Employers, employment agent charged for taking Filipina to work in China

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Kowloon City Law Courts

A Filipina who was allegedly taken to the mainland and made to work there by the cousin of her Hong Kong resident employer testified in court in the prosecution of a criminal charge filed by the Immigration Department against the two women and an official of an employment agency.

R. Ubaldo gave her testimony at a Kowloon City Courts on July 18-20 in the conspiracy to defraud trial of defendants of employer S.W. Wong and her cousin  Z.Huang, and employment agent C.K. Chan.

The witness said she signed a contract on Apr. 15, 2015 to work as the domestic helper of Wong. The contract stated the helper would, among others, take care of the employer’s daughter and son, and they would reside in an address in Hung Hom.

Ubaldo said it was Huang who interviewed her, and she was informed by Chan that the employer liked her.

After signing the contract, and staying in Macau while waiting for the ImmD to approve her new visa, Ubaldo said that on June 11, 2015, she started working in the address stated in her contract.

She said Wong did not reside at the address and it was Huang who would give her instructions and pay her salary. The witness added that Huang would pay her in cash and did not issue any receipts.

The two children that she took care of, she added, were also children of Huang instead of Wong’s.

In her contract, Ubaldo said, it was stated that the children were Wong’s. In August 2015, Ubaldo said she was informed by Huang that they were going to China, and they would have a holiday there.

On Aug. 17, 2015, she, Wong and Huang’s daughter went to apply for a visa so Ubaldo could enter the mainland.

Looking at her contract, Ubaldo said she asked if the name that was there was Wong’s, and the latter confirmed that it was her name.

After learning of this, Ubaldo said she inquired from Chan if this was legal, the agent said “no problem because they’re sisters.”

Ten days after, Ubaldo, along with Huang, and her children left Hong Kong for Guangzhou.

In Guangzhou, the Filipina said she was made to work at the house. She cleaned the house, went to the market, and cooked dishes. She also took Huang’s children to some exercise classes. In China, Ubaldo said, Huang took her passport.

“I did not like it because I was afraid that if something happened to me in China, how could they identify my body?” the Filipina told the court through an Ilocano interpreter.

She also said she got in touch with Chan to inform him that Huang took her passport.

“I was scared. If something happened to me, how would they identify me? Another thing was that she (Huang) was not my employer,” Ubaldo said.

Chan assured her that her passport would be returned to her.

As her visa was set to expire, she then returned to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, 2015. After returning to Hong Kong, Ubaldo was told by Wong and Chan that she would have to go back to China.

When she refused, she was terminated.

Owing to this, Ubaldo said she went to the Philippine Consulate for consultation. On Sept. 30, the Filipina went to the ImmD to file a complaint against Wong, Chan, and Huang.

Under cross-examination, Ubaldo denied she still owed some money to Chan. She added she was made to take a loan from a finance company, but the money was used to pay for her boarding fees and other charges to Chan.

The prosecution also presented an Immigration officer, who said that only a Hong Kong resident and not someone from the mainland would be allowed to hire a foreign domestic helper in Hong Kong.

The witness, however, conceded there was nothing that would bar an employer from having her relatives or even friends stay in her residence and let her domestic helper serve them as well.

After the prosecution’s case, Kowloon Deputy Judge Andrew Ma said he found there was a case to answer against each of the three defendants.

He adjourned the case for the defense’s rebuttal to Sept. 14.

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