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Showing posts with label Hong Kong News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hong Kong News. Show all posts

Kidnapper of Filipina DH, toddler jailed for 9 years, 4 months

Posted on 16 April 2024 No comments


The victims were locked up in a container in Pat Heung after being kidnapped in Pokfulam (File)

A 45-year-old jobless man was sentenced to nine years and four months in jail at the High Court yesterday for kidnapping a Filipina domestic helper and her 20-month-old ward more than two years ago.

Ho Lin-chun admitted abducting the Filipina who was 39 years old at the time, and the toddler, on Dec. 8, 2021, with intent to demand a ransom for their release.

In sentencing, Deputy High Court Judge Amanda Woodcock praised the helper for her bravery as she managed to free herself and the toddler from a freight container where they were held, and even fought off one of the kidnappers who tried to recapture them.


"If the helper had not bravely climbed out of the container and asked for help, the crime would have caused serious consequences," she said.

Woodcock said it was fortunate that the girl and helper have not experienced long-term physical or mental injuries from the crime.

It also emerged during the hearing that the kidnappers had tried to offer the helper 5% of the $200,000 ransom they intended to claim from the toddler’s parents, but she brushed them off, saying her employers were not rich.


While praising the helper, Woodcock slammed Ho and his unnamed accomplice for planning the serious crime well in advance, as they bought cable ties and prepared a fake car license three days before the kidnap.

Earlier reports indicated a mainland resident surnamed Wang was arrested on Jan. 2, 2022 in connection with the kidnapping, but was allowed to post bail. No mention has been made of him after this.

The court heard that the abduction happened on Victoria Road, Pokfulam, as the helper was taking the toddler on a stroller from their home in Residence Bel Air to the girl’s preschool at around 8am on December 8, 2021.

Ho and his accomplice forced the victims into a seven-seater car then tied up the helper’s hands and legs, before covering her head. The stroller was then pushed into the car with them.

The kidnappers then asked the helper for the name and phone number of her employers, then offered her a cut of their bounty if she cooperated with them, but she brushed them off.

The victims were subsequently taken to Yuen Long and locked inside a freight container, before the men left.

The helper took the chance to untie herself at about 11am and escaped with her ward. She then climbed on top of the container to scream for help just as Ho was making his way back to the container. She managed to push him away as he tried to climb up the container.

The commotion alerted nearby villagers, forcing the kidnappers to flee.

The two victims were sent to hospital for treatments for minor injuries on their hands, which were red and swollen from being tied, but were discharged on the same day.

Inside the container where the helper and toddler were held, bound and gagged (SCMP photo)

Ho was arrested the next day, but remained silent during police questioning.

In mitigation, the defense said Ho committed the offense due to financial pressure, and was remorseful.

A creditor to whom he owed $40,000 was said to have tricked him into committing the crime, assuring him it was just a way to collect a debt.


Filipino who hit pedestrian with car fined for lesser offense

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Bernandino was fined for the lighter offence of careless driving

A Filipino who hit a pedestrian with the car he was driving, causing injuries that required hospital treatment, got off with a fine of $4,000 after he was acquitted of the charge of dangerous driving.

Instead, B. Bernandino, 63 years old, was convicted of careless driving -- a charge to which he pleaded guilty last Jan. 11 when originally asked how he would plea, but was rejected by the prosecution.

In his verdict today at the Shatin Court after a trial held in March, Magistrate David Chum gave weight to the opinion of an expert who testified that Bernandino was driving within the speed limit and the accident happened suddenly.


He noted the expert’s opinion that Bernandino’s only fault was that he did not extend his head far enough to see ahead of his car as he was rounding the corner at Hau Tei Square in Tsuen Wan, New Territories, on April 6, 2023.

He was also driving his car close to the curb.

As a result, he did not see pedestrian Wong Lai-kiu early enough and hit him, causing “grievous bodily harm” that resulted in treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.


In mitigation, his lawyer said that since Bernandino got his license in 1999, he has never had a traffic violation conviction, except for being made to pay fixed penalty fines.

The lawyer said Bernandino is a permanent resident, works as a civil engineer and is active in various community and church groups.

He supports his wife and three children in Hong Kong, as well as relatives in the Philippines, including his father who has cancer, the lawyer added.

