`Extremely lucky’

By Philip C. TubezaDSC_0087

 

BECAUSE of her employer’s support and the lack of vital evidence, a Filipina domestic worker who got entangled in a $1.1 million money laundering scam was able to avoid imprisonment.

 

Eastern Magistrate So Wai-tak on March 3 acquitted Susei W.S. of two charges of “conspiracy to deal with property known to represent or having reasonable grounds to believe such represent proceeds of an indictable offence.”

 

So said the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He also noted that her employer, Madame Ching, had insisted in court that Susei is an honest person.

 

“I find the defendant not guilty…You are really extremely lucky that you have Madame Ching as your employer and you have (her and her family’s) support and trust,” Judge So told Susei on March 3.

 

“You can repay them by serving with honesty and integrity in the years to come,” he added.

 

Susei and her employer cried as they embraced each other after the judge announced his verdict.

 

The scammers had used Susei’s accounts in the Bank of China and Hang Seng Bank to transfer a total of $1,112,125 to a man who introduced himself to be an Americanin Nigeria in 2013.

 

“Defendant, by now I think you already know the risks of lending your account to another person,” Judge So told Susei.

 

“You could have spent 18 to 24 months in jail if convicted,” he added.

 

Barrister Ian Polson, Susei’s lawyer, said he himself was surprised by the outcome of the case.

 

“Very lucky. It’s a miracle. I did not expect that,” said Polson, a former judge in the now defunct Western Magistrates Courts.

 

“I think I was the most nervous person inside (the court room),” he added.

 

During the trial, Madame Ching said she and her family fully supported Susei and were willing to continue employing her even after what happened.

 

“(Susei) is honest and fair. She took care of my parents, especially my father who was in a wheel chair. Our family is willing to employ her further even after this incident,” said Madame Ching, who had twice renewed Susei contract.

 

“We unanimously decided to reserve the position for her in case she can return to work,” she added.

 

Susei said she allowed her bank accounts to be used because she believed the promises of her younger sister’s “Internet boyfriend.” Susei insisted that she did not know that she was dealing with “dirty money.”

 

She told the court that her younger sister Grace, who also worked in Hong Kong as a domestic worker, met the alleged brains behind the money laundering scheme through the Internet and they became online lovers.

 

Because Grace was supposed to be busy taking care of her employer’s children, she asked Susei if her “American boyfriend” could use Susei’s Bank of China account.

 

The American allegedly had a cousin who was sending him money to “renovate” a business in Nigeria.

 

“I believed because he was my sister’s boyfriend and he was already calling and saying that he wanted to marry my sister. I treated him as a part of our family,” Susei told the court on February 16.

 

“I also trusted my sister. She said the man was nice. They began talking to each other because (they were interested) in the Word of God and so he was able to gain the trust of my sister,” she added.

 

Based on the police investigation, the scammers used Susei’s Bank of China account to transfer $419,200 from Aug. 29, 2013 to Sept. 2, 2013.

 

When asked why the cousin had to course the money through her bank account, Susei said her sister’s boyfriend was then already visiting Nigeria and could not open a bank account because that “would require many documents.” She sent part of the money using remittance companies.

 

And because she could only remit up to $60,000, Susie was given the names and bank accounts of two other Filipinos and she deposited some of the money in their accounts.

 

Susei insisted that she had no inkling that what she was doing was illegal until after she was forced to close her Bank of China account when the bank informed her that they had “doubts” about the money deposited in her account.

 

“I really had no idea (until) I closed the bank account and I read something in the papers,” she said.

 

But then, Susei opened another account with Hang Seng Bank after her sister insisted on it. A total of $692,925 was deposited in this account from October 10, 2013 to December 10, 2013.

 

“I really did not think that it was a big problem. (The American) said there was no problem with the money,” Susei said.

 

In his ruling, Judge So said that while the Bank of China supposedly warned Susei, the prosecution failed to present the bank’s letter as evidence in court.

 

“The letter is not before me. I cannot speculate about the contents of the letter,” the judge said.

 

He also noted that after her arrest, Susei immediately cooperated with the police and showed them her Viber conversations with the American and an alleged copy of his passport.

 

Judge So also said that Susei might not have suspected that there was something illegal about the money because even Madame Ching agreed to deposit some of it.

