Date: July 9, 2008
To: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo
United Nations Human Rights Council Vice President Erlinda Basilio
Care of: Consul General Cecilia Rebong

Filipino domestic workers in New York and New Jersey, and our families, allies and supporters are demanding the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to conduct a full investigation of former United Nations Ambassador Lauro Baja, wife Norma Baja, daughter Elizabeth Baja Facundo and their travel agency, the Labaire International Travel Inc. on charges of human trafficking, involuntary servitude, racketeering and US wage and hours violations filed by our fellow domestic worker Marichu Baoanan on June 24, 2008 at the US District Court Southern District of New York.

We call on the United Nations Human Rights Council Vice President Erlinda Basilio to head the DFA investigation on the charges against the former Ambassador who was also the former UN Security Council President.

We also support the demand of Marichu Baoanan for a public apology from the Bajas for violating her human dignity and subjecting her to involuntary servitude.Like Marichu, about 30,000 Filipino domestic workers in New York work for very long hours and low wages, for less than the US minimum wage, and no overtime pay. In the private homes of our employers, we have no protection against abuse, maltreatment and slavery. We suffer from exclusion from major federal and state labor laws. We are also subjected to discrimination and harassment due to immigration status.

According to the preliminary results of a DAMAYAN survey of 210 Filipino domestic workers in the New York metropolitan area, 63 percent reported experiencing one or more wage and hour violations, and 34 percent of survey respondents reported being abused.We are outraged by the thought that the Department of Foreign Affairs is not our haven, and that even top ranking Philippine officials could be traffickers instead of our protectors.

We are the lifeline of the Philippine economy. We will remit about $16 billion dollars, and more than $20 billion including informal channels to the Philippines this year. We were forced to leave our homeland due to the poverty and lack of opportunities in the Philippines. For these reasons, we demand respect and dignity.

Together with all the low wage Filipino workers and professionals, we are appalled at the abuse, exploitation, inhumane treatment and suffering that Marichu and her family have undergone. We call on all Filipino and non-Filipino domestic and low-wageworkers, women, immigrants, racial and social justice advocates, allies and supporters in New York, the US and internationally to show and build solidarity and power for Marichu and all Filipino domestic workers. Justice for Marichu! Justice for all Filipino domestic workers!
Posted by DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association at 10:00 PM 0 comments

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