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Balitang Artista

Cordillera art and culture take centre stage in HK trade fair

Posted on 25 June 2024 No comments


Young kids show great interest in Cathy Ekid's demonstration of Cordillera weaving

Two events highlighted the participation of creative enterprises from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in the recently-concluded International Culture, Tourism and Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition at the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) in Hong Kong.

The first was the Philippine weaving demonstration held on June 22, which caught the interest of many visitors to the fair, including young children.

The second, held the following day, was a presentation that traced the Chinese influence in the artistic heritage of the Cordilleras. Philippine representatives staged the  Cordillera dance and were joined onstage by other exhibitors at the fair.


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Both events which drew large crowds, were held on the main stage of Hall 3 at AWE.

The Philippine participation in the three-day fair was organized by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Hong Kong (PTIC-HK) through its head, Vice Consul Robert Mabalot, Jr. The DTI-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong and Pasa-Kalye Creatives lent support.

Mabalot (in white shirt) with the delegates to the art and trade fair

During the three-day fair, a Philippine booth manned by nine Cordillera representatives showcased the artworks, accessories, apparel and other products of at least 35 Filipino artists and businesses in the creative industry.

According to PTIC, the Philippine participation helped put the country on the map as a prime source of creative goods and services.

“By actively engaging in cultural events like this, the PTIC-HK aims to foster strategic partnerships and connections with key players in the global creative industry sector, said the center.

The 4-paneled Philippine booth showcased the best of Cordillera art and crafts

According to PTIC, thousands of pesos worth of goods were sold by the participating Cordillera businesses during the art and trade fair, and at least one Chinese businessman expressed keen interest in the products displayed.

For more information about the ICTICHE 2024, please visit their official website https://www.hkcultureexpo.com/ or contact the PTIC-HK at hongkong@dti.gov.ph. Or its official Facebook page, PTIC-HK.

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Labour to hold another job fair this week

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Poster for the job fair

The Labour Department will hold another two-day job fair at Southorn Stadium in Wan Chai on June 27 (Thursday) or June 28 (Friday) where 3,300 positions will be offered by some 60 organizations. 

A similar recruitment exercise was held at about the same time last month, when about 3,000 jobs were offered.

According to a government press release, jobs to be offered at the “Leap into a New Page” fair come with salaries ranging from $11,000 to $24,000.


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Nearly all the jobs offered (96%) require only a secondary seven education level or below, while 66 percent do not require prior work experience. About 80 percent are fulltime positions.

The vacancies span diverse sectors, including property management, real estate, catering, retail, business services, transport, and hotels.

They will offer a wide range of positions, such as duty managers, front desk team leaders, beauty consultants, cabling technicians, dessert chefs, patient care assistants, production operators, security guards, nurses and temporary book fair stock keepers.

During the event, job seekers will have the opportunity to submit their applications and may even be asked to do on-the-spot interviews.

Furthermore, LD representatives will be present at the venue’s counter to address any inquiries related to the employment services provided by the department.

The job fair will take place from 11 am to 5:30 pm at the 1st floor of Southorn Stadium, located at 111 Johnston Road in Wan Chai. If taking the MTR, take Exit A3 of the Wan Chai MTR station.

Admission to the fair is free, with the final admission cutoff at 5 pm each day.

Job seekers seeking further information on these vacancies can visit the LD’s Interactive Employment Service website at www.jobs.gov.hk.

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DH arrested for selling fake t-shirt denies 3 charges

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The pavement where the offenses were allegedly committed (Google maps photo)

A domestic helper yesterday pleaded not guilty to three charges, which began after she was arrested for allegedly selling a t-shirt with a fake label, and set the ball rolling for a trial in Eastern Court to clear her name.

Bianca Inocencio, 36 years old, was arrested by officers from the Customs and Excise Department on Jan. 14 on the pavement near Prince’s Bldg. and near MTR Exit K for allegedly selling a t-shirt with a forged Adidas trademark, in violation of the Trade Description Ordinance.