 

The female employer told the court that Susei asked her to deposit $100,000 in cash because “the boyfriend of Susei’s sister was coming to Hong Kong and needed to book a hotel room.”

 

“Because on that day my father was just out of hospital and she took care of him, I went to the Hang Seng Bank to handle the money on her behalf,” Madame Ching said.

 

“I remember that…$100,000 because they requested for my I.D. card. I did not ever think the money was illegal,” she added.

Nagnakaw sa ATM, nahanap pa ng pulis

 

 

By Philip C. Tubeza

 

 

 

Kahit lampas tatlong taon na ang nakalipas mula nang damputin ni Lynette V. ang $300 na naiwan sa isang ATMsaCausewayBay (CWB), natunton pa rin siya ng mga pulis.

 

Inamin ni Lynette sa Eastern Magistrates’ Courts noong Pebrero 16 na siya ang kumuha sa $300 na naiwan ng isang Intsik sa isang HSBC ATM machine sa Patterson St. sa CWB.

 

“You are convicted on your own plea and admission of the charge,” sabi ni Eastern Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai.

 

Ayon sa mga imbestigador, nangyari ang insidente bandang 4:09 p.m. noong Nobyembre 24, 2011 sa nasabing ATM.

 

Nagwithdraw ang isang Intsik ng $300 pero nakalimutan niyang kunin ang pera na naiwan sa ATM.

 

Nang magtanong siya kinalaunan sa staff ng bangko, nalaman niyang nakumpleto ang transaksyon at nabawas nga sa kanyang account ang halagang $300.

 

Base sa CCTV footage, nakita na si Lynette ang sumunod sa Intsik at kanyang dinampot ang $300 na inilabas ng ATM.

 

Si Lynette, 43 at may 2 batang anak na lalaki, ay isang dating kasambahay pero naging residente na siya ng Hong Kong noong 2010 nang makapangasawa siya ng isang Pilipino na taga-rito.

 

“Unfortunately, her husband left her and they separated. She receives $3,000 from her husband every month,” sabi ng kanyang abogado.

 

Tinanong naman ni Judge Chainrai kung bakit umabot ng lampas tatlong taon ang lumipas bago gumulong ang kaso.

 

“Why did it take so long?” sabi ng hukom.

 

Ayon sa prosekusyon, inilagay si Lynette sa watchlist pero nitong Enero lamang nacontact ang kanyang dating employer at dating asawa.

 

“The police simply contacted her. Since this is the only incident that she took money so she immediately admitted to it,” sabi ng kanyang abogado.

 

“It was an act of momentary greed and she is very remorseful,” aniya.

 

Bilang parusa, pinagmulta ni Judge Chainrai si Lynette ng $1,500 at binigyan siya ng dalawang linggo para bayaran ito.

 

 

 

 

 

A Father’s Love For His Son

 

Gian Magdangal

Gian Magdangal

 

 

Gian as Captain Li Shang in "Mulan"

Gian as Captain Li Shang in “Mulan”

 

 

Gian performs in "The Golden Mickeys" Show

Gian performs in “The Golden Mickeys” Show




 

By Philip C. Tubeza

 

 

SINGER and actor Gian Magdangal was climbing the ladder of fame in showbiz when the spotlight suddenly turned away.

 

Gian, once described as the next Christian Bautista and a runner-up in Philippine Idol, built up his showbiz career for eight years, performing in popular Sunday TV variety shows and starring in avidly-watched teleseryes back home.

 

But in 2013, fate took a turn when his network decided not to renew his contract.

 

“Well, I did not want to leave SOP or Party Pilipinas when it became Sunday All Stars. It’s actually something that just happened that they had to remove probably

some talents and I was one of those talents whose contracts they did not renew,” Gian said in a candid interview with reporters on February 12.

 

“I mean, that happens. I asked the network (but) they did not want to renew my contract anymore.”

 

This setback did not stop Gian, a cousin of actress Jolina Magdangal, from getting back on his feet, especially since he has to take care of his six-year-old son, Gian

Hailey.

 

So as the door appeared to close on his showbiz career, opportunity came knocking when he was offered a job in Hong Kong Disneyland. He accepted the

offer.

 

“I’m a dad. I have one son. He’s six years old. I needed to find work immediately because I send him to school. That’s my main priority,” said Gian.

