MANILA - France and Pablo “Jerry” Ruiz, former employers of househelp Elvie Vergara who was allegedly abused for years, are now together in the Senate detention area.
Members of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee concluded that Jerry was giving false testimonies about how they treated Elvie and others who once served their household either as a kasambahay or helper in their store.
The decision was galvanized by the National Bureau of Investigation’s Forensic and Scientific Research Service’s report about the result of its conducted polygraph test to the Ruiz couple.
“Bagama’t hindi kaagad determinative ang resulta ng polygraph test, ito po ay nakakatulong sa pag-determine kung nagsasabi talaga ng totoo o hindi. At kailangan din, makakatulong din po ito sa mga administrative, labor cases, etc, etc., sang-ayon po sa Supreme Court ng ating bansa,” Senator Francis Tolentino, panel chairman said.
Tolentino zeroed in on the NBI in its report submitted to the committee stated that both France and Jerry Ruiz’s responses given during the lie detector test, were “indicative of deceptions.”
“Ano pong ibig sabihin ng indicative of deceptions?,” Tolentino then asked.
NBI Polygraph Examiner Eddie Betervo, who conducted some of the tests, said such result indicates lying.
“Ibig sabihin nagsisinungaling po yung subject nung nabanggit po yung mga tinanong report... ang isang tanong sa kanya, totoo bang lahat ang akusasyon o paratang laban sa'yo ni Ate Elvie Vergara? Ang sagot po nya ay hindi po, pero meron po siya ritong iyang deceptive reaction,”
NBI Assistant Director Romel Papa of the Forensic and Scientific Research Service meanwhile underlined the veracity of a polygraph machine test result.
“Ang beauty ng polygraph there are certain things that we cannot control. Physiologic ang tem pero sa tagalog, heart rate, blood pressure... nagtatanong tayo ng mga tanong na tama, ano pangalan mo ano ang birthday mo. So, nakikita natin yung tracing kung ninenerbyos ka. however, pag nagsisinungaling ka hindi mo mako-control ang cardiac breathing, ang heart rate mo,” Papa pointed out.
Senator Raffy Tulfo immediately moved to detain Jerry in the Senate.
“I would like to cite this gentleman (Jerry) for contempt,” Tulfo moved during the hearing.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada seconded Tulfo’s motion which was later approved by panel chairman Senator Francis Tolentino.
Atty. Lorman Arugay – speaking for his clients – immediately appealed the ruling citing the need of the couple’s two children aged 18 and 16 – to be supervised by at least one of their parents.
“Should both of them be sent for detention your honor at the same time, the two children will be left alone in the said residence without any means of livelihood at this time, and without ay arrangement for the welfare of the two children,” Arugay said.
“They have visitation rights, Attorney. They can visit their parents,” Estrada said.
The appeal, however, was quickly blocked by Estrada, as he pointed out that the couple’s children can freely stay with their parents if they would want to.
Arugay turned down the offer, saying that if possible, they want the children to remain in Batangas province so they can continue attending school.
The panel’s ruling remained.
At the hearing, Arugay stated that his clients are now facing cases of alleged violation of their former househelp’s basic rights; illegal detention; serious physical injuries; violation of Anti-Human Trafficking Law and violation of the Kasambahay Law.
Possible cases against his clients may also come later, he said.
An irate Estrada meantime berated France over allegations of repeatedly abusing Elvie.
France claimed she treated Elvie well and never beat her.
“Ilang testigo ang nandito ikaw ang itinuturo... itong mga to, lumabas dahil sa awa kay Aling Elvie...makatao ba 'to? Hindi na makatao ginagawa mo, makahayop na ginagawa mo!,” Estrada remarked.
Estrada was referring to Melinda Magno who reportedly served the Ruiz household in 2017.
It was there the she briefly saw Elvie who at that time was healthy and fair-skinned.
Magno, however, left after six months because France, she said, hit her with the unsharpened part of a jungle bolo.
“Kaya ako umalis tinaga kamay ko. Maigi ho at likod ng gulok ang, pinangtaga sa kamay ko... sabi ko po sa kanya e, ‘nakakasakit ka na eh, para kang hindi tao eh... hindi ho umimik... December 14 tinaga nya kamay ko, December 15 umalis na po ako,” Magno narrated to the panel.
