NEW YORK – Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre has denied abusing her former maid, 59-year-old Milagros Braza, who filed a complaint of maltreatment against the ambassador.
According to reports, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said they were looking into the allegations made by Braza against Yparraguirre, the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations.
Yparraguirre said Braza was considered and treated as a part of the family as she had worked as house staff with family members for a total of almost 15 years, including as service staff for 5 years in the official residence of the ambassador who was assigned in Vienna from June 2000 to April 2015 and in New York for almost a year.
Braza’s contract of employment was “terminated for cause” on December 31, 2015 and Yparraguirre had executed and submitted to the DFA on February 5, 2016 a sworn statement denying Braza’s allegations.
Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, broke the news at a media forum on Saturday, Sept. 17 that Milagros Braza has filed a complaint with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) against her former employer, Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre.
Accoding to GMA News, Ople said the complaint was filed as Braza was still affected by the verbal abuse she allegedly suffered from Yparraguirre.
“Dalawa yung gusto niya: yung una, gusto niya talaga ma-pursue yung case kasi hanggang ngayon, hindi niya makalimutan yung nagawa sa kanya,” Ople explained. “Milagros was also with the ambassador in Vienna. Doon pa lang, meron nang kakaibang nangyayari sa kanya. [But] her sworn affidavit focused mainly on what happened to her while in the US. Ang gusto lang niya, I guess, to hold accountable yung kanyang employer.”
In her statement, Ambassador Yparraguirre repudiates in the strongest terms the accusations against her by Ms. Braza as misleading, blown out of proportion and definitely untrue.
In accordance with US laws, Braza was paid a monthly salary of $2,000 with medical/health insurance, free board and lodging and paid vacation leave while she worked as a service staff in the official residence of the ambassador in New York.
According to Yparraguirre’s statement, Braza was assigned in the three-bedroom residence “a room with a bay window with a good view of the East River and the New York skyline, and adorned with paintings and pretty wall paper. The room is provided with a 42” television, a computer desk with executive chair, airconditioning and heater, and a toilet and bath with a jet massage shower.”
Upon her arrival at the official residence, Ambassador Yparraguirre advised her that she might be requested to temporarily vacate the room if several guest relatives stay in the official residence. And this happened once on December 25, 2015.
Braza wrote an email to then DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario, detailing her situation that started when she joined the ambassador in June 2015. The two-page affidavit detailed how Braza was lent to the ambassador’s relatives without extra payment.
She was reportedly made to work for Yparraguirre’s niece in New Jersey from October 25 to 29, 2015 and she continued working despite having a fever. During Thanksgiving week, Braza claimed she was also lent out to another relative in New York.
Yparraguirre, in her statement obtained by the Asian Journal, denied this allegation that she was lending Braza to her relatives.
Yparraguirre said that she, accompanied by Braza, went to visit her niece in Morristown, New Jersey during a 3-day weekend after the latter gave birth prematurely and they helped prepare the baby’s room. On another occasion, the Ambassador requested Braza to go to her niece in Manhattan to help attend to her three (3) young boys (while one of her two (2) nannies was away for a few hours to run errands) and two (2) nephews (whose Mom was rushed to the hospital). Aside from Braza, there were three other adults watching over 5 boys for 5 hours.
Because she was tired of doing the household chores during the holidays and she didn’t want to sleep on an airbed in the living room, Braza reportedly asked Yparraguirre if she could find a cheap hotel where she would stay for the night.
“Lantang-lanta na po sa pagod ang katawan ko, hindi pa ako makatulog sa sala dahil dinadaan-daanan ako ng mga tao,” Braza said.
Braza claimed that her statement angered Yparraguirre and she began to shout at her and asked her to leave immediately.
“Habang nagliligpit po ako ng mga gamit ko, sinabihan niya ako na tinawagan niya isang colleague niya na papupuntahin ang pulis sa bahay kaya sobrang takot ko, tumawag po ako ng 911,” she added. “Tapos sinabihan pa po niya ako na within 30 minutes, dapat makalabas na ako sa bahay, ayaw na daw po niya makita pagmumukha ko,”
Police officers arrived at the scene and asked the ambassador if she had a housekeeper.
Although under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations the official residence is inviolable, Ambassador Yparraguirre allowed the police officers to enter the residence and talk to Braza and they told her that if she did not want anymore to work for the ambassador, then she should leave. Yparraguirre told the police officers that Braza can leave anytime.
Fearing for her own safety and security of the official residence and personal property after the guests left to watch a Broadway play, Yparraguirre told Braza that she can leave that same night after asking Braza to call up her relatives in Queens and in New Jersey to pick her up from the official residence.
Braza left with her personal belongings and her official and regular Philippine passports, Immigration/G5 visa documents, US Social Security Card, Aetna Medical/health Insurance Card, Bank of America ATM Card, and her Philippine Social Security System Card. On the first working day of January 2016, the Ambassador Yparraguirre’s executive assistant informed Braza that she will be provided with return plane tickets for Manila and assisted at the JFK airport on her departure.