 

“It’s really more like a father’s decision to really provide for my son. I saw this as a really good opportunity. And true enough, when I got here, I saw that every body was

happy. Masaya dito. Talagang trabaho na maganda. May kontrata,” he added.

 

Gian performs as a vocalist, playing one of the major roles in The Golden Mickeys show at the theme park’s Storybook Theater. He said he was glad he took the offer because it gave him the opportunity to continue to do what he loves doing.

 

“What I think I do best is singing and performing, which is what I love to do. Yung natanggal sa akin yung opportunity na yun, yun pa rin ang gusto kong gawin,” Gian said.

 

“I’d like to think that only a handful of people get to do what they love doing and make it an occupation. That is really something that I’m very grateful and thankful for,” he said.

 

When he got the role, Gian was told that he had to decide quickly if he really wanted it.

 

“When I auditioned and I got the role, I was told I have to decide within a week if I wanted to accept the job or not. Kesa sa Manila na minsan ‘Ano ang next project?’ at kung ayaw kang bigyan ng kontrata ng network, nganga,” he said.

 

“Kailangan may abilidad talaga. The pay here is very good. I’m very happy,” he added.

 

And making children smile is also a challenge for Disney artists like Gian. It helps that he has a six-year-old son whose favorite Disney character is Woody, from Toy Story.

 

“We keep it real every time. We have to genuine. There’s a saying that kids can see if you’re lying or not,” said Gian.

 

“As someone who has a six-year-old son, I know how it feels like to share with them the stories of Disney because my son is also, like me, a Disney fan. I think that’s

the magic of Disney—being genuinely engaged,” he said.

 

“And when you perform every day and you see all these children—you see the theater full and all smiles—it’s really a fulfilling experience,” he added.

 

Gian said that he was also proud that there are many Filipino Disney performers who have major roles in a range of shows “both behind the scenes and on stage.”

 

“Kahit na ibang nationality ang kinakantahan mo, iba pa rin yung my pride ka na Pinoy. Maraming Pilipino dito. In a way, kahit na mag-Tagalog ka buong araw,

you’ll get by,” he said.

 

“Yung feeling na kahit sa canteen (you can say,)`Oh pare…’ Parang nag-Tatagalog lang naman ako dito,” he added.

 

Gian said being with other Filipinos and the “simple things” about working in Hong Kong keeps him motivated. He joined a dragon boat team and they paddle on the theme park’s Inspirational Lake on Monday mornings.

 

“We have all these Pinoy cast members and we talk what we want to do after the show o ano na bang nangyari sa teleserye na yan? Hanggang dito, pinag-uusapan. And I get to sleep early. Typical OFW,” Gian said.

 

“All those simple things put together and I’m still able to provide for my son. Kahit na sabihin natin na cheesy naman na para sa anak pero totoo e,” he said.

 

“Hindi mo marerealize yun hanggang sa wala ka na dun sa bansa at hindi mo katabi yung anak mo kapag gusto mong (may) kayakap pagnatutulog,” he added.

 

Gian said he was also impressed by the “convenience” and “efficiency” of living in Hong Kong.

 

“Walang car pero napaka-convenient ng MTR. You feel very secure walking here. Naiisip mo sana ganito MTR natin,” he said.

 

“It also makes you think, are we doing what we need to be doing (back in the Philippines)? The best part of working here is being able to wake up and I’m not stressed about many things and that life is simple,” he added.

 

But despite all the conveniences of Hong Kong life, Gian still longs for his son and tries to fly home every month.

 

“Akala ko mamumulubi ako sa flight. Meron palang piso fare. When I see a piso fare, I take it right away because I don’t want to miss a moment with my son,” Gian said.

 

“He says he’s happy for me but I have to say that he’s sad because he said he wants me to work in a Disney that’s “closer to school.” I used to bring him to school every day. So I told him that really, Hong Kong Disneyland, is the closest to his school,” he said.

 

This coming March 13, it will be his son’s turn to visit him in Disney.

 

“He has not seen me perform here but I booked a flight and he’ll come here on March 13 with my parents. I’m already excited. He’s going watch me perform,”

Gian said.

