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Elderly Pinay overstayer jailed 6 months

14 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Tarcila Alabastro, the 65-year-old former domestic worker who gave herself up after overstaying for more than 12 years in Hong Kong, was convicted and sentenced on Jan 8 by a Shatin court to six months in jail term.
Alabastro, fondly called "Nanay Tarcila" by her OFW friends and supporters, appeared before Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma and pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching her conditions of stay.
Esther Bangcawayan of the Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge who attended the hearing, said Ma gave a discount in the sentence for Alabastro's voluntary surrender and in consideration of her physical condition.
Alabastro could hardly walk because of osteoarthritis when she surrendered on Dec 9 to the Immigration authorities. Two weeks later, she was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital by Bangcawayan after her blood pressure shot up.
The woman was accompanied to court by Lorna Mojica of the Consulate's assistance to nationals section, and had her picked up by a consular vehicle because of her condition.
"Kalmado naman si Nanay nang sinisintensiyahan siya ng mahistrado, ngunit halata rin sa kanyang mukha ang pagkabahala," Bangcawayan told The SUN.
"Inihanda naman namin siya sa anumang magiging resulta ng kanyang pagharap sa korte at hindi namin siya pinaasa na hindi siya makukulong," she said.
Bangcawayan said she had explained beforehand to Alabastro three possibilities in the event of her conviction: immediate deportation; a suspended sentence that would allow her to return home soon, or a discounted jail sentence based on the number of years she had overstayed.    
News of her jailing has saddened the OFWs who helped work out Alabastro's surrender, including Alexise Tiu, who helped Alabastro inch her way to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and to the ATN when she surfaced on Dec 6, and to the Immigration Department to surrender on Dec 9.
"Ang final result na nakulong siya nakakalungkot..nakakaawa dahil sa katandaan niya pero bago pa man isinuko alam ko naman na may katapat na parusa ang pag-overstay niya dahil ang batas dito ay batas at kailangan na sundin," Tiu said.
But she philosophically said the elderly woman's stay in jail would give her time to recover her health and get proper medical care as she was not able to see a doctor during the years that she overstayed.

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