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Miscellaneous Articles: MabuhayRadio has plenty to say, and not all of them would fit a particular "label". In those cases - are there will be plenty - this is where you will find them.



Adoptive Parents of Filipino Twins Get 21, 20 Years Prison Sentences PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 22 March 2013 16:44

 

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

 

C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Sandra and Jeffrey Weller, adoptive parents to two Filipino twins, were given “exceptional” sentences of 20 and 21 years in prison, respectively, on Wednesday (March 20) for imprisoning, starving, beating the twins.

 

Because Jeffrey Weller was also convicted for beating his own and Sandra’s biological son, Superior Court Judge Barbara D. Johnson of the Clark County in Vancouver, Washington added one more year of imprisonment for him.

 

Jeffrey Weller, 43, and Sandra Weller, 50, did not react to their sentencing witnessed by a crowd that included the twins, a boy and a girl, who are now, 17-years old and seated on the front row.

 

Jeffrey Weller, an employee of Wafer Tech, and Sandra Weller, a homemaker, were found guilty last Feb. 8 by a jury of four counts each of assault in the second and third degrees, one count each of unlawful imprisonment, additional counts of two assaults each in the third and fourth degrees and one count of assault in the second degree. Jeffrey and Sandra were found not guilty on one count of unlawful imprisonment while Jeffrey was not found guilty on one count of assault in the third degree while Sandra was found not guilty on one count of assault in the second degree.

 

Judge Johnson found “appropriate” the recommendation of Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dustin D. Richardson of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office to give the couple “exceptional sentences” for 240 months (20 years) in prison because of aggravating circumstances of “manifested deliberate cruelty to the victims” and as part “of an ongoing pattern of psychological or physical abuse” of the victims, “manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time” as to counts 1,2,4,5 and 6 for Sandra and to counts 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 13 for Jeffrey.

 

“SUBSTANTIAL AND COMPELLING REASONS”

 

T he court found “substantial and compelling” reasons for “exceptional sentence” when all the children, both the adopted twins and biological children, “testified to living in what verged on a house of torture,” allegations that extended “over a lengthy period of time and impacted on multiple child victims.”

 

Sandra Weller adopted the Filipino twins when they were two years old some time in 1997 in California when she gave birth also to a pair of twins, also, a boy and a girl, who both died stillborn. Sandra was still married then to Tim Graf and they later broke up, leaving Sandy a single mom to take care of her child with Tim and the Filipino twins, who never recalled “any better times or good old days.”

 

In 2005, Sandra met Jeffrey, who also had two children from his prior relationship, and together Sandra and Jeffrey had a biological child.

 

The male Filipino twin, known only as “C.J.T,” and his twin sister, known only as  “C.L.W.”, and are now 17 years old, feel that they were not treated like the biological kids.

 

He calls Sandra the “more dominant parent in the home” while Jeffrey was Sandra’s “puppet.”

 

A typical day for the twins started at 6 p.m. when they went to bed. They made sure that they were not taking a lot of liquids because they could not get out of their bedroom to go to the bathroom. Their bedroom, which had no bathroom, no lights and no electricity, could only be unlocked from the outside. A pounding on the door at 4:30 in the morning would rouse them from bed to start their chores as the rest of the children, except two, prepared to attend public school. The children were eating while the twins did their chores.

 

Afterwards, the twins, who were not sent to school, were told to get back in their room even without eating.

 

During daytime, because their room had no clock, they could only tell the time from the shadows of the trees thru a window, which they could not open because it was locked.

 

Sometimes the male twin slept on the floor in the bedroom of two other boys “for show in case CPS or somebody came to the residence.”

 

1” X 2” X 42” STICK

 

If the twins messed things up, Jeffrey would use a “stick (1”X2”X42”) that was more long and slender” to beat them up. The beating count was from 20 to 30. When the stick started to fall apart, Jeffrey would replace it. There had been four sticks that the male twin could remember.

 

The twins were usually fed once a day. When they ate, they were standing. While the rest were seated.

 

When the twins got into their room, they were searched for food that they stole from the cabinets. When they got out of their room, they were also searched for empty cans or containers from food they had stolen.

 

When they were caught with food, the female twin took the blame. Punishment was usually a beating with the stick for both of them before Jeffrey would go to work to his graveyard shift. It was followed by hours of lecture and a broken-record question that they had to answer: “Why did Michael and Brenna (the stillborn twins) have to die, but you lived when your Mom wanted you dead?”

