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Pinay DH cleared of illegal job charge

08 November 2016

Shatin courthouse entrance.
By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic helper was acquitted in Shatin Court on Tuesday, Nov 8, of a charge of breaching her condition of stay by allegedly working in the snack shop of her Indian employer in Mirador Mansion in Tsimshatsui.


Raquel Manacop was on the verge of tears as Magistrate Colin Wong found her not guilty on the second day of a trial attended by her employer.

Magistrate Wong, however, rejected Manacop’s attempt to recover court costs of $20,000 representing lawyer’s fee when she applied for bail at the High Court after the magistrate court remanded her in jail custody for the alleged offense.

The magistrate said the receipts presented by the Filipina for reimbursement did not show her name as the payor of the cost as the invoices bore the name of Worldwide Food, the company owned by her employer.

Wong only allowed reimbursement of the $540 that she paid for duty lawyer service and told her to collect her $15,000 bail money.

Manacop was arrested on Aug 10 after she sold food to an Immigration officer who posed as a customer during an operation of the department to ferret out foreigners performing jobs illegally.

The Immigration officer identified as PWI, giving evidence on Monday, said he entered the restaurant of Manacop’s employer and saw the Filipina sitting at a table near the payment counter.

PWI said he pointed to a food on the menu and asked the maid how much it cost but the Filipina told him to wait for her employer, who was in the toilet at the time.

The officer insisted to buy at that moment, pretending he was in a hurry. So the Filipina took his money and gave him the food. She also took out change from her own wallet and gave it to the officer.

A few seconds later, immigration officers and police arrived and arrested Manacop for working illegally in the restaurant.

She was charged with breach of condition of stay before Shatin Court Magistrate Andrew Ma, who ordered her remanded in custody and told her to go to the High Court to apply for bail.

Manacop reasoned out that she dropped by at the shop and was waiting for her employer after coming from the market to buy food for the house.

Wong said he had to consider if Manacop’s selling the food item to the undercover Immigration officer for five minutes constituted employment.

He said he also had to consider why the defendant was standing outside the cash counter while serving the officer, did not use the cash register to put the cash paid by PW1, and used her own money to give the customer his change.

In the end, the magistrate said he found Manacop not guilty.
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