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DC to hear money claim vs. dead DH’s employer

28 June 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

The District Court will begin hearing in December this year a claim for compensation filed by the relatives of a Filipina domestic worker against her employer as a result of the woman’s death by falling in October 2014.
None of the litigants was in court on June 2 when Judge Katina Levy was supposed to begin the hearing the case, but she adjourned the hearing to Dec 8 to give more time for the relatives of Ruby Ann Diola to prepare their case.
Only Edwina Antonio of the Mission for Mgrant Workers was in court, but her application to represent Diola’s next of kin, her live-in partner Virginio V. Jose, was turned down by the judge.
“Where is the applicant?” Levy asked when Santoyo said she was representing Jose, who was in his hometown of Lingayen in Pangasinan.
Santoyo explained that the elderly man had told her he was not financially capable of coming to Hong Kong.
“I’m not sure if you have the capacity to represent the applicant,” the judge said, adding that she could not see any Hong Kong law that would allow Santoyo to represent Jose.
Santoyo said if that were the case then she would talk to the Legal Aid Department to ask for a lawyer who could represent Jose.
But Levy took note that Santoyo’s group, the Mission for Migrant Workers, was helping Jose in pursuing the compensation claim against Diola’s employer, Cheung Yeuk Lee, who was also absent from the hearing.
“I’m quite surprised that the respondent is not in court and, as the employer of the helper, she should be here,” Levy said.
She noted that Diola was not insured at the time she fell to her death from the 32nd floor of a residential tower on Robinsons Road in Mid-Levels, Central. At the time of her death, Diola was 26 years old.
Levy also said that Cheung had been fined $5,000 by a court for failure to take out life insurance for her maid.
The judge said that since the Mission was assisting Jose, “you will now do the liaising between him and the court. I think you could contact the family and help them apply for legal aid.”
The body of Diola was found beside the swimming pool on the morning of Oct 23, 2014, in a case that police classified as “death by falling”.
The following month,the police asked Jose to come to Hong Kong to help with their probe.
 Diola, a native of Palo, Leyte, and Jose lived together in Lingayen where they operated a mineral water business until the woman came to work in Hong Kong as a domestic worker in 2014.
She broke her contract with her first employer in May 2014 and was hired by Cheung  through Goldjoy Employment Agency.
Jose said in November 2014 that Goldjoy was offering US$3,000 for funeral expenses and US$1,000 each to the victim’s mother and her son in exchange for his signing a prepared agreement.
He refused to sign the document after realizing it was a quitclaim freeing Cheung, the agency and its two partner-agencies in Manila from further claims relating to Diola’s death.

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