Because they were worried that Jeffrey would still make good their threat to beat them further, when they visited their therapist on Oct. 6, 2011, they left a note on the chair of the therapist’s office, asking for help. A couple of days later, CPS and Vancouver police came knocking down, arresting the Weller couple and taking the twins and the couple’s biological children under the care of the state. 

 

“E. W.,” “I.W., Tina Toth, Michael Toth, Timothy Graf and “C.G.W.”, in their impact statements, viewed Sandra Weller “as the ringleader or director of abuse that they suffered largely at the hands of Jeffrey Weller.

 

The Wellers denied the accusations against them and plan to appeal. # # #

 

Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

 

 

 
Adoptive Parents of Filipino Twins Found Guilty for Domestic Violence PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 16 February 2013 20:55

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)


C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – After more than two years of suffering from physical abuse, starvation and beatings from the iron hands of their adoptive parents, 16-year Filipino twins – a boy and a girl – left a note to their therapist, saying their father was beating them.  




Child Protective Services Social Workers Margie Dunn and Kim Karu of the advocacy Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center in Vancouver, Washington state, who were notified about the note, sought a backup from Vancouver police officers Sandra Aldridge and David Jensen to investigate a domestic violence report at the residence of Jeffrey Wayne Weller and wife, Sandra Doreen Weller, at the 14100 Block of 17th Court NE in Vancouver on Oct. 7, 2011.

 

Last Friday, Feb. 8, a jury convicted Jeffrey Weller, 43, an employee of Wafer-Tech, and Sandra Weller, 50, a home maker, of four counts each of assault in the second and third degrees, one count each of unlawful imprisonment, additional counts of two assaults each in the third and fourth degrees and one count of assault in the second degree. Jeffrey and Sandra were found not guilty on one count of unlawful imprisonment while Jeffrey was not found guilty on one count of assault in the third degree while Sandra was found not guilty on one count of assault in the second degree.

 

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dustin D. Richardson of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office told this reporter Sandra Weller is facing a standard range sentence of 43 to 57 months while her husband, Jeffrey Weller, is facing a standard range sentence of 63 to 84 months before Superior Court Judge Barbara D. Johnson.





COUPLE TO GET “SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER SENTENCE”

 

B ut Richardson added the Wellers “could receive substantially higher sentence because the jury found aggravating factors” when they are sentenced on March 12.



Sandra Weller adopted the Filipino twins when they were two years old some time in 1997 in California when she gave birth also to a pair of twins, also, a boy and a girl, who both died stillborn. Sandra was still married then to Tim Graf and they later broke up, leaving Sandy a single mom to take care of her child with Tim and the Filipino twins, who never recalled “any better times or good old days.”

 

In 2005, Sandra met Jeffrey, who also had two children from his prior relationship, and together Sandra and Jeffrey had a biological child.

 

The male Filipino twin, known only as “C.J.T,” and his twin sister, known only as  “C.L.W.”, and are now 17 years old, feel that they were not treated like the biological kids.

 

He calls Sandra the “more dominant parent in the home” while Jeffrey was Sandra’s “puppet.”

 

A typical day for the twins started at 6 p.m. when they went to bed. They made sure that they were not taking a lot of liquids because they could not get out of their bedroom to go to the bathroom. Their bedroom, which had no bathroom, no lights and no electricity, could only be unlocked from the outside. A pounding on the door at 4:30 in the morning would rouse them from bed to start their chores as the rest of the children, except two, prepared to attend public school. The children were eating while the twins did their chores.

 

Afterwards, the twins, who were not sent to school, were told to get back in their room even without eating.

 

During daytime, because their room had no clock, they could only tell the time from the shadows of the trees thru a window, which they could not open because it was locked.

 

Sometimes the male twin slept on the floor in the bedroom of two other boys “for show in case CPS or somebody came to the residence.”

 

1” X 2” X 42” STICK

 

If the twins messed things up, Jeffrey would use a “stick (1”X2”X42”) that was more long and slender” to beat them up. The beating count was from 20 to 30. When the stick started to fall apart, Jeffrey would replace it. There had been four sticks that the male twin could remember.

 

The twins were usually fed once a day. When they ate, they were standing. While the rest were seated.

 

When the twins got into their room, they were searched for food that they stole from the cabinets. When they got out of their room, they were also searched for empty cans or containers from food they had stolen.

