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Pinay accused of stealing blouse acquitted by West Kowloon judge

Posted on 16 November 2018 No comments

A prosecution witness cannot establish the intent of a theft suspect even if close-circuit television footage shows the defendant has taken merchandise and failed to pay for it before leaving a shop.

West Kowloon courthouse.
Thus said a West Kowloon magistrate as he acquitted on Friday, Nov 15, as Filipina domestic helper who was accused of stealing a blouse from a clothing chain outlet in Kowloon.

The defendant, Anita S. Villanueva, 57, was blushing with joy and relief after Magistrate Alan Ng Hoi-lun exonerated her because the prosecution could not prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Ng said Villanueva, 57, has a clear record and was trusted by her employer. Nevertheless, he said the prosecution witness was honest and reliable.

According to the summary of the case read by Ng, the domestic helper and her elderly female employer for eight years, Madame Leng, entered the two-storey shop on the second floor of a mall in Prince Edward, Mong Kok, and took the escalator to the first-floor level.

The magistrate, citing evidence given by the first prosecution witness -- a shop attendant--and CCTV footage played back by the prosecution, said Villanueva and her employer went around the shelves checking out the merchandise.

Before they ascended the escalator back to the upper level, Villanueva took a blouse from a shelf and put it in her recyclable shopping bag because she had to support the old woman on the way up.

When they reached the upper level, the employer tugged at the helper’s right arm gesturing her to hurry up and headed for the exit. Confused, the maid forgot about going to the cashier to pay for the clothing.

The shop attendant followed and stopped the maid after the two left the shop. She told Villanueva she had not paid for the clothing in her bag and called the police. The maid was arrested and charged with theft. She was released on police bail.

The Filipina insisted from that moment on that she did not intend to steal the item and was, in fact, set to pay for it at the upper-level cashier when her employer tugged at her.

Villanueva was represented by private lawyers hired by her employer. Throughout the episode, the employer supported Villanueva and kept her on the job.

The prosecution said the CCTV footage showed that, after taking the item, the helper and her employer were leaving the store in haste.

But the defense lawyer said the footage was an inconclusive proof that the defendant intended to steal the blouse, and the magistrate agreed with her.

Ng said neither the CCTV footage nor the store attendant could prove intent or tell what was going on in the mind of the defendant at the time. So, he acquitted Villanueva. 

On her way out of the courthouse with her lawyers, a joyful Villanueva said she loves her employers very much because they had staunchly supported her since the case began, even hiring private lawyers to defend her.

She said she would continue to serve them. 

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OFWs stranded by Xiamen plane skid have until Nov 29 to claim payout

Posted on 15 November 2018 No comments
Tens of thousands of passengers stranded at NAIA after a Xiamen plane overshot the runway on Aug 16

By The SUN

PCG Advisory 
The Consulate has set Nov. 29 as the deadline for claiming compensation by overseas Filipino workers left stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Aug 16-18 after a Xiamen Air jet skidded off the runway.

A notice posted on the Consulate’s Facebook page listed the requirements for making the application, such as a photocopy of their passport, original air ticket, rebooking proof, immigration stamp showing date of departure from the Philippines, and boarding pass.
Reports from Manila said the compensation, paid for by the Department of Foreign Affairs, was set at Php5,000 (HK$715) per affected OFW passenger.

Thousands of passengers, mostly OFWs, were affected by delayed or cancelled flights at NAIA after the runway was closed for nearly two days due to the accident.
About a thousand OFWs had reportedly claimed the financial help before flying out of NAIA but most did not bother applying for it as they were focused on just getting the first available flight out.

Those who failed to get the payout in Manila were advised to apply for it at any Philippine embassy or consulate abroad.
In Hong Kong, Consul Paul Saret said at a Filipino community meeting held on Nov 11 that 206 out of 326 claimants have already received payment.

He said he was still inquiring with the DFA’s Office of Migrant Workers Affairs if those who were unable to take their flights from Hong Kong to the Philippines are also entitled to compensation.
“The guidelines are not clear if the compensation applies both ways,” he said.

Aside from extending financial aid, the DFA had instructed all its overseas posts to help explain to employers, through certifications or direct contact, why their Filipino employees were delayed in returning to work.
Xiamen Air was fined a total of Php33 million for causing havoc at NAIA because of the incident which was traced to pilot error. 

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Consulate warns OFWs vs. investment scams

Posted on No comments

By The SUN

Filipino workers in Hong Kong are being warned by the Consulate against falling prey to scammers who offer investment plans.

“Beware of financial fraud and investment scams in Hong Kong,” the Consulate says in a public advisory dated Nov 13 that is posted in strategic areas of the Consulate at United Centre in Admiralty, and on its website.

The warning was welcomed by Hong Kong-based workers, who also gave their own advice against heeding glib-tongued people who approach them with investment plans promising high and quick returns.

Ironically, at least three sales networking operators joined the online discussions to plug their own businesses.

The Consulate urged the Filipino community in Hong Kong to be vigilant and cautious in dealing with any person or company that approaches them with investment offers.
“Do not deal with any financial company that is not licensed by the Philippine authorities to avoid (becoming) a victim of scams,” the advisory said.

The Consulate said any information about investment scams and related activities in Hong Kong should be reported to the or at telephone number +852 9155 4023.
But when contacted for any recent reports of such scamming cases, a female staff at the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section said the warning was not based on any new case.