With Chum’s decision, Bernandino got his driving license back, as well as the $1,000 balance from his $5,000 bail.

When asked about the points deduction on Bernandino’s license as a result of the accident, Magistrate Chum said, “I don’t have the authority to do that.”


Phl's digital national ID to be launched in June, says IT chief

Posted on 15 April 2024 No comments


Secretary Uy reports on the national digitalization plan

The Philippines is set to launch its first digital national identification card in June, Department of Information Communication and Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy told Filipino community members at the Consulate on Sunday, Mar. 14.

According to Secretary Uy, the digital ID can be generated through the eGovPH mobile app of DICT, and can be used by Filipinos in transacting with government agencies and banks in lieu of the physical card.

But while all Filipinos can already download the eGovPH app, they still need to register with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) or at any of its registration centers first to obtain the digital ID.  The list of the


Those who had registered with the PSA previously but have yet to pick up their physical ID can now obtain a copy of their digital copy through the app.

Through this app, Uy said one could potentially:

1)          -    Obtain a driver’s license

2)          -    Secure a license from the Professional Registration Commission

3)            -  For overseas Filipino workers, obtain an overseas employment certificate and e-travel

4)            - Secure e-apostille documents from overseas posts, instead of getting documents authenticated

5)              - Integrate one’s medical health records at PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance)

6)             - Report crimes to police within a 3-kilometer radius through the e-report function

7)              - Apply for jobs through the e-jobs matching service

8)              - Make electronic payment of taxes through eGovpay

9)              - Buy medicines remotely, and possibly have them delivered to various places in the Philippines.


In all these transactions, one will no longer have to go through the tedious process of filling out forms and submitting government-approved ID cards at each government department because their digital national ID is all they need to prove his or her identity, said Uy.

For example, a user can go to the Social Security System and even without a smart phone, could still obtain services because the government agency can check his or her credentials through the facial recognition feature of the app.

The agency can also verify the person’s identity through the unique and secure QR code that is assigned to each digital national ID.

Various services one can avail of once the app is fully functional

Ang hirap makipag transact sa gobyerno, napakadaming proseso, red tape, masalimuot,” said Uy. (It’s so hard to transact with government, there are so many processes involved, red tape, it’s very complicated).

He, however, cautioned that the process of integrating all these services could take time, perhaps another year or two.

One of the biggest challenge at the moment, he said, is to harmonize or standardize the data in each government department, such as the way they format dates, “para iisa lang ang data.” (So there is only one set of data).

Uy also said that the live facial recognition system used in the app would make it hard for anyone to use one’s data to transact business on his or her behalf.

“Each time you access your data there is live facial authorization,” he explained. And since there are more than 100 facial recognition points, he said the app can still recognize the user even if he/she had cosmetic or corrective facial surgery.

He added that the app updates one’s facial identification each time that person logs in, so that it will be still be able to recognize him/her despite the changes in appearance through the years.

However, he admitted that cyber criminals are well-organized and hone their tactics regularly, so it is always a challenge for governments, especially those with a tight budget, to be always a step ahead of them.

But he assured his audience that even if an agency’s system is hacked, it would not mean all the other agencies they want to deal with will have the same problem.

“Cyber security is multi-layered in the app itself, and bawat ahensya ay may sariling cyber security,” he said.

In indirect reference to criticism about the recent hacking of several key government agencies like PhilHealth, Uy said his office would often warn various departments about a number of “vulnerabilities” in their system that should be addressed, but they are often ignored.

As a result, he said DICT now conducts surprise scanning of the websites of government agencies on its own, to prevent such hackings.

The last-minute invitation to Uy's talk still drew a lot of Filcom leaders

Earlier, the PSA announced that enrolments for the PhilID have reached 85 million, with 50 million physical ID cards already distributed out of the 54 million printed.

The printing of more cards is ongoing, and the PSA expects that all those who have enrolled for the national ID could get their cards by the end of the year.

All Filipino citizens are reminded that registration for the PhilID is still ongoing in all of the countrys 86 registration centers.

Uy was in Hong Kong to attend the Innovation Expositions in Smart Cities, which he said included three in the Philippines –Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan asked him to take time off to explain how the country’s digitalization would affect Filipinos who are abroad, particularly the OFWs. 


