Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Philippines

Newsline: US Ambassador to Manila snubs Filipino officials

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg has inspected American troops stationed in the town of Jolo in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, but his visit was criticized after the former ambassador to Bolivia did not even bother to meet as a courtesy protocol with local Filipino government officials. Goldberg visited Jolo together with embassy officials on June 2 and went straight to the Philippine Marine Brigade headquarters where US troops put up a small camp under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). Local government officials, who learned about Goldberg’s prior visit in Jolo, had even prepared and ready to brief the former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research in case he wanted to discuss peace and development efforts in the province. But no one from Goldberg’s group and not even the US Embassy informed the Filipino officials that the ambassador is not meeting, even briefly, with them for a still unknown reason. Some government officials said they felt insulted with Goldberg’s action and likened the American ambassador to a cat. “You know, cats just go inside your house and leave whenever they want. Animals do not have courtesy,” one Filipino official said. In the past, US Ambassadors Kristie Kenny and Harry Thomas, and other foreign dignitaries would always meet and pay their courtesy with local municipal and provincial officials every time they visit Sulu. Goldberg was declared persona non grata by Bolivia in 2008 for plotting against Bolivia’s government.


Newsline: Philippine foreign ministry apologizes to Saudi embassy over arrest of diplomat’s wife

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has apologized to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the arrest of the wife of one of its attachés for alleged illegal recruiting. The DFA issued the apology after the diplomat’s status was verified with the embassy. “We issued a diplomatic note addressed to the Embassy expressing regret for the incident,” said DFA spokesperson Charles Jose at a press briefing. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomats and their families cannot be arrested in the country where they are assigned. However, Jose noted that the diplomatic immunity clause in the convention was put to help diplomats carry out their official work and “cannot be used as a cover to do illegal activities.” The diplomat and his wife have already been released, but the Saudi Arabia embassy still protested the arrest. “The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia… hopes that within this action necessary legal procedures would be undertaken against the perpetrators of this incident and to prevent its occurrence in the future,” it said in a statement. The National Bureau of Investigation could bring the issue to the DFA it has sufficient evidence against the diplomat’s wife. The DFA then may file a complaint with the Saudi Arabia embassy and request that the immunity on the diplomat be removed. Among those seized from the couple’s home were passports and biodata of applicants who wished to go to the Middle East to work as domestic helpers.


Newsline: Italian envoy faces child abuse charges in Philippines

The Laguna Prosecutors Office has ordered the filing of charges against the Italian diplomat who has been detained in the country since last month for alleged child abuse. Daniele Bosio, the Italian ambassador to Turkmenistan, will be charged with three counts of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Act and three counts of violation of Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. Bosio was on a holiday when he was arrested last April. Witnesses from the Bahay Tuluyan Foundation, a non-government group promoting children’s rights, alleged that while at the resort in Laguna, they saw Bosio “touching and caressing” three underaged boys in the swimming pool. When asked how they were related, one of the boys said Bosio was his father but another said they were not related at all. Sensing something wrong, the foundation executives sought help from policemen at the resort who arrested Bosio. For his defense, Bosio said he merely acted in the performance of his social and moral duty to afford the children their rights to play and recreation as well as their basic rights to food, clothing and cleanliness. But Provincial Prosecutor Agrifino Baybay III said in a resolution that if Bosio’s intention was to help uplift the welfare of complainants, “he should have instead brought them to Breakthrough Christian Academy (BCA), Brgy. Bagong Silang, Quezon City where he previously served as volunteer teacher so that they too may have the same opportunity to study and attend school just like the long line of minor children bought to this office during the preliminary investigation to vouch for his supposed reputation for, among others, being fond of and passionate about helping underprivileged children.”


