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Critically ill Filipina and son seek judicial review of deportation order

30 November 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao  

The ailing Filipina and her son want to challenge the deportation order against them

A High Court judge said he will study the grounds cited by a Filipina mother and her Hong Kong-born son who are seeking leave for a judicial review of a government order to deport them.

Applicants, Cristina D. Gano, 53, and Bernard Gano, 18, claim their lives would be at risk in the Philippines, hence, their petition for the court to overturn a decision by the Torture Claims Appeal Board to reject their non-refoulement applications.

Cristina took the floor briefly when she was asked by Judge K.W. Lung, through her lawyer, why she wanted to stay on in Hong Kong.


Counsel Lewis Law, assigned by the Legal Aid Department to represent the two applicants, cited the following grounds for appeal:

First, the risk to Cristina and her son’s lives once they returned home due to a death threat from her husband after learning she gave birth to a son of out wedlock.

The lawyer said Cristina, who is from Ifugao, could be killed or subject to death, torture or persecution if she is brought to trial on adultery under tribal laws. He said the national law enforcement agency will not be able to provide adequate protection to her.


Second, her critical medical condition under the government’s Unified Screening Mechanism process. The lawyer said she is suffering from various critical illnesses, including cervical cancer, stroke and brain tremors. 

She had been so sick she was unable to go to Immigration interviews and TCAB hearings. Her cervical cancer, discovered in 2016, had shortened her life expectancy.

Third, internal relocation would be difficult for both the mother and son. Wong said with Cristina’s medical condition, her removal/rejection of medical treatment by Hong Kong amounts to a valid ground under the European Convention on Human Rights (equivalent to Art 3 of the HK Bill of Rights) for present claims.


Wong said the TCAB should have first made a finding on what was the applicable test, e.g. (a) whether Cristina was so critically ill or close to death; (b) she could not be provided with basic levels of food, shelter or social support in the Philippines; and (c) the abrupt withdrawal of medication/treatment would cause her “actual mental and physical suffering”.

He said the board had made errors of facts when assessing the mother’s credibility, which was material to its rejection of her claim.

The judge told the lawyer to cut down the authorities he cited, adding that a thousand pages of pleadings would take much time to examine. He said he will consider the application and come back with his verdict.

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Cristina came to Hong Kong in 1992 to work as a domestic helper. She lost her job in 2001 and overstayed until she was arrested during a police check in 2010.

She was sentenced to eight months in jail and her son was sent to a Boys Home run by the Social Welfare Department.

After serving her sentence, she and her son lodged a torture claim with the Immigration Department in August 2011 with free legal assistance by Duty Lawyers, but this was rejected.


The two then appealed Immigration’s decision to the TCAB on Oct 21, 2011, but the appeal was also denied.

In the succeeding years, the mother and son filed a series of applications with Immigration and TCAB, including a non-refoulement claim under the USM process, but were unsuccessful.

They issued the present court application for a judicial review of the TCAB’s decision on Aug 27, 2019.

According to the solicitors representing both petitioners, Bernard would lose a great future in Hong Kong if he is deported. He is said to be a talented basketball player and is one of the Top 4 Young League contenders among students in secondary schools.

The lawyers said this unique talent could enable him to be drafted into the SAR’s national team in the Olympics and other international games.

Bernard is said to attend a local school in North Point and is due to sit for the DSE exam next year.


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