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High Court hears 2 Pinay asylum seekers’ appeal for judicial review

06 March 2018

A High Court judge has breathed hope into a Filipina asylum-seeker’s bid to overturn a Torture Claims Appeal Board decision rejecting her application for non-refoulement.

Judge Amanda Woodcock, summarizing Marierol M. Puno’s application, said she would consider the applicant’s reasons for seeking a judicial review.

“You said the Torture Claim Appeals Board did not grant your appeal hearing and you didn’t get a letter asking you to make a submission,” the judge said. She added that did not reflect a high standard of court service.

Puno had said the board failed to consider relevant information; did not show cultural sensitivity; did not take into account actual conditions in the Philippines and the abuses that were happening there.

Puno brought her baby boy to the courtroom and was told by Woodcock to either sit down or carry the baby standing “to keep him under control”.

The judge said she would consider Puno’s reasons. “When I’ve made my decision, I will send you a letter,” she told the applicant.

Also seeking a judicial review of a TCAB ruling on her application on Mar 6 was Emilyn Mapili, whose earlier application for leave to appeal was rejected by the High Court on the ground that her reasons were not convincing.

Woodcock questioned Mapili for several minutes about her compliance with court instructions following the hearing on her latest application in October last year.

The judge said she wrote the applicant on Dec 19 telling her about her leave to appeal. In that letter, Woodcock said, she was telling Mapili to offer reasons for her application. But, instead of complying, the Filipina went to Legal Aid, the judge said.

Mapili replied that she received the judge’s letter only a day after she had approached Legal Aid because she had an application for bail. She showed the pink card that signified she had a pending application and other details.

But Woodcock told the Filipina the date on the pink card was Dec 20. “Why did it take you two months before filing this leave to appeal?” the judge asked.

Mapili said she could not understand the instructions so she asked her boyfriend, a certain Ershad Muhamad, to help her fill up the application form. She said the man had told her to wait two months before submitting the form.

Woodcock said she was holding her decision in reserve and inform the applicant by mail about her ruling.

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