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.


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