MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light for the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate an ambassador's alleged abuse of her Filipina helper in Brazil, Malacañang said Thursday.
The agency earlier said it needed the go signal of Duterte to proceed with the probe against Philippine envoy to Brazil Marichu Mauro, who was caught on video berating, slapping and pulling the ear of her household service staff.
"Pinayagan na po ng Presidente ang Department of Foreign Affairs na imbestigahan ang dating Philippine ambassador to Brazil na si Marichu Mauro," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
(The President has allowed the Department of Foreign Affairs to investigate former Philippine ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro.)
"Bilang isang presidential appointee, kinakailangan po ang pagpayag ng Presidente bago maimbestigahan ang dating Philippine ambassador," he told reporters.
(As Mauro is a presidential appointee, the President's approval is needed for the former ambassador to be investigated.)
Duterte "has always been firm - the protection and promotion of the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas is a paramount responsibility of our Government," said his former aide Sen. Bong Go.
"Our Ambassadors are duty-bound to carry out this mandate, no questions asked," the senator said in a statement.
"The impartial investigation [against Mauro] will be carried out consistent with relevant provisions of the law, particularly the Foreign Service Act of 1991," he added.
This law states that “the chiefs of mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary shall not be investigated by the Board or separated from the Service unless there is an express written directive from the President.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said he would hire the “best guy” to investigate the circumstances surrounding the maltreatment, saying that the person is “the very best in the business” to do the probe.
“Under my leadership, the DFA will not tolerate in any way whatsoever actions by any of its ranking officers or staff that go against our primary mandate, which is the promotion and protection of the welfare of all overseas Filipinos,” he said.
“Let me reiterate the DFA is giving this matter its utmost attention, true to its core mission of protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers,” he said.
“All our diplomats are held to an even higher standard by virtue of their profession's mandate, not least to be the face of our compassionate country, and sworn commitment to public service.”
At least two senators have said they were "outraged" upon seeing videos of the ambassador assaulting her Filipina helper, urging the DFA to conduct a "thorough investigation" on the matter.