She was also charged with possession of goods with forged trademarks, namely 19 T-shirts with the Adidas mark, 15 Nike and two Puma.


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When the officers found out during the investigation that she was a domestic helper, they also charged her with breach of condition of stay, for violation of the Immigration Ordinance and Immigration Regulations.

A duty lawyer for Inocencio said her defense will rely on the assertion by a man who had tried to  convince an arresting officer that he owned the item being sold.

The lawyer added that she will present a character witness for Inocencio, as against 11 witnesses lined up by the prosecution.

Prrincipal Magistrate Don So scheduled the trial for Aug. 23.

He freed Inocencio on a cash bail of $1,500. 

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6 weeks’ jail for DH arrested in Immigration raid against illegal work

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Immigration officers escort those arrested for illegal work 

A domestic helper arrested in one of the raids conducted by the Immigration Department against illegal work pleaded guilty yesterday (June 24)  at Shatin Court to breaching her condition of stay and was jailed for six weeks.

Janet Languian, 47 years old, was arrested while doing odd jobs in an Aberdeen restaurant last May 8 when Immigration officers raided the estblishment.

She was charged with breaching a condition of stay, which prohibits her from doing work other than as a domestic helper at her employer’s house, in violation of the Immigration Ordinance and the Immigration Regulations.

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Languian was one of the eight suspected illegal workers, three suspected employers and one suspected aider and abettor who were arrested in a series of territory-wide anti-illegal worker operations and joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand" on May 6-9.

During the "Windsand" anti-illegal worker operations, Immigration Task Force officers raided six target locations including premises under renovation and restaurants. Six suspected illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 37 target locations in Western district and arrested one suspected employer and one suspected aider and abettor.

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Tourist pleads guilty to prostitution, jailed 6 weeks

Posted on 24 June 2024 No comments

 

The hearing was held at the Eastern Court

A Filipina tourist married to a foreigner was jailed for six weeks today after pleading guilty at Eastern Court to prostitution and doing such a business, in breach of her permission to stay as a visitor.

“I plead guilty and sorry, your honor,” said Sheryl J.U., 39 years old, as she sobbed through the proceedings on the two charges filed against her by HK Police -- soliciting for an immoral purpose and breach of condition of stay.

Principal Magistrate Don So accepted her plea and promptly sentenced her to six weeks’ imprisonment, to run at the same time.

Before she was taken away by officers to serve her sentence, Sheryl asked for a chance to speak to her husband, who was in the court room.

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However, Magistrate So advised the husband to ask the police which prison they were taking her, so he can visit her there.

Sheryl was arrested last June 21 after she offered sex for $2,000 to a man, who happened to be a police officer, at the corner of Luard and Lockhart Roads in Wanchai.

She was charged with violating Section 147(1)(a) of the Crimes Ordinance, which provides for a punishment of a fine at level 3 ($10,000) and imprisonment for up to six months.

In addition, she was charged with establishing a prostitution business in a room in Ming Hotel on Lockhart Road in Wanchai, which breached her condition of stay as a visitor allowed to remain in Hong Kong until July 3.

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Filipina DH drowns in Deepwater Bay

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Lifeguards shield the victim during resuscitation effort (photo by Lala Pascual)

Police have confirmed that a Filipina has died after being fished out of Deepwater Bay by lifeguards last  night at about 7:00pm. She was taken unconscious to the hospital where she was later declared dead. 

The police said that after preliminary investigation “personnel believe the subject accidentally drowned while swimming at the site.

A police spokesperson confirmed her nationality, but said they had no record of her occupation. However, a number of her friends who commented online about her death identified her as a foreign domestic helper who hailed from Mallig, Isabela.


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One fellow Filipina who happened to be at the beach at the same time said the victim was in the water for about an hour before she was rescued. She shared a picture of the victim being shielded by lifeguards while being given first-aid.

