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2 Filipinas jailed 4 months for forged documents, lying

10 August 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Two Filipinas have each been sentenced in Shatin Court to four months in jail for making false representations and using forged documents so they could enter Hong Kong on domestic helper visa.

Ma Isabel M. Almayda, 46, and Mary Ann B. Artates, 43, both pleaded guilty to the charges before Magistrate Winnie Lau on Jul 20.

The prosecution had asked to delay Almayda’s sentencing until Aug 23, saying she had information that was valuable to the investigation of similar cases, and that this could have an impact on her sentence.

But Almayda herself opposed the application, saying she had already pleaded guilty to all the charges and did not want to help the prosecution. That prompted the magistrate to have the charges read to her again.

Court documents show Almayda, using forged documents, managed to obtain a work visa. She arrived in Hong Kong on Nov 11, 2011 as a domestic helper for a local employer. She renewed her visa in November 2013, Aug 3, 2015, Oct 28, 2016, and Sept 28, 2017.

She was arrested on Jan 30 this year after Immigration authorities discovered her misrepresentation.

Her lawyer said Almayda left behind a son, now 17, when she came to Hong Kong to work in 2011. She lived with her German boyfriend who she was to marry soon.

The lawyer asked for a lenient sentence, citing his client’s guilty plea, her remorse and promise not to re-offend, and her clear record in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Lau accepted the mitigation, then sentenced Almayda to four months in jail. The Filipina wept on hearing the sentence.

Artates, who was set to be sentenced that day, also had the charges read to her a second time, and again, she pleaded guilty.

The first charge against her was for making a false statement when she first entered Hong Kong on Nov 23, 2013 on a domestic helper visa. Then she was charged with making a false representation to an Immigration officer when she renewed her visa in November 2015.

In October 2017, Artates allegedly “(caused) to be made a false representation to an Immigration officer” when she applied for a change of employer.

The Filipina was arrested by Immigration officers on Jan 31 after the fraud was discovered. 

In mitigation, the defense lawyer said Artates had a clear record and was remorseful. Her father died on Jan 30 and she wanted to go home but was arrested the next day.
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