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Filipina DH to testify anew via video link in retrial of labour claim

06 September 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The Filipina will testify online in the retrial of her claim at the Labour Tribunal

A retrial of the claim of a Filipina domestic helper against her former employer who fired her summarily in September 2016 for allegedly molesting her 7-year-old ward began at the Labour Tribunal today, Sept 6.

Joenalyn Mallorca should have testified from the Philippines today but Presiding Officer Timon Shum said she would be available only tomorrow, so her former employer Ng Mei-shuen took the witness stand first.

The High Court ordered the retrial on Nov 3 last year after Mallorca appealed against the dismissal of her claim for compensation against Ng by Tribunal officer Ho Wai-yan. Ho’s decision came after a landmark ruling that allowed both Mallorca and Ng to testify via video link.

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Acting as a sole appeal court judge, Justice Bebe Pui Ying Chu ruled that Ho had committed an error in law when he accepted the “hurting” or molestation charge against Mallorca as there was no evidence to support that allegation.

Mallorca, who will be giving evidence from Laguna province via video link, has three remaining claims against Ng which the court will resolve during the four-day trial.

Shum, sitting as the trial judge, said the unsettled claims are for wages in lieu of notice, annual leave and damages for breach of trust totaling around $85,000. He said the helper’s eligibility for the claims will depend on the employer’s evidence. 


Shum said Ng’s daughter will be called as a defense witness after her mother. She will be followed by a friend of Ng identified only as Mr Ho.  Mallorca will then be asked to give her own evidence.

To protect the girl, who is now around 12 years old, she will be referred to only as “X” and will give evidence behind a makeshift screen in the courtroom, Shum said.

The presiding officer also barred the media from reporting the girl’s name, residential address and other details that may reveal her identity. But he allowed several Hong Kong workers union members as independent observers in the trial.

In today’s proceedings, Shum grilled Ng on her grounds for dismissing the worker.

The employer first accused Mallorca of mixing some substance in the shampoo that she used, causing her scalp to itch and her hair to tangle. Ng said she kept buying the same shampoo brand, but after using it for the first time, her scalp would feel itchy again.

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Ng said she reported these incidents to the police but they told her to just ask the helper what she had done. Otherwise, she should just fire the helper as it would be meaningless for her to stay on in her household.

Ng also cited Mallorca’s alleged sexual abuse of her daughter as the ground for firing her summarily on Sept 22, 2016, just over three months into her two-year contract.

Ng claimed the helper improperly washed X’s genitals with soap and water, causing her laceration and inflammation. She said her daughter complained of “hurting” in her genitalia during urination and had taken her to a doctor who prescribed cream as treatment.

When asked by Shum to raise her hand and show how the child described the way Mallorca washed her genitalia, Ng said she was embarrassed because there were many people in court. Eventually she demonstrated it but with her hand just on the table.

Tomorrow, the child and Mr Ho will give evidence before Mallorca is asked to testify via video link.
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