A migrant workers advocacy group on Thursday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send a team to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York City to look into the alleged abusive behavior of Philippine Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre towards her household staff.
Susan “Toots” Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said Milagros Braza sought the center’s help via Facebook after repeated appeals to the DFA to act on her case brought no clear results.
The 59-year-old domestic worker is still in the United States but would like to seek the government’s help for her safe return to the Philippines.
Braza told Ople that last Dec. 25, 2015, Yparraguirre allegedly threatened to call the police unless she leave her residence. The latter was thrown out of the house at 11 o’clock in the evening on Christmas Day.
Braza claimed that her employer threw her out after she asked permission to look for a cheap place to stay rather than to sleep in the living room where she couldn’t rest because of the presence of seven other visitors that arrived that day.
The housekeeper had been busy serving the seven guests of the ambassador the whole day, and she merely wanted a full night’s rest to prepare for the activities of the ambassador and her guests the next day.
The diplomat allegedly got mad and shouted invectives at Braza and ordered her to pack up her belongings and leave immediately.
Frightened and hurt, Braza said she left the house and called up a friend who went to the city to pick her up and provided her with temporary shelter.
According to a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Mission last April, Braza was “lent” to various relatives of the ambassador as a domestic worker with no extra pay and hardly any rest.
Among the relatives who availed of Braza’s services were the ambassador’s niece Mariel Flores, based in New Jersey City, who just gave birth at that time and needed assistance. Braza said she stayed in New Jersey and worked for five days for Flores without pay.
On Nov. 28, 2015, Braza said she was told by the ambassador that she would be brought to Manhattan to work for the diplomat’s other niece, a certain Janelle Flores Pike.
“Despite having reminded the ambassador earlier that her contract was to work for the mission only, Milagros said she felt she had no choice but to follow the ambassador’s orders,” Ople said, adding that while in Manhattan, Braza was tasked to take care of five children the whole day, also without pay.
“There can be no excuse for an ambassador, especially one of ours, to abuse, threaten and exploit a Filipino domestic worker,” Ople said in a statement.
Aside from the call for an investigation, the Ople center is seeking the DFA’s help to ensure that the complainant is provided assistance as she already wants to come home and pursue her case against the ambassador.