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Posted on 07 February 2024 No comments

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Case worker laments lack of relief for Emry’s victims

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About 500 Filipinos lined up outside Emry's office for 4 months in 2016 for the fake jobs 

One of a handful of people who worked tirelessly to help hundreds of Filipino domestic workers get their cases against the now-defunct Emry’s Employment Agency heard, has expressed disappointment that the actual victims in the case never got relief.

Edwina Antonio, case officer of the Mission for Migrant Workers, was commenting after Emry’s co-owner Ester Ylagan, was jailed for 32 months on Feb. 2 after she pleaded guilty to four counts of laundering a total of $5.7 million which she made offering non-existent jobs to some 500 Filipinos.

Antonio, together with fellow case officer Ester Bangcawayan, represented more than 100 claimants against Ylagan in cases that started in July 2016 and dragged on for more than two years at the Small Claims Tribunal and the District Court. 

Buksan ang mga tip

A separate criminal case for money laundering, instead of illegal recruitment or fraud, was eventually filed against Ylagan  when she returned to Hong Kong in 2018, after fleeing to the Philippines.

 Sa tagal nang inabot ng kaso, at daan-daang biktima, hindi sapat ang ilang buwang kulong na hatol sa kanya. Tapos ang kaso na isinampa laban  sa kanya ay hindi illegal recruitment kundi money laundering. Nasaan ang hustisya para sa kanyang mga biktima?”, said Antonio.

(The jail term is not enough for the many years that it took for the case to be resolved, and the hundreds of victims. To make it worse, the case filed against her was not for illegal recruitment. Where’s the justice for her victims?)


Ang nais lang naman ng mga biktima kaya sila nag-aplay ng trabaho sa Canada at UK ay para magkaroon sila ng opportunities na maisama ang kanilang mga pamilya na hindi pwede dito sa Hong Kong. Tapos isang kilala at dating maasahan na agency pa ang gumawa sa kanila nito. Kung meron lang sanang trabaho sa atin hindi ito mangyayari.”

(The victims applied for jobs in Canada and the UK so they could have an opportunity to  bring their families along, something which is not possible in Hong Kong. They didn’t realize that a well-known and reputable agency would do this to them. If there were enough jobs back home this would not have happened).

This was the same reaction by a handful of FDWs who faithfully followed up their complaints over the years, and even agreed to testify for the prosecution had Ylagan insisted on her innocence.

Following the sentencing, the first question asked by Aurora Hayag was “Paano na kami?” (What happens to us now?).

Hayag went to court on the last two days of the hearing, armed with the documents she had collected over the years, after filing and pursuing a complaint against Ylagan with the police and the Philippine Consulate.


She paid $10,000 to Ylagan personally, hoping to secure a job for her son back in the Philippines, and  was shocked to learn that the highly regarded recruiter had scammed them.

But another victim who attended the sentencing said she had given up hope that she could recover the $10,000 that she paid Ylagan, but was there only to witness the recruiter being sent to jail.

Diyos na ang humatol sa kanya,” (It was God that finally decided her fate), said Marites Bumayat, whose employers gave her full support and allowed her to attend the court hearings after learning about the deception.

3 victims were joined by Bangcawayan and another supporter after the sentencing

Ylagan, 71, had been out on $40,000 bail until she pleaded guilty to the four money laundering charges against her.

She was charged with sending more than $5.7 million she collected from her victims to various people in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Turkey and Malaysia on the instruction of “William,” a person who interacted with her only through email.

William introduced himself as an employment agency owner based in the United Kingdom, and told Ylagan to recruit as many job applicants as she could find, and to send the money they paid her to various people in different countries.

Ylagan's own staff told investigators they warned her about dealing with this person, especially after several remittance companies stopped accepting their money, but she persisted. 

She herself admitted that in June 2016 she was advised by then Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre that she was being scammed but she did not listen, resulting to Emry’s losing its recruitment license and being shuttered.

