MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines' former ambassador to Brazil caught maltreating her helper said Wednesday she was denied due process and her case was "railroaded" as she lamented her dismissal from service.
Disclosing her plan to "obtain an unbiased judgement" from the courts, former Ambassador Marichu Mauro, in a statement, said, "I wish the (Department of Foreign Affairs) determined whether my behavior was merely a severe lapse in judgment especially under the stress of managing an Embassy with the threat of the pandemic."
"My case was even mishandled. There were heavy deficiencies committed by the DFA Hearing Panel," she said, adding, "I wish the DFA had considered the letters of support from overseas Filipinos attesting that I am not the cruel person depicted in those uncontextualized videos."
Mauro made headlines last November after Brazil's Globo News exposed the envoy's repeated assault of her 51-year old Filipina helper inside the diplomatic residence. The incidents were captured by a security camera.
In one of the videos, Mauro was seen slapping her helper, but stopped when another employee entered the house. She was also seen pulling the helper’s ear in another video, and hitting the latter with an umbrella in a separate incident.
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has approved the dismissal of Mauro from the Philippine Foreign Service, and the recommended accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification of holding public office and bar from taking civil service examination.
Aside from being deeply saddened to learn about her dismissal through media reports, Mauro said it "pains" her that the penalty was recommended and imposed "despite the explanation and contextualization of what actually transpired."
"I completely regret the incidents in the videos and the shame it has brought upon the Department of Foreign Affairs... I want to reassure the public that I have made amends and have deeply regretted my behavior," she said.
"I have asked my kasambahay's forgiveness, which she has given."
Mauro said that because of the dynamics of her relationship with her helper, who, she said, has been in her family's employ on and off for over 30 years, the case could be considered as a "family matter."
In fact, she said her helper "was never an active participant" in her case. "In the midst of the chaos, they have forgotten that absent from this trial is the VICTIM," she said.
"I wish the DFA has considered my kasambahay’s own statements putting context on our relationship and how we regard each other."
Mauro, in her 5-page statement, lamented how "the DFA Hearing Panel totally disregarded the documentary evidence that my lawyers and I have painstakingly gathered, reviewed and submitted to them."
"The case was railroaded to the point that important pieces of evidence were deliberately not given due attention," she said.
She alleged that the DFA "had an urgent need to process my case with great expediency and only expediency" without regard to her side.
"It was as if the intention was to make an example of me. Absent was the support and solidarity that I at least expected from the DFA that I have passionately and fervently worked for, for many years," said Mauro, who has been with the DFA for 26 years.
"There was absolutely no interest in giving me the benefit of the doubt and considering possible mitigating and even aggravating circumstances that have contributed to my behavior."
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, the helper said Mauro was essentially kind to her until, for some unknown reason, the physical assaults happened.
"We grew up together... It is this familiarity that has caused me to cross boundaries I would never cross. It is this same familiarity that my kasambahay has also crossed on many occasions," Mauro said.
"My kasambahay has always considered this a family matter to be resolved within the family. Her silence and refusal to appear before the public despite heavy encouragement to do so is testament to her desire to keep this matter within the family."
LAW IS CUT & DRIED
In a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said it is Mauro's right to bring her case in court.
Locsin, who earlier described Mauro as a "fine diplomat," responded to the former envoy's claim regarding her relationship dynamics with the maltreated helper, saying it was precisely this circumstance that led to the incident.
"These things happen in traditional Filipino families. Familiarity breeds insensibility. Sadly it was videotaped," he said.
"But the law is cut [and] dried. If wrong, full penalty."
VIDEO 'TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT'
Mauro said the video GloboNews aired was "illegally obtained."
"Personnel of the Philippine Embassy in Brazil attested in their sworn affidavits that this serious breach of security through illegal wiretapping was committed by the Brazilian local hires, one of whom was fired with DFA’s authority," she said.
"These selected footages were illegally and stealthily obtained, patched together and eventually released to the Brazilian media to shame and embarrass me," she added.
The former envoy also said that she was not prematurely recalled by Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin, Jr. as she was already due for recall in April 2020. News reports about her supposed recall, she said, was "misleading."
"The pandemic caused my departure to be delayed several times until finally I was due to come home on 6 November 2020. Granted I arrived days earlier, on 2 November 2020 at the insistence of Secretary Locsin," she said.
Mauro said she felt betrayed as the DFA supposedly did not protect her from the public's prejudice.
"I am left with very limited options especially since I was so publicly judged. The organization that should have at least protected me and shielded me from trial by publicity even largely contributed to it," the former envoy said.
"Had the case been handled fairly," she said she would have "wholeheartedly accepted the result."
"With their final act, they have disregarded the rule of law, and made a victim of yet another woman who was simply a hardworking and dedicated civil servant and 'a fine diplomat'," Mauro said.