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‘Disappearing’ Pinay claimant chided by Tribunal judge

06 December 2018

The Labour Tribunal in Jordan
By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper who had launched a labor case against her former employer but could not be contacted for more than nine months, received a mouthful from a Labour Tribunal presiding officer when she finally showed up on Dec 5.

Presiding Officer Isabella Chu also warned claimant Phebe Hibulan that Immigration might look into her case since the Filipina kept applying for a visa extension using her case as an excuse when she never attended any of the earlier hearings.

Hibulan could not explain to Chu why she only sent a representative to scheduled meetings at the Labour Department with her employer, Daisy Suen in March and April, for partial settlement of her claims.

At the time, Chu said Suen had issued a check to Hipulan, but it was returned to the Labour Department as the helper could not be contacted and had no bank account.

Then Hipulan filed a case at the Labour Tribunal against Suen. But after interviews by the tribunal officer, she did not appear at hearings on May 8, June 14 and Aug 29.

The helper revived her case on Nov 12, and when she finally appeared in the tribunal, was peppered with questions by Chu.

“What have you been doing the whole year? Why were you absent from the hearings?” asked Chu, visibly irritated as the claimant only stared at her. “Why?”

“I kept going back to the Labour Department for my plane ticket,” Hipulan replied through a Cebuano interpreter.

The presiding officer said she checked records at the Labour Department but the Filipina did not go there. And yet, she kept extending her visa with Immigration, citing her pending claim as an excuse.

Chu chided Hipulan for her absences and said the tribunal officer had given up on calling her because he could not contact her on the phone.

The presiding officer said the claimant had wasted everyone’s time and the resources of the court, and set back the appointments of three claimants who were next in line.

Chu said she would also report the matter to Immigration so they would investigate what she had been doing in Hong Kong for the past nine and a half months.

Hipulan had filed a claim against Suen for $2,745.85 in unpaid wages, return air ticket, and $1,360 in damages, but Chu accepted only the claim for air ticket. She said Suen had already settled the rest by check which could not be delivered to Hipula and was kept by the Labour Department.

Chu computed the ticket cost at $1,350 and Hipulan readily accepted the amount.

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