The police report said a lifeguard called for help after the woman was found in the water about 20 meters from the shore.

She was said to be comatose when rushed to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wanchai where she was later confirmed dead. An autopsy will be carried out to determine the exact cause of her death.

Reports say a similar incident happened at the same site three days earlier, when a 91-year-old woman drowned while swimming about two meters from the shore. She was pronounced dead at the hospital after being rescued.

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Man fined $12k for operating unlicensed employment agency

Posted on 23 June 2024 No comments

 

Employment agencies must abide by the law, as well as the Code of Practice 

A man was convicted at Eastern Court on Friday of operating an employment agency without a valid license, and as a result, was fined $12,000.

He was also ordered to refund the service fee of $1,795 to the employer who filed the complaint against him.

Operating an employment agency without a license is a violation of the requirements under Part XII of the Employment Ordinance (EO).

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The irate employer who was seeking to hire a foreign domestic helper filed a complaint with the Labour Department against the defendant in March 2023.

Following an investigation the LD initiated a prosecution after finding enough evidence that showed the man was operating an agency without a license.

Under Part XII of the EO and the Employment Agency Regulations, all employment agencies must obtain a license from the LD before starting operations. Except for the license holder or his/her associates, no one is allowed to operate, manage or assist in the management of an EA.

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Labour advised agencies to comply with the law as well as the Code of Practice for EAs at all times. Failure to do so may lead to prosecution and/or revocation of licence.

The maximum penalty for the offences of unlicensed operation of an EA or overcharging commissions from job seekers is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years.

 Any enquiries related to EAs, including suspected breach of the law or the Code of Practice may be directed to the the Employment Agencies Administration of the LD (telephone: 2115 3667; email: ea-ee@labour.gov.hk; address: Unit 906, 9/F, One Mong Kok Road Commercial Centre, 1 Mong Kok Road,

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Filipina DH gets off lightly on assault charge

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The Filipina's case was resolved at West Kowloon Courts

A Filipina got off lightly at West Kowloon Court from a case of assault, after she accepted a bind-over agreement in which she promised not to reoffend in the next 12 months, or else she will be fined $1,000.

Under this arrangement, C. Bernadas, 30 years old, need not pay the fine if she does not commit any similar offense within the one-year period.

But Bernadas was made to pay $1,000 in court costs by Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui during a hearing held on Friday (June 21), deductible from her bail of the same amount.

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The case was subsequently withdrawn by prosecutors, so it will not leave a criminal record on her history of stay in Hong Kong.

Bernadas, a domestic helper, was accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contrary to Common Law and punishable under the Offenses against the Person Ordinance.

Under the ordinance, the punishment for this offense can be up to 3 years’ imprisonment.

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The case arose after an altercation between Bernadas and a local resident named Jiang Suk-Mei Susanna in a flat at Mei Foo Sun Chuen in Cheung Sha Wan last Feb. 12.

The altercation became physical, resulting in the police being called and Bernadas charged with assault.

However, the two parties appeared to have reached an out-of-court settlement, prompting the prosecution to propose the bind-over arrangement and drop the charge against Bernadas.

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27 persons arrested in latest anti-illegal work operations

Posted on 22 June 2024 No comments

 

One of  those arrested appears to have been doing renovation work when found

A total of 27 people were arrested by the combined forces of the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police over four days of anti-illegal work operations earlier this week.

Those arrested during a sweep of 137 target locations from June 17 to 20 were 16 suspected illegal workers, three employers, one aider and abettor, three overstayers and four illegal immigrants.

Eight of those arrested were rounded up in the first round of raids on 19 premises, including a number that were under renovation, restaurants and a retail shop.

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Those arrested on suspicion of working illegal comprised five men and two women, aged 23 to 44. Two of the men and one woman held recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man, aged 63, was suspected of employing the illegal workers and was also arrested.

