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Filipina set to plead guilty to $180k burglary

Posted on 23 May 2018 No comments
Filipina set to plead guilty to $180k theft
at District Court on Sept3

Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina former domestic worker accused of stealing $180,000 from a commercial building in Central early this year is ready to plead guilty to a charge of burglary, according to her lawyer.

District Court Judge Anthony Kwok told Rachel B Rosimo on May 17 to return to the court on Sept 5 for the plea-taking.

Rosimo first appeared in Eastern Court, charged with one count of burglary and another count of breach of condition of stay. The case was moved to the District Court because of the severity of the charges.

The charge for the immigration offence was added after investigators discovered that Rosimo had worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, then remained illegally after he contract was prematurely terminated.

The 35-year-old woman, said to be a clerk, was originally accused of  theft, but the charge was subsequently amended to burglary.

A police report said Rachel Rosimo, 35, trespassed into the Sante Barley Ltd office in Room 1003, Lansing House on Queen’s Road Central, on an unspecified date and made off with $180,000 in cash.

The amended charge said she carried out the burglary with the involvement of other unknown persons. Police are still investigating.

Rosimo did not apply for bail, so she was kept in police custody.

German model fined $5k for taking stuff a Pinay had left behind

Posted on 22 May 2018 No comments
Court rules theft includes taking things
that are left behind

A female German model was fined $5,000 by an Eastern Court magistrate after she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft for taking a paper bag with two electrical appliances that a Filipina had left behind in a bakeshop in Causeway Bay.

A remorseful Melina Budde, 20, apologized for the offense after she was convicted on May 18 by Magistrate Peter Law. She went to court without a lawyer to represent her.

The prosecution said police arrested Budde on Apr 20 after CCTV footage of the Fusion Bakeshop in Park N Shop at Leighton Centre showed her making off with the bag, which contained a Panasonic cooker and Tefal hair straightener.

The investigators reviewed other CCTV footages in the area until they traced where  Budde was staying. They went to the place and found the defendant as well as the missing appliances there.

The owner of the appliances, Cristina  M. Escalona, told the police that she forgot about the bag after buying some stuff at the bakeshop at around 7am on Apr 18.

When the Filipina returned to the shop shortly afterwards to retrieve the bag, it was already gone, prompting her to report to the police.

Law imposed a fine of $5,000 as a sentence and ordered Budde to pay up within a week. She said she did not have that amount but would ask her parents to send her money.

Budde said she was due to fly out of Hong Kong on June 30, so, Law warned her she would be in deep trouble if she left without settling her fine. – Vir B. Lumicao



Education still top priority of OFWs—survey

Posted on 21 May 2018 No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap


Most Filipinos still go abroad to provide for their children’s education.

This fact is shown by a recently released survey on the impact of Card OFW Foundation’s Financial Literacy Program on overseas Filipino workers. The 91 respondents were randomly selected from among graduates of the program, which has been conducted in Hong Kong since 2011.

OFWs still have their priorities in mind.
The study showed that 51% of the respondents, regardless of the time since they completed the program, allocated their budgets mainly for their children’s education. This was far higher than the 34% allocation for their family’s daily needs.

Savings, which is one of the targeted goals of the program, only took up 21% of their budgets, slightly less than the 22% eaten up by medical expenses.

Surprisingly, allocating money for housing, which used to be identified as one of the biggest reasons why Filipinos go abroad to work, has fallen way below in the list of priorities, now accounting for only 19% of the respondents’ budget. But this could also be because the cost of houses is now beyond the reach of an ordinary OFW.

Card OFW Foundation noted, however, that while education ate up the biggest share of a migrant worker’s budget, it was also cited by respondents as the main reason why they borrow money.

“Although the survey is limited in finding out the reason behind this, on a more positive note, it is evident that education of the children is one of the most important priorities of OFWs,” said the report.

An interesting finding was the big number of respondents (77%) who said they had taken out an insurance in some form, apparently in response also to growing concerns about medical and health issues.

“Some of them, depending on their budget and number of dependents, afford to pay for more than one type of insurance but in all combination of insurances they avail, there is always a medical or health insurance. This shows they value health insurance, whether it is for their personal use or for their dependents,” said the report.

As for the program’s popularity among the OFWs, a whopping 97% of the respondents said that they liked the topics discussed, particularly budgeting (79%), goal settings (77%), needs and wants (70%) savings and unforeseen events (70%), investment (64%), and debt management (56%).