In the first charge, Ylagan was accused of remitting a total of HK$2,633,181.52 and US$44,658 (HK$347,439) to Malaysia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso between Jan 29 and May 5, 2016. The total sum of HK$2,980,620 was dealt with in cash.

In the second count, she was accused of moving a total sum of US$300,000 (HK$2,334,000) from an account with Standard Chartered Bank to a recipient in Turkey from May 12 to 23, 2016.

The third charge said Ylagan, using her account at HSBC, again sent to Turkey a total of US$10,055 (HK$78,227) between May 25 and 26, 2016.

In the fourth charge, she remitted again to Turkey a total of US$50,000 (HK$389,000) from her HSBC account on Jul 8, 2016.

Judge Katherine Lo said Ylagan collected more than $6 million from about  500 applicants.  Only part of what she made was sent to unknown persons abroad, and the rest, which amounted to about $570,000, was not accounted for.

“So the defendant received more than she remitted,” said the judge.

She used four years as starting point for the sentence, and gave Ylagan a total discount of 1/3 for her belated guilty plea, her remorse and for refunding money to some of the victims.


Filipina DH admits stealing jewerly, cash from employer

Posted on 06 February 2024 No comments
The accused admitted stealing 86 pieces of jewelry and $50,000 cash from her employer (File) 

A Filipina domestic helper who is ready to plead guilty to stealing a stash of jewelry and cash from her employer could be jailed for no less than two years when she appears in court again on Feb.  23.

Merly Q. Bugtaquen, a 33-year-old Ilocana, appeared in District Court today, during which her lawyer, Edward Laskey, said she will admit one charge of theft against her at the next hearing.

Buksan ang mga tip

District Court Judge C.P. Pang granted the request of both parties to set down the plea-taking and sentence on that day, and ordered Bugtaquen returned to jail custody.

The fact that her case was elevated to the District Court means Bugtaquen could be jailed from between two and seven years.


According to the charge sheet, the Filipina stole from an unknown date in March 2022 until March 26, 2023 86 pieces of jewelry, HK$50,000; 5,000 baht and NT$15,000 from Yiu Ching-heng, in her flat in Mee Fat Building in Tai Po, New Territories.

The jewelry consisted of 10 bracelets, 9 bangles, 20 pendants, 31 rings, 13 necklaces, one necklace with pendant, one watch, and one pair of earrings.


Bugtaquen was arrested on Mar 26 last year after the theft was discovered, and charged in court the next day.


Filipina who stole, then burgled home of employer admits guilt

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Burglary is an offence that falls under the jurisdiction of the District Court

A Filipina domestic worker has decided to admit two counts of theft and another of burglary against her former employer, her lawyer told the District Court earlier today, Feb 6.

Mishelle P. Cornelio, 37, will formally enter her plea on Aug. 6, after which she is expected to be convicted of the charges, then sentenced.

District Court Judge CP Pang ordered Cornelio returned to custody until the next hearing.

Buksan ang mga tip

In her earlier appearance at Eastern Court, Cornelio was charged with stealing jewelry from her former employer, Lau Tsz-yan, in her flat on Connaught Road West on two occasions last year. This resulted in her contract being terminated.

But three days after her termination, Cornelio entered Lau’s house without permission, then stole cash in various denominations, amounting to nearly HK$12,000, apart from jewelry and other household items.

According to the police report, the first theft incident happened on June 8, 2023, when Lau’s gold necklace went missing.


Less than a month later, or on Jul 6, the employer again called the police and complained that she was missing a gold bracelet and a pendant. Lau decided to terminate Cornelio’s contract on the same day as a result.

But just three days later, or on Jul 9, Cornelio burgled Lau’s house.  She took away 2,300 Taiwan dollar, 490,000 Vietnam Dong, 381,000 Korean won, 104 Singapore dollar, $1,400 Thai bath, and HK$9,000.

She also fled with three gold chains, two CCTV cameras and a door curtain.


