PH envoy to Brazil back, DFA probe begins

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    MARICHU Mauro, the Duterte administration’s chief diplomat to Brazil, returned to the country on Monday night to answer allegations of maltreatment leveled against her by one of her former household helps, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.

    Locsin told CNN Philippines in an interview: “She arrived last night (Monday night). We thought she would be delayed due to the storm but she was back in the country,” Locsin said.

    He assured Mauro that she will be given due process by the panel of investigators that will look into allegations that she maltreated her Filipina helper several times, as seen in a video footage that the Brazilian news outlet GloboNews aired.

    Locsin ordered the creation of the panel, which is headed by Consul General Ezzedin Tago, after President Duterte authorized the conduct of a probe against Mauro, who is a presidential appointee.

    Section 51 of the Foreign Service Act states that “chiefs of Mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary shall not be investigated by the Board of Foreign Service Administration or separated from the service unless there is an express written directive from the President.”

    Locsin said the panel will listen to the househelp’s allegations and then get Mauro’s explanation.

    “They have 15 days after I got the authorization which is two days ago,” Locsin said, adding the DFA will then send its findings to the Office of the President.

    Mauro’s Filipina helper arrived in the country last October 21 and is on quarantine as part of the protocols in a facility in her home province in Mindanao.

    Meanwhile, Locsin disowned a report that a group of retired diplomats and career officials have expressed their support to the embattled envoy.

    The groups, supposedly calling themselves the DFA Career Officer Corps and the Retired Ambassadors Association, on Monday backed Mauro and vouched for her integrity.

    “The DFA nor am I is aware of the existence of a so-called Department of Foreign Affairs career officers corps and the retired ambassador association. The reported statement of such organizations on the case of the former ambassador to Brazil does not in any way reflect the position of the department nor the sentiment of its career corp. The department stands by its resolve to respond to the matter in accordance with and to the full extent of the law,” Locsin said in the same interview.

    Aside from expressing support for Mauro, the groups also called for due process instead of what they said is the vilification of her in the media.

    “We, the DFA Career Officer Corps and the Retired Ambassador Association, hereby express full support to Ambassador Marichu Mauro who is being pilloried in the social and printed media over the unfortunate incident in Brasilia. That single incident should not define the character of Ambassador Mauro,” they said in a statement.

    They said Mauro has a distinguished record that spans three decades assisting distressed Filipino workers abroad and promoting the interest of the country.

    A career diplomat, Mauro joined the DFA in 1995 and served postings in Bahrain, Israel and Belgium.

    In 2014, she was appointed consul general in Milan, Italy.

    She was appointed ambassador to Brazil in 2018 with concurrent jurisdiction over Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.

    Locsin said the DFA has yet to determine how GloboNews managed to get copies of the footages showing Mauro maltreating her household help but said the department would also look at it.

    “We have yet to determine that. I don’t know whether we should investigate that but I guess we also want to know because if they can leak something like a domestic occurrence, it could also be happen in another meeting. A meeting between the foreign secretary or the ambassador with another ambassador could also be leak out. That I guess could justify us,” he said.

    He said though that the residences of ambassadors are installed with close circuit television cameras as part of the security protocol.

    But Locsin said no one is questioning the footages taken by the CCTV.

    “It is what it is. Nobody is pretending or claiming its fake, it’s real. It showed her maltreating the maid,” he added.

    At the same time, Locsin said he has yet to speak to Mauro since the issue came out.

    “I haven’t spoken to the ambassador. Remember, I’m not part of the investigating panel and I would suggest that she reserved her comments to the investigating panel,” he added.

    Locsin said he also did not talk to the household help but said he immediately directed that P200,000 in financial aid be extended to her.

    He said the financial aid was intended to “tide her over.”

    Locsin also declined to provide details as to how and who assisted the household help in returning to the country.