A big number (78%) of the respondents also said they liked the additional knowledge gained in managing their finances, for others the opportunity to save (66%) and the motivation to invest their money (54%).

Nearly all (92%) said they did not find anything to dislike in the program, but they wished for additional topics to be discussed, like investment and networking. A negligible number found fault in the lack of time to sufficiently cover all the topics, or the late start in the discussions.

Overall, the respondents gave a 4.4 rating on a scale of 5 to the program, indicating a high level of satisfaction from among those who took it.

But the program’s actual impact, based on the participants’ self-assessment, was not as dramatic.

The biggest change indicated by the respondents was the increase in their knowledge of budgeting, at 80%. This was followed by an increased awareness in listing down earnings and expenses (78%), the need to save (76%) and making sure that their expenses were in line with their income (62%).

“Most of the respondents revealed that after completing the Financial Literacy Program, most of them gained more than enough knowledge to help them improve their skills on budgeting and relatively giving importance to the value of savings as well,” said the report.

It also pointed out that the OFWs were not the only ones who received financial education through the program, but also their relatives who play an important role in managing the money that they send home.

Pinay DH held for drug trafficking

Posted on No comments

By The SUN

A Filipina domestic helper will appear at the Eastern magistracy on Jun 25 to answer a charge of drug trafficking.

Sharon V. Berces first appeared at Kowloon City court on May 21, but prosecutors told Magistrate Woo Huey-fang that her case would be transferred to the Eastern court.

The prosecution also opposed granting bail to Berces, citing the seriousness of the case and her being a  flight risk because she has no local ties.

Berces has been in custody since her arrest on Feb 28.

No other details of her case, such as the amount of drugs involved, were available.

Pagtataksil sa mga nagtiwalang OFW

Posted on No comments
Ni Vir B. Lumicao

Hindi kami komportable sa pakikipagpulong ng Pangulong Duterte sa mga OFW dito sa Hong Kong noong Abril kung saan pumapel ang mga opisyal ng samahan ng mga lokal na employment agency.

Bago sila dumating sa Kai Tak Cruise Terminal para sa pakikipagpulong ng mga OFW sa Pangulo, na dumalaw dito noong Abril 5, ay isang marangyang hapunan sa tinuluyang hotel ang inihandog ng lider ng bansa sa “mga kaibigang taga-Hong Kong”.

Naganap ang sorpresang piging at pagdalo ng mga may-ari ng malalaking ahensiya sa “meeting with the Filipino community and forum” sa kainitan ng isyu ukol sa biglaang pagpapauwi ni Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III kay Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre.

Nabigla ang marami sa 3,000 OFW na dumalo sa pagtitipon nang lumitaw sa VIP area sa harapan ng entablado ang pangkat ng taga-ahensiya at kitang-kita ang paglapit ng mga ito sa mga opisyal ng Gabinete, lalo na sa kalihim ng paggawa.

Kami man ay nabigla dahil ang pagpupulong na iyon ay ipinatalastas ng Konsulado na pakikipag-usap ng Pangulo sa mga OFW, isang bihirang pagkakataon upang maiparating ng mga manggagawa sa lider ng ng bansa ang kanilang mga hinaing.

Ngunit marami ang nabigo at doon mismo sa pagtitipon ay narinig namim ang kanilang himutok: “Akala ko ba meeting para sa mga OFW ito? Bakit nandiyan ang mga agency, bakit puro kantahan? Bakit puro pulitiko?”

Bago dumating ang araw na iyon ay umasa ang mga manggagawa na tatalakayin ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno ang isyung kinasasangkutan o mahalaga sa mga OFW.

Kabilang sa mga usaping ito ng pag-aalis sa overseas employment certificate (OEC), ang pagpapatupad sa IDOLE, ang permanenteng ID ng mga OFW na mahigit isang taon nang ipinangako ni Bello, ang pag-aalis sa contractualization, o “endo,” na pangako rin ng administrasyon, at ang pagrenda sa illegal na paniningil nga mga ganid na ahensiya sa Pilipinas at mga kasapakat nila rito sa Hong Kong. At siyempre, pati na ang hindi makatarungang pagpapaalis kay Labatt Dela Torre.

Bakit gustong dumirekta ng mga OFW rito sa Pangulo upan ihain ang kanilang hinaing?

Marahil, ito’y bunga ng malalim na pagdududa at malaon nang kawalan nila ng tiwala sa mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, tulad ng Philippine Overseas Labor Office, na siyang dapat nilang lapitan kapag may problema.