Newsline: Many Asians unhappy with embassies in Qatar

A rapid increase in the number of foreign workers recruited from Asian countries, especially in the construction sector, ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, has put the embassies of their countries here in a not-so-comfortable situation, with more pressure on consular services and a rise in workers’ complaints. A random survey conducted by The Peninsula among members of different Asian communities shows that very few are satisfied with the performance of their embassies. Most respondents were critical of what they said were poor consular services provided by the missions. A Nepalese worker complained about delays in consular services at the embassy. An Indian expatriate said the Indian embassy had a lot to do to address the problems of the rapidly growing Indian expatriate population in Qatar. Most Sri Lankans this daily spoke to were bitterly critical of their embassy, its staff and services. Several Bangladeshis contacted for comment also said that they were upset by the “poor” treatment they got at their embassy. The Philippine embassy came out with flying colours in the Peninsula survey. Asked whether the embassy would come to their aid if they were in trouble, all the respondents in the survey said yes.


Newsline: Saudi diplomat allegedly involved in human trafficking can still face charges in the Philippines

The Saudi Arabian diplomat who was arrested for alleged involvement in human trafficking and later on freed can still face charges, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said on Thursday. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomats are given immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the host state, including arrest and detention. However, the official, who asked not be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the treaty for diplomats was “not envisioned to become a defense to commit illegal acts.” “If there’s a strong evidence against the diplomat based on investigation gathered by our authorities, the DFA will notify the Saudi Embassy to waive the immunity of the suspect so that a case can be filed against him,” the official said. The diplomat, an attaché of the Saudi Arabian Embassy, was freed after the DFA certified his diplomatic status. Should the Saudi Embassy refuse to waive the diplomat’s immunity despite strong evidence linking him to human trafficking, the Philippine government can declare the embassy staff member persona non grata.


Newsline: Filipino diplomat charged with trafficking nanny in Canada

A former diplomat from the Philippines and her husband are facing criminal charges for allegedly trafficking their 26-year-old nanny for labour at their Ottawa home. Insp. Paul Johnston said a woman was “controlled” by the couple for more than four years after entering the country legally to work as a nanny. Her identification was allegedly seized by the couple. “She was working every day, under conditions that wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone here in Canada,” Johnston told CBC News. The police investigation began in December 2013 after a third-party complaint about alleged illegal labour. A 26-year-old woman was rescued and remains in Canada in a safe location, police said. This is the first time human trafficking charges related to labour have been laid in Ottawa, police said. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Bueneflor Cruz, 44, and Robert Cruz, 45. Police alleged the couple exploited the woman for “financial and material benefit” from July 2009 to December 2013 at their home. At the time, the couple had diplomatic immunity. On April 30, police requested a waiver of immunity from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) to proceed with criminal charges. Police said Bueneflor Cruz had been on a posting with the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, and her husband Robert had joined her in Ottawa. The couple had surrendered their identity cards and returned to the Philippines.


Newsline: Philippine Embassy warns of recruitment scam for non-existent jobs in Portugal

The Philippine Embassy in Lisbon warned of an Internet scam offering fake jobs in Portugal in exchange for expensive processing fees exacted through money transfer. In an advisory, the embassy noted “an upsurge” in the number of Filipinos who have fallen victim to the scam, carried out via email purporting to come from companies in Portugal offering jobs and visa processing assistance “through payment of exorbitant fees.” “The Philippine Embassy in Lisbon would like to remind the public to be extra cautious in making transactions over the Internet with spurious companies and individuals offering employment and issuances of entry/working visas for Portugal,” read an Embassy statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The embassy warned that scammers use the names of “real and even reputable” Portuguese companies using information from official websites, lending authenticity to their job offers. Those who fall for the scheme are asked to pay fees for documents not really required by Portuguese authorities, including “entry clearance certificates,” “international overseas employment certificates” and “affidavits of guarantee fund.” The embassy urged Filipinos hoping to land jobs overseas to be more discerning about Internet offers. It said the requirement for fees for testing and processing documents prior to employment “is a sure sign of a scam.” The embassy said it was coordinating with Portuguese authorities and companies cited in the scams to issue their own public advisories.