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Ex-DH about to give birth jailed 8 months for loan fraud

04 June 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The defendant was assured jails have facilities for giving birth and raising babies

A Filipina who is nine months pregnant was sentenced to eight months in jail today, Jun 4, in Eastern court after she pleaded guilty to fraudulently taking out a $26,000 loan last year and overstaying her domestic helper’s visa.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai sentenced M. J. Aquino to eight months imprisonment for a charge of obtaining money by deception and two months for breach of condition of stay, to be served concurrently.

Aquino will now have to give birth while in custody. The magistrate assured her there are facilities for delivering babies and taking care of them inside the women’s correctional.
Chainrai said she considered the 28-year-old expectant mother’s condition but the sentencing guidelines for her offences called for immediate jail custody.

Aquino has been in jail since her arrest on Apr 29.

The prosecution applied for compensation of $26,000 to the money lender, Prime Credit, but Chainrai rejected it because the defendant said she had no money.

The prosecution said that the defendant, who arrived in Hong Kong in February 2018 to work as a domestic helper for a local family, went to Prime Credit in North Point on Jun 17, 2019 and applied for the loan. She was fired by her employer a few days later.
On Jun 23, the defendant collected the loan but did not inform the lending company that she had lost her job. The prosecution said this amounted to fraud as she had used an invalid employment contract as proof that she would able to repay the loan.

Immigration gave Aquino until Sept 19, 2019 to stay and find a new employer, but did not leave after that date.

In her defense, her lawyer said Aquino took out the loan to help two friends, also Filipina domestic helpers. She agreed to pay two of 14 monthly installments but lost her job. In the meantime, her two friends did not continue the repayment.
The counsel said Aquino filed a Labour case against her employer and won a $2,700 settlement in September. When Chainrai asked why she did not pay the loan with the money, the lawyer said his client had used the money to pay her boarding house.

The lawyer said Aquino has three children, aged 3, 5 and 7, with her boyfriend in the Philippines. While in Hong Kong, she got into a relationship with an Indian national, the father of the child she is carrying.

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