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Home Sections Womens Section Fil-Am Alliance Demands Justice for Two Filipino Victims of Labor Trafficking in New York
Fil-Am Alliance Demands Justice for Two Filipino Victims of Labor Trafficking in New York PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Women's Section
Friday, 07 January 2011 13:32

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

  

Two Filipino Women Work and Were Treated Like Slaves by Filipino-American Employers

 

C HICAGO, Illinois (jGLi) – A New York City-based Filipino-American human-rights alliance is rallying behind two Filipinas, who were brought to the United States “under false promises” of gainful employment only to be “denied fair wages and abused by their employers.”

 

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) committed to protecting the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the U.S. said Leticia Y. Moratal and Jacqueline L. Aguirre should be congratulated for stepping forward and exposing the abuses committed by their employers.

 

The two women were brought to the U.S. by their employers to work in the U.S. only to be treated like slaves.

 

Moratal said when her employer’s daughter, Gabriela Kathleen, introduced her to her school friends, Gabriela Kathleen called Moratal “Baba, Our Slave,” so that she would not be identified by other people.

 

"With 4,500 Filipinos in average leaving the Philippines everyday, these injustices happen a lot among our kababayans in different parts of the world, but only a few have the courage to speak up." said Lorena Sanchez of the KABALIKAT Domestic Workers' Support Network, a member organization of NAFCON based in New York.

 

"We are glad and inspired that these two brave Filipinas who have withstood these abuses for a long time are now willing to step up and stand up for their rights."

Moratal, a recently escaped involuntary servant who worked for  Elsa and Augusto Nolasco of Jamaica, New York, was duped into traveling to New York City in 2001 under the promise of working as a babysitter for the couple's grandchild.

 

Instead, the Nolascos transported Moratal to Florida where their daughter, Laarni N. Savino, confiscated her passport and forced her to work without pay. Moratal worked as an overall household servant and baby sitter for Savino, averaging 84 hours a week for nearly a decade.

 

Moratal also helped in the business of Savino, "DanceNKids, makers of children's wear, operating at 103 Redwing Road, Tavernier, Florida.

 

Aside from suffering from cruel treatment and psychological abuse by the Nolascos’, Moratal was not compensated a single cent of her promised $800 per-month salary nor given a single day off.





When reached by phone by this reporter, Ms. Savino, mother of Gabriela Kathleen, at 101 Lagoon Forest Drive, Pontevedra, Florida, said, “We are working on the case” and had no further comment.

 

Aguirre, on the other hand, was duped by Best Care Agency in Floral Park, New York, into believing the latter would certainly secure her green card application if she worked as their staff accountant.

 

Aguirre accepted the job in 2001, upon verbal agreement with Best Care Agency owners Dorothy De Castro and Perlita Jordan that the agency not only handle and expedite her H1B non-immigrant worker visa application, but would compensate her at a rate of $19 per hour for a regular 40-hour work week.





Instead, Best Care misled Aguirre into believing that her sponsor had the financial capability to sponsor her green card. Aside from fraudulently misleading her so that Best Care could continue using her services at so much low a wage, the agency continuously threatened her with deportation should she not perform additional duties on accounting in their minimally-staffed office.

 

Aguirre's promised salary was also slashed in half with no overtime pay.



 

Aguirre is currently subject to removal proceedings by the US Department of Homeland Security for overstaying.

 

Complaints Filed Against Former Employers





B oth Moratal and Aguirre have filed complaints against their former employers for charges of violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), New York Labor Law and common law.

In addition, Moratal is seeking overdue compensation of back-wages totaling up to $250,000 while Aguirre seeks back-wages worth at least $100,000, as well as for damages related to their abuse and maltreatment.

Moratal and Aguirre are being represented by Atty. Felix Vinluan of the Filipino-American Foundation for Immigration and Employment Advocacy, Inc. (or Fil-Am Foundation, for short), who is now also working with NAFCON-North East in a campaign to raise awareness of labor trafficking and wage exploitation that is very common amongst foreign workers.

 

They strongly encourage other victims of similar circumstances to step forward and fight back.






Vinluan, also a member of NAFCON, entered the public eye as the lawyer of the former Sentosa 27 nurses, who in 2007 also filed charges of labor trafficking and wage exploitation by their New York State recruiter, SentosaCare, LLC.

 

Editor’s Note: To read the author’s previous article on the Sentosa case, please click on this link, Sentosa Nurses Win in NLRC

 

"Leticia and Jacqueline are heroes for stepping forward courageously to fight common injustices inflicted upon foreign workers in this country – labor trafficking and modern-day slavery," Vinluan states.

 

"It is NAFCON's hope that their example helps other trafficking victims living in fear to come forward and, with community support, fight for justice."

 

NAFCON member organizations in the US East Coast which have supported and organized previous labor and immigration rights-related campaigns include Philippine Forum New York and New Jersey, KABALIKAT Domestic Workers' Support Network, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE-NYC), Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, Kinding Sindaw, and the Virginia-based Migrant Heritage Commission.

 

NAFCON is composed of more community-and-grassroots organizations encompassing 23 cities in the United States. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 


 

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