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Filipina jailed 6 months for bleach-tainted baby bath

Posted on 24 February 2019 No comments

by Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper has been ordered jailed for six months by a Shatin Court magistrate for deliberately leaving a bottle of bleach solution in the bathroom that her employer then used to bathe a six-month-old baby.

Magistrate Jerry Chung said the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Merlyn Ando had left the solution, placed in an empty baby gel bottle in the bathroom to cause harm, due to a money issue against the employer, Charlotte Chan.

Chung said an aggravating factor was that Ando only told the mother that the supposed gel she mixed with the baby’s bath was a bleach solution after the baby girl, who was crying, was lifted out of the tainted bath by Chan.

Ando, wearing a white long-sleeved blouse, listened without any sign of emotion as Chung read his verdict, which a Tagalog court interpreter translated to her.

The magistrate said he adopted seven months for the sentence but reduced it by a month after considering that Ando had a clear record and had been in custody since Aug 13 last year, when the incident happened.  

Ando was charged with “Ill-treatment by those in charge of a child or young person” after Chan blamed her for the incident, which caused the baby to develop redness on her arm and lower part of her body.

Ando is expected to be released and sent home soon because she had been in custody for more than six months since her arrest.

Asked if an appeal was being considered, Ando’s lawyer, John Marray, said he was thinking about that but the Filipina had accepted the verdict, knowing she would be out soon.

The prosecution called five witnesses during the Jan 31-Feb 1 trial to give evidence, including Chan, the police officer who responded to the report about the incident, and a doctor at Prince of Wales Hospital who attended to the baby.

“There was no serious challenge to their evidence by the defendant,” he added. “As for the defendant, I don’t find her a credible witness,” said the magistrate.

Ando had taken the witness stand to answer questions about what had led to the mother accidentally bathing her daughter with the tainted water.

One witness, Chang Yu, the hospital doctor who had treated the baby, said the infant bore no signs of injury apart from redness on her arm and side. He said she was happy and normal.

The baby was rushed to the hospital by Chan after reporting the incident to police.

In her testimony, Ando said the used the empty blue baby gel plastic bottle to mix the Chlorox and water solution because it had a better grip and the liquid did not leak onto her hand when she was spraying it.

She said she normally kept the bottle in the kitchen and on Aug 13, she used it to clean the bathroom.

She said she had just sprayed the tub to remove a yellow stain when Chan ordered her to fetch her eldest child, a 4-year-old boy, from the ground floor.

3 Filipino travelers fined for banned weapons in their luggage

Posted on No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

Advertisment for stun guns sold in the Philippines

Three Filipino transit passengers have been convicted and fined by Hong Kong courts just this month for carrying stun guns and other prohibited weapons in their luggage, according to an officer of the Consulate.

The officer from the assistance to nationals section said the three travelers arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport on various dates this month. He did not give the identities of the three defendants.

He said all three were charged at the West Kowloon Court and fined between $1,000 and $1,700 each for their offenses.

“The latest two cases, which happened only last week and involved a seaman from Xiamen and a transit passenger from San Francisco, were heard in the court a week ago,” the ATN officer said.

He said the passenger from San Francisco was found with a pepper spray, a stun gun and an extendable baton in his check-in luggage. A judge in West Kowloon Court convicted and fined him $1,700.

The second passenger, who arrived from Xiamen to take a connecting flight to Manila, was also convicted and fined $1,000 for carrying a stun gun in his backpack, the ATN officer said.

The seaman told the court he only found the weapon on the street and picked it up.

Earlier in February, a Filipino who came from India was also fined the same amount for having a stun gun in his check-in luggage.


HK Police looking into case of newly arrived Filipina who died of lupus

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao  
Taipo Nethersole Hospital

Hong Kong police are reportedly looking into the death of a Filipina domestic worker who died of lupus just five months after coming to Hong Kong to work for an employer in Taipo.

