DFA rules on househelp hiring exempt from POEA rules

July 11, 2008

Tingnan mo nga naman si Mar Roxas. Eh pinag uusapan nila rules of hiring ng DH ng mga diplomats. Ni walang sinabi tungkol sa  biktima na si Marichu Suarez Baoanan. Wala ni isa man sa gobyerno ang
nag palabas ng reprimand or warning kay Amb. Lauro Baja. Di man lang na suspend si Baja. Ano ba yan…


By Veronica Uy

Posted date: July 10, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The rules of the Department of Foreign Affairs
(DFA) allowing its foreign service officers to hire domestic helpers
does not go through the process required by Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA) of foreign employers, Senator
Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said Thursday.

“We cannot have a set of standards for foreign employers and none at
all for Filipino diplomats because this affects the confidence of our
own workers in the objectivity, humanity, and professionalism of our
own foreign service,” he said in a statement.

Roxas’ reaction stems from the case filed in New York against former
Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja, his wife
Norma, and his daughter Elizabeth Facundo for alleged human
trafficking, slavery, fraud, and 12 other alleged violations of US

According to the DFA, its people posted abroad are allowed to
hire “personal staff,” the number of which depends on the hiring
person’s rank.

In an interview with INQUIRER.net, POEA Administrator Rosalinda
Baldoz confirmed that such hiring does not go through her agency.

“We are not part of the hiring process of HSWs (household service
workers) by DFA personnel. We are not part of the contract. No OEC
(overseas employment certificate) is required, that’s why we don’t
have any participation,” she said.

Roxas, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments, which
confirms the promotion and assignment of ambassadors and other
personnel in foreign assignments, noted the irony that the Philippine
embassy is the “first place of refuge” of a Filipino domestic helper
abused by her foreign employer abroad.

He thus called on the DFA to adopt clear and uniform rules and
standards in the employment of Filipino maids by all government
personnel posted abroad.

“There must be a uniform contract stipulating a salary of not less
than $400 a month, with stipulated number of days off in a week, and
an assurance of adequate food and decent quarters,” he proposed.

“Violations of this contract by civil servants posted abroad must be
the subject of administrative sanctions and should be submitted to
the Commission on Appointments as part of our documentary
requirements,” he added.

The senator suggested that every contract of a domestic helper hired
by a Filipino diplomat, as well as attaches sent abroad like trade,
labor, and welfare attaches, must be registered with and
countersigned by the personnel office of the respective department.

“The adoption of fair and transparent procedures in the hiring of
Filipino maids by embassy personnel regardless of rank will redound
to the protection of both the diplomat and his or her kasambahay,”
Roxas said.

At the same time, he said, that the protection given to these
househelps should conform to the labor laws of the country where the
diplomat is assigned.

The senator noted that the controversy surrounding a case filed by
Marichu Suarez Baoanan, a Filipino nurse who was employed as a
domestic helper by the Bajas for three months, could have been
prevented had the DFA been more clear, assertive, and transparent
with its hiring policies in relation to domestic helpers.

Roxas said that regardless of who is telling the truth, the lesson of
the story is clear: the universal principles of decent work apply to

He urged the DFA to act fast and give a timeframe for drawing up
rules on the matter, so as to assure domestic helpers of their safety.




News: Not Just One Ambassador, Just One Consul

July 9, 2008

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
Filipino workers.

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.



Annalisa Vicente Enrile
Chairperson, GABRIELA Network
Initiating Committee, Mariposa Alliance
PO Box 403, Times Square Station
New York, New York 10036
Tel: 1.619.316.0920
Email: chair@gabnet. org

The Mariposa Alliance is a US-wide alliance of individual women and
women’s organizations working on intersectional issues