Ministry of State responded to a letter by five Senators Akitaya, Chin, Inabo, Senior, and Whipps that requested “urgent intervention” from the Ministry of State in getting the former Palau embassy charge d’ affairs Ngerikl Baules and his family to return home from the Philippines after his employment termination.
Responding to the Senators, Minister Faustina Rehuher-Marugg stated, “beginning with the time that Mr. Baules’s employment with the Republic of Palau was terminated, the Ministry made repeated offers to bring him and his family back to Palau, however, Mr. Baules never responded to any of these offers. Now Baules and his family have remained in the Philippines after his termination and consequent loss of diplomatic status, the Philippine government is currently in the process of determining the total amount of the fine, which must be paid before Mr. Baules and his family will be allowed to leave the country.”
According to the letter, Mr. Baules have continued to seek waiver of this fine and the action has prolonged his stay in the Philippines which resulted in additional fines.
In spite of these, Minister Marugg said that the Ministry of State have decided to go ahead and pay Mr. Baules’s fine so that he and his family can return safely to Palau but states that the Ministry will seek repayment of the fine from Mr. Baules since the fine was imposed on him based on his own conduct.
In an interview with Minister Marugg, she asserted that the Ministry of State had done everything it could to have Mr. Baules to come home but he had chosen to stay in the Philippines.
“Every year, Ministry of State holds annual consultations with heads of missions and everyone comes here to present financial reports and their progress reports and receive instructions. For two years, 2017 and 2018, Mr. Baules did not show up. Emails and calls to him to come and report and still no show,” revealed Minister Marugg.
In October 2018, he was instructed to come to Palau by November 15th and he did not show. On November 19, 2018, a letter was sent recalling him from the Philippines with instructions to report to work in Palau on December 24, 2018. The instructions included repatriation expenses of his family as well. The only response they received from him was to instruct Ministry of State to send him money instead and he will organize his own return. After that, according to Minister, no further response came from Baules and she had to personally call him to come to Palau to talk. She said that he did return to Palau on December 22nd and they had a meeting about his situation. He returned back to the Philippines on the 26th and did not communicate back. On January 3rd, Ministry wrote him a letter saying that if he wasn’t in Palau by the 14th of January, he will be given an AWOL.
According to the report from the Ministry, Mr. Baules did not respond to emails, mails and calls. On January 14th 2019, Ministry of State requested his termination which finally became effective on June 1, 2019. In other words, Mr. Baules continued receiving salary until June even though he was no longer working for the Ministry of State.
In an email to Mr. Joel Toribiong, Mr. Baules expressed that they should not be treated as tourists. “We came as government reps entitled to rights that cater specifically for our status as diplomats. And I intend to keep them intact until I return safely to my point of origin. What if something happened to my family here in the Philippines? Wouldn’t this downgrading to tourist free the government from their legal obligations to bring us back?”
Minister Marugg in the interview reported that Mr. Baules’s diplomatic status and privileges in the Philippines were terminated when he was recalled in November of 2018. He has not applied for a different status despite urging of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines. Philippine government has its own laws and have fined him for being in the Philippines illegally.
“I want to emphasize that the Ministry of State did not abandon Mr. Baules and his family. Furthermore, we have not refused to relocate him to Palau. In fact, we did everything we could to have him and his family return home but he failed to communicate with us,” asserted Minister Rehuher-Marugg.