GABNet/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 profits.

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 incidents.

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 corruption.

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.


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