Apology sought from Hong Kong writer

Published by rudy Date posted on March 30, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Pia Cayetano called yesterday for a public apology from a top Hong Kong publication and one of its columnists for a racial slur against Filipinos over the country’s right to claim the Spratly Islands.

Cayetano, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, said Filipinos deserve no less than a formal public apology for the opinion piece entitled “The War At Home” written by Chip Tsao, which appeared in the March 27 edition of the HK Magazine.

Tsao’s column depicted the Philippines as a “nation of servants” not worthy of claiming the Spratlys from China, as the latter employs hundreds of thousands of Filipino domestic helpers on very low wages.

“Instead of contributing to intelligent discussions on ways to resolve the Spratlys dispute, Tsao only succeeded in eliciting hatred and sowing more confusion not only among Filipinos but maybe even among his fellow Chinese who are not aware of the intricacies of the issue,” Cayetano said.

“Let’s not dignify Tsao’s views by not stooping down to his level. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bullied by people with narrow minds like him. HK Magazine and Tsao must apologize for insulting Filipinos, and they should pledge not to commit this mistake again,” Cayetano added.

Cayetano said the Philippines’ being a poor nation does not diminish the validity of the country’s historical and legal claim to the Spratlys. In the proper forum, Cayetano expressed optimism that this dispute will eventually be threshed out and resolved. “Ignorance, hatred and racial bias are the last things we need in approaching this long-standing controversy,” she said.

“Our claim to the Spratlys is as valid as the other claims being pushed by other nations. It does not mean that we’re disregarding the claims of others. We respect their claim inasmuch as they should acknowledge ours,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano added that should Tsao make good on his whimsical threat to fire his Filipino househelp over the Spratlys dispute, then she’s confident that other employers in Hong Kong, including foreign expatriates and fellow Filipinos, would be more than willing to take the househelp in.

“I’ll personally appeal on my Filipino and foreigner friends based in Hong Kong to hire her. I’m sure there are many more enlightened minds out there willing to take her in. Filipino domestic helpers are very much in demand in Hong Kong precisely because of their efficiency and positive ethics at work,” she said.

“We should be proud that millions of OFWs are able to serve the world, whether as managers, laborers, caregivers or medical professionals. There’s nothing to be ashamed of as long as we’re earning an honest living without having to step on the dignity of others,” the senator added.

Blacklist Tsao

The Blas Ople Policy Center, meantime, demanded yesterday the blacklisting of Tsao.

Susan Ople, president of the center, also called on the Philippine Consulate, particularly the Office of the Labor Attaché to look into the work conditions of “Luisa,” a household worker employed by Tsao.

“His published declaration that he gave his Filipino maid a harsh lecture and warned her to tell everyone of her compatriots that Spratly Islands belong to China or she’d lose her wages, is already a sign of an unstable, irresponsible and racist employer who resorts to verbal abuse even for perceived bilateral and historic infractions,” Ople said.

Ople expressed concern for the Filipino housemaid’s safety and health and urged the labor attache to investigate and if possible, put Tsao on a list of unworthy foreign employers.

She said the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong should immediately call the attention of the Hong Kong magazine’s publisher and editorial board for Tsao’s provocative and bigoted write-up.

“The household is not the place to resolve multiple claims to the Spratly Islands, and Filipino domestic workers should not suffer because of it,” she stressed.

The Center further called on the labor attaché to check on other Filipino maids who may be facing harassment from like-minded employers. – Christina Mendez with Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star

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