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Showers forecast for Easter Sunday

Posted on 30 March 2024 No comments

 

The clouds that hung over HK on Saturday will bring showers tomorrow

A foggy Saturday will bring showers across Hong Kong on Easter Sunday, with temperatures rising to 30°C.

The Observatory says it will be mainly cloudy with occasional showers on Sunday. A few squally thunderstorms will occur later in the day, with moderate southerly winds.

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Visibility in some areas will be relatively low, with sunny intervals in the morning.

Temperatures will range between 24 and 30 degrees.

The outlook for the next  few days will be hot with sunny intervals.

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Earlier, a southerly airstream brought hot weather to Hong Kong and the coast of Guangdong, with temperatures rising to 31 degrees in some area. The day was mainly cloudy.

The upper-air disturbances which affected the northern part of Guangdong today will bring showers and squally thunderstorms tomorrow to Hong Kong and the rest of southern China.

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Pinoy admits being drunk and disorderly, but denies assault on cop

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Junction where the incident happened (photo from Google Maps)

A Filipino waiter has pleaded guilty in Eastern Court to a charge of beng drunk and disorderly, but denied that he assaulted a police officer who intervened in the commotion he caused in Lan Kwai Fong last Oct. 29.

As a result, Denver Bautista, 36, was not sentenced for the offense he admitted last Tuesday (March 26) when he appeared before Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui, until after his trial on the unresolved  case is finished. He was freed on bail of $5,000 until then.

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Magistrate Chui set the start of the trial on May 9.

Bautista  was accused of assaulting a police sergeant “in the due execution of his duty” at the corner of Wo On Lane and D’Aguilar St. in Central.

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Under Section 26 (2) of the Offenses against the Person Ordinance, such an offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.

The offense he admitted, being drunk and disorderly, is punished by the Summary Offenses Ordinance, with a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment of up to two months.

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New video of FDH cleaning windows from high floor sparks concern

Posted on 29 March 2024 No comments

 

Still photo from the video showing the woman standing on narrow ledge while cleaning windows

Another video showing what appears to be a foreign domestic helper doing dangerous window cleaning has been posted on social media, sparking widespread concern about her safety, and prompting questions as to why the incident was not immediately reported to the police.

According to the Filipina domestic worker who posted the video on the Facebook page of the FDH-run Social Justice for Migrant Workers, the flat concerned was on the 14th floor of a building on Babington Path, Mid-Levels. She did not report what she saw to the police immediately, fearing her employer would get alarmed if officers came knocking at their door.

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But according to the Labour Department, instances such as this should be reported to the police immediately, just like any other cases where someone’s life is in danger.

Dangerous window cleaning by FDHs has been banned and included as a prohibited act in their employment contracts since January 2017, after a series of tragic deaths, most notably that of Filipina Rinnalyn Duollog who was killed after falling from her employer's high-rise flat in Tseung Kwan O.

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Under this rule, FDHs who are required to clean the outside part of a window can only do so if the flat is on the ground level or adjacent to a balcony from where it is reasonably safe for the helper to work.

Otherwise, the window being cleaned must be fitted with a locked or secured grille, and no part of the helper’s body extends beyond the window ledge except the arms.

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The anonymous FDH who shared the video said she was worried about her fellow helper, and just wanted to warn her about the danger in case she was new in Hong Kong, or her employer made her do it.

She said that in her many years of working in the same place she had never seen any helper doing dangerous window cleaning in the flat concerned, which she said appears to have been newly renovated.

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She subsequently shared her video with her employer, who lost no time going over the management office of the building concerned to inform them about the incident.

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Filipina downs bleach in attempted suicide

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The Filipina was found by her employer at his Villa Monte Rosa flat (Wikimedia)

Hong Kong Police have confirmed reports that a Filipina domestic helper had tried to take her own life two days ago by drinking bleach, but was half-conscious when rushed to hospital.

There has been no immediate update on her condition, and the police have classified the case as attempted suicide.

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Police said the 39-year-old Filipina was found inside her bedroom at her employer’s flat at Villa Monte Rosa estate at 41-A Stubbs Road at about 11pm on Tuesday.

Her male employer surnamed Wong immediately called 999, and the helper was rushed by rescuers to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wanchai  in a semi-conscious state, and was breathing. She had reportedly vomited some of the bleach that she ingested when found.

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Police said their investigation revealed that the Filipina “had been in a dispute and was having relationship problems” when she tried to take her life.

