MANILA, Nov. 26, 2014—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA) executive secretary challenges human rights advocacy groups, the government, and even the Church to look into the issue of discrimination allegedly experienced by house helps from the management of a condominium building in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City, which forbids them from using “regular elevators”.
In an interview, CBCP-ECPA executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano told Church-run Radyo Veritas the matter has to be taken seriously given the kind of inhuman treatment domestic workers get from their supposed superiors.
“It’s a pity those who have less in life are unable to assert their rights. They feel marginalized and voiceless. All the more reason should we do our best to protect them, not only women and the LGBT community,” he shared.
The issue became a trending topic online after social media user Poch Ceballos uploaded a photo of a memorandum issued by Icon Residences management requesting unit owners to “remind their household employees, i.e. housemaids, drivers, outside contractors, to strictly use the Service Elevator only”.
“The Administration Office has had a number of enquiries from owners in the building on why helpers are using the Passenger Elevators when only Unit Owners / Tenants and their guests are allowed to the Passenger Elevators,” it reads.
Ceballos posted, “When Filipino maids in Hong Kong get banned from using the ‘regular’ elevators (you know, the ones that ‘regular’ people use), the country throws a hissy fit. Guess what? It’s happening in our own backyard.”
Aside from discrimination, Secillano has also raised the alarm on cases of underpaid household staff.
According to him, these things only prove society is guilty of a double standard in the way people deal with others depending on their social status.
“Their wage, as well as the treatment they receive show they are at a disadvantage and are discriminated against. When a person occupies a privileged position or has money, he can be sure he gets treated differently. But when a beggar passes by, nobody seems to care, while a politician, however obscure, gets greeted ‘good morning’,” he noted.
The priest added that in some banks, tellers often treat wealthy clients in a special way compared to ordinary ones.
Secillano laments that one has to have something in life first before he or she deserves equal treatment.
Katherine Garrido, Icon Residences property manager and signee of the notice, told Rappler.com in an interview it is “just a policy of the building”.
“There’s no issue. It’s not for the world. It’s just for the building. It has been a policy ever since the building was created,” Garrido said.
“It’s hard to please everyone, but this is just how the world is,” Garrido added.
In his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gauidium” (“Joy of the Gospel”) and in an April 2014 tweet, Pope Francis stated, “Inequality is the root of social ills.”
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” the pontiff said. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)