Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Justice refiles non-bailable cases against Tan’s brother

Manila Standard Today
November 30, 2010
by Rey E. Requejo

THE Justice Department has decided to pursue qualified trafficking charges against businessman Mariano Tanenglian, his wife and two children, an offense for which no bail is allowed and which carries a life sentence.

The case stems from a complaint filed in 2009 by a former maid, Mary Jane Sollano, who accused Tanenglian, the brother of taipan Lucio Tan, of keeping her against her will, beating her and forcing her to work without pay.

Tanenglian, his wife Aleta and children Fayette and Maximillian also face charges for serious illegal detention and child abuse.

In a resolution dated Nov. 24, Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar reversed a review resolution that cleared the Tanenglians of qualified trafficking and serious illegal detention.

“After careful evaluation, we find that there is reasonable ground to believe that respondents, in addition to the charge of child abuse, likewise committed the crime of serious illegal detention and ... qualified trafficking,” Salazar said.

The Tanenglians’ lawyer said the Quezon City Regional Trial Court had already dismissed the very same cases that the new Justice Department resolution now wanted reinstated.

“It does not matter if this is done before or after the arraignment of the accused[,] or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation,” Raymundo Quiroz said, quoting a 1987 Supreme Court ruling.

Sollano said she was recruited in Zamboanga del Sur in June 2004, when she was only 13, to work as a domestic in Manila. She said that during her stay with the Tanenglians, she was forced to work from 4 a.m. to midnight without being paid, and that she suffered cruelty and ill treatment at their hands.

The first time she suffered physical abuse from her employers was in July 2004, when she was slapped several times by Aleta for having committed a mistake in her work, she said. After that, she was slapped, kicked, choked or slammed against the wall whenever she made a mistake.

She was also made to undress while the respondents took nude pictures of her and threatened to expose those to the public. She was beaten, chained by her neck until she could hardly breathe, and scalded with hot water when she was caught taking food from the refrigerator.

She was finally able to leave the house five years later, on Aug. 10, 2009, after another maid left and told her father of Sollano’s condition.

The father, who thought Sollano had died, coordinated with the Quezon City police, the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, to get his daughter back.

A similar complaint was filed by Aljane Bacanto, who had also worked as a domestic for the respondents. She said she was 16 when she started working for the Tanenglians, she was not paid, and she and the other maids were not being fed enough that they were forced to steal food from the dogs. The Tanenglians asked other maids to strip naked and to do their chores without any clothes on.

They were all locked inside the house and were prevented from leaving. Bacanto said she was made to write letters to make it appear that she was in good hands when she was not.

Bacanto was finally freed when she got hold of a cell phone and called her mother, who tried to fetch her from the Tanenglian residence.

She recalled that she was sent one morning to the airport and sent home, and only later did she find out about her mother’s attempt to rescue her.

Bacanto filed charges of ill treatment and serious illegal detention against the Tanenglians.

On Jan. 12, 2010, the investigating prosecutor recommended the Tanenglians’ prosecution for qualified trafficking, serious illegal detention and child abuse, but a review dropped the first two charges before they were restored by the latest Justice Department resolution.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Anti-smuggling summit

Manila Standard Today
by Manny Palmero
November 25, 2010

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and chairman Jesus Lim Arranza of the Federation og Philippine Industries firm up a memorandum Of agreement expressing the government-private sector joint effort to stop smuggling. The federation conferred awards for outstanding practices on four companies (lower panel): Sura Sak Kraiwitchaicharoen of Mariwasa Siam Ceramics Inc., Teodorico Funtanar of Taiheiyo Cements Philippines Inc., Delfin de Guzman of Honda Cars Philippines, and Ma. Socorro Prado of Holcim Philippines. They were joined by Ernesto Ordonez, president of Cement Manufacturers Association; George Chua, FPI president and Meneleo J. Carlos Jr., chairman.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nail Torture Shows Maid Abuse in Mideast

Bangkok Post
November 16, 2010

Human Rights Watch Tuesday urged Middle Eastern states to protect migrant workers after two Sri Lankan maids returned from the region with shocking stories of torture by their employers.

The New York-based rights group said accusations by three Sri Lankan maids that they were forced to swallow nails or had nails driven into their bodies highlighted a broad pattern of abuse of migrant domestic workers.

"The wanton brutality alleged in these cases is shocking, but reports of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and labour exploitation such as non-payment of wages are nothing new," said Nisha Varia, HRW's senior women?s rights researcher.

"The governments of Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia need to show they take such allegations seriously, and create accessible ways for domestic workers to report abuse as soon as it happens."

In August, a Sri Lankan housemaid gained worldwide attention after she complained that her Saudi employer drove 24 nails into her arms, legs and forehead as punishment.

Most of them were removed by surgeons at Sri Lanka's Kamburupitiya hospital.

The Saudi government and private sector officials in Riyadh have questioned the credibility of the woman's allegations.

Surgeons on Monday removed the last five wire nails from another Sri Lankan housemaid who accused her Kuwaiti employer of hammering 14 nails into her body when she asked for her salary after working for six months.

The authorities in Colombo are investigating another claim from a third Sri Lankan maid in Jordan who has alleged that she was forced to swallow six nails when she demanded her salary.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Bureau chief, Kingsley Ranawaka, said they were awaiting a medical report to decide on action regarding the woman who is said to have been admitted to a hospital in Amman.

Some 1.8 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad, of whom 70 percent are women. Most work as housemaids in the Middle East while smaller numbers work in Singapore and Hong Kong, seeking higher salaries than they would get at home.