Disneyland celebrates the talent and passion of Filipino artists

 

By Philip C. Tubeza

Rony

 

Pinoy Pride: Singer Raki Vega on February 12 leads her fellow Pinoy artists in Hong Kong Disneyland in singing "Find Your Light" which was specially made to reach out to Filipinos.

Pinoy Pride: Singer Raki Vega on February 12 leads her fellow Pinoy artists in Hong Kong Disneyland in singing “Find Your Light” which was specially made to reach out to Filipinos.

 

SAYING it treasures its Filipino artists, Hong Kong Disneyland has launched a campaign to celebrate the “passion and talent” of Filipinos working in the popular theme park.

 

Hong Kong Disneyland released a new song, titled “Find Your Light,” that is tailor-made for Filipinos and has an exclusive “Show Your Disney Side” special offer for Filipino visitors.

 

In April, the theme park will also continue its “buy one, get one free” ticket offer for foreign domestic helpers.  

 

“We treasure Filipino talent and their passion for music,” said David Lightbody, the park’s director for entertainment and costuming.

 

“We have been recruiting cast members from the Philippines even before we opened the Park ten years ago,” he added.

 

The song “Find Your Light” was produced by an all-Filipino cast—-it was written by the park’s Music Director, Rony Fortich, performed by artist Raki Vega, and choreographed by Park Choreographer Jaime Del Prado.

 

The song’s music video features Filipino and English lyrics and aims to inspire Filipino guests to share both the joy and “Pinoy pride” in Disneyland.

 

“With a diverse range of cast members from over 30 different nationalities, Filipino cast members currently hold major roles in a rage of shows, both behind the scenes and on stage,” Lightbody said.

 

“The quality and energy of their performances has played an instrumental role in touching people’s hearts and providing guests with the fondest memories of their Disney experience,” he added.

 

Fortich, a well-known musical director in the Philippines, explained that the term “Find Your Light” comes from theater.

 

“(It) is a term often used in theater where if somebody is on stage and a director says, `Find your light,’ an actor will go where the light is because they usually stand n shadows,” Fortich said in an interview.

 

“It’s a term to show how Filipinos can shine abroad and find where they’re good at. That’s the inspiration of the song,” he said.

 

“Here in Hong Kong Disneyland, we have a lot of Filipino cast members finding a place to shine,” he added.

 

Fortich has been with Disney for almost a decade and has seen the number of Filipino artists increase.

 

“For nine years, I’ve seen the Filipinos on stage. I’ve seen a lot of Filipinos visiting especially during Holy Week and Christmas. You walk around the park, it’s so cool to hear Tagalog being spoken,” Fortich said.

 

“Filipinos are a huge part of Hong Kong Disneyland. So, when they approached me with the idea of creating a tailor-made campaign for the Philippines and then I got to write the song with Filipinos

in mind, I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

 

”I thought it was a really cool tribute to Filipinos who work here and Filipinos who come over,” he added.

 

To entice more visitors from the Philippines, the park has an exclusive “Show Your Disney Side” offer that runs until June 30.

 

It includes a one-day or two-day ticket, one complimentary personalized name tag, and a main course with soft drinks at designated restaurants “all at the special price of $499(around P2,850)/$680(P3,880).

 

With another Disney theme park opening in Shanghai soon, Hong Kong Disneyland is reaching out to more people.

 

“Since I joined the park when it opened in 2005, the unique story-telling and musical environment here has inspired me to find new, wonderful ways to tell stories through music. It is a very fulfilling

to see the smiles on our guests’ faces,” Fortich said.

FDH accused of laundering $1.1 million

 

 

By Philip C. Tubeza

 

BECAUSE she believed the sweet promises of her sister’s “Internet boyfriend,” a Filipino domestic helper got entangled in a $1.1 million money laundering scam.

 

Susei W.S. was charged in the Eastern Magistrates Courts with two counts of “conspiracy to deal with property known to represent or having reasonable grounds to believe such represent proceeds of an indictable offence.”

 

The scammers used Susei’s accounts in the Bank of China and Hang Seng Bank in 2013 to transfer a total of $1,112,125 to a man who introduced himself as an American who was visiting Nigeria.

 

The domestic worker said she did not know that she was dealing with “dirty money.”