 

When they were caught with food, the female twin took the blame. Punishment was usually a beating with the stick for both of them before Jeffrey would go to work to his graveyard shift. It was followed by hours of lecture and a broken-record question that they had to answer: “Why did Michael and Brenna (the stillborn twins) have to die, but you lived when your Mom wanted you dead?”

When the male twin would answer, “I don’t know,” Sandra would say, “I don’t know doesn’t cut the mustard.”

 

The twins were not allowed to seat on the couches or tables because they are “skuzzy.” They were allowed to bathe every one or two weeks usually before a visit to a doctor or therapist.

 

Two weeks prior to the visit of the CPS and the Vancouver police, the twins were caught sneaking food to their room. The female twin used “Oneida” silverware to load the food they stole and took it in their room.

 

When Jeffrey got home from work at about 6 a.m., Jeffrey punished the female twin by beating her with a stick for 20 to 30 times. When Jeffrey woke up at 5 p.m., Jeffrey resumed the punishment for the same offense.

 

The stick with blood traced by DNA from victims was presented as evidence as did the bike lock.

 

“STOPPED MAKING SOUNDS AND APPEARED NOT BE BREATHING”

 

J effrey hit her with a bike lock/cable that he used to lock the refrigerator and pushed her down to the floor. When she fell with her hand and knees, Jeffrey stood over her, grasped her neck with both hands, and shook her by the neck.

 

The male twin noticed that the female twin “stopped making sounds and appeared not be breathing.” Sandra hit Jeffrey on the back and told him to stop.

 

Jeffrey backhanded Sandra and told her not to interfere. Sandra told Jeffrey she was just trying to keep him out of jail. Jeffrey replied back that ‘this would be worth it.”

 

Following the strangulations, the female twin had bruises on her neck in the shape of fingers. She was coughing and choking after Jeffrey let her go and she spoke with a raspy voice for hours.

 

After the strangulation, the twins purposely talked loud enough for Jeffrey to hear that they planned to report the abuse to the CPS or someone to stop Jeffrey from further beating them. It worked for about two weeks leading to their visit to their therapist on Oct. 6, 2011.

 

Because they were worried that Jeffrey would still make good their threat to beat them, the twins decided to leave a note on a chair in the therapist’s office, hoping the therapist would make the report.

 

When asked where he got the idea to leave a note, the male twin said because Sandra was always watching a lot of TV program, “Law and Order,” he often eavesdropped and enjoyed watching it if he could. From one of those episodes, he heard that a teacher or therapist was required to report child abuse.

 

Sandra rarely called the twins by their names. She called them “the Filipinos.” She also called him “faggot” and called her “whore.”

 

The twins are now in the care of the state. While Sandra’s child with Tim Graf is now under Graf’s custody, the rest are in the custody of the state.

 

The Wellers denied the charges against them and are appealing the adverse ruling. ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it # # #


 





Last Updated on Sunday, 17 February 2013 17:46
 
Dondon Lanuza: "A Big Thank You, Let's Help Others Still in Death Row" PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 02 February 2013 09:48

 

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange) 

 

C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Although, Rodelio “Dondon” Celistino Lanuza is looking forward to his freedom, he is appealing for help for other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s), who are still in the Death Row.

 

In an email forwarded to this reporter by his OFW supporter from Bahrain, Ms. Janice Azur, Mr. Lanuza said, “Ako po ay lubusang nagagalak sa isang napakagandang balita. Naipahayag na po ni Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay na ako po ay LIGTAS NA SA PARUSANG BITAY.” (I am very happy over a beautiful news. Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay had announced that I will be TAKEN OFF THE DEATH ROW.)

 

Maraming maraming salamat una sa Panginoon at Kanyang dininig ang aking taimtim na panalangin. Sa Saudi Government at sa pamilya ng aking nasawi.” (Thank very much first of all to God, who listened to my heartfelt prayer. Thank you also to the Saudi Government and the surviving family members of my victim.)

 

The 38-year-old draftsman, who has been in jail for the last 12 years, said, “Maraming maraming salamat sa lahat ng taong tumulong at naging parte ng aking freedom campaign. Hindi ko na po muna mailalahad ang lahat ng pangalan ng aking nais pasalamatan at baka po ako ay may makaligtaan. Ngunit alam ko sa puso at isip ninyo kung sino man kayo na mga walang sawang sumuporta, nagdasal at nagbigay ng tulong pinansiyal para sa aking kalayaan.”

