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Police clears Filipina on 4th attempt by employer to get her jailed for theft

30 July 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


Marlinda  tearfully recalls her 3-month ordeal before police cleared her name

A Filipina domestic worker is now able to breathe a sigh of relief after the police sent her a letter on Jul 22 informing her that a fourth, and final, attempt of her former employer to accuse her of theft, has been dismissed after investigation.

The employer, actually the elder sister of a prominent Hong Kong politician who had signed her contract, had accused Marlinda B. Duque, 51, of stealing six diamond rings, but only showed photos of the supposed stolen items to support her claim.

Previously, the employer’s sister Carol Wen, who lives in the Swiss Towers flat on Tai Hang Road where Duque had worked for two years and three months, had called the police six times to complain about the helper.


In four of those times, the police searched Duque’s room and luggage but did not find any of the items that Wen had accused her of stealing. The first time, Wen had complained about a missing bird’s nest; the second time, it was a pocket wifi; the third was for a leather cloth and the fourth were the rings.

One time, Wen also called in the police to complain that the helper had refused to hand over her key to the flat. Police explained to Duque that the employer had the right to get back the key as it was her property. They also advised her not to touch anything in the house.

The next day, Apr 8, Wen gave notice to Duque that she was terminating their contract.

Letter from police telling Marlinda that she was not to be charged for the alleged ring theft

On Apr 26, Wen again called the police to complain about the supposedly missing rings. They left after they did not find any trace of the missing rings despite frisking Duque and rummaging through her things all over again.

But the next day, at about 11:30pm, Wen called the police again to complain about the missing rings. That was when the officers decided to arrest Duque, telling her that they now had reason to suspect the allegations were true, since the employer had been complaining against her since Feb. 25 this year.

Duque was held for questioning until the early morning of Apr 29. She was dismissed without charges, but was told to pay $700 in police bail.

Pindutin para sa detalye

For nearly three months, Duque was left wondering what the police would do about the complaint until she received the letter from them advising her that she would not be charged. Her bail of $700 was also returned.

The police’s letter said that “at this stage there is insufficient evidence to prove any person has committed a crime.” It went on to add the usual statement that should additional information becomes available she could be re-arrested.

But Duque said she is not bothered by this added phrase as she did not do anything wrong. If there was something she regretted not doing earlier, it was to seek help from people or groups like the Mission for Migrant Workers which is now helping her with her case.


With help from the Mission, particularly case officer Esther Bangcawayan, Duque was awarded a total of $17,792.01 in pay by the Labour Department despite attempts by Wen to dispute the findings.

A big chunk of the award, amounting to nearly $7,000, was for severance pay which was added by the labour officer who conciliated Duque’s claim even if the Filipina did not ask for it initially.

Wen had agreed to pay only a total of $4,458 for Duque’s unpaid salary and annual leave. The employer refused to pay for a month’s salary in lieu of notice, air ticket costing $1,629 and severance payment for wrongful dismissal of $6,985.13.

Luckily, Duque’s contractual employer stepped in immediately and promised to pay the balance of what Labour had deemed was due the worker.

Marlinda now knows that she could have asked help from the Mission sooner

To this day, the question often asked of Duque was why she allowed Wen to humiliate her by repeatedly calling in the police, complaining of all sorts of things she did not do.

Ang sa akin kasi, pinanindigan ko na may kontrata ako at saka hindi naman totoo ang mga sinasabi niya kaya hindi ako bumaba. Hihintayin ko na lang na ite-terminate ako.”

(As far as I was concerned, I had a two-year contract that must be followed, and all her accusations against me were not true. I decided to just wait until she terminated me).


Besides, she said she had worked for Wen and her mother for two years without incident. Initially, she was hired by the Wens to look after their mother, but after she died, the employer’s sister was the only one she was left to serve.

Before the pandemic Duque said Wen was often away on business trips to China so they did not have much interaction. But shortly after her contract was renewed in January this year, Wen started accusing her of stealing.

Bigla na lang siyang umuuwi na may kasamang pulis. Minsan, mag do doorbell galing sa trabaho, may kasama nang pulis,” Duque said.

Press for details

(She would suddenly show up accompanied by the police. She would ring the doorbell from work with police in tow).

The Filipina said she started feeling uneasy then so she decided to seek help by sending text messages to the Philippine Consulate hotline to ask for advice.

However, each time, she was told that she had to resolve the problem herself as they did not have the power to take her away from her employer’s house.


She also sent several text messages to her contractual employer asking him to intercede but did not get any response.

Two days before she was arrested, her work situation had become so stressful that Duque felt compelled to ask help from fellow Filipinas in their building to write a letter to the Immigration Department on her behalf.

At that time, she felt helpless but had nowhere to go. In her letter, Duque detailed all the previous attempts by Wen to have her arrested, but only managed to ask Immigration to put her complaint on record.

After the police allowed to leave after questioning at dawnon Apr 29, she had nowhere to go so she decided to camp outside the Consulate's offices at United Centre building in Admiralty. She was to learn later on that since it was a Friday, the Consulate was closed and would only reopen the next Sunday.

With nowhere else to go she went back warily to Swiss Towers where she had befriended some fellow Filipina domestic workers. One took her in after seeking permission from her employer, who is equally rich and prominent, but took pity on Duque after hearing her story.

Her friend and neighbor then referred her to the Mission which gladly took on her case and referred her to its shelter, the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge.

Since then Duque has come to realize what she should have done the first time she was falsely accused of theft. She could have left her employment without notice and would have still been paid all that was due her on grounds of unlawful termination.

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