Consulate officers said they were not aware of the incident, and would make their own inquiries.

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Anyone with information can call the Migrant Workers Office hotline at 6345 9324 or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration office, 5529 1880.

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Those having suicidal thoughts can call the same numbers, or the Samaritans' 24-hour hotline, 2896 0000. Their volunteers answer calls in English, but some are able to speak other languages, including Tagalog.

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All MWO senior officers due for recall, Filcom told

Posted on 28 March 2024 No comments

 

Labatt Mel Dizon and his two deputies are long overdue for recall

For the past several months, all three senior officers of the Migrant Workers Officers have been waiting for their recall order to the Philippines after serving in Hong Kong for longer than the mandatory five years, but have been told to remain until their replacements are found.

This emerged during the “Meet and Greet” session between Consulate officials and leaders of the Filipino community held last Sunday, Mar. 24.

Labor Attache Melchor Dizon and his two deputies, Antonio Villafuerte and Angelica Sunga who both served in Hong Kong earlier than him, all said they are on holdover status until their replacements are sent by the Department of Migrant Workers in the Philippines.

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This did not happen as expected because of the sudden death of DMW Secretary Susan Ople in August last year. While Undersecretary Hans Cacdac was subsequently named by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as officer-in-charge, he has yet to make any new overseas deployments.

Dizon told the Filcom leaders that he is already 64 and is just a year short of mandatory retirement, so Hong Kong is likely to be his last overseas posting.

Villafuerte said he should have left early this year, while Sunga, who arrived in 2018, making her the longest holdover at MWO, said she is just waiting for her marching orders.

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Philippine labour officers who are sent abroad are traditionally allowed to stay at their posts for a maximum of five years, before being recalled. Over at the Department of Foreign Affairs, foreign service officers are recalled after six years, which can be split into two three-year terms if they are assigned to two different posts.

One DFA officer who is also due for recall is Consul Sheila Monedero-Arnesto, who was previously posted in Kuwait, and now heads the political and economic section as well as the gender development sections of the Consulate. Consul Arnesto said she is preparing to leave now, just months after giving birth to her third child here.

Congen Germie Usudan has only 8 months left to complete her tour of duty

Even Consul General Germinia Aguilar-Usudan who had served as Deputy Congen in Hong Kong for more than five years, is also preparing to leave, as her six-year tour of duty will expire in November this year. She took over the top post only at the end of December last year.

But along with the so-called “old faces” were the new officers who were formally introduced to the Filcom for the first time.

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They include Vice Consul George Mariano A. Soriano, a civil engineer and lawyer, who has been appointed as head of the assistance to nationals section.  Vice Consul Gino who has been in Hong Kong for just over a month, said he has an affinity to Hong Kong as his wife was born and raised here.

Another relative newbie is Vice Consul Allan G. Revote, another lawyer who came late last year, and now heads the cultural, as well as the civil registry and legal sections.

He has taken over from Vice Consul, Angelo DG Manuel, who was posted in Hong Kong to replace Consul Bob Quintin, who went back home in 2022, after overseeing the last overseas voting.

Another new arrival is Marilou Sumalinog, the supervising welfare officer at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, an attached agency of the DMW.  She is assisted by fellow welfare officer Dina Daquigan, who has worked with Filipino migrant workers even before the pandemic.

The other officers who joined the familiarization session were relatively old hands at the Consulate, including Vice Consul and Trade Attache Roberto Mabalot, Jr., Social Welfare Officer Remilene Marcelino, SSS Regional Head Lester Paul Mata, and PAG-IBIG officer Raymond Francis Ramos. 

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2 male DHs illegally doing renovation work avoid jail

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Shatin Law Courts building

Two Filipinos avoided jail Wednesday, Mar 27, after they pleaded guilty to illegal work-- doing house renovation in Discovery Bay, which is prohibited under their condition of stay as holders of the foreign domestic helper visa.

Magistrate David Chum convicted Zaldy Materum and Bruce Oliver Vitaliano of breach of condition of stay, a violation of the Immigration Ordinance, and sentenced each of them to two months imprisonment, but suspended for 24 months.

With the suspended term, the two will not need to serve their sentences if they do not reoffend within the next two years. However, Magistrate Chum warned that if they commit an offense within the period, they will have to serve the jail term in addition to the penalty for the new offense.

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The two were charged after they were arrested while doing renovation work in a flat in Woodlands Court of Discovery Bay  last Feb. 7.

