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Filipina who overstayed for 25 years gets 14 months in jail

23 June 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


Police photo shows an ongoing stop-search operation on Apr 25, when the Filipina was arrested

A Filipina former domestic worker who spent much of her life living in the shadows in Hong Kong was today sentenced at Eastern Court to 14 months in prison.

Lilia G. Gonzaga, 52, had pleaded guilty to one count of using someone else’s HK ID card and another of violating her visa conditions.

She was arrested after being stopped by the police for an identity check at 7:37am last Apr 25 outside 127 Leighton Road in Causeway Bay. A HK identity card in the name of  Rowena Cadampog was found in her wallet.


Gonzaga told police she did not know the owner of the HKID as she just found it somewhere in Central.

A duty lawyer who acted on Gonzaga’s behalf in court pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying the Filipina was forced to overstay her visa when it expired on Feb. 16, 1997, or more than 25 years ago, because she was saddled with debts.

She arrived in Hong Kong in 1992on a domestic helper visa and worked for less than five years before she decided to go underground.


But now all she wanted was to return to the Philippines the soonest time possible, so she could reunite with her 29-year-old son and 27-year-old daughter who were just toddlers when she last saw them.

Apart from providing solely for her two children, Gonzaga was also said to have supported two sisters and her 85-year-old mother.

“At the moment all she wants is to return home as soon as possible and be with her family as she hasn’t seen them in 25 years,” said the lawyer in mitigation.

He pointed out that Gonzaga had entered Hong Kong lawfully before overstaying. She also pleaded guilty and had expressed remorse for her offences, which the lawyer said should be treated as one as they both dealt with her unlawful stay in Hong Kong.

The lawyer suggested a starting point in sentencing of no more than 21 months, citing a case in which the defendant who had overstayed for 33 years was meted this penalty. The sentence was upheld on appeal, he said.

Principal Magistrate Ada Yim agreed with using 21 months as starting point in sentencing, and giving regard for the defendant’s guilty plea, but also noted that she did not surrender and was instead found out only during a routine check by the police.

Press for details

For the use of someone else’s HKID card, Gonzaga was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. For the second charge of overstaying her visa for 25 years, the magistrate adopted 21 months as starting point, then gave her 1/3 discount for her guilty plea, resulting in 14 months in jail.

Both sentences were ordered to run concurrently, resulting in a total jail term of 14 months for both offences.



The Philippine Consulate General has long appealed to Filipinos who have violated their visa conditions to surrender to authorities so they can have a better chance of receiving a lighter sentence. 

Those who want to seek their help may call their hotline, 9155 4023.


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