 

“Naniwala ako dahil siya ang boypren ng kapatid ko at tumatawag na siya at gusto ng pakasalan ang kapatid ko. Tinuring kong bahagi na siya ng aming pamilya,” Susei told the court on February 16.

 

“Pinagkatiwalaan ko rin ang kapatid ko. Ang sabi niya mabait yung lalaki. Nag-simula silang mag-usap dahil sa salita ng Diyos kaya nakuha ang trust ng sister ko,” she added.

 

Based on the police investigation, the scammers used Susei’s Bank of China account to transfer $419,200 from Aug. 13, 2013 to Sept. 2, 2013. From Oct. 10, 2013 to Dec. 13, 2013, a total of $692,925 was transferred using her Hang Seng bank account.

 

Susei testified in court that her younger sister Grace, who also worked in Hong Kong as a domestic worker, met online the alleged brains behind the money laundering scheme. They became online lovers.

 

Because Grace was supposedly busy taking care of her employer’s children, she asked Susei if her “American boyfriend” could use Susei’s Bank of China account.

 

The American allegedly had a cousin who was sending him the money to “renovate” a business in Nigeria.

 

When asked why the cousin had to course the money through her bank account, Susei said her sister’s boyfriend was then already visiting Nigeria and could not open a bank account because that “would

require many documents.” She sent part of it using remittance companies.

 

And because she could only remit up to $60,000, Susei was given the names and bank accounts of two other Filipinos and she deposited some of the money there. Susei insisted that she never had an inkling that what she was doing was illegal.

 

“Wala talaga akong idea, ate,” she told an interpreter in court. “(Nagka-idea lang ako) nung time na sinara ko yung bank account at may nabasa ako sa diyaryo.”

 

Susei was forced to close down her Bank of China account after the bank wrote to her and informed her that they had “doubts” about the money deposited in her account.

 

But then, Susei opened another account with Hang Seng Bank after her sister insisted on it.

 

“Hindi ko talaga inisip na malalim ang problema na iyon. Ang sabi ng (Amerikano) walang problema sa pera,” Susei said.

 

The police got wind of the scheme in February 2014 and they also investigated Grace. However, they allowed her to go home to the Philippines when her contract ended in March last year.

 

Even after the scam was discovered, her Chinese employer supported her fully and she even testified in court on her behalf.

 

“(Susei) is honest and fair. She took care of my parents, especially my father who was in a wheel chair. Our family is willing to employ her further even after this incident,” said the employer, who had twice renewed Susei contract.

 

“We unanimously decided to reserve the position for her in case she can return to work,” she added.

 

The female employer also told the court that, in one instance, Susei even asked her to deposit $100,000 in cash because “the boyfriend of Susei sister was coming to Hong Kong and needed to book a hotel room.”

 

“Because on that day my father was just out of hospital and she took care of him, I went to the Hang Seng Bank to handle the money on her behalf,” the employer said.

 

“I remember that…$100,000 because they requested for my I.D. card. I made the deposit in Hang Seng Bank in Tai Koo Shing,” she said.

 

“For that account, it was provided by her to me. After making the deposit, I gave her the slip. All along, I thought it was for the boyfriend. I did not ever think the money was illegal,” she added.

 

Eastern Magistrate So Wai-tak, who heard the case, was scheduled to hand down his verdict on March 3.

 

DLSAA-HK raises $8,0000

Lasallians in HK raise HK$8,000 in maiden fundraiser for 2015 In what has turned out to be an auspicious start to the Chinese Lunar New Year, Lasallians in Hong Kong kicked off their maiden fundraiser for 2015 raising over HK$8,000. Proceeds go to the 150-strong group’s three key advocacies: underprivileged Filipino students, distressed migrant workers in Hong Kong and the relief and rebuild programs for calamity-stricken areas in the Philippines. Dubbed Tres AN1MOS!, the De La Salle Alumni Association – Hong Kong Chapter (DLSAA HK) event, was held at Orange Peel in Lan Kwai Fong on February 24th, and was sponsored by PLDT Hong Kong. The two-hour fundraiser was top-billed by Hong Kong’s most talented Filipino performers, Ricky Pe on acoustics and the father-and-son tandem Arnold Pineda and Adrian Pineda. “We are grateful for the opportunity to champion three noble advocacies in just 19 months since our revival, and which the wider community in Hong Kong now wholeheartedly, collectively support through their attendance and interest in our fundraisers. The advocacies have given us Lasallians in Hong Kong through the DLSAA HK Chapter the opportunity to become dynamic agents of social change,” says DLSAA HK President Cathy Yang. The maiden fundraiser for the year comes on the heels of the DLSAA HK’s successful joint mission in Cebu. In what has been billed an unprecedented collaboration among Filipino groups in Hong Kong and Cebu, the DLSAA HK led a composite group of concerned Lasallians and supporters, visiting Haiyan survivors, all of who are beneficiaries of the funds raised with the help of the wider community, for the relief and rebuild of Northern Visayas following the super typhoon. The DLSAA HK, which started out as a group of drinking buddies has now grown to over 150-plus. Membership is free. Minimum requirement for joining up: at least two years residency in any Lasallian school in the Philippines. For more information, kindly email dlsaahkofficers@googlegroups.com.