“The Consulate has been issuing warnings against financial scams regularly and the workers are warned about the problem in their pre-departure seminars by still some of them fall victims to such schemes,” she said.
Commenters added their input to the advisory.
“Puwede umattend ng mga financial literacy (seminars) kung paano mag-invest pero avoid na lang na magbigay ng pera,” said one Magdalena Celoso.

She suggested OFWs should just put up their own businesses even if they have only a little capital, which they could save up for within five years.
Other commenters warned that some offers are too good to be true. Still, others advised their fellow workers not to fall for promises of instant wealth but rely on hard work.

“Iiingat ingat lang, mga kabayan. Huwag magpadala sa magandang salita. Siguraduhing ang pinaghirapan ay di mapunta sa wala. Walang masama ang sumali sa mga networking business. Pero maging alerto. May tunay at may peke. Hindi po tayo maging milyunaryo sa isang kisapmata lang,” Raiche Albaceno Ozalda

Commenter Marycone Castres said it is best to invest in property like farm lands, or vehicles for public transport. But one must be patient in saving up for this. 

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HK OFW claims losing P300k to ‘friendly’ thief at Manila airport

Posted on No comments
Martin (with back turned) hits suspect Zamora (with hood) after the latter's arrest

By The SUN

A Hong Kong-based domestic helper who flew home for a vacation has reportedly lost more than P300,000 in cash and personal belongings to a thief who befriended her inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City.
The victim, Germelie Martin, immediately reported the theft to police at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and identified the thief through a rogues’ gallery.

A follow-up operation by the police led to the arrest of the suspect, a certain Kay Juvy Macalalad Zamora of San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, investigators said.
Zamora allegedly sweet-talked Martin into withdrawing money from a nearby ATM, then handing over her bag containing Php270,000 and HK$10,000 cash, jewelry, passport, and cell phone. The suspect then slipped away with the bag.
The recovered loot
The officers who arrested Zamora reportedly recovered some of the stolen items and cash amounting to Php65,000.
The alleged theft not only ruined Martin’s vacation, it also deprived her of the chance to redeem a property that her family had mortgaged to secure a loan.
“Pinaghirapan ko po ang pera bilang isang DH pero ninakaw lang po nang walang kapagud-pagod,” media reports from Manila quoted her as saying.

Martin said in a complaint filed with the Airport Police that Zamora approached and engaged her in a friendly chat as she was waiting in the departure area for her connecting flight to Tuguegarao City.

ABS-CBN News reported that airport officials found out Zamora was also involved in other incidents that victimized returning OFWs.

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Sandiganbayan nearing decision on P200-B forfeiture case vs Marcoses

Posted on No comments
After declaring Imelda Marcos guilty, the anti-graft Sandiganbayan is nearing resolution of another case against the Marcoses: forfeiture of P200-billion from the family.

The case enrolled as Civil Case No. 0002 filed in 1987 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against former first lady Imelda Marcos, her children Imee, Bongbong and Irene was already submitted for decision last August.

The Marcoses and the government have submitted their respective memoranda containing the summary of their arguments, testimonies of witnesses and documentary evidence presented in the course of the trial, which lasted about 20 years.

Fourth Division records show that the PCGG, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its memorandum on May 8, 2018 while the Marcoses filed their memorandum on July 31, 2018.

The PCGG filed the civil suit in July 1987; the information of the case has undergone three amendments until 1998.

Based on the amended case information, the Marcoses illegally amassed from government coffers a total of P200 billion during the martial law regime.

The PCGG said the Marcoses also obtained massive loans, guarantees and other types of financial accommodations from government banks through overpriced projects; received kickbacks, commissions and bribes from persons and corporations entering into contracts with the government; established monopolies in commerce particularly in agriculture and gambling; and illegal sale of various government corporations and properties.

The PCGG also accused that the Marcos couple stashed the illegally acquired wealth in several banks locally and abroad, as well as in several foundations. The PCGG said the couple used the funds in the purchase of real estate and shares of stocks.

Among the supposed ill-acquired assets of the Marcoses identified by the PCGG in its complaints were deposits at the Security Bank and Trust (P976 million) and Traders Royal Bank (P711 million); 33 parcels of residential properties with an estimated value of P18 million and a 21,700-hectare agricultural land in Leyte with estimated value of P33 million; shares of stock in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) estimated at P1.6 billion; deposits in several banks in the United States estimated at $292 million; investments in financial houses, industrial and mining corporations in the US at approximately $98 million; as well as unvalued real properties in Manhattan, Long Island and Fifth Avenue in New York, a penthouse in London, residential houses in Honolulu in Hawaii, Beverly Hills in California and Cedars in Mississippi.

Apart from seeking the forfeiture from Mrs. Marcos and her children a total of P200 billion in actual damages representing the alleged ill-gotten wealth, the PCGG is also praying to the court to order the Marcoses to reimburse the government P250 million representing the expenses incurred in its efforts to recover the wealth.

Likewise, the PCGG is seeking P50 billion in moral damages and P1 billion in exemplary damages. The PCGG said the Marcoses must also be compelled to pay temperate damages, nominal damages and other judicial costs, the amounts of which will be set by the court.

Civil Case No. 0002 is among the 43 civil cases that PCGG filed at the Sandiganbayan against Mrs. Marcos and her children since her husband’s ouster in 1986 through a people’s revolt.

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed 19 of the cases, one was indefinitely archived, while 23 others including Civil Case No. 0002 are pending. 

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