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Maid caught selling fake branded goods jailed for 2 weeks

Posted on 11 December 2019 No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao
Among those found in Yarte's possession were fake Gucci bags like these
A Filipina domestic worker has been jailed for two weeks after admitting in Eastern Court that she was selling fake branded goods and had violated her work visa by engaging in business.

J. Yarte pleaded guilty before Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan on Dec 11 to charges of “possession for sale or for any purpose of trade or manufacture goods to which a forged trade mark was applied,” and for breach of condition of stay.

Yarte, 47, was arrested by Customs officers on Jan 20 this year while manning a mobile hawker stall on a footbridge outside Fairmont House on Cotton Tree Drive in Central.
The officers seized two fake Gucci bags and five Gucci wallets on display in front of the defendant. More counterfeit items were found in a bag beside her, including eight wallets, 16 bags, basketball jersey and shorts, caps and T-shirts.

All the items bore famous brand names and were worth a total of $1,170.

A plainclothes officer saw Yarte at about 9:10am touting the goods to passersby. He also noticed the bag that held the other counterfeit items.
A few minutes later the officer approached Yarte then identified himself before arresting her.

The prosecution said Yarte had admitted to selling the goods for a Pakistani man who paid her $100 a day but whose telephone number she did not know.

She admitted to the arresting officer that she knew the goods were fake and that she was a domestic helper.
Immigration records showed Yarte had a working visa valid until Jun 6, 2020.

In mitigation, Yarte’s lawyer said she augmented her salary with income from selling the goods to support her family in the Philippines.
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Militants say Duterte's Christmas 'gifts' to Filipinos have led to more suffering

Posted on No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao
Protesters showed Duterte's wrapped 'gifts' to Filipinos

 Christmas gifts the Filipino people have received from President Rodrigo Duterte since he came to power in July 2016 are nothing but unfulfilled promises, excessive exactions on workers, and more human rights violations.

This was according to Hong Kong-based activists who say that as a result, life in the Philippines has become more difficult than ever, resulting in more workers being forced to leave the country just to earn money to support their families.
Speaking at a rally on Sunday, Dec. 8 on Chater Road to mark International Human Rights Day, United Filipinos in Hong Kong chair Dolores Balladares-Pelaez blasted Duterte for failing to fulfill a promise to bring back OFWs by creating jobs at home.

“Nito ngang nagkakagulo sa Hong Kong, ayaw nating umuwi hindi dahil gusto natin ang gulo, kundi dahil wala naman tayong trabaho,” Pelaez said. “Yung mga problema sa Pilipinas ay hindi nareresolba, iyon pa rin at lumalala,” she said.

The Unifil leader said Duterte does not care even if a big chunk of migrant workers’ pay will go to excessive government fees due to be imposed from next year, such as mandatory insurance and increased Pag-IBIG, Philhealth and SSS contributions.
She said that as the exactions are all mandatory, migrant workers have no choice but to pay up so they can work overseas.

“Ito ba ang ating hiniling noong mga nagdaang Pasko?” she asked.

She recalled that during his 2016 election campaign Duterte promised a safer and corrupt-free Philippines but the exact opposite of these have happened since he took power.

Image may contain: 1 person
Tebia enumerates Duterte's 'gifts' of suffering
 Gabriela Hong Kong & Macau chairperson Sheila Tebia enumerated the so-called “gifts” of the President to the Filipino people: his disrespect of women, high prices and low salaries; increased rice imports that have pulled down local grain prices; demolition of informal settlers’ homes; expanded mining operations and dam constructions by foreign companies; his giving up the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea; and closure of schools for lumad children.
Further, Duterte has reneged on his promise to end the labor scourge called job contractualization, or “endo,” which according to Tebia, has undermined Filipino workers’ right to job security.

Tebia also noted the 27,000 extrajudicial killings since “Operation Tokhang,” Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, began in July 2016.

She said the anti-drug campaign has targeted small-time drug pushers and even innocent people, such as 17-year-old student Kian delos Santos, who was taken from his home and shot dead by Caloocan City policemen on Aug 17, 2017.

Those who condemn human rights abuses under the Duterte government are branded as terrorists, face trumped up charges and suffer persecution, Tebia said.

“Iyan ang mga regalo sa atin ni President Duterte… Kung hindi natin ito pinag-usapan, kung hindi natin ilalaban at ite-table sa gobyerno, sino ang magpaparating sa kanila na hindi tama ang mga polisiya?” Tebia said.

