decision and penalties to the letter against what was a fine diplomat. While her temper got the better of her in that case, she treated a self-important young diplomat the same way and his lousy character completely changed for the better,” Locsin tweeted.

Former Ambassador Victoria Bataclan said there was a grave abuse of discretion in the dismissal of Mauro from service.

“JUSTICE  for Ambassador Ichu Mauro... ! That was one grave abuse of discretion, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, for what certainly was not grave misconduct... sa mali po ninyong PAGSIBAK kay Ichu (for your wrongful firing of Ichu), we pray that the Court of Appeals /Supreme Court get you BAKSI. Nated, rightfully, efficaciously and effectively in God’s time... pronto! Forza!…,” Bataclan posted on her Facebook account.

Bataclan served as Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg and head of the Philippine Mission to the European Union. She was president of the Union of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS).

In a letter to the President dated Jan. 6, 2021, Mauro said the DFA hearing panel ignored numerous valid points that she raised and were not brought to the attention of the Board of Foreign Service Administration (BFSA).

She called the release of the CCTV footages “illegal.”

Mauro asked for understanding of the unique dynamics of her relationship with her household help, who worked for her family for more than 30 years.

“It is unfortunate that the captured images were quickly misjudged and misunderstood,” Mauro said.

As a result, she said, the BFSA sustained the panel’s recommendation to dismiss her from the department as a career executive.

Locsin announced in October the recall of Mauro to “explain the alleged maltreatment of her service staff.” The footage, first aired by a Brazilian news outfit, went viral on social media. In November, the DFA vowed to impose a “severe” penalty on Mauro.

Serving a lesson

Sen. Bong Go welcomed the results of the investigation and recommendation of the DFA regarding Mauro.

“I hope that this serves as a lesson to all public officials that we will not tolerate any form of abuse of power. As the President always emphasized, our duty is always to protect the lives and welfare of our people,” Go noted.

The DFA’s fact-finding team concluded Mauro had inflicted physical harm on her household staff inside the official residence on several occasions. The former ambassador has been administratively charged for gross violation of the Philippine Foreign Service Act, grave misconduct, grave offense of oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

“No one has the right to abuse others. Especially if you work as an ambassador to protect your fellow Filipinos. President Duterte and I will not miss it,” Go lamented.

Go also reminded concerned authorities to make sure that justice is served and the accused is made to face the consequences of her actions to the fullest extent of the law.

“Although we face many problems today, especially in the midst of a pandemic, let us not forget the other issues that need to be resolved. Many are waiting for justice, ” Go said.

“Especially those in the higher offices, the more responsible they must be. We have to hold public servants accountable at all times,” he added.

In an earlier statement, Go slammed Mauro’s conduct and expressed support for domestic helpers and other overseas Filipinos, especially those who are victims of violence and cruelty abroad.

He offered assistance to the household staff member who returned to the Philippines from Brasilia, Brazil last October and encouraged others to report to his office similar incidents and other forms of abuse.

The senator, who is also a member of the Senate committee on foreign relations, sternly reminded all public officials to strictly comply with the standards set forth in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and other applicable standards, such as those in the Foreign Service Act.

“You are there to serve and protect our countrymen and not to abuse the Filipinos who work well there to support their families,” he added.

Finally, Go reiterated his push for the passage of his bill which seeks to establish the Department of Overseas Filipinos. Senate Bill 1949 is currently being deliberated on in the Senate after having been identified as one of the priority legislations of the 18th Congress.

The House of Representatives approved a similar measure in September of last year. President Duterte has certified this measure as urgent.

“It is about time that we create a Cabinet-level, secretary-led department with an organization structured to work together as one team to protect the rights and advance the interests and welfare of about ten percent of our population who reside abroad,” he explained.

Go emphasized the country must ramp up its mechanisms to protect Filipinos from any form of abuse, especially those abroad who need immediate support and guidance from the government.

Under the proposed measure, the department shall subsume and streamline all responsibilities pertaining to overseas employment and migration that are presently scattered among various departments and agencies.

It will be primarily responsible for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipinos, as well as managing and monitoring their employment abroad and reintegration once they return. – Pia Lee-Brago, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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