Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mariano Tan’s ex-maid details alleged abuse

When she finally saw her father after five years since she left home to work for businessman Mariano Tanenglian as a maid, Mary Jane Sollano said her skin was so fair and her eyes were irritated by the sunlight.

Sollano, 18, talked to The STAR yesterday morning, saying that for five years until she was rescued by authorities last Aug. 10, she was not allowed to go out of her employer’s house in Quezon City, doing household chores without getting paid.

“There came a point when I no longer knew what day it was… and I never even expected the day would come when I would finally be able to get out,” Sollano said in Filipino.

She said her ordeal included not having anything to eat for days, being forbidden to go near the faucet because she was not allowed to drink water, and getting chained for the slightest mistake she made.

Contacted by The STAR for comment, Tanenglian’s lawyer, Raymundo Quiroz, denied the allegations against his client.

“These are just allegations that can be alleged easily. We will answer them in due time,” Quiroz said, noting Tanenglian was ready to face the charges filed against them by Sollano.

The teenage maid has filed criminal charges against Tanenglian, his wife and two children before the Department of Justice.

Quiroz said the charges are “part of a bigger issue,” noting that Tanenglian has volunteered to testify against his estranged brother, businessman Lucio Tan, in a government case.

According to Sollano, she started work at the Tanenglian household in 2004 when she was recruited from Zamboanga del Sur. She had just finished her first year in high school but insisted on working in the city since her father, who maintains a farm, was sick at that time.

“I was supposed to work here only for two years. After that, I planned on continuing my studies in the province,” she said.

Sollano said when she could not do her job well, members of Tanenglian’s family started slapping, kicking and chaining her.

She said when fellow housemaid Aljane Bacanto managed to contact her parents and get out of the Tanenglian house, she was left behind to do all the chores all by herself, starting her day at 4 a.m. and ending at around midnight.

Sollano said when she became sick, her employer “would just have me take medicine… but I had to continue working.”

She said that during her five years with the Tanenglians, she had to make do with only three sets of shorts and shirts given to her.

Sollano said that on the afternoon of Aug. 10, she was surprised that she was given what seemed a new blouse and a pair of jeans.

“They told me to take a bath and dress up. And then I was told to say, whenever I would be asked, that they were nice to me,” she said.

She said she was eventually shown a picture of her father, and soon found out that her father was already outside, along with representatives from the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the police.

Bacanto, after her flight from the house, informed Sollano’s parents about their condition, Sollano said.

Sollano’s father, Rolando, recalled that day when he finally saw his teenage daughter. “I didn’t know what to feel. I was happy to have seen her alive as I thought she was already dead when we tried but failed to locate her during the first two years she was missing. I should be happy, but after seeing her condition, I didn’t know what to feel,” he said.

Rolando said he saw his daughter squinting, apparently blinded by the sunlight. He said this indicated she was indoors for a long time.

But Quiroz maintained that Sollano’s claims were “bare allegations,” adding that “it’s so easy to say these things.”

Sollano’s lawyer, Al Parreño, his client and her family are determined to push through with the charges against the Tanenglians.

The Philippine Star
September 1, 2009
Page 15


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