She said it is not wrong to be an activist and to protest. As a fitting celebration of International Human Rights Day, she said Filipinos should assert their rights as promoters not just of migrant rights but also those of the Filipino masses.

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Filipina HK resident accused of fleecing $112k from OFWs by offering fake jobs

Posted on No comments
By Daisy CL Mandap

Fernandez allegedly collected at least $112k  but offered no real jobs

Nine Filipina domestic workers have complained to the Consulate about losing at least $112,000 from a former staff of an employment agency who allegedly offered them non-existent jobs for their male relatives back in the Philippines.

They identified the alleged scammer as Mila Bodomo Fernandez, a resident of Smithfield Street, Kennedy Town, who used to work at the ACJ International Recruitment Services Company with an office in Excellente Commercial Building on Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay.

Consul Paul Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, said his office would consolidate the statements and ask each complainant to sign an affidavit before forwarding them all to the police for immediate action.
Fernandez allegedly offered jobs ranging from yacht maintenance staff to houseboy or gardener, and prodded the complainants to apply for their male relatives back in the Philippines, saying she had many employers waiting to hire them.

She allegedly said the offered salary ranged from $5,000 to $7,000, and all that the applicants needed to pay initially was $3,000 and a further $1,000 after their work visa was released.

With another group of applicants, she allegedly collected $3,500 each for those without a Tesda training certificate, and $2,500 each for those who already had it.
One group of complainants said they paid Fernandez a total of $32,500 in February this year, after which she promised them their relatives would already have their work visa by May.

Another group made up of 13 applicants in the Philippines who are represented in their complaint by a longtime Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong, remitted a total of $43,719.90 (converted from peso) to Fernandez’s HSBC bank account between April and June this year.

Remittance receipts issued to applicants all show Fernandez' name and bank account number

Fernandez allegedly asked the applicants for their bio-data and copies of their passports but never sent them employment contracts, or set up any interview with their prospective employers.

Months after the promised deployment in May did not happen, the first group said they asked Fernandez to just give their money back, but she stopped taking their calls and have blocked them on messenger.
At least one of the complainants, C. Delfino, said in a sworn statement she submitted to the Consulate on Oct 27 that she met Fernandez after ACJ managed to place her with a new employer in December last year. Delfino also said she made her second payment to Fernandez in the ACJ office, but the company manager was not around.

But when Fernandez allegedly started hiding from them, they learned from the company that she had been sacked because of similar complaints from several other people.

The SUN managed to contact Fernandez at the mobile number supplied by the complainants, and she did not deny taking money from them. However, she gave the same excuse that she told all of them: that all the employers who were supposed to hire their relatives had backed out.

She was unable to respond when asked why not one of the applicants was given an employment contract as should have happened from the time they gave her money.

Fernandez also vaguely spoke of using the money she collected for buying air tickets, but could not say who the tickets were for. She just said she was willing to pay the complainants back, and in fact, had started doing so by installment.

This claim was vehemently disputed by A. Alday, who after being meeting Fernandez through a mutual friend, got 13 relatives and friends in Iloilo to apply for the promised jobs.

“Urgent daw mga amo kaya pinipilit niyang magbayad agad, at kung ma delay ang payments sasabihan nya ang aplikante na e- cancel nya ang application,” said Alday in her sworn statement dated Oct 30.

But when it became clear that there were no real jobs were waiting for them, the applicants, who have remittance slips to prove their payment to Fernandez, began clamoring for a refund.

Alday said that to date, Fernandez has refunded only $3,750 of the more than $43,000 she collected from them.

The unlicensed recruiter has reportedly been making up all sorts of excuses for not paying back, like she’s sick, or she was still trying to cash a cheque.

The last time she bugged Fernandez about paying up, Alday said “Kahapon sabi nasa hospital siya at today sabi in a critical condition ang mother nya. Lahat isasali sa kasinungalingan nya.”

One time, Fernandez allegedly said she was at home sick, but only hours later, Alday said she saw her near World Wide House, fully made up and dressed to the nines. Fernandez allegedly ran away when she saw Alday taking pictures.

Like Alday, Delfino has worked in Hong Kong for a long time, 22 years to be exact. All these years, she said she never fell for a scam, and was never in debt, so that the $16,000 she paid Fernandez had come from her life savings.

