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Ex-DH jailed for drug trafficking fails in bid to appeal asylum rejection

02 April 2024


The decision was handed down at the High Court (Google photo)

A former domestic helper who was jailed for drug trafficking after overstaying for more than three years, has failed in her bid to get the High Court to overturn a judgment that rejected her claim for asylum.

I.J. Bolante, 50, based her non refoulement claim on her fear that if sent home to Iriga City, Camarines Sur, she would be killed by either her husband or the government, because she was a drug addict.

The ruling came even after she withdrew her appeal. Because her withdrawal came too late and lacked some information, the court issued the ruling last March 22, signed by Allen Lee for the High Court Registrar on instructions from Deputy High Court Judge Anthony To.


Bolante’s application for non refoulement, which would prevent Hong Kong from sending her home by force, was denied by the Director of Immigration and the Torture Claims Appeal Board because it failed to meet the requirements under under the Unified Screening Mechanism (“USM”): risk of torture, risk to life under the HK Bill of Rights (BOR); risk of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and BOR 2 (persecution) risk.

The court affirmed the rejection, also noting that she has no drug record in the Philippines and so will not be a target of a drug war. Besides, the Immigration Department “will not disclose her record of drug activities in Hong Kong to the Philippines authorities,” it said.

It also noted that while Bolante’s fear of being killed may be valid under the so-called war on drugs of the Duterte administration, which was in power when she filed her non-refoulement claim on April 3, 2019, the Marcos administration that followed has adopted a different policy.


“The brutality of the Drug War initiated by President Duterte was mitigated by President Marcos’ rehabilitative approach,” it said. 

And to avoid her husband, she can live away from their house in Iriga, it said.

The court also noted that Bolante did not state the reason for her appeal. “In her statement of grounds, she reiterated her fears of harm or death from the Philippines government and her husband,” the decision said. “In essence, she is seeking to challenge the Board’s finding of fact…”


This “is impermissible save for errors of law, procedural unfairness or irrationality,” it added.

The court asserted: “They (the Director and the Board) alone assess the evidence and find facts including those relating to the matters allegedly giving rise to the non-refoulement claim, risk of harm, availability of state protection and viability of internal relocation.”

Bolantes arrived in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic helper in April 2010.

She last entered Hong Kong for employment on April 22, 2014, but her job contract was terminated in October 2015. She did not leave Hong Kong within the allowed two weeks, and overstayed.

She was arrested on March 14, 2019 in Tsim Sha Tsui for drug trafficking, having in her possession 11.69 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, and was sentenced on Nov. 12, 2020 to six and a half years in prison by the District Court, plus two months for overstaying, which ran at the same time.

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