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Labour urged to flex muscles vs missing recruiter

10 August 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Ester Ylagan
Supporters of the more than 300 OFWs allegedly duped by employment agency owner Ester Ylagan have urged Labour Department lawyers to take a tougher tack against the elusive recruiter.

The call came as the owner of Mike’s Secretarial Services failed to appear on Jul 17 in Eastern Court, where she faces 23 charges of overcharging in connection with the alleged job scam in 2016.

Her absence led the prosecution to apply for another adjournment until Oct 20 for further legal advice and to find Ylagan’s new address.

Ylagan faces charges of “collecting payment other than the prescribed commission” after collecting $10,000 to $15,000 each from hundreds of Hong Kong-based applicants  for promised jobs in Britain and Canada.

The postponement was met with frustration by supporters of the complainants against Ylagan, led by Edwina Antonio of the Mission for Migrant Workers.

Antonio told labour prosecutor Gary Tsang that Ylagan had not shown up in any of the hearings of cases filed against her at the Small Claims Tribunal and the District Court.

Antonio is representing more than 100 complainants in both courts.

Tsang was also told that court notices sent to Ylagan at all of her addresses in Hong Kong had bounced.

This has caused the District Court registrar to advise the complainants to take every legal means available to pursue their claims.  Acting on the advice, the claimants had gone back to the Central police station to press their complaint against Ylagan.

At the same time, the claimants sought help from the Philippine Consulate to track down Ylagan, who has reportedly fled to Manila when the cases against her began to surface.

Antonio told Tsang that 129 cases against Ylagan were pending in the District Court while 73 others are set to be heard in Small Claims on Aug 28.

Two labour prosecutors were at Eastern court for the cases against Ylagan and Mike's and stayed until the hearings were adjourned in the morning in a vain attempt to face the accused.

For at least four times, the prosecutors and the court's clerk went around the courtroom calling out Ylagan’s name, but failed to get any response.

The court bunched the cases against Ylagan and heard them last before agreeing on the postponement.

Meanwhile, the District Court Registrar has ordered plaintiff Mary Grace Redulfin and defendant Ylagan to write the court on or before Aug 4 explaining their absence in a hearing on July 7.

Ho also directed Refulfin to confirm whether she intended to continue with the claim against Ylagan, and for Ylagan to confirm whether she intended to defend herself.

If both parties decide to continue, they must follow certain court procedures and appear for another hearing on Oct 13.

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