Progressive Filipinos in Canada support the complaint of Marichu Suarez Baoanan against Baja family

Progressive Filipinos in Canada support the complaint of Marichu Suarez Baoanan against Baja family

As progressive Filipinos in Canada, we support the civil complaint of Marichu Suarez Baoanan alleging trafficking, forced labour, peonage and racketeering against her former employer, Lauro Liboon Baja Jr. and his family. Baja is a 71-year old retired former Philippine ambassador to the United Nations and current foreign affairs consultant of Philippine Senate President Manuel Villar.

According to reports, Baoanan, a 39-year old nursing graduate from the Philippines, arrived in the United States in January 2006 with a diplomatic “red” passport and visa, as a “personal employee” of Ambassador Baja. She says she paid P250,000 to Baja’s wife, Norma Baja in agreement for exchange of transportation to the U.S, a visa, work authorization and help in finding a nursing job. Instead, she says she was forced to work in the five-story Philippine consular residence 16 hours a day, seven days a week and only received $200 for three months of work. She says she also received abuse from Baja’s grandson who was allowed to hit her.

It enrages us that many Philippine government officials continue to live in over-indulgence and splendor, exploiting and oppressing women workers who are forced to leave the Philippines in order to support their families back home.

The chronic economic crisis under the government of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo continues to force over 3,000 Filipino workers abroad every day. Her anti-people policies and the continuing plunder of the country’s wealth and resources by the elite few and foreigners push us abroad in droves.

The case of Baoanan is similar to countless other cases of Filipina live-in caregivers in Canada. We recall the case of “Precious” a live-in caregiver in Canada who was forced to work for her Taiwanese employer in 2004 for 17 hours a day at 59 cents per hour for two months with no overtime or holiday pay. She was also only given one day off in two months of work. Reports of her case sparked a resolution in the Philippine House of Representatives by progressive party-list representatives of Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela party-list groups to call on the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate and protect women workers in Canada under the LCP.

Since the early 1908’s, nearly 100,000 Filipino women have come to Canada under the Canadian government’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). The LCP sentences these women to a lifetime of deskilling and low-wage work, strips them of their dignity and leaves them vulnerable to all forms of abuse at the hands of their employer.

Organizations across Canada, namely under the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada, SIKLAB (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers) and Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance have been calling for the scrapping of the racist and anti-woman LCP because of the negative short and long-term impacts we have seen on our women and community over the last three decades.

The recent deaths of live-in caregivers like Editha Mangaoang, Jocelyn Dulnuan and Arcelie Laoagan, and the children of former live-in caregivers: Jomar Lanot, Deeward Ponte, and Charle Dalde point to the harshest impacts of the LCP.

It is only from the collective empowerment of the women themselves that they are able to learn and assert their rights against abusive employers. Over the past few years, several SIKLAB members in BC including “Precious” have been able to win back pay and compensation from their former employees by filing complaints with the labour board.

We salute the bravery of Marichu Baoanan to stand up against the abuse and exploitation she faced from the Baja family! We support her demands for unpaid wages and other compensations, a public apology from the Baja family and that the DFA conduct a full investigation of Baja and other diplomats with domestic workers and hold them accountable for any abuse.

Makibaka! Huwag matakot!

Scrap the racist and anti-woman Live-in Caregiver Progam!

End forced migration from the Philippines!

Justice for Marichu Baoanan and all Overseas Filipino Workers!

Statement issued: July 8, 2008 by the following organizations:

National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada

SIKLAB – Canada (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers)

Filipino-Canadian Youth AllianceCanada

Member organizations:

Vancouver: Kalayaan Centre

Philippine Women Centre of BC


Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance –BC

Filipino Nurses Support Group - BC

BC Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Montreal: Kabit-Bisig Centre

Philippine Women Centre of Quebec

Kabataang Montreal

SIKLAB – Quebec

Filipino Nurses Support Group – Quebec

Toronto: Magkaisa Centre

Philippine Women Centre of Ontario

SIKLAB – Ontario

Filipino-Canadian Youth AllianceOntario


Philippine Women Centre of Manitob

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