Two years back, she said she nearly got looped into a similar ploy by the disgraced former employment agency owner Ester Ylagan. But she backed off after failing to get a sign from God on whether she should cough up the required $10,000 for a tempting job placement in the UK.

She now wonders why her sixth sense failed her, or why she forgot to ask for divine intervention again, when a bigger part of her nest egg was at stake.

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Maid about to quit job accused of theft

Posted on No comments
The theft case will be heard again at Kwun Tong court on Jan 7

A Filipina helper facing a theft charge in Kwun Tong Court has been allowed to post bail while her case is being investigated further after more items belonging to her employer were reportedly found during a search of her room.

The defendant, R. Villon, appeared before Magistrate Ivy Chui on Tuesday, Dec 10, to face one count of theft.

Villon was arrested  on Nov 30 as she was about to leave her employer’s flat after offering to resign from her job prematurely.
The employer called the police after reportedly finding that a valuable item was missing and had been replaced with a similar object but with a different brand.

A search of her room afterwards reportedly yielded 18 additional items belonging to the employer.

The prosecution asked for an adjournment so further investigations can be made about the new items believed to have also been stolen.
But the defense lawyer said that at this stage the case was all allegations, before applying for bail.

Villon, who has been in custody since her arrest, had offered to post a $1,000 bail. Magistrate Chui granted her application but raised the amount to $3,000.
The magistrate then adjourned the case until Jan 7.   Vir B. Lumicao                                                                                           

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Two Filipino residents found dead in separate places over 2 days

Posted on 10 December 2019 No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao

Two Filipino males, one a student and another a musician, have been found dead in separate locations on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon over the past two days.

The body of 23-year-old  James Edward Francisco was found on a roadside in Kennedy Town on Sunday morning, Dec 8, two days after his family in Tsuen Wan reported that he had gone missing.

Police classified the case as falling from height.

Francisco's body was found beside a building near the Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town

Consul Paulo Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, said the victim’s father had called up ATN to inquire about funeral arrangements.

The family reportedly has no plans to send the victim’s remains home to the Philippines because all his family members are in Hong Kong. The family would instead have him cremated, Saret said.
Police said the victim’s body was found by passersby around 9:45am by the road  beside a building at 54 Victoria Road, Kennedy Town, near the Bayanihan Centre. He apparently fell from the building’s rooftop.

A police spokeswoman said no suicide note was found near the victim’s body and investigators are still trying to find out the cause of his death.

A second Filipino died on Monday, Dec. 9, of an apparent stroke.
De Gala called the police himself to complain about feeling unwell
Police said the 48-year-old man, identified as musician Ted Alvin de Gala by his friends on Facebook, was found unconscious at 12:31 pm in his flat in Hung Hom by officers who responded to his 999 call.
The victim, who was living alone, reportedly made the call himself and complained that he was not feeling well.

He was certified dead on arrival at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yaumatei.

His friends who were with him in church last Sunday said he had gotten in touch with one of them to complain about feeling unwell, before making the distress call when he was near his flat.
De Gala was a band member who had worked in Hong Kong for 6 years and 8 months, just four months short of obtaining permanent residency. His family lives in the Philippines.

One of his friends and churchmate said that De Gala was already looking forward to obtaining permanent residency so he could bring his family to Hong Kong.

De Gala had reportedly suffered two strokes previously.

One of his friends went to the Consulate Monday afternoon to report his death and asked if the government could help repatriate the musician’s remains.

The friend was reportedly told that the request need to be sent as soon as possible to the Department of Foreign Affairs as its books are about to close for year-end accounting.

The assistance to nationals section advised the friend that De Gala’s relatives could approach the DFA to raise their concern. They should also send an authorization letter to someone in Hong Kong who could work on the repatriation papers to hasten the process.

However, Welfare Officer Marivic C. Clarin said that if De Gala was still under employment contract his employer should pay for repatriation. If the deceased was also an active member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration his family could claim a death benefit of Php100,000 and Php20,000 burial assistance.

Hong Kong Musicians Union chair Manuela D. Lo said the deceased's booking agent has already agreed to pay for repatriation. Lo said it was unfortunate that De Gala did not join HKMU as his heirs would have been entitled to $200,000 death benefit from their group insurance.

But she said their fellow musicians have already pitched in for a donation to be given to De Gala's family in the Philippines. His friends will also coordinate the repatriation.
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