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Stressed Filipina drops claim vs employer who falsely accused her of ring theft

27 November 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Narcelles made the decision to move on with her life on her birthday

A Filipina domestic helper closed a dark chapter in her two years of stay in Hong Kong on Friday by deciding to drop a claim for a month’s salary in lieu of notice against her socialite former employer, saying she just wanted to move on.

The employer, in turn, dropped the same claim against the helper.

The agreement ended a 14-month stalemate in which the Filipina could not work despite being acquitted earlier this year by the Eastern Court of a charge of stealing a tourmaline ring which the employer said cost $120,000.


“I feel relieved, I feel a heavy load was taken off my chest,” said Liverty Narcelles as she wiped off tears from her eyes after the hearing of her claims against former employer, Chua Eh-fong, at the Labour Tribunal in Yau Ma Tei.

“This is my best birthday gift,” said Narcelles, who turned 38 on the same day.

For all her nearly 14 and a half months of struggle in two courts against a wealthy and mean adversary, the domestic helper from La Union received only $3,337 from two weeks of working for Chua.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The amount represents items that Chua earlier agreed to settle, including arrears in wages, one-way air ticket and travel allowance.

Friday’s hearing by Presiding Officer Vivian Lee was meant to be a pre-trial review of the case set to be heard next year. The only amount in contention is the $6,000 monthly wage in lieu of notice which both parties tried to claim against each other.

Narcelles worked for only 2 weeks in Chua's posh house in Stanley

Chua rejected Narcelles’ claim that she was fired summarily on the evening of Sept 9, 2020, after she gave a one-month notice to quit her job.


The employer countered with a similar claim, saying the helper was the one who wanted to leave that evening after being given a termination notice.

The deadlock led another presiding officer, Eleanor Yeung, to set the trial for May 10-12 next year.

Chua figured in another controversy in June this year, after her four Filipino domestic workers resigned en masse, claiming to have been overworked. The workers had to call the Consulate for help, saying Chua had abandoned them in her Stanley home after two of them paid her a month's salary in lieu of notice.


In court Friday, Lee briefly reviewed the facts of the case with the two protagonists, including the theft case and acquittal of Narcelles that led to the claim and counterclaim.

Chua, who identified herself as “boss” of a jewelry design company, tried to rehash the alleged ring theft, but Lee cut her down, saying the criminal case was not relevant to the claim.

Then, when it came to the $6,000 claim for wages in lieu of notice, the employer said it was just a small amount but she wanted to fight for the protection of employers against helpers who move from employer to employer. 


Lee explained the consequences if the dispute went to a trial, saying the losing party would bear the court costs as well as the costs of the other party.

When Lee asked Narcelles if she would like to withdraw her claim and avoid going to a trial, the helper said she was willing to drop her claim if Chua did the same.

The employer said she would withdraw her claim if the tribunal can assure her that the worker won’t mount another case against her in other courts here or in the Philippines.

Press for details

Lee said both parties will sign an agreement stating they won’t file any more cases in any venue against the other party.

After both parties agreed to withdraw their opposing claims, Lee put it on record that the case had already been settled.    

Narcelles said after the hearing that she was relieved the issue was over so that she could turn to other important things to do, such as returning to her family and trying to find another job again elsewhere.


She thanked those who helped her in her case, including Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, and Esther Bangcawayan of the Mission for Migrant Workers, and her former employer, Portia Cheung, who took her in as she pursued her case against Chua.

Bangcawayan, a case officer at the Mission, kept cheering her up, saying she was victorious because she stood up to the employer. 


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