Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another maid files criminal charges vs Mariano Tan

Another housemaid of Mariano Tanenglian, estranged brother of business tycoon Lucio Tan, filed criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday against her former employer.

Accompanied by lawyer Al Parreno, 19-year-old Aljane Bacanto sought the indictment of Tanenglian, his wife Aleta and children Maximillian and Fayette for supposed “maltreatment, serious illegal detention, slavery and frustrated homicide.” Bacanto’s fellow maid who was earlier rescued by authorities, Mary Jane Sollano, already filed at the DOJ a similar complaint against the family last Aug. 27 alleging exactly the same violations.

In her affidavit, Bacanto recounted her ordeal at the residence of the Tanenglian in Barangay Siena in Quezon City from May 2006 until she was allowed to go back to their province last February. “I was detained inside the house. For almost three years, I was never allowed to go out – not even once,” she recalled in Filipino.

Just like Sollano, she was not allowed to call anybody outside the house. She said she was only allowed to write letters to her family in Tacloban, but upon dictation of Fayette who told her never to tell her parents of her situation. “They made me a slave without salary and enough food,” she alleged.
Bacanto revealed that she was only given food whenever her employers were satisfied with her job. She said the refrigerators in the house were padlocked and that there were many instances when she was not able to eat for three consecutive days. This deprivation of food prompted the maids to try to steal food. But she said they were caught stealing several times and were harshly punished by their bosses. She said she was mauled several times by Aleta, Fayette and Maximillian.

She said she was even forced to eat dog food just to survive.

In response, the camp of Tanenglian downplayed the allegation as “part of a bigger picture.”

“I think it’s obvious that someone big instigated this action. If the maid (Bacanto) was able to go home to her province last February then how can she claim that she was being detained? And how come this story is only surfacing now?” Tanenglian’s lawyer Raymund Quiroz said in a phone interview.

“As we all know somebody is trying to stop our client from testifying at the Sandiganbayan,” he added, apparently referring to the case against Tan where Tanenglian is reportedly planning to testify for the prosecution. Still, Quiroz said they would answer all the charges once they receive a copy of the complaint.

Bacanto’s testimony supported that of Sollano. She was the one who reported their ordeal to the family of Sollano after she left Tanenglian’s house, which led to the rescue of the latter.

It can be recalled that Sollano has earlier detailed how she suffered “physical and mental abuses” in the hands of the Tanenglian family from July 2004 up to Aug. 10 when she was rescued by authorities.

While inside the house of the Tanenglians, she said she and other house helpers were “not allowed to use the telephone or cell phone, talk to fellow house helpers, laugh, sit in their (family’s) chairs, look outside the window, watch TV, eat at any time, sleep or rest before our tasks were completed, and read any material or write.” Even on her first month, Sollano said she already had a taste of the family’s ill treatment. “I was not yet familiar with my job so Ate Aleta got mad and slapped me in the face many times. Since then, they would instantly hurt me for every small mistake I make,” she recalled in Filipino.

“In my five-year stay in their house, I was not allowed to go out. They even threatened me that they would do something bad if I ask for help from outside,” she claimed. She said she tried to escape by asking permission to go to their home province in Zamboanga del Sur but her employers would not allow her. She was told that she had to finish her two-year contract and to just endure the punishments.

When her contract ended in 2006, Aleta supposedly called a lawyer and told the housemaid to sign a new contract without reading its contents. She only learned later on that she signed another contract for another two years of service in the house.

Sollano admitted that there came a point when she could no longer bear her sufferings and pleaded her employer to let her go, but Aleta again denied her saying she still had debts to pay. “I could not do anything but to just follow (them),” she lamented. She recalled how she was given “too much punishment for small mistakes.”

She even recalled an instance where she was brought by Aleta and Fayette inside a room to take nude photos of her.

“When they were not yet satisfied, they would hit me with steel or slippers, and threaten me that they would show my nude photos to other people or bring me to a nightclub owned by Ate Aleta’s friend,” she alleged.

The Philippine Star
September 9, 2009
Page 19


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