 

(Thank you very much also to all the people who helped me and became part of my freedom campaign. I don’t want to mention the names of those I want to thank for because I don’t want to miss the name of anybody. But I know deep in your heart and your mind whoever you are who never tired in helping me, praying for me and giving financial aid for my freedom.)

 

The Manila-native, who got a scare of his life when he learned last September that the Philippine Embassy was informed by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs that a Royal Order has been issued ordering the implementation of the Court’s decision (beheading) against the offender as affirmed by the court, said,

 

Nakikiusap din po ako sa patuloy po ang ating bayanihan para sa iba pang taong nangangailangan lalong lalo na sa maraming OFWs na nangangailangan ng tulong. Makakaasa po kayo na kaisa ninyo ako sa pagtulong sa ating kapwa Pilipino.” (I pledge to help other countrymen by working together to help others, who are in need, particularly the many OFW’s, who need our help. Rest assured that I always be there to help my fellow Filipinos.)

 

VP BINAY THANKS SAUDI KING

 

V ice President Binay, Presidential Adviser for OFW Concerns, said Friday the Philippine government was thanking the Saudi government for its decision to shoulder the nearly 25-million pesos (US$595,238) balance in blood money for Death Row inmate Lanuza.

 

“On behalf of President Aquino, we would like to express our most sincere thanks to His Excellency King Abdullah for his gesture of kindness. This gesture once again affirms the strong ties of friendship and brotherhood between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Vice President Binay said.

 

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday that its government had issued a directive for the payment of the balance of 2.3 million Saudi Riyals for handing over to the heirs of the victims of Lanuza, who had admitted to stabbing an Arab in self-defense in June 2000 and was sentenced in 2002 to death by beheading.

 

In February 2011, the Philippine government and the Saudi Reconciliation Committee in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, helped him secure forgiveness from the offended family. The family required a diyya or compensation worth P35 million.

 

The embassy noted that the family had filed an appeal to the Saudi government after paying an initial 700,000 Riyals (P7.6 million).

 

Mr. Binay apologized for not publicly commenting on the case of Lanuza and other Filipinos on Death Row to forestall any negative reaction from relatives of the survivors.

 

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert Del Rosario also thanked the Saudi government and the “tireless effort and steadfast commitment of Filipinos working together.”

 

Secretary Del Rosario added that the freedom of Lanuza “was due in no small part to the invaluable contribution and dedication of Filipino American businesswoman Loida Nicolas-Lewis, the person who led the private sector’s fundraising efforts.”

 

Del Rosario also paid gratitude to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, led by Ambassador Ezzedin Tago, for the assistance for Lanuza throughout his incarceration and to the other individuals who donated various amounts to save Lanuza’s life.

 

The DFA had earlier said that the next step in the process would be to secure the Saudi court’s order for Lanuza’s release.

 

STRUGGLE FOR POSSESSION OF A KNIFE

 

L anuza was 22-years old when he went to Saudi in 1996 after finishing his architecture degree at Manuel L. Quezon University. He returned to the Philippines twice.

 

In November 2000, Lanuza was invited by two other fellow OFWs to a dinner in the home of a Saudi host. As his two companions were leaving, Lanuza was prevailed upon by the host to stay. After a brief joyride, Lanuza and the host went back to the Saudi host’s home. A struggle for possession of a knife ensued, causing Lanuza to kill his Saudi host in self-defense.

 

In June 10, 2002, Lanuza was sentenced to die by beheading. Lanuza was forgiven by the surviving victim’s family but he had to pay blood money worth 5-million riyal (US$1.3-million). Lanuza’s lawyer was able to reduce the blood money to 3-million riyal (35-million Philippine pesos or US$800,000) to be equally divided among surviving three children at 1-million riyal (US$266,645 or 10.8-million Philippine pesos) each.

 

The Lanuza family led by Attorney Lewis was able to raise 70,000 riyal or 7.5-million Philippine pesos or US$18,665. Saudi King Abdulla bin Abdulzaiz Al Saud agreed to pay the balance of P24.9-million or US$611,718 or 2.2-million riyal. Fund raising was conducted thru television TFC, Youtube, Twitter and email campaign.

 

Lanuza’s father, Edilberto F. Lanuza is from San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, who works at a gaming company in Las Vegas, Nevada. While his mother, Letty Celistino, is from San Jose, Nueva Ecija, who works at LBC Cargo, a Filipino American company in Las Vegas.

 

Lanuza is married with two step children.

