Monday, 9 July 2007

Does report point finger of guilt?

From The Korea Herald, Saturday July 7th, 2007

By Chris Gelken and Robert Neff

A press release just obtained by The Korea Herald has accused the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs of a cover up, and claims to have eyewitness accounts of an incident of shoplifting by the ambassador of the Philippines to Korea, Susan O. Castrence.
The embassy here in Seoul has emphatically denied the accusations, describing them as hearsay.
The report, released by Kasammako, an alliance of Filipino migrant workers and published on the Migrant Workers Television website, has accused the Foreign Ministry in Manila of "covering up" a November 2006 shoplifting incident involving the ambassador.
The embassy has dismissed the charges of shoplifting, and while they admit the ambassador was in fact stopped and her handbag searched, say it was all "a horrible mistake."
Kasammako claims to have received direct information from individuals concerned in the incident, including security officers who were on duty at the Post Exchange store at the U.S. Army Yongsan garrison on Nov. 28, the day of the alleged incident.
"The security officers recount that a security camera clearly shows Ambassador Castrence took the stolen items," the statement reads. It goes on to say that the wife of a senior U.S. officer in charge of the commissary facilities confirmed the details of the incident.
According to Mark Padlan, a journalist and Kasammako executive committee member who is currently in Manila, the manager of the PX, knowing that Castrence is a diplomat, approached her in a bid to resolve the matter discreetly so as to avoid any embarrassment.
"In response," the press release said, "Castrence told the manager she wanted to smoke a cigarette first before they talk. In the act of taking and lighting the cigarette out of her bag, she dropped the stolen items and kicked them back inside the PX shop. She then tried to deny any wrongdoing."
The embassy confirmed that the ambassador is a smoker but said these allegations are now "really going over the top."
Ambassador Castrence told The Korea Herald, "I was actually the one who volunteered to let them search my bag." She added that she had bought an ice cream at the counter near the check-out and wanted to go outside and eat it because it was beginning to melt.
Kasammako said they wanted to challenge the Department of Foreign Affairs to admit the truth about the matter. They have called on the DFA to explain why they are "spending so much time and effort to cover up and coddle Ambassador Castrence, while the rights and conditions of both documented and undocumented migrants have not been addressed since Castrence took up the post."

KH link:
https://www.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/html_dir/2007/07/07/200707070003.asp

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