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Duterte OKs probe vs. envoy accused of abusing service staff

President Rodrigo Duterte has given the go-signal for the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) investigation against the country’s ambassador to Brazil who was caught on video physically abusing her household service staff.

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the development at a news conference in Bohol on Thursday.

According to Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the President gave his permission “in light of the gravity of allegations” against Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro and following the recommendation of the DFA.

The DFA has already recalled Mauro in order for it "to conduct an expedient and thorough investigation into the incidents of physical abuse perpetrated by her against her household staff as shown in the CCTV footage recently aired by a Brazilian news outfit," said Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Twitter.

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."

“The President has always been firm — the protection and promotion of the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas is a paramount responsibility of our government. Our ambassadors are duty-bound to carry out this mandate, no questions asked,” said Go, Duterte's former special assistant.

“The impartial investigation will be carried out consistent with relevant provisions of the law, particularly the Foreign Service Act of 1991.”

The DFA earlier said a team has been formed to investigate Mauro, who has yet to issue a statement regarding the issue.

Mauro's Filipina maid left Brazil on October 21 and is back in the Philippines, the DFA said, adding the agency has reached out to her to ensure her well-being and cooperation in the investigation.

Locsin assured the public on Wednesday that the DFA “will not tolerate in any way whatsoever actions by any of its ranking officers or staff that go against our primary mandate, which is the promotion and protection of the welfare of all overseas Filipinos.”

Roque said the decision regarding penalties lies with the DFA.

“Sinigurado naman po ni Secretary Locsin that ipapatupad nila ang karapat-dapat na parusa sa insidenteng ito. So, we leave it to the Department of Foreign Affairs,” he said.

Locsin also said the department is reviewing the policy of allowing Filipino diplomats to take Filipino domestic helpers from the Philippines rather than hiring them locally in their foreign posts. 

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists OFWs who are victims of exploitation and human trafficking, has offered legal and livelihood assistance to the household staff.   KBK, GMA News