In two separate operations that targeted 118 locations in Eastern, New Territories North and Western Districts, nine suspected illegal workers were arrested, along with two employers, one aider and abettor, three overstayers and four illegal immigrants.

The suspected illegal workers comprised six men and three women, aged 27 to 59. Arrested with them were two men, aged 48 and 64, who were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

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The arrested overstayers comprised three women, aged 42 to 51 while the illegal immigrants comprised three men and one woman, aged 27 to 57.

Immigration warned anew that anyone who violates the condition of their stay in Hong Kong shall be guilty of an offence. Visitors are forbidden from taking up work, whether paid or unpaid. Those who violate this law face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment.

The prescribed jail term goes up to three years maximum, if the person arrested is the subject of a removal or deportation order, an overstayer or a person who was refused permission to land.

Employers of illegal workers face stiffer penalties, with the maximum fine shooting up to $500,000 and the jail term rising to 10 years. Moreover, the courts prescribe immediate jail custody for the employer.

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Filipina who made ‘incredible’ torture claim loses judicial review bid

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The High Court, where appeals against immigration rulings are heard

A Filipina who was earlier jailed for entering Hong Kong on a fake employment contract has failed to convince the Court of Appeal to allow her application for a judicial review of the decision rejecting her claim against non-refoulement, or being sent back home.

Eba M. Gonzales had initially sought help from the High Court to challenge the decision by the Director of Immigration and the Torture Claims Adjudication Board rejecting her application against non-refoulement. She was unsuccessful.

Gonzales, who had spent four months in jail in 2019 for making false statements to an Immigration officer, had cited as reason alleged threats made against her by relatives of “Alex,” a man who was killed shortly after she lent him money. The relatives reportedly accused her of being responsible for Alex’s death.

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In dismissing her application, the Board said the applicant was evasive and made claims that were “inherently improbable and her account, incredible.

Among her questionable statements were that she did not bother to check Alex’s background before she lent him money, nor did she ask the police for help when she began getting threats from his relatives following his death. 

Gonzales also said it was public knowledge that Alex died of overdose, prompting the court to ask why then would his relatives accuse her of killing him, and why they issued death threats against her. 

The Board also asked why the applicant did not show any interest in finding out more about Alex’s death so she could vindicate herself.

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“The Board therefore concluded that “it is inherently improbable that the Applicant had been threatened with death by Alex’s family and that her allegation about the threats is an exaggeration.”

Court records show that Gonzales had worked in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic helper on and off. She last entered Hong Kong on Nov 12, 2016 and was subsequently found to have entered into a false employment contract for which she was jailed for four months.

Following her release from jail, she raised a non-refoulement claim on Aug 6, 2019 and cited as ground the alleged threats to her life by Alex’s family.

On Nov 5, 2019 the Director dismissed the applicant’s non refoulement claim on all applicable grounds, including torture and persecution risks.

Gonzales appealed the decision to the TCAB and on Nov 11, 2020 the Board decided to dismiss the appeal and confirm the Director’s Decision. She then turned to the High Court to seek leave to apply for a judicial review of those decisions.

But in her decision handed down on Nov 28  last year, Judge Esther To rejected Gonzales’ review bid, saying the TCAB had correctly set out the law and key legal principles involved in the case.

The Board’s main finding was that Gonzales was “incredible”, or not did not give factual statements, thus she failed to prove the threat or risk of harm to herself.

Alternatively, the judge said the Board found that the applicant’s feared ill treatment does not fall within any of the four applicable grounds for state protection. Even if it does, she could easily relocate to another place in the Philippines.

CA Judges Thomas Au and Anderson Chow found no reason to overrule the lower court’s judgment, saying they could not detect any error of law or procedural unfairness in its primary or alternative decision.

“Basically the applicant failed to discharge her burden of proving her fears and risks. The decision is utterly without fault. The proposed judicial review has no realistic prospect of success,” said the appeal justices. 