Filipina driven to theft by debt, jailed 16 months

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A friend who left her saddled with debt led the defendant to steal from her employer, the court heard

A Filipina domestic helper was jailed for 16 months today after admitting at Eastern Court that she stole 11 jewelry items worth $259,000 from her employer.

The lawyer of Mary Ann Manalo, 35 years old, said this was out of character. since arriving in Hing Kong in 2012, she did not steal from her two previous employers but was driven to stealing from her last one because she was under pressure to pay a loan taken in her name by a friend, who absconded.

But Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui was triggered by the amount stolen, and referred to guidelines that said sentences for theft involving amounts from $250,000 to $1 million should start at 24 months.


She arrived at the 16-month sentence after deducting a one-third discount (or eight months) for Manalo’s guilty plea.

The case arose after Manalo’s employer noticed that items were missing from her leather jewelry bag, which she kept in the master bedroom in the family flat in Taikoo Shing in Quarry Bay.

The employer called police, who found 11 pawnshop tickets in Manalo’s possession.


During investigation, she admitted stealing five gold rings, one heart-shaped ring, four gold bracelets, and two gold necklaces between Sept. 1 and Nov. 26, 2023.

The employer was able to recover most of the jewelry by paying the pawnshop, but was unable to recover two items worth a combined $45,270 because they had been auctioned off after their pawn terms expired.

Manalo’s lawyer said she was unable to compensate for her employer’s loss.

Meanwhile, two other theft cases were adjourned by Magistrate Chui.

Lilibeth Fabros, 51 years old, was told to return on June 11 for the next hearing of her case involving the theft of one gold necklace and one gold ring from a flat in Tai Hang on June 24, 2023. She was freed on $3,000 bail.

Eden Celedonio, 46, was returned to jail custody after she appeared on a charge of theft of 15 jewelry items with a total value of $53,091 from a flat in Happy Valley between October and December 2023. The case was adjourned to May 27. 


Filipina known to friends as 'bubbly,' hanged self with belt, say police

Posted on 14 April 2024 No comments


The victim was found hanging on a belt in a Tsuen King Circuit flat (Centaline photo)

The police have confirmed reports that a Filipina domestic helper, known to many of her friends in Hong Kong as comely and bubbly, was found dead inside the washroom of her employer’s flat at 97 Tsuen King Circuit, Tsuen Wan on Saturday evening, apparently from a suicide.

According to a police spokesman, the 27-year-old Filipina was found hanging with a leather belt around her neck.


Her employer called the police at 9:57pm to report the incident, and emergency personnel declared her dead at the scene.

A number of friends and acquaintances of the victim, who identified her as R.D.A., a single mother of two from Luna, La Union, expressed shock over her death. 

They described her as fun-loving, and hardly gave reason for people to worry about her well-being. Her Facebook account shows she loved to do photo-shoots dressed in sexy outfits and looking very glamorous. 


One friend said that this is the reason why Filipinos in Hong Kong should be more sensitive to the moods and feelings of each other, as they don't know when the other is at a low point.

However, another friend posted that she and R.D.A. had a long chat the previous Sunday, during which the victim told her about her problems. This friend said she wished the young mother had confided in her more, instead of taking her own life.

According to the police, no suicide note was found at the scene, but their initial investigations revealed that the Filipina had relationship problems.


The case has been classified as “dead body found” and the exact cause of death will be determined in an autopsy.

This is the second case of apparent suicide by a Filipina domestic worker in less than a month. On March 18, another Filipina hanged herself with a scarf inside the washroom of her employer's flat in Allway Gardens, also in Tsuen Wan.

On March 27, another Filipina downed bleach in Wan Chai in what was believed to be an attempted suicide. She was rushed to hospital in a semi-conscious state, but her current condition is unknown.

Filipinos who are suffering from depression and are having suicidal thoughts could call the hotline of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, 6345 9324 or the Mission for Migrant Workers at 9529 2326.

You may also call the hotline of The Samaritans Hong Kong, 28960000, and ask for a Tagalog counselor if you prefer one.


Filipina charged with assault on cop, another with intimidation

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Area where alleged assault on cop happened (Google Map)

Two Filipinas with foreign-sounding names have found themselves in court, one charged with assaulting a police officer and another with threatening to injure a man.

