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Filipino’s jail term for harboring overstayer cut

07 March 2016

A Filipino resident has received a two-week discount to his original sentence of two months in jail for sheltering a pregnant former Filipina domestic helper who had overstayed her visa for two years.

In a review on Feb 17 of the initial sentence, Shatin Court Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma instead sentenced Ramil delos Reyes to six weeks in jail.

Delos Reyes appeared in court two days earlier for a pretrial review of his case, and decided to plead guilty to the first charge of aiding and abetting the woman’s violation of immigration rules and to a second charge of failing to register a birth.

Ma sentenced him to two months in jail for the first charge and fined him $1,000 for the second.
But on Feb 17, Delos Reyes reappeared in Ma’s court and appealed for a review of his two-month sentence for the first charge.

The duty lawyer assigned to Delos Reyes sought a more lenient sentence, saying that his client only wanted the baby boy to grow and become more stable before surrendering the mother to Immigration because she was breastfeeding the infant.

Asked by Ma to give a background of the case, the lawyer said Delos Reyes met the girl one night in July 2013 when she came knocking on the door of his flat. She said she was three years overstayed and pregnant.

Delos Reyes took her in and she eventually became his girlfriend.

The woman was a former domestic worker who had lost her job and decided to overstay until she got pregnant by another man. The prosecutor told The SUN the woman had served her sentence and was apparently deported afterwards.

“The girlfriend was three months pregnant and looking for a place to stay. He had in mind that they both surrender to immigration after she had given birth,” the defense lawyer said.
The magistrate asked why Delos Reyes waited 18 months before surrendering himself and the overstaying woman, and the lawyer replied: “Out of his love for the child, he decided to wait until the baby was old enough, at least 18 months.”

The applicant and the woman surrendered to Immigration in July 2015 when Delos Reyes decided that the baby was stable and big enough to be weaned away from his mother if the mother was taken into custody.

Delos Reyes’ lawyer asked for a degree of compassion for his client, saying that it was he who initiated the surrender of his girlfriend.

Ma told the lawyer that nowhere in the appellant’s statement was it mentioned that he initiated the surrender, but the lawyer insisted Delos Reyes did so.

Turning to Delos Reyes, Ma said: “Your sentence was initially for 14 weeks but you were given two months. I considered I give you the benefit of the doubt that you had initiated your girlfriend’s surrender. I order the two-month sentence set aside and replaced it with a six-week sentence.”
Delos Reyes buried his face in his palms and broke into tears. – Vir B. Lumicao

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