Bumalik lang ang tiwala nila nang dumating si Dela Torre, na isang maka-OFW.

Siya ang nagbawal sa mga amo na papaglinisin ang mga katulong sa labas ng bintana dahil marami na sa kanila ang namatay sa pagkahulog habang nagpupunas ng bintana. Umangal ang mga amo at ahensiya noong una, ngunit pormal na isinusog ng pamahalaan ng Hong Kong sa mga kontrata ng domestic helper ang patakarang iyon.

Naghigpit din si Labatt Jolly sa mga among terror sa mga katulong. Kumilos din siya laban sa mga ahensiyang sumingil nang labis o nagdadala ng mga bagong dating na kasambahay sa mga lending company upang mangutang ng perang kukunin ng ahensiya at kakaltasin sa sahod nila.

Nagprotesta at nagluksa ang mga OFW nang pabalikin ni Bello sa Maynila si Labatt Jolly dahil siya ang nagbalik ng tiwala ng manggagawa sa POLO. Umasa silang pati ang isyu ukol sa labatt ay matatalakay nila nang direkta sa Pangulo. Ngunit nabigo sila.

Ang paglitaw ng may-ari ng ahensiya sa hanay ng mga VIP at ang “dinner treat” ng Pangulo sa pangkat na iyon ay nakadagdag lang sa pagkabigong naranasan ng mga OFW.

Marahil ay hindi nakita ng Pangulo ang magiging negatibong dating niyon sa mga OFW rito. Tila hindi nakakarating sa kanya ang pananamantala ng mga ahensiya sa mga katulong at pagpapabaya sa mga ito kapag minamaltrato ng mga amo.

 Kung sinuman ang nakaisip na yayain ang mga ahensiya sa pagtitipon noong Abril 5, halatang iyon ay sinadyang pagtataksil sa mga OFW.
           

Termination of employment

Posted on No comments
By Cynthia Tellez

The death of an employer of a foreign domestic worker in Hong Kong is also the end of the worker’s employment contract. They are co-terminus. Meaning, when your employer died, your employment contract with him/her ended, and you have 14 days left on your visa - or less, if it expires earlier than this period. This is because the employment contract is not transferable. If you will continue to work in the same household, another member of the household should sign a new contract with you or you may look for another employer.  Be conscious of this as you may overstay your visa.

It is therefore important to inform the Immigration Department of the circumstance to determine your status. Bring a copy of the employer’s death certificate or a letter from your employer’s family member to explain the situation. 

With regards your end-of-contract payments, if the deceased has a family like a spouse or children  who are willing to pay you the contractual obligations, well and good as you  can easily settle the matter. But if there is no family member, then you have to find out who is the executor or administrator of his/her estate or if he/she left a will at all.  If the deceased employer has a will, you just have to wait for the execution of the will to settle your deceased employer’s contractual obligations with you.

If uncertain and no one wants to take responsibility for the settlement of your claims under the employment contract with the deceased, you can go through the normal procedure for unpaid wages. File  your claims at the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department. Go to the designated LRD branch depending on the deceased employer’s address. The defendant would be whoever is the executor or administrator of the estate . If you do not know who it is, you have to check at the Probate Registry (the Labour Officer will guide you) which is at the High Court, to know if there is a will left. The Registry will give you a certificate stating who is the valid executor/ administrator of the estate/properties.

 If, at the Labour Relations Division meeting, the matter is not settled, then the usual procedure should follow: the case is endorsed to the Labour Tribunal if the amount of claim is from $8,000.00 or above; and if less than $8,000.00, it should be at the Minor Employment Claims Adjudications Board (MECAB).

If there is no record of the deceased at the Probate Registry, you will not be given a certificate. The Labour Tribunal or MECAB should be able to proceed with the hearing on a set date and issue you an Award/Order so you can then proceed to apply for the Protection of Wages with the Insolvency Fund. The Hong Kong government put up this fund for any eventuality like this one when the worker is left hanging, uncertain on how to claim unpaid salaries and benefits, like when an employer files for bankruptcy.

There are times, however, when the Labour Tribunal officer does not issue a hearing date and therefore no Award /Order is issued. You are stuck. File an appeal against the Labour Tribunal Officer’s decision so you could apply for Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund.  Whether or not the deceased left a will and the funds are not enough to pay the creditors, you have to be patient to wait for the court to decide.  Again, you can apply for new employment with the Immigration Department while this is being settled.