 

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chair, said, there are about four OFW’s in Saudi Death Row. Payment of blood money was not an assurance of freedom as in the case of brothers and Edison Gonzales and Eduardo Arcilla, who were sentenced in Saudi Arabia in 2006 to be beheaded for the murder of fellow Filipinos Romeo Lumbang, Jeremias Bucud and Dante Rivero.

 

The Gonzaleses and Arcilla reportedly claimed that they were tortured into admitting the crime. In 2010, the relatives of the victims received blood money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

 

According to Saudi law, payment of blood money does not ensure the commutation of sentence or the release from prison of convicts, so the Gonzaleses and Arcilla remain on Death Row in Saudi Arabia.

 

It was reported that there are 122 Filipinos on Death Row in foreign prisons. Migrante International is handling eight of these cases. # # #

 

Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

 
Survivors Blame Inaction Of Oil Rig Company for OFW Deaths PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 18 January 2013 18:57

 

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)

C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) –Exactly two months to the day when an oil rig fire and explosion blasted to death three Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) and seriously injured three others in the Gulf of Mexico abutting Grand Isle, Louisiana, one of the surviving relatives of the fatalities broke her silence during a press conference Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the Bayanihan Community Center in Woodside, New York and laid the blame squarely on one of the employers of her father for taking “away my father. If we ask for the life of our father, can they give it back to us? He died because of greed of the company.”

 

Jade Diane Tajonera, daughter of Avelino Tajonera, one of the three Filipino workers killed in the explosion at the oil platform owned by Houston, Texas-based Black Elk Energy last Nov. 16, 2012, told a press conference hosted by the Philippine Forum, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and other area human rights and cause-oriented organizations, “We are here to fight. OFW’s are humans, not animals, not robots. We salute all OFWs, who leave the country and provide for their families.”

 

Her mother, Edna Tajonera, said the employer of her husband violated Filipino tradition when it did not “allow his co-workers to attend his funeral,” sobbing while clutching the urn containing his ashes.

 

She spoke of tremendous loss of her high school sweetheart, who became her husband for the last 30 years, 17 years of those spent working abroad.

 

Her husband, Avelino Tajonera, 49, a welder from Bataan, was among the three who died during the Nov. 16 explosion. The two other fatalities were Jerome Malagapo, 28, pipefitter from Cebu’s suburban Danao City; and Ellroy Corporal, 42, rigger from Iligan City.

 

Mrs. Tajonera also denounced Black Elk Energy for not complying with safety working conditions, which, she said, if addressed early on by authorities, could have not led to the death of her husband and two other Filipino workers. “Why did they have to wait for someone to die?” Mrs. Tajonera asked.

 

Mrs. Tajonera also thanked the community organizations, the lawyers and the other Filipino workers for extending help to their family, which, she said, gives them the courage and strength to fight for her husband’s cause.

 

Seriously burned were Renato Dominguez, 52, Wilberto Ilagan, 50, and a third Filipino, whose name could not still be disclosed at the request of his family.

 

The press conference was a precursor to a multi-million dollar damage suit that will be filed against the victims’ employers, notably, Black Elk Energy, based in Houston.

 

Also on hand are some of victims’ 70 co-workers, who had filed a class-action suit before Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt of the United States District Court in Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans for forcing them to live in an overcrowded, substandard housing facilities owned by Grand Isle Shipyard in Louisiana and operated and managed by Grand Isle Shipyard, DNR (Danilo [N. Dayao], Nilfil [Peralta] and Randolph [F. Nunez Malagapo]), Filipino treaty investors visa holders; D&R, re-styled acronym for “Danilo [Dayao] and Randolph [Malagapo], both U.S.-based placement agencies; and Thunder Enterprises, Inc. of Louisiana.

 

They also condemned the defendants for violation of labor laws, RICO, Civil Rights Act, Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871, Louisiana Civil code, breach of contract, involuntary servitude and trafficking among others

 

EX & CURRENT GIS WORKERS ASKED TO JOIN CLASS SUIT

 

T he family members and workers of the Black Elk Energy explosion and former workers of Grand Isle Shipyard spoke about their experiences on this ordeal, especially on issues of labor abuse and human rights, to raise awareness and gather support within the community for their campaign.

 

The Filipino workers, who launched the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers (J4GIS-Fil-Workers) Campaign, are also drumming up awareness for some 162 OFW’s in the United States, who left the slave-like and prison-like living condition of Grand Isle Shipyard, to sign up in the “Opt-In Consent Form” by mailing it to one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers if they want join the class action suit. They can mail the form to Atty. Ellaine A. Carr at 2434 Pass Road, Ste. A. Biloxi, MS 39531, E-mail address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Toll Free (877).643.2112 or Tel. (288) 273.4410 or Fax No. (866)929.9201 or her website: www.ellainecarrlaw.com.

