2 Pinays accuse UAE envoy of sexual harassment

Posted at 04/26/2012 7:19 PM | Updated as of 04/27/2012 10:12 AM
UAE Ambassador Moosa Abdulwahid Alkhajah

Ambassador denies allegations

MANILA, Philippines - Two Filipinas have accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Manila of sexual harassment.

"Cherry" and "Liza (not their real names) have been house helpers for UAE ambassadors to Manila for nearly 10 years.

However, they said this is the first time they have experienced sexual harassment at the hands of current UAE Ambassador Moosa Abdulwahid Alkhajah.

They claimed Alkhajah forced them to give him body massages while he was almost naked.

"Underwear lang. Magmasahe ng tiyan niya atsaka iyung madaling-araw, na nagse-serve pa sa kaniya," Cherry said.

"Lagi siyang nagsasabi sa akin ng massage, hanggang sa magsabi siyang gusto niya ng sex. Pero hindi ko talaga siya hinayaang mangyari iyon," Liza said.

Cherry and Liza said they followed the ambassador's orders at first.

However, after declining him several times, Alkhajah got angry so the house helpers decided to resign.

They went to the UAE embassy to complain to some Filipinos working there about their ordeal.

However, those Filipinos were allegedly fired. They included Lily Uncanin, who worked as a clerk at the embassy's consular section for the past 20 years.

Uncanin said she was sacked after she informed the ambassador about his house helpers' complaint.

She added that she also received phone calls about Alkhajah's alleged relationship with a Filipina.

Uncanin said she wants Alkhajah to be declared persona non grata in the Philippines.

"If the ambassador will step on the rights of an ordinary Filipina or Filipino, in this case a maid, what will the others do?" she asked. "Dapat huwaran siya eh. Hindi iyung siya iyung magsisimula."

The complainants' lawyer, Eric Mallonga, is set set to file charges against the ambassador.

They have also informed Department of Foreign Affairs about the issue.

The DFA said it will let the parties resolve the issue through legal means.

"Both sides are represented by legal counsel and are looking for possible legal remedies to resolve the issue as soon as possible," DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said.

The complainants have written to the UAE Foreign Ministry and reached out to the Senate to launch an inquiry into their complaint.

UAE embassy denies allegations

The UAE embassy in Manila has denied the allegations.

"The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates-Manila has already answered all the letter-complaints of Mrs. Lily Elizabeth H. Uncanin, inclusive of the allegations in relation to ["Liza"] and ["Cherry"] and maintains that all her statements are false and without basis," the embassy said in a press statement Thursday.

The embassy added that said it has answered the allegations in a letter sent to the DFA.

"This is an illegal, dirty and desperate measure taken by Mrs. Uncanin against the Ambassador and the UAE Government in order that her demands be noticed. Again we maintain that all her complaints and statements, as well as the statements of her witnesses are not true," it added.

"This is a form of harassment against the Ambassador and will definitely affect the innocent and peaceful life of the Ambassador and his family. The Ambassador works very hard to keep positive and strong the diplomatic relations between the UAE and the Philippines and should not be replaced by these baseless complaints," it said.

The embassy also added that Uncanin's employer is the UAE government and not the ambassador, and that her "termination was legal as there were strong grounds."

"We will address this issue in the correct forum(s) and we shall follow and apply all appropriate legal remedies available to us," it said.