I always thought there was something fishy about Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes. Especially with the way he has been pressuring the Philippines to return the money that ended up in the country after it was stolen by international hackers working with accomplices within their own Central Bank. Something just didn’t feel right about this guy.
After reading the column of Alex Magno about how Gomes calls Filipinos working in the Bangladesh embassy “thieves and prostitutes,” now I know why I what’s bothering me about him – he is an asshole hiding under the cloak of diplomatic immunity.
This Gomes guy thinks he can run roughshod over Filipinos, and the Philippine government, by just pulling the “we are a poor country” card anytime he feels like it. But here’s the thing, John – the Philippines isn’t exactly first world you know. We’re poor too, we know how to be gracious, and how to be, well…diplomatic. You clearly don’t.
Our government has done its investigations, our banks have paid the fines, our business leaders have acted with honor and delicadeza, our courts and law enforcement agencies have charged and arrested the guilty – what the hell has your country done to clean up the mess that your negligence caused?
Last I checked the news, you didn’t even have the balls to go through with your threat to go after the New York Fed and Swift? Was this because they would expose your central bank’s own negligence? Was this because people in your own government would be exposed? Was this because you are trying to hide something? C’mon John, let’s be honest here. What’s really in this for you? Not Bangladesh…You.
And the worst thing is, while your public mask begs us for sympathy, privately you treat Filipinos like dirt. You insult our women, you insult our culture, you even called former President Aquino “stupid”… Well, ok, maybe you have a point there. But that still does not give you the right to insult the rest of us.
Details of Gomes’ demeaning treatment of Filipinos working under him came out in the complaint filed by Alona T. Contridas before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). In it she testified that Gomes, aside from regularly insulting his Filipinos staffers, would also cheat them out of their hard earned salaries. Contridas said that Php 3,000 was being deducted by Gomes from her official salary of Php 17,000 for no reason at all. And when she complained, she was illegally terminated.
But here’s the thing, as a “diplomat” Gomes is immune from suit. He can basically do anything, say anything, and act in any way that he wants – and the government’s hands are tied. In the Contridas case, while she won in the NLRC, the Gomes simply claimed his privilege of “diplomatic immunity” and that was that.
Not to be dissuaded from seeking justice, Contridas has pursued the issue all the way to the court of appeals, and even sent letters of appeal to the Bangladesh Prime Minister and Pnoy. This is one determined lady. But then again, we Filipinos have always fought against tyranny and maltreatment.
Gomes, by choosing to act the way he has, has just made it more difficult for the governments of the Philippines and Bangladesh to get to the bottom of all this. Any further investigation of this matter cannot be complete until Gomes is called to the stand and made to account for how he treats Filipinos.
Whether he likes it or not he has now become central to this controversy. With his character put into question, we know also need to ask why the Philippines was picked as a destination to launder the funds? Was it really because our banking system was vulnerable, or maybe is another, more homegrown reason behind it? After all, you can buy a lot more with US$ 89 million than you can with Php 3,000.