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2 Filipinas jailed for illegal work in restaurant

17 March 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Immigration regularly conducts operations targeting illegal workers (File) 

A Filipina torture claimant was jailed for 15 months while a fellow Filipina who used to work as a domestic helper, was sentenced to two months in prison after they both pleaded guilty to violating their visa conditions by working illegally in a restaurant.

The defendants, Nora Gallardo and Joan Recuesto, were charged before Shatin Magistrate Jason Wan today, Mar 17, two days after they were arrested while doing illegal work in an unnamed restaurant in Tsuen Wan.

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The prosecution said Gallardo, 48, and Recuesto, whose age was not mentioned, were wearing the uniform of restaurant staff while washing dishes when the Immigration officers raided the restaurant at 1:52 p.m on Monday, Mar 15

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During an identity check, Gallardo showed an Immigration officer a recognizance form, which indicated she was not allowed to work in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid.


The prosecution said she came to Hong Kong as a tourist in early 2016, overstayed and surrendered in March of that year. In September of 2016 she was issued a recognizance document after she applied for the right to remain as a torture claimant.


The court was told she had a previous conviction for breach of condition of stay.

Recuesto, on the other hand, was a former domestic helper who had overstayed her visa for only 10 days when she was arrested. She came to Hong Kong in September 2019 but terminated her contract in February this year. She was not able to find a new employer and did not seek an extension of her visa.


During mitigation, defense lawyer James McGowan said Gallardo came to Hong Kong and filed a torture claim to avoid her husband. After receiving news of her husband’s death, she wanted to fly home but could not afford a plane ticket, so she took a job.


The lawyer pointed out that his client had pleaded guilty, in a bid to get a lighter sentence for her.

As for Recuesto, the lawyer said she is a mother with two children who are being looked after by her mother. He said that after she terminated her contract her employer did not give her a return air ticket so she had to work in the restaurant earning $60 an hour.

Magistrate Wan said Gallardo committed a serious offense and sentenced her to 15 months in jail.

For Recuesto, he imposed a two-day jail term for her overstay and two months for having worked illegally, both sentences to be served concurrently.    

The Immigration Department has arrested dozens of illegal workers in recent months as part of its operation “Twilight” which targets foreigners who take up unauthorized work in shops, salons, restaurants and other businesses across the territory.


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