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Maid jailed for 28 days for hitting 10-year-old ward

16 August 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Eastern Court
A Filipina who was convicted of hitting her 10-year-old female ward for throwing a tantrum was sentenced to 28 days in jail at Eastern Court on Aug 11.

Emerolyne M. Labii was in tears as Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi read his verdict at the
conclusion of a three-day trial in which the court heard video-recorded evidence from the victim, the child’s grandmother, two police officers and the maid herself.

The magistrate said he found the child’s statement clear and reliable despite her age. In contrast, he said Labii’s evidence was not credible.

“The girl was only 10 years old, she was just a child when you assaulted her,” Cheng said, as he rejected the defense counsel’s plea for a suspended sentence. He said he adopted 28 days as a starting point for sentencing and imposed that jail term fully.

The magistrate acknowledged that the child suffered no permanent injuries, and had reached out to Labii to show that she still cared for the maid who looked after her for three years despite the incident.

Two elderly members of Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints were in court to show support for Labii, and testify to her good character. A letter from one said Labii spent practically all her Sundays off doing volunteer work for the church.

Also in court was Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre, who said after the verdict and sentencing that he may organize seminars on child care for Filipino domestic workers so they could avoid getting into a situation like Labii’s.

The case arose from an incident on March 6 this year when Labii admitted that she hit the girl, identified only as “X”, because she threw a tantrum after her grandmother resisted her plea not to leave the house.

In a video-recorded interview, the victim said the maid grabbed her shoulders with both hands and shook her continuously then hit her on the back. The girl also said the defendant hit her on the back and tummy and banged her head on the floor.

A medical report showed the girl suffered a bump on her head and marks on her stomach and back.

Labii, giving evidence, admitted she held the girl by the shoulders and pushed her, then slapped her twice on the back because she shouted at her as she was putting the child’s swimsuit in her bag.

“That attitude so upset me that I grabbed her shoulders, pushed her just once and when she turned her back to me, I slapped her twice on her back,” Labii said from the witness stand in response to the defense lawyer’s question.

The helper said the victim was naughty and prone to throwing tantrums. “I wanted to stop her bad attitude,” Labii said. But she said she did not want to hurt X because she loved the child and was sorry she lost control of herself that afternoon.

But the helper denied banging the victim’s head on the floor, and suggested the girl acquired the bump when she was rolling on the floor during her tantrum. She said the girl was good at telling lies even to her parents.

Before the helper gave evidence, two police officers took turns on the witness stand on Aug 10 as they answered questions from the defense and prosecution.

The first officer who responded to the call about the assault said he did not write down the child’s statements but noted them and wrote his report afterwards. The witness said the victim had a mild swelling on the top of her head. But he said did not check for other injuries “because she was a girl”.

The second officer, who was ordered to investigate the case the following morning, said he went to Eastern Hospital where the child was taken by the police team that responded to the 999 call. He confirmed the victim had indeed suffered injuries.

In reaching his verdict, the magistrate said the helper had admitted slapping the victim, notwithstanding her claim that she used the wrong word “hit” instead of “slap” in her cautioned statement.

He added that he had doubts in the maid’s version of the incident, while in contrast, the child’s evidence was clear and reliable. He accepted the victim’s evidence and convicted Labii.

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