Press Release
August 14, 2012


Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development launches probe on the case of Bonita Baran, a kasambahay who fell victim to maltreatment and physical abuse of her female employer for several years.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, sitting as committee chairman, opens today an inquiry in aid of legislation on the incident to prevent further occurrence of such and to punish the perpetrators of similar violent acts.

The harrowing experience of Baran, which prompted the Senate investigation, was the subject of a privilege speech of Sen. Estrada last July 31.

Baran, 21 year old household worker from Catanduanes, allegedly experienced different forms of abuse from Mrs. Annaliza Marzan, her employer for more than five years. Baran says Mrs. Marzan repeatedly beat her with a broom, battered her head with vase and plates, and punched her in the eyes. The last blow caused severe injuries to her eyes and has resulted to blindness. Baran also states that her employer pressed a hot iron against her face and stabbed her left arm with a pair of scissors.

Baran was also only paid 700 pesos as monthly salary, lower than prescribed minimum wage in National Capital Region for household workers.

"The committee yields to the pronouncement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile during the interpellation on my privilege speech that the Senate must show to everyone that it is not a chamber only for the privileged few, but is the Senate of the people," says Jinggoy, also Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment.

Sen. Estrada articulates that the public inquiry intends to know whether or not Baran's case is an isolated case and identify which government agency, if any, can an abused kasambahay run to for relief and assistance.

Sen. Estrada, who successfully steered the passage of the Kasambahay Bill in the Senate and recently co-sponsored the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, notes that the Labor Code actually provides protection for the domestic workers, including those referred to as yaya, maid, boy, manang, inday, among others.

"Household workers are entitled to fair and humane treatment, free food and accommodation, social security coverage and opportunity to finish at least elementary education. The Labor Code also contains explicit stipulations against forced labor, multiple work, and non-compliance on decent wages. But apparently, these are not followed and perhaps often violated as seen in the case of Bonita," the lawmaker points out.

"And so the committee wishes to hear the often voiceless, unsung heroes of our household and our economy and find out what the State is doing and can do more to protect their welfare," Jinggoy asserts.

Invited as resource persons include Baran; Atty. Persida Acosta, Chief of the Public Attorney's Office; Prosecutor Irene Resurreccion of the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office; P/SSUP Maria Theresa Ann Cid, Chief of Women's Crisis and Child Protection Office, Philippine National Police; Ms. Ma. Evelyn Lita Manangan of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, Department of Labor and Employment; Ms. Emmeline Verzosa, Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women; and Ma. Cecilia Flores Oebanda, President of the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.

The committee also requested the presence of Mrs. Marzan and sent invitation in her residence in Quezon City, but she failed to show up.

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