 

The former workers have until 90 days from the court notice on Nov. 29, 2012 or approximately on or before Feb 28, 2013, to send in their Opt-In Consent Form.

There are an estimated 500 OFWs, who worked and are still working at Grand Isle Shipyard, most of them leaving when they could no longer stand the hostile work and living environment.

 

Most of these workers are now in the Philippines, who could qualify and belong to the class. There are about 300 more OFWs believed still working at Grand Isle Shipyard despite the horrific living condition because they would become jobless if they go home to the Philippines. Current workers can also send in their Opt-in Consent Form and should not be intimidated by retaliation, according to one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who refused to be identified because of the gag order on lawyers on the case issued by Judge Engelhardt.

 

During the press conference, Anne Beryl Corotan, representative of the Philippine Forum and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), opened up by noting the precarious conditions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the United States. She also presented the demands of the J4GIS-Fil-Workers Campaign, “We demand for the shut down of GIS, Black Elk and the DNR Offshore Crewing Services and for the Filipino workers who are still working at the GIS to be granted humanitarian visas. We demand for President Benigno Aquino III and the rest of his administration to uphold the rights and welfare of all migrant workers and to genuinely provide the services that the workers need.”

 

"PH GOVERNMENT DID NOT HELP OFWs"

 

R icardo Ramos, one of the former GIS workers, said, “If the Philippine government was genuinely interested in helping us workers here, whom they even call modern-day heroes, then these abuses, these deaths, would never have happened. We demand justice for our co-workers who died and for all workers who have become victims of GIS, Black Elk and DNR Offshore Crewing Services.”

 

Ferdinand Garcia, one of the first among the former workers of GIS who filed the class action lawsuit against the company, said the embassy knew of their conditions as early as 2010, but when asked what help the Philippine embassy extended to them, he simply said, “Wala. (Nothing.)” Garcia added, “We demand that the president give importance to Filipinos who bring in bulk of remittances to the country.”

 

Even non-Filipinos also joined the press conference.

 

“This year, we are commemorating 150th year of the Emancipation Proclamation. But until now,  

2013, modern-day slavery still exists victimizing hundreds of our Filipino brothers and sisters. We must fight to end slavery in all forms,” Angel Martinez of People’s Organization for Progress (POP) said.

 

“We are the Mexican, Indian and other workers who went on strike to protest forced labor at a crawfish processing plant that supplies to Wal-Mart in Louisiana called CJ’s Seafood. Like our Filipino brothers, we were also forced to work like machines doing 15 to 24 hour shifts per day. We were also threatened but we also decided to unite and build power to demand responsibility from those who benefited from our forced labor. We are here to fight side by side with our Filipino brothers,” Saket Soni of the National Guestworkers Alliance said at the press conference.

 

Sisa Pakari Cultural and Labor Center and Frente Unido de Inmigrantes Ecuatorianos (FUIE) were also at the press conference to express support.

 

GLOBAL SOLIDARITY FOR OFWs

 

J ulia Camagong, representative of International Migrants Alliance (IMA) in the United States, said, “The GIS Filipino workers have the support of over 100 grassroots member organizations of IMA across the globe. We demand that Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, Jr. resign because he did not perform his responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of the Filipino migrants in the United States.”



The press conference ended with the chants: "Justice for Filipino Workers at Grand Isle Shipyard, Black Elk and DNR Offshore Crewing Services! Justice for Avelino Tajonera! Justice for Ellroy Corporal! Justice for Jerome Malagapo! Mabuhay ang Migranteng Filipino!"

 

The spokesman of Ambassador Cuisia had no comment on the press conference.

 

Earlier, Ambassador Cuisia told the New York-based community organizations to “get your facts straight.”

“While we welcome their sudden interest and belated expression of concern for Filipino offshore oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico, Philippine Forum and other so-called solidarity groups should have first done their homework and get their facts straight before accusing us of indifference,” Ambassador Cuisia Jr. said in a statement.

 

There will be a picket at the Philippine Consulate in New York (556 Fifth Avenue, between 45th and 46th streets) on Friday, January 18, at 3 PM, to air grievances of the families and workers to the Philippine government. On Saturday, January 19, a community reception and memorial will be held at the Bayanihan Community Center (40-21 69th St Woodside NY) at 6 p.m. for the workers who were killed at Black Elk in November. On February 22-24, a solidarity mission to Louisiana will be organized in support of the GIS Filipino Workers.

