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OFW mother jailed 8 months for World-Wide theft

16 June 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Quilang in one of the shots taken during the incident ( all photos by Jo Fijo)

A 40-year-old Filipina who was caught by fellow domestic helpers while picking the wallet of her victim in World-Wide House, Central, last month as been sentenced in Eastern Court to eight months in prison.

Elynor S. Quilang, mother of a 14-year-old girl, pleaded guilty today, Jun 16, to a charge of theft before Magistrate Bina Chainrai.

The duty lawyer assigned to Quilang pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying the defendant was supporting her elderly mother and sending her daughter to school.



But the magistrate was firm and gave Quilang just a one-third discount to her sentence.

“You have committed a very serious offense. I cannot give you a more lenient sentence other than the one-third discount as provided for in the sentencing guidelines. I sentence you to 8 months in jail,” Chainrai said.
 
An officer takes down Quilang's particulars 
Quilang, who was on police bail, was emotionless as she was led by court guards into a holding room next to the courtroom. From there she was to be taken by the police to a van that would take her to jail.

The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of theft, more than a month after her failed attempt to steal the wallet of a fellow domestic worker in the shopping arcade frequented by Filipinos.

Police said the victim, Cristy F. Balungaya, was about to pay for items she bought at Ukay-Ukay Store on the third floor of the mall at 11:22am on May 10 when she noticed her sling shoulder bag, where she had put her wallet, was lighter and unzipped.


When she turned around she saw Quilang still holding her blue leather wallet, which the police said contained $650, one US$1 bill, Php230, a Philippine ID card and an Octopus card.

The police report said Balungaya took back her wallet and the defendant said “I’m sorry, I stole the wallet.” The officers then arrested the pickpocket. Investigators said there was no CCTV covering the spot where the offense happened.

Quilang on citizen's arrest by fellow OFWs
But videos taken on the same day and shared on Facebook by several people showed a slightly different story: the thief was surrounded and detained by several women, after the victim was reportedly alerted by another Filipina who saw her bag being picked.

Quilang tried to wriggle free but was held by Balungaya and other Filipinas and turned over to building security minutes before the police arrived.

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Joy Fijo, one of those who recorded Quilang’s capture, confirmed to The SUN that the incident happened on the third floor of World-Wide Plaza, the building’s shopping arcade at around 11am.

She said one of the women seen grabbing Quilang by the arm in the video was the victim, Balungaya. When the police arrived, Quilang was taken to a nearby mobile phone shop where she was initially questioned.
Police then took Quilang to the Central Police Station for further investigation.

Many OFWs have long complained about pickpockets who target workers who pack the mall mostly on the first Sunday of the month to remit money to their families and shop for Philippine products.

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