Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PALEA lambasts House Ethics Committee for suspending hearing on “menopausal bitch” case

17 May 2011

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) lambasted the House Ethics Committee, especially Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Sr., for suspending the hearing on the complaint filed by Philippine Airlines ground attendant Sarah Bonnin-Ocampo against AVE Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay. The hearing was called by the Sub-Committee on Preliminary Inquiry of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges for the initial review of the complaint but was suspended on a motion by Rep. Fua on the argument that the complainant was forum shopping.

“The old boys’ network among congressmen has reared its ugly head today. They may have won the battle but not the war. The fight continues until justice is served our sister Sarah. This is a fight of all frontline service workers who suffer indignities from abusive government officials, arrogant customers and even company management,” stated Ginalyn Licayan, head of the PALEA Women’s Committee. PALEA argued that the Ombudsman compliant is a separate criminal case while the Ethics case was for Magsaysay’s conduct as a congressman.

Women members of PALEA and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) trooped to the House of Representatives to support Ms. Ocampo’s fight against Magsaysay. The hearing today was the next step after the House Committee on Ethics earlier found the complaint sufficient in form and substance. The complaint alleges serious misconduct, abuse of authority and conduct unbecoming of a high-ranking public official against Rep. Magsaysay. At the airport last December 17, Rep. Magsaysay shouted “menopausal bitch” and “bitch” several times to Ocampo after she told him that they do not have to power to change seating arrangements in the business class as per his request.

“It is clear to us that the solons have already agreed to kill the case at the Ethics Committee before they opened the hearing. It is apparent that Mr. Magsaysay’s ‘media apology’ not so long ago was no apology at all.  In his statement, Magsaysay justified why he called Sarah a ‘menopausal bitch’ and a ‘bitch’ repeatedly,” explained PM Secretary General Judy Ann Chan Miranda.  How can such an insensitive and arrogant public official serve his constituents well – especially women?   Kapag uminit ang ulo niya, he would resort to name-calling?  The fight is not yet over, Mr. Magsaysay!”

In Magsaysay’s reply to the complaint filed, he justified name-calling Ms. Ocampo a “menopausal bitch” by categorically saying that ‘the term menopausal was used without intention to malign Sarah but rather to describe figuratively the temper of complainant – a medically observed behaviour of middle age women.’  Use of the term bitch on the other hand was justified as ‘a common enough expression not really to slander but rather to express frustration over an unpleasant behaviour of a woman.’

PALEA has also been pushing management to come with a manual that will ensure protection of employees from abusive customers.

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