Authentic diplomacy

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 31, 2020 - 12:00am

We are appalled by disturbing images of a maltreated 51-year-old household help committed by no less than a Philippine ambassador. Captured by the CCTV not only once, twice, but many times.

It's unimaginable how long the domestic worker could have suffered if the video had not been released in the press. And in the midst of a global pandemic in which the entire department has been working tirelessly to repatriate thousands of foreign Filipino employees, how can the ambassador even think of harming her own staff, contrary to the primary mission of improving and protecting the welfare of all Filipinos abroad?

For our domestic workers, the truth is, due to the nature of their work, they are considered as one of the most vulnerable sectors in society. They came from marginalized, disadvantaged families whose engagement in domestic work is a matter of choice to improve their own personal and family lives.

In the Philippines, the practice of domestic labor has historical basis and is seen as a product of the emergence of distinct social classes. Domestic labor is almost equivalent to slavery during the colonial era, where workers, mostly minors and women, were subjected to various forms of violence by their masters. At present, as the bad economic condition continues, this practice is difficult to eradicate.

For those in power, like an ambassador, it is a constant reminder of representing the Philippine flag, and that flag is well known worldwide for being the voice of international domestic workers. Yet, unfortunately, the voice is used to exploit the vulnerability of the powerless.

Such an ambassador's status projects a certain degree of prestige and authority in the public eye, as the position entails interpersonal and social relationships with various highly-esteemed personalities.

Indeed, with his or her actions in public, one who holds such role is extremely cautious. And because of this, the job needs to establish a positive relation to preserve the good public image with the media. This is particularly true as the conduct of any official and public appearances the lenses can capture and project them to the world. In other words, to its benefit, use this tool to achieve full promotional advantage.

In a related vein, in the disguise of philanthropy, every time such public persona announces recent initiatives like donating school buildings, media personalities will flock to the venue.

Far from the public eye, the hidden skeleton reveals the contrary to what is being projected, the reality expressed in the harrowing narratives of common citizens such as drivers, secretaries, household workers who have witnessed and experienced themselves the true character of these officials.

Indeed, a person's true character is manifested in the way he treats those who have less in life.

Our domestic workers need support, deserve respect from those in power. They have simple yet noble dreams for their families. They tolerated humiliation, emotional and physical violence. They suffer a great deal of emotional torment by being away from their loved ones just to serve their hypocritical superiors.

Authentic diplomacy is anchored on humanity where the privileged and influential will not take advantage of the vulnerability of fellow citizens.


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