If the above procedure sounds complicated, you may consult service providers for migrant workers/foreign domestic workers.

The above circumstances are experiences of migrants approaching the Mission. We can draw some lessons from them as preventive measures to avoid being put in a difficult situation in claiming what is rightfully and legally yours.

1. While there is sufficient time, it would be good to know some immediate relatives / next of kin of your employer. This is not only for your sake but also for the sake of your employer. In case something happens, you can immediately inform the next-of-kin for any decisions that need to be made.

2. With regards to claims for unpaid wages, while government agencies may insist that it is not their duty to look for anyone who can act as respondent (next of kin of employer or administrator of the estate) to answer for the claims filed against the deceased employer, they should be able to help you take a step forward and file a claim under the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund. Consult a service provider if this does not happen.

3. Try your best to also know your employer’s best friends so they can help provide you with the necessary information that is needed in filing your claims.

4. Keeping a diary will help. It would help if you record important information and incidents like amount of wages you received, the date and the amount given to you and who handed you the money. If your salary is being deposited in your bank account, it’s good practice to regularly update your bank book to show consistency of entries. The details that you list down will make it easier for you to make a detailed and accurate claim, especially in the absence of receipts that your employer may have failed to provide.  So in addition, keep all pieces of paper given by your employers, especially those containing instructions of what they want you to do. It might be of use someday.

5. While filing your claims, try to look for a new employer. Your case might take too long especially if it is really difficult to find out who can decide for whatever properties or moneys are left behind by your deceased employer. The Immigration Department might not issue further extension of visa if your case is in a deadlock situation. But they might consider change of employment, “death of employer” being one of the exceptional cases under the Two-week Rule. If you have found a prospective employer, the only thing that you need to have is a copy of the death certificate of your employer or a letter from the family or close friends informing Immigration of the death. You may then work on completing the required documents for your claim while processing a new employment contract.

6. Lastly, when in doubt, consult service providers that you know.

For any assistance, you may call MFMW or the Mission at 2522-8264. 

---
This is the monthly column from the Mission for Migrant Workers, an institution that has been serving the needs of migrant workers in Hong Kong for over 31 years. The Mission, headed by its general manager, Cynthia Tellez, assists migrant workers who are in distress, and  focuses its efforts on crisis intervention and prevention through migrant empowerment. Mission has its offices at St John’s Cathedral on Garden Road, Central, and may be reached through tel. no. 2522 8264.

2 Filipinas in online sex ring case apply for bail

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao

Two Filipina domestic helpers appeared in Eastern Court again today, May 21, to apply for bail after being charged for their alleged roles in an online prostitution ring allegedly ran by their elderly female employer from her luxury flat in Mid-Levels.

The two defendants, Joan E. Palpal-latoc, 40, and Jeanette V. Gallego, 47,  were formally charged in court on May 18 for allegedly operating three dating websites offering sex services that targeted wealthy foreign tourists.

Palpal-latoc and Gallego each faced a charge of “living on the earnings of prostitution of others” for the past nine years from 2009 to 2018.

The two Filipinas were hired by a certain Miss Wong as domestic helpers in 2009, the prosecutor said.

They were arrested on Tuesday, May 15, along with Wong, her 72-year-old sister, and a male person during a raid by police on a flat on the 43rd floor of Tavistock II, a residential tower on Tregunter Path.

The three local Chinese suspects were allowed to post bail while the two maids
were taken into custody and formally charged in court.

Magistrate ordered 2 Filipina suspects to apply for bail
Magistrate Peter Law ordered the two Filipinas to apply for bail, after asking the prosecution why they were not given temporary liberty like the other accused. The prosecutor said it was due to the Filipinas' lack of local ties, the seriousness of their offense and the high risk of flight.

But on the date set for the bail application, the maid's lawyer could not be in court until around 1pm, forcing Law to adjourn the bail hearing to Jun 4. 

The case itself will be heard again on Jul 13.

The prosecution sought an adjournment of eight weeks to allow enough time for a forensic examination of six to eight hard drives of four PCs, several mobile phones, seven telephone main lines, phone recordings, and 17 ledgers containing records of transactions that police seized.

Local newspaper reports said the raiding teams also confiscated $10 million in cash, share certificates and a car.

The reports which quoted a police officer also said Wong controlled the syndicate, taking calls directly from customers who sought sex services.