They pleaded guilty, but their defense lawyer asked Chum to consider the special circumstances which would make a custodial sentence too harsh in their one-off case.

For one, the lawyer said, the owner of the flat they were working on is a son of Materum’s employer, who lived nearby. “You can see the dynamics involved. You can’t say no,” the lawyer said.

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Vitaliano, on the other hnd, was working on the flat only to help his friend and was not paid anything, he added.

Despite the case, he said, the employers of both were willing to take them back in.

Chum said that what the two did was serious. “Your doing renovation work deprives others of work,” he said.

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But he noted that Materum and Vitaliano had been in Hong Kong for eight and 12 years, respectively, and their records had been clean.

He chose a starting point of three months’ jail, discounted it by a third because of the guilty pleas, and suspended imprisonment for two years.

Meanwhile, in another case, the prosecutor withdrew its case against asylum seeker Jerrybell Panganiban for overstaying her visa for one year on June 1, 2022, to give way to her request for a judicial review by the High Court of the government's decision rejecting her torture claim.

Her claim for non-refoulement or against being sent back home was earlier denied by both the Imigration Department and the Torture Claims Adjudication Board.

Magistrate Chum also cancelled the arrest warrant issued earlier against Panganiban for failing to show up in a prevous hearing.

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70-year-old Filipina surrenders after being OS for 28 years

Posted on 27 March 2024 No comments

 

Aida (in white blouse) is interviewed by Mission volunteer Rain

A 70-year-old Filipina former domestic helper has surrendered to Immigration authorities with help from the Philippine Consulate, after overstaying her visa for 28 years.

Ana, who is also getting help from the Mission for Migrant Workers for her board and lodging and case, was allowed to post $500 bail on Tuesday, Mar 26, when she reported back to the Immigration Department’s office at Skyline building in Mong Kok.

Both the Consulate and the Mission are asking Immigration to allow her to just go back to the Philippines, given her age and frail condition.

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Under Hong Kong laws, overstaying is a serious offence, which could merit a sentence of up to two years in jail and a fine of $50,000, depending on the length of the overstay. It is only very rarely that an overstayer, especially one who has been underground for a considerable period, is allowed to skip detention before being deported.

The penalty may be higher if the offender is found to have committed another offense, like doing illegal work.

In Ana’s case, she said she mainly survived after going underground through the help of friends. She admitted falling for a Western man who took pity on her and supported her for a time, but he left Hong Kong several years ago.

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At some point, two of her adult children came to Hong Kong to also do domestic work, and they sustained her financial needs. However, they have since returned home and started their own families.

Despite being repeatedly advised by people around her, including her children, to surrender so she could go back to the Philippines and live a normal life, Ana resisted, citing her mortal fear of her abusive husband.

Hindi naman niya ako sinasaktan, pero ang sakit magsalita. Laging pinapamukha sa akin na sinusuportahan niya ang mga pangangailangan ko at ng pamilya naming kaya ako napilitang magtrabaho sa Hong Kong,” said Ana. (He did not hurt me physically, but he always used hurtful words with me. He always reminded me that he was providing for my and our family’s needs so I was forced to work in Hong Kong).

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The tremor in her voice and the visible shaking of her hands suggested the kind of fear, even if unfounded, that drove her to live underground in Hong Kong for nearly three decades.

Despite this, Ana admits it was wrong for her to have spent the best part of her years hiding in the shadows, and said it is not the kind of life other people should have.

“I would say po na huwag na silang mag OS (they should not turn OS). It’s hard to be in that situation,” she said.

Just before the pandemic, her husband died in the Philippines and their children began urging Ana again to go home, but she hesitated, thinking that it would be dangerous for her to be locked up with a lot of people, as she was unvaccinated.

Because of her visa status, Ana has never been to a doctor for the past 28 years but she said she has remained healthy as she seldom ventured outdoors.

But more than a year since all travel restrictions were lifted in Hong Kong, Ana decided to finally go home, no matter how bleak the future that awaits her in her hometown of Dasmarinas, Cavite.

Her three children who have tried their best to send her money in Hong Kong despite their meager resources, are not in a position to help much as they have their own families to look after. Providing for an elderly parent who chose to stay away for so long is something they couldn’t sustain for long.

But Ana is not even looking that long into the future, and would just like to appeal for help from kind-hearted people so she could pay for her day-to-day needs, at least until Immigration decides on what to do with her case, and she could fly back home.


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