Under the Theft Ordinance, theft is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, whereas the more serious crime of burglary which involves forced entry into premises, carries a maximum jail term of 14 years.


Lying to Immigration fetches 4 months’ jail for Filipina

Posted on 05 February 2024 No comments


Lying to Immigration is a serious offense 

Lying to an Immigration officer when processing her visa as a domestic helper has landed a Filipina in jail for four months.

Beatrice Casanova, 38 years old, received the penalty from Deputy Magistrate Ivan Lee after she pleaded guilty at Shatin Court to making  a false representation to an Immigration officer implementing the Immigration Ordinance.

Buksan ang mga tip

She had claimed, in her application for an extension of stay on July 18, 2019, that she would renew a domestic helper contract with one Eric Jungers, which was not true.

This was in violation of the Immigration Ordinance, under which such misrepresentation is punishable by up to $100,000 in fine and two years’ imprisonment on summary judgment.


Prosecutors had earlier withdrawn a similar charge against Casanova, for allegedly entering into a fake employment contract which she presented on April 27, 2019 when she arrived from the Philippines.

The complaint was filed by the Immigration Department on June 20, 2023.


Magistrate Lee chose to set the punishment at six months’ imprisonment, but because of Casanova’s guilty plea, he deducted a third, leaving four months as the final sentence.


Filipino acquitted of wounding in airport clash with co-worker

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The accused walked free from West Kowloon court

An airport cargo handler who was fired from his job after being charged with “inflicting grievious bodily harm” on his co-worker, was acquitted today at West Kowloon courts.

Christian de Guzman, 31, made a sign of the cross and whispered, “Thank you, Lord,” as his wife and friends surrounded him after hearing the verdict of Magistrate Li Chi-ho.

He now works in the construction industry.

Buksan ang mga tip

Magistrate Li said his supposed victim, Lo Chiu-yung, tried to project himself as the aggrieved party, having sustained a wound on the face when his eyeglasses got hit by de Guzman’s arm.

But Li added that he can’t reject that de Guzman was only trying to protect himself, as his testimony that he hit Lo accidentally while freeing himself from beng pinned to the ground, was not challenged by the prosecution.

The case arose after Lo was hit slightly by a container being unloaded from a newly-arrived plane near Airbridge N68 at the Hong Kong airport in Chek Lap Kok, Lantau on Dec. 27, 2022.


Lo rejected the apology of De Guzman, who was operating the unloading machine, and rushed to fight him. They exchanged punches three more times, each time being separated by co-workers.

During his testimony, Lo admitted that he had violated several safety regulations in the past, and the defense lawyer suggested he was hit by the container being handled by de Guzman because he was not supposed to be there.


In his ruling, Magistrate Li said de Guzman’s story was was largely supported by the CCTV footage taken from the scene.

Two defense witnesses also contradicted Lo’s testimony, Li added.


Migrante HK urges Marcos to crack down on illegal recruitment ahead of Senate hearing

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The protest was held 3 days before the Senate conducts an inquiry into the issue

Protesters led by United Filipinos - Migrante Hong Kong took to Chater Road in Central yesterday to denounce the massive illegal recruitment of overseas Filipino workers, particularly that allegedly committed by former Cebu City Councillor Nina Mabatid.

Unifil-Migrante chair Dolores Balladares called on the government of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to take action in the case, especially since hundreds of Filipinos across the country were allegedly also victimized by Mabatid and her company, Opportunities Abroad.

The protest came three days before the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers headed by Senator Raffy Tulfo is due to hold an inquiry into Mabatid’s activities, as well as other groups that have allegedly been victimizing Filipinos anxious to go abroad to work.

Buksan ang mga tip

In Hong Kong, at least 20 OFWs filed complaints with the Consulate as early as June last year, alleging that Mabatid reneged on her promise to help them secure the student visas, after they each paid $18,731 (about Php132,000).

