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Filipina envoy held on human trafficking charge

MANILA -- The Philippine government said Saturday it was investigating a Filipina diplomat charged in Canada for alleged human trafficking involving the exploitation of her nanny.

“The (foreign affairs) department takes very seriously any allegations of misconduct of its employees. The department is conducting an inquiry into the matter,” its spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement to news agencies.

He said Buenaflor Cruz was formerly assigned to the Philippine embassy in Ottawa but had since been reassigned to the home office in Manila “as part of the department's normal rotation.”

Canadian federal police said they laid charges Friday against the Filipina diplomat and her husband, Robert Cruz, for mischief, uttering threats, withholding their former nanny's identification documents and human trafficking.

It said the suspects had left the country while the 26-year-old nanny, who worked at the couple's Ottawa home between July 2009 and Dec. 2013 but was not identified, had been “relocated to a safe location” in Canada.

Jose said the Philippine government was cooperating fully with the Ottawa police “to the extent defined by international law.”

However, he criticized the Canadian police's decision to publicly disclose details of the case.

“The ... announcement may be a matter deemed of public interest regarding the day-to-day activities of the police service, but (Manila) is concerned that such action may not be totally helpful to the inquiry at this time,” he said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted police described both the wife and husband as Philippine diplomats, but the Philippine statement referred only to one female former staff member of its Ottawa mission.

Jose did not reply to requests for additional details and comments on the husband and the nanny.

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