Senate panel recommends up to 20-year jail term, P5M fine vs abusive employers

By: Maila Ager - Inquirer.net | November 25,2023 - 10:15 PM

Facade and logo of the Senate of the Philippines.

Senate of the Philippines. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — A panel in the Senate has recommended stiffer penalties of up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to P5 million against abusive employers.

The recommendation is contained in a 100-page report of the Senate committee on justice and human rights that investigated the alleged severe battery and maltreatment of household helper Elvie Vergara.

For years, Vergara was allegedly subjected to physical and emotional abuse by her employers in Occidental Mindoro, which resulted in her partial blindness and other injuries.

The committee led by its chairman, Senator Francis Tolentino, however, did not recommend the filing of  criminal charges against Vergara’s employers — France Ruiz and her husband, Pablo.

“Much as the committee would have wanted to recommend the filing of criminal charges against the Ruiz spouses, we note that there are already cases filed against them before the Office of City Prosecutor of Batangas City, which was already transferred to the Department of Justice Central Office by virtue of Department Order No. 611 dated 06 November 2023,” the Senate panel report reads.

Tolentino’s panel, however, found the need to amend Republic Act 10361 or the Batas Kasambahav law to strengthen it and “prevent further abuse and maltreatment” of domestic helpers.

It particularly sought to provide for “specific criminal liability for abusive employers with corresponding penalties for any death or physical injuries sustained by the Kasambahay resulting from, or sustained in the course of, his or her employment.”

The existing law only provides for fines ranging from P10,000.00 to P40,000.00, the report pointed out.

The Senate committee then recommended that the law be amended to specify the following liabilities and penalties against abusive employers clearly:

  • Up to P250,000.00 fine against any employer “who shall willfully or negligently violate the provisions of the Batas Kasambahay law.”
  • Up to P500,000.00  fine and the penalty  of up to four years imprisonment “if no injury or only minor injuries were caused” by any employer or any relative or member of the employer’s household.
  • “If by reason or on the occasion of such abuse, physical violence or harassment inflicted, the kasambahay shall have become deformed, or shall have lost any body part, or shall have lost the use thereof,” the abusive employers could be jailed for up to 8 years and would be slapped with a fine  of up to  P2 million
  • The  penalty of  up to 12 years  of imprisonment and  a fine of up to P4 million  will be imposed against  employers whose abuses could render  house helpers “insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind.”
  • If  the physical violence or harassment inflicted resulted in the death of house helpers,  the abusive employers will have to suffer up to 20 years in prison plus a fine of to P5,000,000.00.

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TAGS: Abusive, employer, Fine, jail, senate

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