Lasallians in HK help Haiyan survivors in Cebu

Fourteen months after Haiyan pummeled the Visayas region in the Philippines, the De La Salle Alumni Association – Hong Kong Chapter (DLSAA HK) has organized a visit this month to survivors whom it helped provide relief goods to, as well rebuild homes lost to the super-typhoon in Northern Cebu.

The DLSAA HK Chapter, together with local partners One La Salle Alumni Association – Cebu Chapter (OLSAA Cebu) and MARCH for Christ, and Hong Kong-based Filipino youth group Section Juan, will, on February 12th, mount a joint feeding program for 200 schoolchildren, in the same community, Barangay Dapdap in San Remigio, 300 kilometers north of Cebu City.

“Our upcoming visit is a reaffirmation of our commitment to see our beneficiaries through their most challenging times,” says DLSAA Chapter President Cathy Yang, “as well as commune with them in thanksgiving and joy for the blessing of being able to help, and being able to take a moment in time to appreciate the goodness of living out another day in hope, faith and love.”

The DLSAA HK Chapter in December 2013 raised over HK$100,000 (or P600,000) to help fund the distribution of relief goods to Haiyan victims in Northern Cebu, Leyte and Northern Bacolod, as well as the rebuilding of homes in its chosen community, Brgy. Dapdap. The DLSAA HK carried out its relief and rebuild tasks with the help of local partners OLSAA Cebu and MARCH for Christ led by Lasallian Chito Cusi, while Section Juan in Hong Kong handpicked the DLSAA HK to be facilitator in the funds the youth group raised in two of its events for the rebuilding of homes in Brgy Dapdap.

OLSAA Cebu Chapter President Dave Karamihan has confirmed the group is contributing P5,000 for the joint feeding program. For its part, the DLSAA HK Chapter Board unanimously agreed to contribute the equivalent, helping raise P10,000 for the joint feeding program. In addition, Section Juan has offered to distribute school supplies to all 200 children.

Section Juan President and Founder Jan Yumul, who will be joining the Lasallian team in its visit, looks forward to seeing the children again. Yumul visited the beneficiaries over the Christmas holidays in 2013. “On behalf of our growing team,” says Yumul, “we thank our Lasallian partners who have also been one of the instruments in establishing the pioneer support group for Filipino youths in Hong Kong. Thank you for seeing us through your ANIMO spirit, especially in a time where it was needed the most. We are happy to be a part of this instrument of change, which has traveled far and will travel far beyond the lives we are rebuilding. Thank you for your trust and confidence. May your support never waver.”

Yang, along with Cusi and his team from MARCH for Christ, visited Brgy Dapdap exactly one year ago. Back then, ten homes had been in different stages of the rebuild, while five homes were needing to be roofed. “Some of the homes we had seen then had already been painted in green, in honor of our Lasallian alumni colors,” recalls Yang. “I had the opportunity then to meet those who we’ve helped, and we look forward to meeting more of them and their families as we knock on their doors as well as during the lunch get-together with their children enrolled in Dapdap Elementary School.”

