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Pinay helper denies stealing $40 from co--worker

07 March 2019

Basto is accused of taking $20 from her co-worker's jacket pocket

By Vir B. Lumicao

Two Filipina domestic workers faced each other in Kwun Tong court on Mar 6 over an alleged theft of $40.

The charge against 52-year-old Imelda Basto was originally for theft involving $141.50 but it was amended when the alleged victim, Catherine Cuadra, told the court that it was not what she had told police investigators.

Cuadra said what she told investigators was that the two $20 bills that the accused had taken were part of a total of $141.50 that she kept in the pocket of her jacket.

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But Basto denied the charge, and said the $40 was what she had lent Cuadra four days before the alleged theft took place last November. Cuadra had tricked her into taking the bills from her pocket on the pretext that she was in a hurry to leave the house.

Magistrate Philip Chan said he would reserve judgment until Mar 15 after listening to Basto’s lawyer, Yasmine Zahir, sum up the case for the defense. The prosecutor did not make a closing statement.

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Basto was terminated by a local couple in Saikung who employed her and Cuadra after the latter accused her of stealing her money. She sought shelter at Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, whose executive director Edwina Antonio escorted her to the court.   

After first hearing from Cuadra, the magistrate called for a break in the trial so the charge could be clarified.

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The prosecution contacted the police unit that investigated the case and subsequently amended the charge by changing the amount to $40 when the trial resumed.

Cuadra alleged that earlier, money amounting to $2,000 that she had kept in her rucksack went missing and she suspected Basto to have taken it, but she had no proof.



The next time around, Cuadra said she took pictures of two $20 bills that formed part of a total of $141.50 cash that she put in her jacket’s pocket before she and their female employer went out to fetch the couple’s son from school.

Cuadra said when she checked her money later that evening, she found out that the two $20 bills were gone. She told their employer about the alleged theft next morning and the employers called the police.

Basto was arrested after the officers searched her belongings and found the two $20 bills in her wallet.

During cross-examination, Zahir asked Cuadra why she did not tell their employers when her $2,000 went missing from her rucksack, but reported to them and called police when she lost $40.

The accuser said she had no proof that Basto stole the $2,000, while this time, the missing $20 bills that she had photographed were found in the defendant’s possession.

Zahir also asked the alleged victim if she did not find it unreasonable that Basto took only $40 and not the whole $141.50, and Cuadra said maybe it was all that the defendant needed.

The defense lawyer suggested to Cuadra that she made up the theft story because she wanted to get rid of Basto, with whom she had had arguments over the division of work in the household. Cuadra disagreed, saying she and Basto were in good terms.

At Basto’s turn at the witness stand, she said she lent $40 to Cuadra on Nov. 3 because the latter had not yet collected her salary.

When Basto asked for her money back on Nov 7, Cuadra allegedly told her to take it from the pocket of her jacket because she was in a rush to leave the house with their employer.

In summing up, Zahir said intent was missing from the charge. She said her client’s evidence was clear and consistent while the accuser had been inconsistent and unclear.



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