The website operated by her domain company allegedly displayed pictures of foreign women who worked as prostitutes, and promoted all-day high-quality escort and massage services for $6,000 to $7,000 an hour.

The investigation of Wong and the two others is continuing.

Police started investigating the operation after suspicious websites offering “compensated dating” services in Hong Kong appeared on the internet and targeted foreign tourists.

The sites claimed such services are legal in Hong Kong and that the women, as well as men, are mostly Westerners including Russians and other East Europeans.

Three teams of officers posing as customers contacted the websites and transacted business. When they raided the premises, they found the two Filipinas still at work. They said Papal-latoc arranged the special services while Gallego received commissions of 0.4% per transaction.

The two were returned to police custody pending their bail application. 


HK bowlers bag gold medal, trophies in Makati tourney

Posted on 18 May 2018 No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

Gracia Pierrepont won a gold medal for Filipino Bowling Club HK by recording the highest pinfalls in the Ladies Masters event of the Asian Filipino Bowlers Friendship Games 2018 held in Makati on Apr 28-29.
FBCHK players renew friendship with their fellow competitors. 

But the team managed to snare only a fourth runner-up finish in the game’s Team Grand Slam.

The Hong Kong-based bowlers also took the second runner-up trophy in the Men’s Masters event courtesy of Jimmy Manalo, and fourth runner-up place by Danny Simoy in the event.

Fifteen top keglers from the Filipino community in Hong Kong took part in the competition held at the Makati Square Superbowl Bowling Center.

According to FBHK founder and chariman Jenny Gafate, the wins came as a pleasant surprise as her team went into the competition not hoping to win prizes after an unsuccessful campaign last year in Singapore.
delegation head Jenny Gafate and teammates with their team trophy.

She said they took part, only hoping for “friendship on the lanes” as they knew there were many excellent players in the regional competition. Being able to take part in the international tournament was already a victory for them, said Gafate.

Gafate said it will be FBCHK’s turn to host the Friendship Games in 2019. It is a task that does not faze them, as they have hosted top-league bowling tournaments in Hong Kong in the past, with legendary Filipino players Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno and Olivia “Bong” Coo coming over as guests.

Twenty members of the team will be divided into five teams when they compete against bowlers from around the region and Australia, according to Gafate.

Balik-tanaw sa Po Toi Island

Posted on No comments
Ni George Manalansan

Sa kabila ng malakas na ulan at hangin ay hindi mapigilan ng grupo ni Lia Galve ang pananabik na marating nila ang isla ng Po Toi nang magsagawa sila ng kanilang ika-tatlong “Friendship Hike for a Cause” noong ika-15 ng Abril. Mabuti na lang at mga isang oras matapos silang magdesisyon na ituloy ang lakad ay parang milagrong bumuti ang panahon.

Sa Blake Pier ng Stanley, bandang alas 11 ng umaga, nang magkita-kita ang grupo kasama ang kani-kanilang mga kaibigan para sa kanilang nakatakdang pamamasyal sa Po Toi. Habang naghihintay ng “kaito”, o maliit na ferry na maghahatid sa kanila sa isla ay masayang nagkumustahan ang grupo. Maya-maya pa ay biglang sumungit ang panahon. Dumilim ang langit bago bumuhos ang ulan na may kasamang hangin.

Isa sa pinakamataas na bundok sa isla.
Napaisip bigla ang grupo kung itutuloy pa ba nila ang hiking. Hindi kasi biro ang maglakad sa maputik at madulas na daanan, bukod pa sa siguradong mababasa sila at bibigat ang mga kasuotan.

Lalong tumindi ang kanilang agam-agam nang dumating na ang kaito, eksaktong 11:30 ng umaga. Agad silang nagkunsultahan. Sasakay ba sila o magpapaiwan? Tumingala silang lahat sa langit na para bang humihingi ng senyales sa kalikasan. Isang batikan na sa hiking ang nagsabi na malamang na titigil din ang ulan dahil abot-tanaw ang maaliwalas na panahon sa may di kalayuan. Isa sa kanilang kasama ang nag-alinlangan, pero biglang sumagi ang dating karanasan sa bukid kung saan malalaman mo sa hitsura ng ulap kung magpapatuloy ba ang malakas na ulan o titila din paglipas lang ng ilang minuto. Sa tingin niya, hindi magtatagal ay mapapawi din ang sungit ng panahon kaya sumama na siya sa pagsakay sa bangka.