Yumul, Cusi and Yang will be joined by Lasallians Ramin Sanchez from Hong Kong and Bobby Martinez and his wife Gie from Cebu. A separate visit to Bantayan Island, also ravaged by Haiyan, will be conducted by Cusi following the feeding program at Brgy. Dapdap. The group aims to conduct a tree-planting ceremony in Bantayan as a sign of its partnership in the rebuild. The relief and rebuild programs form part of the DLSAA HK Chapter’s Calamity Fund, which aims to help those in need when natural disasters strike during typhoon season in the Philippines. The Calamity Fund is one of three chosen advocacies of the 140-plus strong DLSAA HK Chapter. The other two are helping underprivileged Filipinos finish high school as well as assisting distressed migrant workers in Hong Kong.

Kasambahay, kulong dahil iligal na nagpadala ng $173,000

By Peter Castillo

Isa na namang Pilipina ang naloko ng kanyang “kaibigan” sa Internet.

Makukulong ang kasambahay na si Cheryl F.A. dahil sa iligal na pagreremit ng $173,000 mula sa isang tao na nakilala lang niya online.

Iniutos ni Tsuen Wan Magistrates Courts Acting Principal Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing noong Pebrero 11 na makulong ng walong buwan si Cheryl matapos siyang umamin na guilty sa apat na kaso ng dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of indictable offence.

Iyak ng iyak naman ang Pilipina sa korte dahil siya lang ang inaasahan ng kanyang asawa at anak sa Pilipinas.

Ayon sa imbestigasyon, may naging “kaibigan” si Cheryl, na edad 41, sa Internet at nakumbinse siyang ipagamit ang kanyang bank account dito sa Hong Kong.

Mula Oktubre 2013, apat na beses na may nagpadala ng pera sa bank account ng Pilipina at umabot ito sa $173,000.

Ayon sa records ng kaso, isang kompaniya na nagngangalang G-Dream ang nagpadala ng pera. Si Cheryl naman, ipinadala ang pera sa isang taong nagngangalang Peter Franklin.

Ayon sa abogado ng kasambahay, hindi niya alam na iligal pala ang kanyang ginawa at ni isang kusing ay hindi siya kumita.

Sinabi naman ni Judge To na dapat ay 15 buwan ang ilalagi ni Cheryl sa kulungan pero dahil sa kanyang pag-amin ay ginawa na lang niya itong walong buwan.

Nauna ng nagbabala ang konsulado na mag-ingat ang mga Pilipina sa Hong Kong sa mga taong gustong kaibiganin sila sa Internet.

“Lalo na ngayon winter at malamig sa labas, malamig ang panahon. Medyo malungkot sa Hong Kong. Pag-isipian din natin mabuti kung sino ang nakikipagkaibigan natin lalong lalo na sa Internet lang natin makikita,” sabi ni Vice Consul Charles Macaspac, hepe ng Assistance to Nationals Section

“Ang style kunwari pag kinaibigan na kayo, magugulat na lang kayo hihingin ang bank account ninyo,” aniya.

Sinabi ni Macaspac na kapag nalaman na ang bank account details, magpapadala na ng pera na hindi nalalaman ng Pilipina na iligal pala ito.

“Ang gagawin pagnakuha bank account niyo, bigla na lang pagcehck nyo ng balance ninyo, bigla na lang meron kayong daang-daang libong Hong Kong dollar dun,” sabi ni Macaspac.

“`Tas bibigyan kayo ng instruction: `Pakideposit naman sa account na ito.’ Kayo naman in love na in love kayo, susunod naman kayo,” aniya.

“Magugulat na lang kayo may kakatok na pulis sa inyo at inaaresto na kayo. Wala kayong kamalay-malay nabiktima kayo ng money laundering,” dagdag ni Macaspac.

Filipino nabbed with $1.7 M of suspected cocaine

By Philip C. Tubeza

Hong Kong Customs agents have arrested another “drug mule” from the Philippines with $1.7 million worth of suspected cocaine.

The authorities arrested the female tourist on February 2 at the Hong Kong International Airport after she was caught with 1.8 kilos of the suspected illegal drug.

“The arrested person, aged 29, will be charged with one count of trafficking in a dangerous drug,” the government said in a statement.

“Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, drug trafficking is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment and a fine of $5 million,” it added.

Vice Consul Charles Macaspac said the suspect was a tourist from Metro Manila and she had to be hospitalized after her arrest.

“May mga potential leads na iniexplore so hindi pa talaga ako pwede magsalita about this. Na-extandan na siya ng consular assistance ng konsulado. Masama ang kanyang pakiramdam,” Macaspac said.