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HK health authorities confirm leprosy diagnosis of Filipino DH

Posted on 21 June 2024 No comments

 

The Filipina was diagnosed at Tseung Kwan O Hospital where she remains in isolation

Hong Kong's  Health Department has confirmed in a statement issued earlier today that it is investigating a leprosy case which earlier news reports said involved a Filipina domestic helper who was diagnosed with the infectious disease in May, shortly after arriving from the Philippines.

At the same time, the Centre for Health Protection by the DH reiterated that the transmission risk of leprosy is low in Hong Kong and the disease does not spread easily among people.

Senior welfare officer Marilou Sumalinog of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration told The SUN that the case has already been reported to them, but the hospital where she is admitted has yet to allow them to visit the patient.

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“We are still awaiting clearance so that she can be repatriated the soonest,” said Sumalinog in a chat message.

But before that, she said OWWA will have to discuss with her doctors the possible treatment protocol for the patient once she is discharged.

According to the CHP statement, the 30-year-old patient who had good past health, developed a skin rash on her arm in early May, and when she attended Tseung Kwan O for medical treatment on May 23 she was admitted for treatment. Laboratory tests on her skin specimen showed she has leprosy.

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Some news reports said her positive diagnosis for leprosy was released on June 14. They also said the patient had other symptoms, like swelling of the limbs, that she ended up being admitted to hospital.

CHP said she remains in stable condition at the hospital.

The CHP said initial inquiries revealed that the patient stayed in the Philippines during the incubation period before arriving in Hong Kong in late April.

Her home contacts in Hong Kong are said to be currently asymptomatic but are under medical surveillance.

CHP’s investigations are ongoing.

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae, which can be transmitted by nasal droplets or by close skin contact.

But the CHP stressed that the disease will only be transmitted through prolonged and close contact over months to years with an untreated leprosy patient. Patients stop transmitting the disease as soon as they start treatment.

The disease does not spread easily between people through casual contact with a leprosy patient, such as shaking hands or hugging, sharing meals or sitting next to each other. Also, the disease does not spread through sex or pass to the fetus during pregnancy.

The CHP’s emphasis on leprosy not being easily transmitted appeared to be in response to news that the Filipina’s employer has been experiencing serious anxiety after learning about her helper’s ailment.

Her concerns have reportedly caused a stir about the safety protocols for hiring FDHs and compensation by the employment agency that brokered the employment.

Her employer, referred to in reports as Mrs Lee, was said to be distressed because the helper had been living in close proximity with her family, including a five-year-old child.

While her family members have all been cleared of the disease, they remain afraid as leprosy is known for its long incubation period, which can last up to 20 years.

Despite CHP’s assurance about the low risk of transmitting the disease, the management of the residential complex where the Lees resided has posted notices, advising residents to seek medical attention if they feel unwell or develop symptoms.

In the meantime, Mrs Lee has reportedly been in dispute with the employment agency that placed the helper with them, especially in regards to recovering the placement fee that she paid, as well as the medical expenses she incurred.

However, the agency has refused to return the full service fee and offered only a partial refund. It also proposed to educate Mrs Lee on the low risk of leprosy transmission, and provide disinfection services for her home.

The agency also showed a medical clearance for the helper, which was issued by a doctor prior to her deployment in Hong Kong. The clearance covers tests for other infectious diseases like Hepatitis B and HIV, but not for leprosy.

But while leprosy is a notifiable infectious disease in Hong Kong the number of case reported has decline significantly from more than 100 in the early 1970s to between 20 and 30 in the early 1990s. Between 2014 and 2023, the number of reported cases ranged between one to nine cases annually.

Worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), leprosy occurs in more than 120 countries, with more than 200,000 new cases reported every year.

In countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia, more than 10,000 new cases each year from 2018 to 2022, while some countries like the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, etc reported 1,000 to 10,000 new cases each year during the same period.

For more information about leprosy, please visit the CHP webpage featuring leprosy at www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/24/107984.html.

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