 

For more information on the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers Campaign, interested parties may contact us at 5169011832 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . # # #

 

Watch out for the upcoming media-outlet oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 January 2013 22:33
 
OFWs File Suit Against Recruiters and Employers PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 January 2013 20:27


COURT CERTIFIES KU KLUX KLAN CLASS SUIT FILED BY OFWs VS. RECRUITERS, EMPLOYERS!


By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)
 
C HICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) -Three dozens of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who come in the heels of their three colleagues being blown to death and three others seriously incinerated in an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico abutting Grand Islands, Louisiana, have reached back to Reconstruction-Era laws to punish their fellow Filipino recruiters and American employers for turning their housing quarters into prison and forcing them to work in a hostile work environment reminiscent of the days when American white slave owners were treating their African-American slaves.

In a class-action suit filed before and certified by Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt of the United States District Court in Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, the complainants led by Isidro Baricuatro, Jr., a Filipino certified wielder, who was recruited by IPAMS (Industrial Personnel and Management Services, Inc.) in January 2007 and had worked at defendant Grand Isle Shipyard in Louisiana until December 2010 charged that they were forced to live in an overcrowded, substandard housing facilities owned by Grand Isle Shipyard in Louisiana and operated and managed by Grand Isle Shipyard, DNR (Danilo [N. Dayao], Nilfil [Peralta] and Randolph [F. Nunez Malagapo]), Filipino treaty investors visa holders; D&R, re-styled acronym for “Danilo [Dayao] and Randolph [Malagapo], both U.S.-based placement agencies; and Thunder Enterprises, Inc. of Louisiana.

The housing facilities consisted of a former bowling tavern that was turned into a bunkhouse at 18838 Highway 3235, Galliano, Louisiana, where complainants lived and shared the facilities with 100 other workers. The bunkhouse was divided into small rooms with an estimated size of 10 feet by 10 feet each room, each of which containing two sets of bunk beds to accommodate four workers. The room had no toilet. The facilities had a common toilet.

Compared to a typical Clark County Detention Center jail cell in Las Vegas, Nevada, where American boxer Floyd Mayweather was booked for misdemeanor domestic battery and harassment charges by himself in the cell, copies of photos sent to this reporter by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department show Mayweather’s cell measuring 7 feet x 14 feet or 6 feet x 10 feet with a sink and a toilet bowl and a bed that still appears too small for one person, a bunkhouse at Galliano housing facilities contains two sets of bunk beds to accommodate four workers. The bunk bed room has no toilet.
 
SMALL ROOM FOR 6 WORKERS TO SLEEP
 
W hen some of the Filipino workers were not sleeping at Galliano facilities, they would be moved to a barge in Lafitte, Louisiana, which has rooms with 10 feet by 10 feet in size each room that accommodates six workers in a room. It has “sleeping mats” rather than actual beds.

If American workers needed the Filipinos’ rooms to sleep in, defendants Grand Isle, DNR, D&R, Thunder, Malagapo and Dayao would force the Filipino workers out of their rooms and forced them to sleep elsewhere.

To prevent the Filipino workers from escaping or attempting to escape, the Filipino workers were subjected to an “enforced curfew after 10 p.m.” They were locked inside the bunkhouse during curfew and monitored by security cameras.

They can only leave the defendants’ premises when the Filipino workers traveled to the local Wal-Mart in Grand Isle’s vans during weekends while supervised by at least one Grand Isle representative while American workers can move around without supervision.

The complaint did not mention if the Galliano property and the barge in Lafitte have building permits.

The Filipino workers were prevented from obtaining driver’s licenses by their employers although they were allowed to apply because they hold “E-2 and B-1/OCS” work visas nor are they allowed to ride in a car with an American worker.

These Filipino workers worked 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week, without proper meal or rest or break. They were not paid for the two-to-three-hour travel time it takes them to go back and forth to their work place plus additional time spent in donning, doffing and cleaning required for their personal protection and tools.

As welders, fitters and other similarly skilled craftsmen, some plaintiffs were required by “defendant Pregeant” (of Thunder Enterprises) to wash his car, perform maintenance and repair work in his home and perform other non-work-related tasks for his personal benefit.

