Palace urged to OK probe on envoy harassment case

By Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Nov 10 2012 06:16 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2012 12:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is being urged to authorize the investigation on Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan Primavera, who was accused of sexually harassing a “runaway” domestic helper.

Susan ‘Toots’ Ople, the president of Blas Ople Policy Center, said on Saturday that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already asked the President’s approval to allow the DFA to conduct the probe.

“’Yung apila nalang namin…ang hinihintay nalang ng DFA ay ang grant of authority from the Office of the President na pinapayagan silang imbestigahan na si Ambassador Shulan,” she told dzMM’s “Pasada Sais Trenta Sabado”.

Under the Foreign Service Act, investigations on any chief of mission require authority from the President.

Ople said she has received reports that Primavera will be returning to the Philippines on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Ople said the Blas Ople Policy Center, a group handling labor and migration concerns, will focus on the administrative complaint filed by “Mabel” (not her real name) against the ambassador.

“Ngayon nakatutok lang kami muna sa administrative case sa DFA. Kasi kung tatanungin mo naman si Mabel, simple lang ang hangarin niya eh, ang huwag maulit sa iba at pangalawa, malaman ng gobyerno kung ano ang ginawa sa kanya,” said Ople.

Mabel has accused Primavera of sexually harassing her while the latter’s partner when to the Philippines for a vacation.

Demolition job?

Primavera, however, denied the allegations, saying the charges were made against him as part of a “demolition job.”

Primavera named his predecessor, former Ambassador Ricardo Endaya, as the culprit behind the accusations.

“Two years ago, the staff here and community leaders filed a case or series of cases against my predecessor. Sumama ako sa pag-file ng kasong ‘yon,” he said.

But Andaya also refuted this, saying he has “nothing to do with the complaint.”

Ople also doubts that the allegations were made to tarnish the reputation of Primavera.

“Wala siyang ibang kilalang ambassador, [si Ambassador Primavera] lang kasi namasukan siya doon. Hindi naman niya alam ‘yung mga away-away ng mga ambassador eh,” she said.

Ople also said sexual harassment is not the only violation committed by the ambassador.

She said Mabel should not have been taken from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Center in Kuwait to work as a maid for the ambassador, to begin with.

But Primavera claimed he took in the runaway helper to help her.

“They are just waiting for repatriation. Just to be able to help, sa halip na nandoon sila wasting time inside the shelter, bakit hindi sala dito [mag-trabaho],” he said.

Fair probe

Former Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Roy Señeres, meanwhile, has urged authorities to conduct a fair investigation.

“I think we really have to be fair here. Let's give both sides benefit of the doubt. Kailangan ma-imbestigahan ng mga credible officials of government ang accusations na ito,” he told ANC.

Señeres said investigators should look deeper into the allegations because “there could be more than meets the eye.”

Señeres said Primavera has a good track record as a career official and long-time envoy.

“It is very likely na itong si Ambassador Primavera ay mayroong kinakampihan o ‘di maganda ang conciliation sa conflicting parties,” said Señeres.