Daily Archives: January 29, 2008

Couple Sentenced for Slavery of Pinay

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

James Jackson, former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine during his sentencing in US District Court in Los Angeles. The couple pleaded guilty earlier to harboring Nena Ruiz, a domestic worker whose visa had expired, and holding her in forced labor.

Elizabeth was accused of bringing Ruiz from the Philippines to the United States in 2001, confiscating her passport and forcing her to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, authorities said. Ruiz, who worked in the Jacksons’ home from 2001 to 2002 and was threatened with deportation if she left without permission, was paid no more than $400 a month.

“These defendants used their power and affluence to coerce a vulnerable woman into their personal service for several months,” said Grace Chung Becker, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Elizabeth Jackson’s attorney was unavailable for comment. All forced-labor charges against her husband were dropped by federal prosecutors, said Richard Steingard, James Jackson’s attorney.

“I am grateful that all charges against Mr. Jackson were dismissed,” Steingard said. “I am terribly sorry that his wife received a prison sentence, as neither I nor Mr. Jackson believe that the imposition of that sentence is necessary.”

In 2004, Nena Ruiz was awarded $825,000 in damages by a Los Angeles jury after she sued her former employers. Ruiz said that Elizabeth Jackson regularly slapped her, pulled her hair, forced her to sleep on a dog bed, and gave her three-day-old food to eat while she was expected to clean and provide fresh food to the Jacksons’ dogs. The domestic worker finally ran away after she was hit in the mouth with a water bottle in February 2002.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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FilAms Protest US Citizenship Application Delays

By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

Citizenship applications typically take about seven months to process. An increase in applications, however, has caused delays as long as 18 months, the USCIS reported.

“We’re really encouraging the USCIS who increased the fee to $675, which is very, very difficult for a lot of working families, to process those applications. They increased the fee supposedly to be able to augment the resources to make that happen quicker, ” said Bobby dela Cruz of the Service Employees International Union.

The crowd sang God Bless America and waved American flags. Some wore T-shirts that read, “We waited in line, we followed the rules. Citizens 7/4/08. Don’t break the promise.”

The rally was organized by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which tries to help improve the lives of working families, said Matthew Henderson, the organization’s southwest regional director.

State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, who was at the protest, said he found it ironic that the delays coincided with a presidential election. “The same [delays] occurred in 1996,” he said, “and those people were able to participate in the election.”

The group boarded buses after the demonstration and headed to the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to deliver letters asking for her support.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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SC Dismisses ABS-CBN Plea Against ‘Wowowee’ Stampede Probe

By Maria Sunantha Quibilan/Asianjournal.com

THE Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. that questioned the result of the investigation conducted by the Department of Justice into the tragic stampede at the ULTRA stadium (now Philsports Arena) two years ago.

In a 22-page decision, the high court, through Associate Justice Conchitina Carpio Morales, disagreed with the TV network’s allegation that the DoJ preliminary investigation was biased and unfounded. The ruling directed the DoJ prosecutors to continue with the proceedings to determine if there was probable cause to charge ABS-CBN executives of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.

On Feb. 4, 2006, seventy-one people were killed and hundreds more were injured as the crowd, estimated at 30,000 people, pushed and shoved outside the Pasig City stadium to get a hold of the tickets being given out to the first anniversary celebration of the popular noontime show, Wowowee. On that day, the show was planning to give away big prizes which included P1 million pesos, a house and lot and a car.

A resolution issued on Oct. 9, 2006 by the five-man investigatory panel headed by State Prosecutor Leo Dacera from the DoJ found probable cause that several ABS-CBN executives were to blame for the deadly stampede. The network officials questioned these findings, arguing that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez had prejudged the case and that the proceedings were done with “indecent haste.”

These claims, however, were debunked by Tuesday’s ruling, a portion of which stated that the “petitioners’ [ABS-CBN officials] fears are speculatory.”

“As for petitioners’ claim of undue haste indicating bias, proof thereof is wanting. The pace of the proceedings is anything but a matter of acceleration. Neither is there proof showing that Gonzalez exerted undue pressure on his subordinates to tailor their decision with his public declarations and adhere to a pre-determined result,” the Supreme Court said.

The high court’s decision denies the plea of ABS-CBN, led by its executive vice president Charo Santos-Concio, for a temporary restraining order against the DoJ panel’s preliminary investigation.  This paves the way for the indictment of all those involved in the Wowowee stampede, except for host Willie Revillame, with criminal charges.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN legal department head, Atty. Maxim Uy, said that the company will ask the court to reconsider its decision. They were given 15 days to file such motion.

In addition, ABS-CBN said in its website that it will continue to help, through its 71 Dreams Foundation, “the orphans of the stampede victims despite the decision that could lead to the filing of charges against the company.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Amparo Filed Vs. Rights Group

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — Another petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo has been filed before the Supreme Court, this time not against the military, but a human rights group and Gumaca, Quezon province Vice Mayor Josefa Carmela Lavidez.

Aside from, Lavidez, petitioner Alfreda Orlina filed the case against KARAPATAN (Southern Tagalog) members Charlie del Valle, Wins Pertierra, Kate Realco and Princess de Leon.

In her petitioner, Orlina together with Epifanio Puyos, a barangay captain, asked the Court to compel the respondents to produce her husband–farmer Elizer before the court and release him from their custody.

Orlina also asked the High Tribunal to issue an order allowing the inspection of all safehouses of KARAPATAN within the Southern Tagalog area and direct them to give and explain the present whereabouts of Elizer.

Elizer was reportedly last seen by a witness in one of the safehouses of KARAPATAN in Lucena City.

Elizer reportedly told the witness that he was confused because the human rights group would not let him go home to his family.

In September last year, Orlina claimed three alleged members of KARAPATAN – Wins Pertierra, Kate Realco and Princess de Leon visited them in their residence to inform them that their son was in the custody of the military.

Documents show that Orlina’s son, Rodel was one of four civilians chanced upon by operating Army troops in Gumaca, Quezon during an encounter with NPA rebels.

A special habeas corpus proceeding conducted by Gumaca RTC (Branch 62)  Judge Hector B. Almeyda showed that the four were placed by the Army’s 76th Infantry Battalion in their protective custody as standard operating procedure.

But while the two others were released by the lower court to their respective families, Rodel and the other civilian opted to stay at the Army headquarters.

On September 4, 2007, Elizer accompanied by Puyos, the barangay captain of Barangay Villa Reyes went to Barangay Lagyo, Gumaca, where they were met by members of KARAPATAN.

Elizer said he was able to see his son and learned that he “voluntarily put himself” in the custody of the 76th Infantry Battalion at Barangay Villa Principe, Gumaca.

After the meeting, Puyos returned to Barangay Villa Principe and informed Alfreda that Rodel is safe and that her husband, Elizer, is in the safekeeping of Lavidez.

Alfreda became worried after Elizer had failed to return home. She later learned that her husband was taken by the  three KARAPATAN members from Lavidez on September 5, 2007.

“At present, Elizer Orlina is still detained by and in the custody of KARAPATAN against his will. The petitioners are afraid that unless Elizer is immediately released, or his whereabouts known, his life maybe in danger. Moreover, they know that there is no reason fore his continued illegal confinement,” the petition said.

Elizer’s family are also asking the Court to compel KARAPATAN to pay P500,000 as compensation for punitive and moral damages.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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