Defendants Grand Isle, DNR (D&R) and/or V Manpower Philippines (V People) deducted an excessive and unreasonable amount from the Filipino workers wages “often from $2,000 up to $3,500 per month for housing and living expenses.”

When they were interviewed in the Philippines prior to their hiring, the Filipino workers were promised by their recruiters “adequate living arrangements, including food and housing free of charge.”
 
DEDUCTIONS FROM THEIR WAGES ALTHO PAID FOR BY PLATFORM OWNER
 
T hese expense deductions occurred automatically even if certain complainants were occasionally assigned to work on an offshore oil platform and the owner of the platform rather than Grand Isle, DNR (D&R) and/or V People paid for the complainants’ food and shelter.

The defendants also deducted from the complainants’ wages the alleged cost of required work-related tools and equipments, forcing complainants to pay these tools and equipments even if defendants benefited from these tools and equipments that the defendants later kept.

When the complainants objected to the “exploitative employment practices,” the defendants would threaten them with deportation.

The Filipino workers and Asian Pacific Islanders were exploited, abused and their freedom curtailed while American workers “were treated in accordance with the rights and liberties guaranteed to all workers in the U.S.”

Fearing deportation to the Philippines where wages are significantly less, the complainants acquiesced to the intolerable working conditions forced on them as defendants capitalized on these fears by exploiting them.

When the workers returned to the Philippines for their vacations, their visas were held by their recruiters in the Philippines so they could not seek work elsewhere. This would also ensure their return to Louisiana. The Filipinos were falsely promised that they could get permanent residences or Green Cards “knowing fully well that their work visas were merely temporary and had no correlation to permanent visa status.”

The other defendants aside from IPAMS Corporation, a labor recruiter in the Philippines authorized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in partnership with DNR, are Mark, Bryant and Brad Pregeant, who all serve as directors of Thunder, Pacific Ocean Manning, Inc. (POMI), a Philippine corporation obtaining visas for Filipino workers in partnership with co-defendant V People, a Philippine corporation based in Texas, DNR-Offshore and Crewing Services, Inc. (DNR), Nilfil Peralta, Mark Pregeant, Danilo N. Dayao, and Randolph F. Malagapo.

DNR of 18838 Highway 3235, Galliano, Louisiana, is 50% owned by Dayao, Peralta and Malagapo, D&R, and  DNR. The other half is owned by defendant Thunder, organized in Louisiana, and Grand Isle, headed by Mark Pregeant as president and Bryant Pregeant, vice president.

DNR Filipino owners hold treaty investors and primary E-2 visa by using “promissory notes secured purportedly by their respective properties in the Philippines with illiquid ‘shell investments,’” according to the complaint.

The Filipino workers were promised to receive $1,666.66 per month plus $75 per day for housing, food, transportation, medical expenses and international phone calls. But due to the exorbitant expenses deducted from their housing and living expenses and tools and equipments, their take home pays fell below the federal minimum wage rate, causing these employers to violate the Filipinos’ Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938 (FLSA).

Defendants Dayao, Malagapo and DNR submitted tax returns yet retained the monies that were owed to complainants as refunds.
 
RICO, PUNITIVE & TREBLE DAMAGES SOUGHT
 
T he complainants have also filed against defendants Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act I & II; Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C section 1981; Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871 (for slavery and involuntary servitude), 42, U.S.C. Section 1985; Louisiana Civil Code, Art. 3492 for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, fraudulent/intentional and negligent misrepresentation and false imprisonment; breach of contract; unlawful employment practices conducted since 2001; forced labor in violation of 18 U.S.C Sections 1589 and 1590; involuntary servitude and trafficking, TVPA, 22 U.S.C. Sec. 7102(5)(a); violations of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1584, 1589, 1590, 1592(a) for confiscating their Social Security cards and other immigration documents; forced labor to foreign workers having standing to sue in U.S. in 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1964; to recover compensatory and punitive and treble damages to be proven during trial, including attorney’s fees and liquidated damages as authorized by FLSA.

Lawyers for the complainants are Joseph C. Peiffer, Loretta G. Mince, Alysson L. Mills and Jeanette A. Donnelly of Fishman Haygood Phelps Walmsley Willis & Swanson, L.L.P., of New Orleans; Todd M. Schneider, Carolyn H. Cottrell, Peter B. Schneider and Lee B. Szor of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky, L.L.P. of San Francisco, California and Ellaine A. Carr of Ellaine Carr & Associates, PLLC of Biloxi, Mississippi.



Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 15:12
 
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