Robina Abina Chow, 45 years old, was charged with “assaulting a police officer in due execution of his duty,” in violation of the Police Force Ordinance, when she appeared at the Tuen Mun Court on Thursday (April 11).


Chow, who works as a doctor’s assistant, is accused of assaulting Senior Police Constable Cheung Siu-kei on Dec. 8 last year in Siu Mei, Pat Heung, Yuen Long.

Acting Principal Magistrate Daniel Tang adjourned the case to May 23.

Chow was released on bail iof $1,000.


On the other hand, Annabelle Galang Chavanne, 39, appeared at West Kowloon Court on Friday (April 12), charged with criminal intimidation for allegedly threatening Cassius Crowther at Cherish Court in Discovery Bay in Lantau last Jan. 6.

It was alleged that Chavanne threatened Crowther “with injury to his person, with intent to alarm him.”

She is charged under Section 24 (a) (i) of the Crimes Ordinance.


Principal Magustrate Don So adjourned the case to May 17 for legal advice and plea.

He ordered Chavanne released on $1,000 bail. 

No single-use plastic in restaurants from Apr 22

Posted on 13 April 2024 No comments


These cutlery pieces will disappear from restaurants and stores

Stating on  Apr 22, Monday, all restaurants and merchants will be banned from selling and using single-use plastic products, including tableware, toothpicks, straws and stirrers, and even plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

But with just nine days to go before the big shift, about 80 % of small and medium-sized restaurants have yet to start using alternatives to plastic, said the Environmental Protection Department.

This is despite intense information dissemination and public education campaign by the EPD for the past six to nine months, said EPD Director Samuel Chui.


“We have been continuously discussing with the trade and to introduce different types of non-plastic cutlery and also the materials so that the trade can use. In fact, we also have a six-month period so that they can learn how to use it and to adapt to the situation," said Chui.

During the six-month adaptation period, no enforcement action will be taken, or penalties imposed on violators.

Instead, officials will focus on education and dealing with problems that arise rather than enforcement.


Chui said the department has reached out to 20,000 eateries and would continue to help those who struggle to find affordable alternatives.

There will also be promotional posters and videos at border crossings to educate tourists not familiar with the new policy, which will also ban hotels from providing complimentary amenities such as toothbrush, shampoo and soap to guests.

The EPD said it has advised hotels to remind their customers of the new measure so tourists will be able to decide on time if they want to bring their own toiletries, or buy supplies from the hotel.


The ban on single-use plastics in restaurants takes effect four months before a more stringent measure is taken to regulate waste disposal in Hong Kong.

From August this year, all household waste can only be disposed of in designated plastic bags which must be bought from convenience stores. For oversized garbage that does not fit into the designated bags, waste labels must be bought and attached to each item.

For so-called private waste collectors, fees will be charged based on the weight being disposed of at landfills or refuse transfer stations.

A six-month phasing-in period will also be implemented when the waste charging fee plan takes effect. After this, a fixed penalty tickets of $1,500 each will be issued to offenders on the spot, while serious and repeat offenders could be issued court summons.

Filipino who gave wrong date for Phl national election loses bid to oppose deportation

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The cour pointed out glaring lies in the applicant's torture claim

A Filipino torture claimant lost his application for a judicial review of the decision by the Immigration Department and the Torture Claims Adjudication rejecting his claim for non-refoulement (or against his forced return to the Philippines), because of his glaring lies.

For example, applicant Rael C. Asuncion gave the date of the national election in the Philippines as October 2010, but the Immigration Director said that based on country of origin information, it was held on May 10, 2010.

His claim that he was persecuted by a powerful political clan in Cagayan because he had led protests against a mining project they supported was also found without basis, as was his supposed fear of the New People’s Army because he refused to join the rebel group.


Asuncion entered Hong Kong as a visitor on Feb 15, 2015 and travelled to various nearby places, like Macau and Mainland China before re-entering on Apr 18, 2015. He was allowed to stay until May 16, 2015 but did not leave and was arrested by the police for overstaying on Jul 25, 2015 for overstaying.

He filed a non-refoulement claim on Sept 21, 2015 on the basis that he would be harmed or killed by the following groups: (1) the powerful Vargas family due to his dispute with them; and 2) members of the NPA because he refused to join them.

