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PHL diplomat erupts at passport applicant over alleged insults

April 25, 2013 8:40am

(UPDATED 10:30 a.m.) - Philippine Consul General to Vancouver Jose Ampeso, accused of inappropriate display of rude behavior during a consular outreach mission there this month, has cried foul over what he called “malicious” attacks against him on the Internet.

A video circulating on the Internet shows Ampeso berating a passport applicant who was allegedly planning to give only a small donation to the Philippine National Red Cross.

In an interview with "News To Go" host Howie Severino on Thursday, Ampeso said the video did not show that before the outburst, the applicant allegedly insulted him by insinuating that the Philippine official might just pocket his donation.

“First of all, the 27-second video showing me talking in a loud voice to a passport applicant, which made some people conclude that I was rude and arrogant, does not tell the whole story,” Ampeso said Thursday in an e-mailed statement to GMA News Online.

“In fact, the video alone is not sufficient to draw any reasonable conclusions from, one way or the other,” Ampeso said, branding the video “unfair and unjust.”

On "News to Go" Ampeso alleged that the applicant told him “baka yung donation na yan ibubulsa mo lang” which triggered him to raise his voice.

Ampeso reiterated that the funds collected for the PNRC are “accounted for and fully recorded” as it includes the names of donors and the amount of their contributions.

These funds, he said, “will be remitted soonest in full to the PNRC, along with the list of donors.”

“There was a small donation box properly marked: Donations to the Philippine National Red Cross.  Anyone is free to look into this,” he said.

Ordered to return to PHL
Ampeso was ordered by the Department of Foreign Affairs to return to the Home Office in Manila to explain his side two days after a video of him allegedly berating a passport applicant circulated over popular video-sharing site YouTube.

On "News To Go," Ampeso said he will be arriving in the country on April 29.

Also on "News To Go," Ampeso denied that he was drunk in the video, posted by one greatauror28, apparently the one who drew Ampeso's ire.

The video shows the diplomat raising his voice at a passport applicant in Red Deer, Alberta on April 19.

Philippine technology blog Technograph identified the video uploader as Proceso Jr. Flordeliz by crosschecking his YouTube account with his account on the car enthusiast forum Tsikot, where he described Ampeso as “arrogant, rude and drunk.”

However, Ampeso told Severino that he was not drunk when the video footage was taken.

“Umiinom po ako sa gabi pero hindi [habang] ako [ay] nagtatrabaho,” Ampeso said, adding that “Pagod lang ako.”

Ampeso said he only raised his voice against the applicant was because “he insulted me and poked fun at being requested to make a donation to the Philippine National Red Cross by offering to give a measly one dollar for this charitable cause.”

“That’s why I became so agitated while explaining to him that if he had to give anything at all, it has to come from the heart for the typhoon victims,” Ampeso said.

GMA News Online has sought a reaction from the video uploader but has yet to receive a reply.

“It was purely voluntary. And definitely, it was not a requirement for passport application or rendition of any other consular services, contrary to what some allege. Thus, any allegation or insinuation that we were forcing people to give is entirely untrue,” he said.

Apology

Ampeso, meanwhile, apologized for the outburst.

“Please take note that this incident took place at about four o’ clock in the afternoon. I was visibly tired after continuously assisting hundreds of passport applicants in the front line that afternoon, ending in fact until 10:30 p.m. of that day,” he explained.

Despite the incident, Ampeso said he still instructed a volunteer, as attested by the video, to assist the applicant together with his wife in processing their papers.

“Be that as it may, I apologize to anyone whom I may have offended. I assure you that I had only the best intentions in reacting in that manner,” Ampeso said.

First controversy

Ampeso, who is due to retire in 2014, first figured in a controversy in 1996 when Evangeline “Luli” Arroyo, daughter of then-President President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed a sexual harassment case against him.

The younger Arroyo, who was a volunteer during the Philippine hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, said Ampeso, whom she claimed was under the influence of alcohol, made “inappropriate” remarks towards her.

Arroyo filed an administrative case against Ampeso with the DFA but it was dismissed in 1998 after the diplomat wrote a letter of apology in the presence of her parents.
 - with reports from Andrei Medina, Gian C. Geronimo, VVP, GMA News
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