Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro arrived in Manila this week to face an investigation into video footage showing her physically abusing her household helper in Brasilia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says a task force investigating the incident is expected to report its findings and recommendations in 15 days.
Saying he was “not a summary execution guy,” Locsin said Mauro would be given all due process, and said the maid, too, would be asked to give her account.
But Locsin has also vowed that action on the incident would be “severe to the fullest extent of the law” and described the video as “incontestable.”
“It is what it is. It shows her maltreating the maid,” he said.
On Oct, 25, the Brazilian news outlet GloboNews released closed-circuit television videos showing Mauro either striking her maid or grabbing her by the hair and ear. Dates on the CCTV footage showed that the incidents took place in March, August, and twice in October this year.
As the video circulated on social media, Mauro was roundly criticized in the media and on the internet, and ordered to return home for an investigation.
Her maid was also returned to the country and is currently in quarantine, Locsin said, adding that the DFA has provided her with P200,000 to help tide her over as she remained jobless.
Clouding the issue was a statement released by a group calling itself the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Career Officer Corps and the Retired Ambassadors Association that supported Mauro.
“We, the DFA’s Career Officer Corps and the Retired Ambassadors Association, hereby express full support to Ambassador Marichu Mauro who is being pilloried in the social and printed media over the unfortunate incident in Brasilia. That single incident should not define the character of Ambassador Mauro,” the groups said in a statement.
The group also cited Mauro’s long career as a diplomat and her work in promoting the welfare of Filipino migrant workers, and noted that the maid had not even filed a complaint against her.
The DFA has disavowed this view and rightly so.
If indeed the ambassador beat her maid or otherwise abused her, she must pay the price for it. A long, distinguished career offers no immunity from prosecution for a crime—and we can cite at least two: violation of the Domestic Workers Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
That the maid has not filed a complaint is irrelevant as well, given that ordinary folk are often reluctant or afraid to act against people in power.
Given that Secretary Locsin says that the video is “incontestable,” we wonder if 15 days might not even be too long. Would it not be possible to give the ambassador her due process and ensure swift action?