According to Asuncion, his problem with the Vargas family started around 2001 when he opposed a mining operation that Cong. Florencio L. Vargas was supporting. The lawmaker supposedly told him that the project would proceed regardless of his objection.


In November 2009 Asuncion said he was accused of killing two security guards at the mining site, and he was arrested, beaten and starved by the police. He believed Congressman Vargas was behind this.

He continued his protest actions against the mining project, as a result of which Congressman Vargas supposedly sent a death threat to him in March 2010.

In the run-up to the national election which he erroneously said was held in October 2010 he said he received another death threat, this time from the daughter of the congressman.

When Congressman Vargas won the election, Asuncion said he fled his hometown. But after the legislator died in September 2011, his family allegedly blamed him for causing his death.


(A simple Google search will show that Vargas was indeed re-elected as representative of the 2nd district of Cagayan in the May 2010 election, but died on July 22, 2010 due to leukemia).

As for his supposed ties with the NPA, Asuncion claimed he had recruited people into the group in 2009 but did not join them. He claimed he stopped helping them when he was informed by a neighbour that the police were looking for him.

Again citing the lack of credibility in Asuncion’ claim, the Director said there was no sign that the NPA “persistently had any interest in him.”

Even if true, the Director said he could have applied for state protection or moved elsewhere as “internal relocation alternatives were available and reasonable” in the Philippines.

The TCAB upheld the Director’s findings and added that Asuncion’s claim of torture by the police and the supposed campaigning he made against Cong Vargas had never occurred, and that his intention in coming to Hong Kong was not to seek non-refoulement protection.

In dismissing the application for judicial review, Ms MO Wong for the Registrar said the applicant raised no valid ground to challenge the Board’s decision. He also failed to show that he had any realistic prospect of success in his judicial review.

3 of 5 fatalities in Jordan fire still unidentified, FDH among those injured

Posted on 11 April 2024 No comments


Several fire engines battled the blaze at the New Lucky House in Jordan (FB photo by HKEye)

Police have yet to identify three of the five people who died in the fire that broke out at New Lucky House in Jordan on Wednesday morning.

The two who have been identified are both elderly Chinese males surnamed Lai and Tsang.

Two of them, a man and a woman, are reported to be non-ethnic Chinese and possibly South Asian, while the other one is  believed to be a Chinese woman, but the information has yet to be verified.

One of those killed was suspected to have jumped off the 16-storey building to escape the fire, and was found on the first-floor podium.


Three of the victims were found in the second-floor corridor, while the fifth was discovered on a staircase between the seventh and eighth floors.

Chief Executive John Lee extended his condolences to the families of those killed, and later visited some of the injured at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He said an investigation of the cause of the fire is top priority.

Among the 23 who were injured and are still in hospital, eight are in critical condition, three are listed as serious, while the rest, including an infant girl, are stable.


At least one foreign domestic helper was reported to be among those seriously injured in the fire. Reports say she suffered from smoke inhalation and sustained burns on her abdomen and waist, but was conscious when taken to hospital.  

The FDH whose nationality was not identified, remains under observation at the intensive care unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Another helper was shown on video wailing on the pavement outside the building, saying she feared for her employer's safety. An accompanying report said the helper, who is apparently Indonesian, had just stepped out to buy breakfast when  the fire broke out.

(Watch this video from HOY business channel:

Forty people were initially taken to hospital for injuries, but 17 have already been discharged.

Those still under treatment are at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, and Queen Mary Hospital.

One of  those  injured is rushed to safety (HK Eye photo)

The fire broke out at 7:53am on Wednesday at units 13 to 15 of the building’s first floor, and was escalated to no 3 alarm about 10 minutes later. A number of residents were trapped or injured, prompting a large-scale rescue operation.

About 250 people had to be rescued, while another 50 managed to move to safety on their own. Fire services volunteers went door-to-door to check if there were residents that needed to be rescued.

By 8:54 am the fire was contained, and by 10:30am was already completely extinguished. Its exact cause is still being investigated.

About 35 of the units in the building have been converted into guest houses frequented by Asian travellers.

Residents were advised not to return to their units while an investigation is being carried out, and to wait for further arrangements. 

The Home Affairs Department has set up temporary shelters at the Nam Cheong Community Centre and the Leung Hin Square Yau Ma Tei Community Centre for those in need.

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