THE Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed overseas Filipino workers, welcomed the Department of Foreign Affairs’ announcement that it will investigate the allegations of 59-year-old Milagros Braza against her former employer, Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
The NGO, however, said that the DFA should act faster on such complaints especially since it involves a head of post.
“The complainant sent a letter of complaint last February 3 and this was acknowledged by the DFA through an e-mail that it sent on February 11, 2016.
“Seven months have passed and yet the department has not done anything to resolve this matter. This isn’t fair to both parties and to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations because no less than the ambassador is being accused of violations of labor rights,” the Ople Center said.
Braza who was kicked out of the ambassador’s residence in New York City an hour before midnight on Dec. 25, 2016, also submitted a sworn affidavit to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations last April.
In an e-mail sent by OPAS-Internal Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs dated Feb. 11, 2016 to the complainant, the DFA confirmed that it had received Braza’s complaint letter. Braza continues to await the formation of an investigative team to hear her complaint.
The head of the policy center, Susan Ople, said that it was the slow pace of action on the part of the DFA that prodded Milagros Braza to seek the help of the Ople Center as well as the media.
“She was tired of waiting and Mila badly wants to come home. However, her red passport is expired and she is at a loss on how best to proceed. She told me that she is willing to see the Secretary of Foreign Affairs while he is in New York City for the UN General Asssembly to share her sad experience,” Ople said.
According to Braza’s sworn affidavit, Yparraguirre would lend her to relatives for housekeeping and nanny duties. She also complained about the verbal abuse that she was subjected to by the ambassador.
The OFW advocate lamented that the DFA takes too long in acting on complaints leveled against diplomatic personnel.
“We helped a Filipino domestic worker filed a case of alleged sexual harassment against her ambassador-employer and the administrative case dragged on for more than two years. Until now, we are not aware of any final decision taken on that case. Now, here’s another one. I hope that Foreign Affairs Secretary Yasay will also take up the cudgels for the human rights of Milagros Braza,” Ople said.
The daughter of the late Foreign Affairs secretary Blas Ople said that the complainant is also willing to share her experience with the Commission on Human Rights.
According to Ople, the Filipino domestic worker continues to suffer from the trauma caused by the alleged abusive behavior of the diplomat.
“Whenever I would probe her about her experience, she would break down and cry. I implore Secretary Yasay to send a team to the Philippine Mission in New York City to include a social worker who can assist Milagros Braza throughout the investigation,” she said.