Maristel Pepito, 35, died on Feb 18 in the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po, a night after her employer allegedly refused to heed her appeal to be taken to the hospital because she was already spitting blood.

It was her newfound friend, Sheila Balisi, also a helper, who took her to the hospital.

An officer at the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section said on Feb 21 that the police are investigating the case.

He said an officer of the employment agency that deployed Pepito five months ago went to the Consulate on Feb 21 at the invitation of the ATN to shed light on what happened to her.

The employer, who was also asked to go to the Consulate, did not go. But an agency staff handed a letter from the employer saying she could not give any statement as the case was already being investigated by the Coroner’s Court and police.

However, the employer said she would cooperate in repatriating Pepito’s remains, the ATN officer said.

The coroner’s report on the cause of Pepito’s death is now being awaited by ATN. The ATN officer could not tell whether the body is in the hospital or in a public mortuary.

The death of Pepito was reported by Rodelia Villar, founder of the Domestic Workers Group, on Jan 28 to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Hong Kong after she learned about her situation.

Villar said Balisi noticed the weak and sickly helper at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Tai Po last Dec 26 and accompanied her to the hospital. A doctor there said she would have to be confined due to infected leukemia.

But Pepito, a mother of three, reportedly took no heed and continued working for her employer.  
“Sinamahan ni Sheila sa ospital at ang sabi ng doctor, kailangan na niya ma-confine dahil hindi na maganda ang kanyang kalagayan. Ngunit dahil sa takot sa amo, umuwi siya at magtrabaho,” Villar said.

On Jan 18, Pepito was admitted and confined for a week due to the leukemia infection. But, a week later, the doctor said the maid was suffering from lupus, a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. Pepito was confined for two weeks.

Villar learned about the case of Pepito on Jan 28 and informed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Hong Kong about her situation.

“Umiiyak na nagkuwento si Maristel tungkol sa kanyang sitwasyon at wala siya umanong magagawa kundi tanggapin ang kanyang sakit,” said Villar, who talked to the patient on the phone.

When Balisi visited Pepito in hospital on Feb 3, a Sunday, the patient said the doctor had told her she would be moved to another hospital. But the next day, she was discharged.

The maid had to return to her employers’ flat to continue working. On Feb 11, she sent a message to Balisi complaining about not being given enough food and not being paid on time.

Pinoy serial ‘peeping Tom’ refused bail

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao

Pskit was allegedly found 'loitering' in this mall's ladies room

A Filipino resident in Hong Kong has been refused bail by an Eastern Court magistrate following his arrest for straying into a ladies’ toilet in a shopping mall in Quarry Bay.

This is the fourth time the defendant, Eduardo Pakit, 44, has been charged with “loitering causing concern” for sneaking into women’s changing rooms on a beach or toilets in shopping centers to watch or photograph them secretly.

The prosecution did not give details of the three previous cases, but local media reports carried two of them.                                                                                                                                    

In the latest, the prosecution said in a hearing on Feb 21 that a local woman, Madam X, saw Pakit inside the ladies’ toilet in Manly Plaza along King’s Road on Feb 17 and reported the matter to the building security.

Pakit’s presence in the ladies’ room had caused Madame X concern for her safety and well-being, the prosecution said.

The defendant, who works as a bartender, was taken into custody on Feb 19. An identity parade would be held on Monday, Feb 25, to ascertain whether he was the same man seen in the ladies’ toilet.

Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi rejected Pakit’s bail application at the recommendation of the prosecution, which said the defendant was a repeat offender who had three previous criminal records for similar offenses.

On Dec 31, 2016, Pakit was charged and convicted after entering a ladies’ changing room in Repulse Bay in July of that year and peeping into a cubicle where two teenage girls were changing their clothes.

But in November 2015, Pakit was acquitted by a judge in Kowloon City of loitering and peeping into a women’s toilet because the witnesses could not identify him positively.

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