Investigators said the suspected cocaine was found in a briefcase with “false compartments.”

“Upon baggage examination, Customs officers found a briefcase inside her hand carry suitcase. The briefcase was abnormally heavy,” the government said.

“Upon further checking, false compartments were found in the briefcase. As a result of close examination, about 1.8 kilogrammes of suspected cocaine were uncovered,” it added.

On Dec. 4, airport authorities arrested Eden Monica G.N., 29 and a domestic helper, after they found 2.26 kilos of suspected cocaine, worth $2.4 million, in her luggage.

She was arrested after returning from a vacation in the Philippines.

The February 2 drug haul also came a day after Hong Kong Customs caught two persons from Kolkata, India with $560 worth of suspected marijuana resin.

“Hong Kong Customs will continue to keep track of the latest drugs trafficking trend and formulate pertinent anti-narcotics enforcement strategies,” the government said.

“In addition, Hong Kong Customs will strengthen intelligence exchange with overseas law enforcement agencies so as to combat transnational drug trafficking activities,” it added.

‘Jail her for life’

By Philip C. Tubeza

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She has forgiven her former employer but justice should take its course.

Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih said her former employer should receive “the maximum sentence” after the District Court found her guilty in a case that sparked international outrage.

Speaking to reporters after the verdict came out on February 10, Erwiana said Law Wan-tung, 45 and a mother of two, should be jailed for life after she was convicted in 18 out of 20 charges that included assault, criminal intimidation, and failure to pay Erwiana’s salary and to allow her holidays.

“As a human being, I could forgive her and her family but since Hong Kong has a justice system, justice must be upheld. I hope Law Wan-tung will receive the maximum sentence; even though for me, that is still not enough compared to what she did to me and the other victims,” Erwiana said.

“For me personally, she should receive life imprisonment for what she did, and for the fact that she does not have any remorse for her past actions while also teaching her children to lie for her,” she said.

“My other reason is because no one could guarantee she will realize what she did to me and that she would not hurt others in the future,” she added.

Because of the gravity of her offenses, Law was remanded in jail custody after Judge Amanda Woodcock announced her verdict and revoked her $1 million bail.

Woodcock set the mitigation for Law’s sentencing on February 27 while calling for the convict’s psychiatric and psychological reports.

The judge had ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Law punched Erwiana in the face, which fractured two of her front teeth; hit her on the head, causing the worker to fall and lose consciousness; and inserted the metal tube of a vacuum cleaner into her mouth, cutting her lips.

“I am sure Ms. Erwiana did not fabricate her evidence. I am sure she is not framing the defendant,” Woodcock said.

She ordered Law to pay Erwiana $28,800 for her unpaid salary while also convicting the employer for assaulting another Indonesian maid, Tutik Lestari Ningsih.

The decision was hailed all around with Filipinos in Hong Kong celebrating it as a victory for domestic workers and the city’s legal system.

“Dito sa Hong Kong, patas ang batas. Kahit sabihin mayaman or connected sa government, pag mali, may parusa,” said Cherry Valiente on the Hong Kong News Facebook page.

“Maganda yan para maging fair and just ang mga amo sa mga katulong,” said Emilia Mable.

“Dapat lang! Marami pang amo na nagmaltrato ng katulong nila. Hindi natutulog ang Panginoon,” said Shane Baloc.

Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung also hailed the decision of the court.

“The Government welcomes the judgment of the court today on that particular case, and this underlines the importance that the Government and the court attach to protecting the labour rights as well as the well-being of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong,” Cheung said.

“We attach great importance to protecting their well-being, and ensure that their labour rights are fully respected,” he added.

However, Dolores Balladares, Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body spokesperson, said Erwiana’s victory should also spur the Hong Kong government to change its “anti-migrant” policies “that tie foreign domestic workers down.”

“One of them is the New Conditions of Stay, or the imposition of a two-week stay for any foreign domestic worker whose employment contract has been terminated prematurely,” she said.

Erwiana herself said that the government should reform its policies like the two-week rule, mandatory live-in policy, no regulations on working hours, and accommodation and decent food.

“Before, I did not know anything about these policies. However, during the process of my case, I realized that my conditions are also caused by these regulations,” she said.

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