Tuesday, November 07, 2006


My friend Ellene, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), was excited the other week because of a June 2001 warrant of arrest issued by a Geneva court for Filipino diplomat Teresa Paran.

Joseph Sycip of the Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns (GFPC) forwarded the documents pertaining to this case and I found out Paran was found guilty by the examining magistrate in the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland for aggravated detention of one Dinia Baliton who worked for her from September 1998 to December 2000.

The GFPC is a Geneva-based non-governmental organization which has been aiding overseas Filipinos in that part of the world for some time. The GFPC is one of the many overseas partners of the CMA.

Paran had contracted Dinia, who was her first cousin, as a domestic in 1998. Paran was then assigned to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. During the period she worked for Paran, Dinia hardly received any salary except for $1,900 given to a third party.

Then in December 2000 Paran told Dinia she was sending her home to the Philippines because the younger girl had learned to go out alone against Paran’s wishes.

“She told me that last 2 December, I left the house without asking her permission. I told her whom would I ask. There was nobody in the house. I did not know where you went , I did not know when you will come back (the entire Paran family was gone for more than 3 days),” Dinia said in her sworn statement.

She added that Paran and her husband then shouted “Wow, since when and why should the employer tell their housemaid where they would go.”

But Dinia did not want to go home, so she tried escaping from Paran’s locked 5th floor apartment and climbed out the window. Dinia had tied some clothes together to make a sort of rope to climb down with. However, her knots did not hold and she fell and sustained several fractures and abrasions to her neck, back and legs. Worse, she nearly died.

Even before an open investigation could be initiated by the proper authorities, Dinia's employer, Ms. Paran, was already defensive invoking diplomatic immunity. Dinia Baliton was forced under circumstances to work abroad to earn for her family because there are no decent jobs in the Philippines, but who now finds herself paralyzed and unable to work, after being apparently exploited and treated like a slave.

Ellene asked me how the Philippines can crow about its advanced migration policy and have diplomats who violate laws and abuse their Filipino domestic helpers.

The warrant, which remains valid until June 2011, remains unserved but Ellene feels that a decision made in favor of a documented Filipino domestic against her abusive diplomat employer is victory enough.

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