The money was collected from them within days of Mabatid conducting an “orientation seminar” at Sunbeam Theater in North Point on Feb. 19, 2023, during which she promised that the processing of their documents would be done in just three months.

But according to the complaints, which have since been forwarded to the Department of Migrant Workers and the National Bureau of Investigation, not a single applicant managed to even get close to securing the promised visa, or the P100,000 “show money” Mabatid had promised to lend them.

Mabatid (with blonde hair) is confronted by an applicant who sought help from HK Police

No one managed to get back their money, either, and when they pressed for a refund, about five were warned by a lawyer from Opportunities Abroad that they faced being sued and made to pay P500,000 each for violating a supposed memorandum of agreement with a no-refund clause.

In her speech at the rally, Balladares also called for sanctions against fellow OFW and well-known Marcos (BBM) supporter Brian Callagui, who was named by all the complainants as the one who actively promoted and helped Mabatid in her recruitment activities in Hong Kong.


The Unifil chair called for a halt to what she called the widespread illegal recruitment and human trafficking of Filipinos, and for those responsible for carrying out these serious crimes to be held to account immediately.

Balladares also urged for the creation of more jobs in the Philippines, saying the lack of work back home is what makes Filipinos vulnerable to falling prey to illegal recruiters and traffickers.


After the rally, Unifil hosted a “Leaders’ Kapihan” at the Li Hall of St John’s Cathedral, during which Filcom leaders were consulted on the steps they could take to show their opposition to other big issues affecting them, such as the mandatory contribution to the national health insurer, PhilHealth.


Intl performers featured on Lee Tung Avenue’s New Year parade

Posted on 04 February 2024 No comments


A golden dragon hangs alongside Lee Tung Avenue's signature lanterns

For the first time in seven years, Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai will again hold its “Chinese New Year Parade” on Feb. 12, or the third year of the Year of the Dragon, from 5:30pm to 7pm.

Two international performing groups which will take part in the Cathay International Chinese New Year Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui on the evening of Feb. 10, the first day of the Lunar New Year, will be showcased in Lee Tung Avenue’s post-parade show.


The first team, Golden Dream, is a 10-member dance troupe from Spain that has won numerous awards in the Carnival Torrevieja in Spain and Festival di Sanremo in Italy. The performers will turn the temperature up with their colourful and lavish outfits and passionate dancing.

The other team, Universe of Lights from Germany, is made up of eight stilt-walkers who will surely amaze everyone with their enchanting movements and out-of this-world costumes.

These stilt performers from Germany are another must-see on Lee Tung Avenue
They will be given support by dancers from the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet and SDM Jazz & Ballet Academie, who will present a playful Lunar New Year-themed performance with Chinese elements.

The “God of Fortune” will also be present to distribute candies and offer his blessings as well as photo opportunities.

The show is open to the public but those who want to enjoy it away from the crowds can watch at leisure from the alfresco dining areas or balconies of any of the restaurants along Lee Tung Avenue, which is bounded on one end by Queen’s Road East and the other on Johnston Road.

The Golden Dream performers in their lavish costumes are a show-stopper

Also as part of its Lunar New Year celebrations, Lee Tung Avenue will host a lion dance show, and a lion dance experience workshop with a professional instructor, on the first two days of the new year, Feb. 10 and 11.

The lion dance performances will be held in four sessions on both days: from 1 to 1:15pm, 2:15 to 2:30pm, 5 to 5:15pm, and 6:15 to 6:30pm.


The workshops will be conducted 10 minutes after each performance, and will last for about 30 minutes. Those who wish to join the workshops must register beforehand and comply with a minimum spending requirement at the venue.

Those who missed the performances on these two days can look forward an even bigger show, the Dragon & Lion Dance Spectacular, a Lee Tung traditional offer, which will be held on Feb 20, from 2 to 2:30pm.


The breath-taking performances will include high pole jumping as well as a boisterous and colourful procession featuring a giant golden dragon.

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