Magno said she brought her then 17-year old son Jerwell Rebato when she escaped the Ruiz household.
Jerwell then, was a “stay-in” househelp in the Ruiz’s grocery store.
Just like Jerwell, Paolo “Pawpaw” Toling also experienced being cursed at by France, and get maligned even in front of their customers.
“Minura niya po ako. Pangalawang araw, buong araw ka nang nakatayo, naga-assist ng mga customer sa gulay. Eh nangalay nangalay na tuhod ko. nakita nya akong umupo. Sabi niya, umuupo ka na naman p.i. ka! Hindi po ako sumagot,” Toling said.
Hhe claimed he saw how Elvie suffered.
“Nakita ko lang po si ate elvie na naghuhugas ng kanyang bibig at ari nya dahil po, gawa po dun sa sili... sabi niya sa akin, nilagyan daw po siya ng sili. Sabi nya po eh, hinuhugasan nia kasi po maanghang,” Toling said.
Asked by Tulfo who did that to Elvie, Toling said: “Si Ate France daw po.”
“Nakikita po namin na sinasaktan din po nya si Ate Elvie, minumura... sinusuntok po si Ate Elvie ni Ate France sa braso po... kasi daw po ginagamit daw ni Ate Elvie yung mga gamit nila... Katulad daw po sa personal hygiene nya, yung toothbrush. Ginagamit daw po ni Ate Elvie... hindi naman daw po. Kasi po Ate Elvie eh ano pa nga raw ba itu-toothbrush niya e wala na nga syang ngipin," Toling said.
He and his fellow househelps did not dare to held Elvie for fear of losing their job or be subjected to France’s wrath, Toling admitted.
Toling, Magno and Rebato all claimed that they were not paid by the Ruizes.
This prompted the Department of Labor and Employment to report to the panel that they are now working to ensure the recovery of the workers’ unpaid salaries and other benefits.
“Kailangang habulin natin... pero dapat may sweldo sya sa nagta-trbaho sya sa bahay, tapos iba pa sweldo nya nung pinagtrabaho sya sa tindahan,” Director Ahmma Charisma Lobrin-Satumba, of the DOLE-Bureau of Workers Special Concerns said.
France said a case is already ongoing and they will be ready to comply with the DOLE ruling.
“Si Pawpaw ay hindi ko tao. Si Nanay (Magno) po ay hindi ko po kasambahay. Ang kasambahay ko ay hindi ko pinsan. Hindi niya inabot si Ate Elvie. Dahil si Ate Elvie ay 2019 pumasok at hindi 2017. Si Jerwell ay hindi trabahador, yan ay nakituloy lang sa akin dahil naawa lang ako,” France said.
It was former garbage collector Richard Pinto who took the photos of Elvie.
He requested the committee to allow him to hide his face because a group of men were once seen roaming around their under construction nipa hut.
Jerry Ruiz came to him that same day and ordered him to delete Elvie’s photos, Pinto said.
“Pagkadating po naming sa munisipyo sa may gym, sa pahingahan po namin, kasama po sya (Jerry dun) sa tatlong lalaki... sinaway lang po ako at pinatatanggal yung litrato na kinuha ko. Siya po mismo ang. Nagsabi na tanggalin ko,” Pinto said.
“Yung dalawa po na tauhan nya, gusto nya na po akong ipabitbit dun eh. Gusto nya po akong dalhin sa station ng pulis... kasi bawal daw po,” he added.
Jerry when asked for explanation said that he was only trying to be careful.
“Nilapitan ko po siya. Gawa ng pag-picture niya po sa tindahan. Kasi nadala kami nung 2014, gawa nung may nagpi-picture sa amin, ay. Na-holdup po kami.. kaya pinilit kong ipatanggal sa kanya dahil baka kung ano-ano lang po yun,” Jerry claimed.
The hearing that ran for around five hours, and ended with the Ruiz couple getting escorted straight to the Senate detention area.
According to Estrada, he directed his lawyers to check if he can also file a case against the Ruiz couple as a senator.
Estrada vowed to keep the Ruiz couple detained until the court tells the Senate to release them, or until the current Senate ends.