Pagdaong nila sa isla ay umaambon pa rin, at dahil oras na ng tanghalian, nagpasya silang kumain na muna. Sa hindi kalayuan ay matatanaw na ang ginagawang templong kawayan, at sa bungad naman ay mga lumang tindahan ng mga pinatuyong lamang dagat at sariwang seaweed, na siyang pinaka-kilalang produkto sa isla. Dahil may kanya-kanya silang dalang baon ay nagpasya silang bumili na lang ng seafood noodles para hindi nakakahiyang makigamit sa mga mesa doon.

Pagkakain ay tila nakiayon ang panahon dahil biglang nagliwanag ang paligid. Tuwang-tuwa ang lahat dahil siguradong isa na namang kaaya-ayang paglalakad ang kanilang mararanasan, dito sa mga isla na kilala bilang “South Pole of Hong Kong”.

Sa umpisa ng kanilang paglalakad ay kinailangang tahakin ng grupo ang isang mistulang kagubatan na mga 100 metro ang haba. Bagamat masukal ay naaliw naman sila sa dami ng mga tutubi at paro-paro sa paligid, na para bang umaalalay sa kanilang paglalakad.

Paglampas dito ay agad na tumambad sa kanila ang kakaibang tanawin ng mga bulubundukin at talampas na gawa sa granite, na siyang karaniwang makikita sa mga litrato ng Po Toi. Sa umpisa ay parang nakakatakot na tahakin ang lugar, nguni’t agad ding mapapansin na sementado ang daraanan, at may mga hawakang rehas bilang dagdag sa seguridad sa mga namamasyal dito.
Mabatong lakbayin.

Mula sa daraanan ay makikita ang isang hagdanan papunta sa gilid ng dalampasigan na walang tigil na hinahampas ng alon. Hindi maipagkakaila na malakas ang alon dahil kitang-kita ang pagkahawi ng mga seaweed tuwing salpok nito sa pampang. Ang isa pang nakatawag-pansin ay ang maraming ibon sa naghahanap ng matutuka sa buhanginan.

Ang isla ng Po Toi ay tinatayang apat na kilometro- kuwadrado ang kabuuang sukat, pero may 200 katao lang na naninirahan. Kabilang sa mga na may landmark o muhon sa isla ang Tin Hau temple, ang Old Mansion of Family Mo na may reputasyon bilang isang haunted house, at ang mga naglalakihang mga bato na iba-iba ang hugis, katulad ng Palm Rock na hugis-palad; ang Tortoise Rock na mistulang pagong na gumagapang paakyat; ang Monk Rock na animo ay isang monghe na nakaupo at nagtuturo sa mga maliliit na bato sa paligid na parang mga batang monghe.

Sa isang mataas na bahagi ng isla ay makikita ang isang lighthouse. Matatanaw mula dito ang timog karagatan ng Hong Kong, ang mga naglalayag na mga barko, speed boat, at kaito, ang pati ang mga karatig na isla.

Makatawag-pansin din ang isang pader sa gilid na isang bato kung saan makikita ang mga nakaukit na mga hayop, isda,  ulap, kidlat at tao, at ayon sa impormasyon doon ay mahigit 3,000 taon na ang mga ito. May makikita ding mga inukit na mga anito at totem pole ng mga sinauang tao na nanirahan dito ilang libong taon na ang nakakaraan,

Ang Po Toi ay isa sa walong isla sa Hong Kong na may rock carving sa tabing dagat. Ang iba pa ay Shek Pik, Cheung Chau,  Wong Chuk Hang,  Big Wave Bay,  Lung Ha Wan,  Kau Sai Chau,  Tung Lung Chau.  Ang pag-aalaga sa mga rock carvings na ito ay isinailalim sa HK Antiquities and Monuments Office para masiguro ang kanilang pagpapanatili

Kitang kita ang pagsisikap ng pamahalaan ng Hong Kong na gawing kaaya-aya ang pamamasyal dito dahil maraming mga portable toilet sa paligid para sa mga bisita na hindi mapigilan ang tawag ng kalikasan.

Sa isang dako naman ay may isang sementeryo na kadalasang iniiwasang mahagip ng camera ng mga nag se selfie,

Tuwang-tuwa ang lahat ng mga sumali sa lakad dahil nakakita sila ng mga kakaibang tanawin, at nakaramdam ng kakaibang ihip ng hangin. Kabilang sa kanila sina Edna Solidad at Rowena Arandia, na mga nature lover daw.

