Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today said former UN Envoy Lauro Baja may be found liable of qualified trafficking under RA 9208 should aggreived Overseas Filipino Worker Marichu Baoanan decide to file charges against her former employer in Philippine courts.
Maza, one of the primary authors of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2003 said public officials found guilty of acts of trafficking maybe charged with qualified trafficking and could suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) to five million pesos (P5,000,000.00).
“It is disturbing that a Philippine ambassador, no less than the head of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and a former president of the UN Security Council, is now being accused of trafficking, when he should be setting the standards for the compensation and treatment of Filipina workers,” said Maza.
In the midst of Baja’s denials, Maza said while Baja paid $200 per month for Baoanan’s services, “it should be noted that the minimum wage in the United States is actually $5.85 per hour. Moreover, the average Filipina domestic worker is paid $300-500.”
Baoanan however claims she was paid only $100 for three months of services in the Baja household and another $100 for the care of Baja’s grandchid.
The women’s partylist group meanwhile noted that the Baja-owned Labaire International Travel, which Baoanan initially approached to assist her in going to the US, has been involved in several cases including that of non-compliance with labor standards and breach of contract.
In 2003, the Department of Labor and Employment-NCR found Norma Baja and Elizabeth Baja of Labaire International Travel guilty of non-compliance of Labor Standards against its former employees who wer forced to sign cash vouchers and quitclaims in exchange for their salaries amounting to P298,481.15.
In 1995, Branch 28 of the Manila Regional Trial Court found Labaire International Travel guilty of breach of contract for failure to comply with a travel and tour package to Palawan which had already been partially paid for by the complainants.
Both cases were later reversed by the Court of Appeals.#