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Filipina in alleged hot iron attack goes home

14 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

The Filipina domestic helper allegedly attacked by her elderly employer with a hot iron on Dec 12, flew back to Manila on Christmas Eve after deciding to abandon her case.
Rizza del Rosario’s decision left her supporters baffled, including those from the Mission for Migrant Workers and the Consulate, who had offered to help the Filipina pursue the filing of criminal charges and compensation claims against her employer.
In fact, the employer won’t be able to hire another Filipina maid again as the Consulate has blacklisted him and his wife, and has endorsed her case to the Hong Kong government for action, a Consulate official said
“Rizza confided to me that she is abandoning her case and is flying back to Manila on Dec 24. She has already bought a plane ticket,” said Edwina Antonio, executive director of the Mission's Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge on Dec. 2.
Antonio said Del Rosario had claimed she was being prodded by her husband and mother to return home, and asked that her change of mind not be divulged until after she had left Hong Kong.
Her sister Rona, who had been staying with Del Rosario at the government’s shelter since Day 3 after the incident, told The SUN that she learned about this development only before Rizza boarded her flight
“It’s frustrating because she has a strong case against her employer and we are supporting her. I have even reserved a bed for her in the shelter,” Antonio said.
Vice Consul Fatima Quintin, head of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, told The SUN that the employer, surnamed Tang, had been blacklisted by the Consulate. She said the employer’s wife would be included in the complaint to the police.
Del Rosario went to the Consulate on Dec.14, the day after The SUN accompanied her to the Mission to seek assistance. The next day, she and her sister Rona went to Ruttonjee Hospital for treatment of Rizza's burn injuries, as well as to the police and Consulate to report the attack.
Rona was reportedly fired by her boss, the son of Rizza's attacker, for allegedly colluding with her sister to make up the flatiron scalding story.
But pictures taken of Rizza's back clearly showed two fresh burns on each side, corroborating her claim that her elderly employer had applied the flat iron twice on her back.
Del Rosario completed her written statement to the police on Dec 16 and on the same day she and her sister went to the Consulate and were offered shelter at the Filipino Workers’ Resource Center in Kennedy Town.
The Consulate endorsed the case, along with several other labor cases, to the Hong Kong government in a meeting of the Technical Working Group on Dec 16, Quintin said.
“We have given the TWG a copy of the victim’s complaint and we’re certain that the Hong Kong government will act on it,” said Quintin.
The TWG comprises the Consulate, Labour Department, Immigration Department, Hong Kong Police and Employment Agencies Administration. It was formed in 2014 to tackle OFWs’ complaints against abusive employers and employment agencies that charge excessive fees
ATN officer Danny Baldon, who handled Del Rosario’s case, said he would bring it to the attention of the Labour Relations Commission so she could file a monetary claim for the premature termination of her contract.
Del Rosario had earlier shown The SUN a handwritten resignation letter that she was reportedly made to write and sign under duress on the evening of the attack. “My employer said I could not leave unless I signed the letter, so I was forced to sign it,” she said.
Rona said her sister had decided not to lodge a case against her boss and fly home on Dec 27 instead because her employer of three-and-a-half years had paid her for everything that was owed her.
Rizza had reportedly found a new employer through an agency that offered to place her after she paid a $1,000 down payment. She did not reveal the name of the agency.
Meanwhile, Quintin reminded all OFWs in Hong Kong to seek the Consulate’s help immediately when they are physically or verbally abused by their employers.
“Hindi kami nagsasawang magpaalala sa mga workers dito, mga OFW, lalung-lalo yung mga kararating lang, hindi pa sanay sa trabaho dito … Kung may na-experience silang abuso na physical or even verbal, ireport agad sa Konsulado,” Quintin said. “Nandito lang naman po kami para tumulong sa kanila. Nandito rin po ang mga concerned citizens at partner organizations dito para tulungan sila na i-file yung case sa police at sa Labour Department. So huwag po silang mag-atubiling pumunta o dumulog sa Konsulado.”
The Consulate is open Sunday to Thursday and its hotline takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Quintin said. “Ang hotline natin ay 9155 4023. Bukas po yon. Kung natatakot silang magreport sa police, tumawag lang sa hotline ng Konsulado para matulungan namin sila agad,” the vice consul said.

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