May dalawang residente din na nag-enjoy, ang magkapatid na sina Ronnie at Marissa Torralba, na natuwa dahil isang magandaang paraan daw ng pag-eehersisyo ang kanilang ginawa.

Bago umuwi ay hindi nakaligtaan ng grupo na bumili ng mga pinatuyong seaweed sa halagang $10 lang bawat pakete. Bukal sa loob din silang nag-ambagan para sa itinakdang beneficiary ng kanilang proyekto, ang mga bata sa Guimaras Island kailangan ng tulong para sa kanilang mga gamit sa eskuwela, sa pamamahala ng children’s ministry ng Guwainon Fundamental Baptist Church.

Madali lang puntahan ang Po Toi island. Mula sa Central ay sumakay ng bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66, 260 papunta sa Stanley Blake Pier, at mula dito sumakay ng kaito papunta sa isla.

Domestic helpers not getting fair deal in illegal work cases

Posted on No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez
Foreign domestic workers seem to be getting the short end of the stick in Hong Kong courts for offenses they commit in partnership with, or on orders by their employers.

An NGO officer said such unequal treatment of migrant workers in court used to be blatant in the past but decreased when the judicial system came under criticism from workers’ rights advocates. Now, it seems the inequity is returning, she said.

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of Mission for Migrant Workers, said Hong Kong courts are missing the point. The main issue in the play of employer-employee relations according to her is, who makes the decision?

“It’s the employer, definitely”, she told The SUN. “Hindi naman kadarating mo lang dito para sabihin mo na ‘Ma’am, sa labas na lang ako matutulog ha.’ Hindi naman e, kasi kung ano yung i-provide sa iyo yun ang tatanggapin mo.”

The migrants rights advocate said that even when it comes to illegal work, it is usually the employer who demands that the helper work in his office, shop or in his parents’ home, and all the worker can do is follow this order for fear of losing her job.

In March, a Filipina helper was convicted after pleading guilty to “breach of condition of stay” and “making false representation to an immigration officer” after her arrest in May 8, 2016 while working in her employer’s office.

Cecelia Guevarra’s sentencing was postponed after she agreed to testify against her employer, May Lui, who was also arrested but pleaded not guilty to the offence of abetting her maid’s illegal work.

In her testimony against Lui, Guevarra said she was ordered by the employer to work in her office as a cleaner. The Filipina said that between June 2015 to Dec 2016, she spent 30% to 40% of her work time at Lui’s office.
Cecelia Guevarra

But a former office staff of Lui contradicted Guevarra’s evidence, saying the employer moved to Central in November 2015, instead of Feb 6, 2016 as the Filipina had claimed.

On the basis of this testimony, Magistrate Winnie Lau acquitted Lui on Feb 2, saying Guevarra’s evidence was unreliable.

Three days later, another magistrate, Lam Tsz-kan sentenced Guevarra to six weeks in jail for two charges of breaching her condition of stay and three months for false representation, with the sentences suspended for three years.

Another case in which the worker and her employer were sentenced unevenly involved maid Diana Segui and her employer Caroline Sia, who had evaded arrest for months.

Segui was convicted on July 2015 by Magistrate Andrew Ma after she pleaded guilty to “making a false representation to an Immigration officer” for agreeing to live outside her employer’s home. She was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for three years.

Barely two weeks later, Sia received a far more lenient sentence of two months in jail suspended for a year after she pleaded guilty in a separate trial to “conspiracy to make a false representation to an Immigration officer”.

In recent years, there had been other similar cases. In one, the helper was ordered by the employer to wash the dishes in his restaurant or mind his vegetable stall. The maid got arrested and ended up in jail while her employer was not even charged at all.

Abdon-Tellez noted that some magistrates appear unhappy with the unfair application of the law, including one in Shatin Court who often scolded immigration prosecutors in illegal work cases.

She remembered the magistrate saying, “You’re not looking at the play of power in the employer-employee relation. I always remind you that in cases like this, especially illegal work, the breach doesn’t happen without the employer’s command. But it’s the worker that you arrest.”

The magistrate reportedly said his hands were tied during sentencing because the prosecutors did not consider who the real decision-maker was in such relationships.

Abdon-Tellez called for law enforcers to address the disparity, saying that in reality, the helper often does not have any choice but to follow the illegal orders of her employer, as she has mouths to feed and debts to pay back home.

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