Marichu Baoanan Fifth Avenue Speak-Out

Last Friday many stood along New York’s Fifth Avenue as Marichu Baoanan recounted her hardship as a modern-day slave at the hands of former UN ambassador Lauro Baja.

“What I want to say to people like me who were oppressed or will be oppressed: don’t be afraid to speak out or to come out in the open,” she said. “Let us fight for our rights. We are not alone. We need to face people who abuse us and our weaknesses because if we do not speak up, they will continue to abuse us.”

Last July 15, Baja filed a motion to dismiss all 15 civil charges, including trafficking, forced labor and racketeering, brought against him, his wife Norma Baja, their adult daughter and the Baja-owned Labaire Travel Agency. The former UN ambassador invoked the Vienna Convention and is seeking the shelter of diplomatic immunity.

Though public cries have been made to waive Baja’s diplomatic immunity from within Philippine Congress, by Congresswoman Liza Maza, neither the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippine Consulate Mission in New York, nor the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York–Baja’s former pos–has taken action on Baoanan’s case, though they have publicly claimed that they do not tolerate trafficking and abuse.

Read the whole article at The Philippine Reporter.

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