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Staff up in arms against Latin American ambassador

/ 06:50 AM January 10, 2016

Shock greeted the country’s diplomatic community on the first Monday of the year, following the unauthorized circulation of a letter decrying a Latin American ambassador’s alleged “inhumane and degrading” treatment of Filipinos in his staff.

The two-page letter signed by three individuals was dated Oct. 15, 2015, and addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the diplomat’s home country. There was no indication that the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs was furnished with a copy of the complaint.

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The letter senders noted the envoy’s open “dislike for the Philippines and (the) Filipino people” through his “constant… comments and insults” of the host country, particularly its “regressing economic standing” that he believes is “caused by the rash and imprudent attitude” of its citizens.

The complainants also lamented that the ambassador always demanded “five-star treatment” and resented both private individuals and government workers who fail to oblige him.

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As a result, a flurry of resignations has disabled the embassy. Two employees from the accounting department have suffered “psychological breakdown” because of “his abrasive and aggressive treatment” and had to go, the letter said.

This after the ambassador demanded that the accounting staff change the formats of documents, thus affecting the “systematic flow of the day-to-day work.”

A consular secretary also quit because she was allegedly assigned additional duties beyond her job description.

In her resignation letter, the secretary said the “remuneration given to the staff does not compensate the descripcion de funciones I have signed for.”

Playing favorites

The letter senders pointed out that the ambassador also plays favorites, especially among drivers.

One driver who flaunted the rules about turning over receipts and other documents pertaining to the use of the official car was even rewarded with the use of a mobile phone with Internet access, while a more conscientious driver was not allowed to take a one-day leave to facilitate his father’s burial requirements.

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The second driver chose not to continue his work contract, the letter said.

Also, staff members are not allowed more than 15 minutes off for lunch, in violation of the Labor Code that mandates 60 minutes time off during noon breaks.

The complainants claimed the ambassador is likewise at odds with the lessor of the property housing the embassy because of his “impractical” and “unachievable” requests.

The ambassador reportedly finds the house “too dark.”

The complainants have already aired their grievances to at least one embassy authority. However, they were advised to keep quiet. Hence the sudden circulation of their letter caught them by surprise.

The Inquirer Lifestyle source said the ambassador was summoned to home base a few weeks after the letter was submitted to his superiors.

The ambassador has returned since then.

Lifestyle has tried to get a statement from the ambassador, but phone calls to the embassy and questions sent via e-mail were not answered.

A male staff member who answered the embassy landline said the letter senders are “on leave” and that he was “not at liberty to answer questions.”

The staff, however, is said to be wondering what’s next now that the letter has gone public. “They’re kind of scared,” the source noted.

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TAGS: Ambassador, Anti-Filipino sentiments, Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, Latin American ambassador, Philippine Labor Code
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