GABRIELA Network-USA / Mariposa Alliance Statement
Not Just One Ambassador, Just One Consul
DFA of Philippines is a Haven for Traffickers
Had Marichu Baoanan not filed a civil complaint against former
Philippine ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja, his wife, his daughter and
their travel agency, people of Philippine ancestry would have shrugged
off her story for its ordinariness.
In the more than ten years that GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance has
worked on the issue of trafficking, countless such stories have come
our way: of embassy and consulate personnel and their relatives
lugging, like so many suitcases, women from the Philippines,
extracting enormous amounts for a US visa, or a Saudi visa, or a
British visa or French or Italian – in other words, wherever the
government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has diplomatic representation.
There have been innumerable stories of Filipinas seeking sanctuary
from their brutal employers at consulates and embassies only to be
returned to the same employers; of Filipinas funneled into the sex
trade by embassy and consular personnel; of Filipinas traded as
domestic workers by embassy and consular personnel to their relatives
and friends as favors; of Filipinas coerced into paid-for marriages
and sex work to enable embassy and consular personnel to make enormous
It is a vast narrative of corruption and greed – the hallmarks of
bureaucrat capitalism – and of feudal/patriarchal anti-woman values
which underlie the sustained violence against women that is the
hallmark of the Philippines’ Labor Export Policy.
Every Filipino is familiar with this narrative. Every Filipino has
at least one tale of this miserable narrative, whether directly
experienced or indirectly experienced through family and/or friends.
When the first DFA personnel and/or the relative(s) thereof was
convicted of forced labor, peonage and/or trafficking, the Department
of Foreign Affairs should have immediately launched an investigation
to weed out the traffickers in its midst.
When the first diplomatic corps staff was shown to have been
connected, even remotely, to even one incident of trafficking and
coerced labor, the proper thing for the government of Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo to have done was launch an immediate crack-down on the
traffickers in its midst.
Instead both Macapagal-Arroyo and the DFA bosses chose to ignore such
Now we know why; the DFA has been transformed into a sanctuary, not
for overseas Filipinos, but for traffickers. Trafficking profits
fulfill the lust for wealth of the bosses of bosses.
The overseas face of Macapagal-Arroyo’ s government accurately reflects
its character at home: corrupt, greedy, exploitative, a parasite
living off the wounds of the Filipino people, exacerbating injuries to
the body politic by blaming its victim. Marichu is poor and just “a
maid” and therefore should not speak truth to power.
One very simple question — how many diplomatic “red” passports for
alleged “domestic employees” does the DFA issue per year? – would have
immediately given anyone an understanding of the extent of this
As for those who decry what they perceive to be attempts to sully the
reputation of “a citizen above suspicion” by a simple “maid,” bear in
mind that whitewashed tombs are beautiful outward but full of
corruption and “uncleanliness within.”
Marichu Baoanon’s story is common. GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance
has heard it over and over and over again. To fence-sit and do
nothing about it now is to be an accomplice in the exploitation,
commoditization and disempowerment of the Filipina. Do nothing, say
nothing and you conspire with the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s policy
of implementing globalization through sustained violence against women.
Therefore, GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance calls for a thorough
investigation, not only of the defendants in the civil complaint filed
by Marichu Baoanon but of the entire Department of Foreign Affairs and
of its embassies and consulates.
We demand that the DFA issue and implement a policy of zero tolerance
towards trafficking, forced and exploitative labor among its ranks.
Zero tolerance toward trafficking and peonage should be the minimum
policy of a government that survives on remittances from overseas
We demand of the United Nations as well a policy of zero tolerance
toward trafficking, slavery and peonage among its ranks. Nations
cannot be united if trafficking, slavery and peonage are allowed to be
visited upon more than half of the world’s population.
We demand that these “whitened sepulchers” stop vilifying Marichu
Baoanon for being just “a maid” and for speaking out. This is public
verbal abuse and extremely disrespectful of the Filipina domestic worker.
We call for the affirmation and assertion of labor rights and women’s
rights for Filipinos at home and overseas.
We call for JUSTICE FOR MARICHU and all “maids” like her victimized by
the sustained violence of the Labor Export Policy.
We ask all friends of the Filipino people to stand with Marichu, to
stand with GABNet of the Mariposa Alliance, in opposition to the
continuing violence against women embedded in the Labor Export
component of imperialist globalization.
JUSTICE FOR MARICHU! JUSTICE FOR OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS! JUSTICE
FOR THE FILIPINA! JUSTICE FOR THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!
END TRAFFICKING AND PEONAGE NOW! ONWARD TO WOMEN’S LIBERATION AND THE
LIBERATION OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!
Annalisa Vicente Enrile
Chairperson, GABRIELA Network
Initiating Committee, Mariposa Alliance
PO Box 403, Times Square Station
New York, New York 10036
Email: chair@gabnet. org
The Mariposa Alliance is a US-wide alliance of individual women and
women’s organizations working on intersectional issues