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Labatt orders agency to repay $30k staff-induced loan

05 December 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Emelyn Coronado
A Filipina domestic worker has succeeded in getting a local employment agency owner to pay $30,000 in unpaid loan and charges that the maid had incurred on behalf of a staff member of the agency.

The maid, 36-year-old Emelyn Coronado, managed to smile for the first time in two months after the agency, Luckyflex International Ltd, settled the unpaid loan at the main office of Public Finance in Central on Nov 15.

Coronado sought the help of a workers’ group, OFWs in Hong Kong, after debt collectors began calling her employers in September this year, badgering them about the maid’s unpaid loan.

But in an affidavit filed at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Admiralty, Coronado claimed she had taken out the $25,000 loan at the behest of Luckyflex staff Nema Tolones who allegedly said she needed money but could not borrow from the lender personally.

Coronado did as requested, but said she did not realize that she had been tricked by Tolones until she received a letter in December last year from the financing company, demanding that she repay the loan.

The diminutive single mother from Iloilo City, who has been working for her Hong Kong employer for one year and seven months, adamantly refused to pay up. Instead, she told Tolones about the demand note and asked her to pay up.

However, Tolones reportedly ignored her and even threatened to have her fired by her employer. The staff’s Filipino boyfriend then allegedly started calling Coronado or sending angry messages, especially when he learned she was seeking help from POLO.

Last September, a debt collector engaged by Public Finance began calling up Coronado’s employer frequently about the debt, causing the maid to worry and lose sleep.

“Mahigit dalawang buwan akong hindi nakakakain at nakakatulog dahil sa utang na hindi binabayaran ni Nema,” said the haggard worker, who was crying while relating her torment.

Regina de Andres, leader of OFWs in Hong Kong, helped the maid bring her case to the attention of Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre in early November, prompting the official to suspend the processing of workers’ contracts submitted by Luckyflex until it had sorted out the mess. 

Feeling the impact of the suspension, agency owner Sandie Ng reportedly agreed to settle the dispute between Tolones and Coronado by paying the loan balance.

On Nov. 13, Ng learned from Public Finance on Nov. 13 that the unpaid loan had run up to $31,600, including collector’s fees. She balked initially, but reconsidered two days later after she asked for a discount and was told to just pay $30,000.

Labatt Dela Torre let Ng and Coronado sign a settlement agreement whereby the agency owner agreed to settle the loan that Coronado had taken out for Tolones. In return, the helper acknowledged receiving the payment and agreed to waive any and all causes of action against the agency.

Only then did Labatt dela Torre lifted the suspension order on the agency.

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