DFA probes human trafficking case vs PH diplomat

By Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2014 05:42 PM | Updated as of May 14 2014 01:42 AM

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is looking into the human trafficking charges lodged against one of its personnel and her spouse in Canada.

According to reports, Philippine Cultural Attache in Canada Bueneflor Cruz was charged with human trafficking for purposes of labor exploitation, while her husband, Robert Cruz, was charged with uttering death threats and mischief, including the withholding of the identification documents of their nanny.

The 26-year-old Pinoy victim apparently entered Canada legally but was allegedly controlled by the couple for four years.

Assistant Secretary Charles Jose confirmed that the couple is now in the Philippines where they are being investigated at the DFA Central office in Pasay City.

"Kahapon, Monday, na-meet na sila ng ating personnel office and the legal office to get their side. Kahapon, nag-start na ang investigation pero hindi pa tapos," Jose told ABS-CBN News over the phone.

Jose said they have been recalled by the DFA early this year after Cruz's duty ended in Canada. He lamented that the case has not been investigated properly by the police as it appeared that this is a case of contractual dispute regarding compensation.

"Unang-una, hindi clear ang charges. Ano ba ang definition ng Ottawa police ng human trafficking? Yung announcement nila one sided based on the side of the alleged victim so hindi muna nila kinuha yung side ng accused," Jose said.

"Yung human trafficking parang hindi naman. Ang impression kapag sinabing human trafficking syndicated, marami kang victims. The victim is receiving a salary less than stipulated by the Canadian government. Yung ibang charges kailangan pang patunayan yun," he explained.

However, if found guilty, the accused will have to face the corresponding action from the department. Jose said that the country would not let this issue hamper the relations of the Philippines and Canada.