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Filipina’s video-link testimony in $85k claim disrupted by ex-employer

09 September 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Mallorca's video testimony was repeatedly disrupted by her unruly ex-employer

A Filipina pursuing a labor claim for $85,000 against her former employer in Hong Kong gave testimony via video link from the Philippines on Wednesday, in a retrial that was repeatedly disrupted  by the combative defendant.

Joenalyn Mallorca gave her version of what happened nearly five years ago when her former employer, Ng Mie-shuen, accused her of molesting her then seven-year-old daughter.

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Her testimony was interrupted several times by Ng, who also accused Presiding Officer Timon Shum and a group of volunteers who showed up to support Mallorca, of ganging up on her.

After the Filipina’s testimony, Shum said he will render judgment in November. In the meantime, Mallorca was told to send her final submissions to the Tribunal by Sept 29, and Ng by Oct 20.

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The retrial which opened Monday was ordered by Court of Appeal Justice Beb Pui Ying Chu in April last year, after overturning a judgment by Presiding Officer Ho Wai-yin that Ng’s dismissal of Mallorca was valid.

On Tuesday, Ng testified that she fired the claimant for molesting her 7-year-old daughter, causing her pain in her genitalia, and lacing her shampoo with a substance that caused itching in the scalps of both mother and child.

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Mallorca denied both allegations when she gave evidence on Wednesday before a video camera watched by two men from the Philippine Justice Department in an unidentified office room in Metro Manila.

Her testimony was repeatedly interrupted by her former employer who took advantage of the absence of security staff in the courtroom in haranguing the helper, the judge as well as the claimant’s supporters.

The employer complained of being ganged up on

Cross-examining Ng was an officer of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions who was allowed by the tribunal to represent Mallorca whose questions were mostly vetted for clarity by Shum.

Ng, replying to the questions, said the helper inserted her finger in her daughter’s genitalia on three occasions while bathing her. But she said she did not actually see the assaults and could not remember the dates.

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Ng said she learned about the sexual assaults only when her daughter complained about painful urination.

She was irritated when the union representative asked her why she didn’t dismiss the helper when the child first complained about the touching of her private part.

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“How could I? I had to work. If I terminated her, who would take care of my daughter,” Ng replied angrily. She said she would have sued the helper but Mallorca had gone home.

Ng said she took the girl to two private doctors and a public doctor. There were no medical certificates because the private doctors had left the mall where they had clinics, while the public doctor didn’t issue a certificate, according to her.

Further, she said the inflammation had not gone away and her daughter had visited the doctor 3-4 times over the past two years as the pain recurred.

The day earlier, Ng repeatedly interrupted the testimony of her daughter, identified in court only as X, as Shum asked her about the shampoo-lacing and “hurting” incidents.

Ng tried to silence X or drown her replies with loud rants against Shum, saying it was her girl who was harmed yet it was they who were being tried. She told the judge he was under pressure from the helper’s supporters to put her on trial.

Talking behind a screen, X said the first time that the touching took place, “there was a piece of soap in her hand and when she washed me, she hurt me.”  

She said she did not tell her mother about the pain. “The first time, I said I felt uncomfortable in that part but I did not say it hurt me.” When Shum asked X in which part, Ng interrupted him again.

When it was Mallorca’s turn to be cross examined, Shum asked who called the police on Sept 22, 2016, when she and Ng had argued over the shampoo.

Mallorca said that on her sister’s advice, she dialed 999 after Ng slapped her. But the employer grabbed her phone, took off its SIM card then gave it back to her. She said it was X who called the police eventually.

To this, Ng yelled, ignoring Shum’s order to stop, “How could she call the police, she was only a few years old?”

The presiding officer suggested to Mallorca that on three occasions that she bathed the girl, her fingernail hurt the girl’s urinary tract, but she disagreed, saying it was X who soaped herself.

Mallorca said she always stood outside the shower to avoid getting splashed with water.

At this point, Ng ranted again. “If she had not done that, why did she return to the Philippines, why is she hiding?”, she shouted, as Shum said, “Stop it, stop it.”    

"If you interrupt me again, I will stop the trial and postpone it to a distant date,” he warned Ng, then called for a 10-munute break.

When he returned to the courtroom, Shum said that despite the defendant’s unruly behavior the court would try to finish the hearing within the day.

The helper is being supported in her claim by the CFTU, Justice Without Borders and migrant workers groups.

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