Rude Boss’ Antics Spice Up Theft Trial Against Filipina

By Vir B. Lumicao

A criminal trial on Aug 18 at Shatin Court turned comical and at times disgusting when a Hong Kong woman displayed raw power and arrogance as she gave evidence in a theft case.

In the end, she got her former Filipina maid convicted and jailed for six months.

Rovelyn Pelongo, 34, stood dazed when Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan meted out the sentence after accepting the evidence given by the three prosecution witnesses – her former employer Tong Mei-wah and sisters Gemma Cabarlog and Michelle Bolledo.

Pelongo, from Davao province who came to Hong Kong in 2009 to work as a domestic helper, was arrested by Shatin police on Feb 10 after Tong, a factory owner on the mainland, reported that her former maid had stolen several items from her family.

The prosecution presented an old model Nokia cellphone and five assorted Armani and Burberry clothes that Pelongo, a self-confessed lesbian, allegedly stole while she was in Tong’s employ from July 2011 to September 2015.

Tong, a stocky woman in her 40s, amused everyone as she testified for the prosecution at the start of the one-day trial. The exhibits increased when she claimed five more pieces of garments that the defense presented during the cross-examination of Pelongo.

“That’s mine! That’s mine, I’ve been looking for it for a long time,” Tong boomed whenever the defense lawyer pulled out a piece of garment from two black plastic bags.

When the lawyer brought out a plastic bag with a rolled black and bright green vest, she again shouted: “Yes, that’s mine. Oh, she has stolen so many things from me.”

But it’s not Armani or Burberry, said the lawyer.

“This is B—, a trashy brand, but I love the color green,” she said.

Everyone in court smiled, shook their heads, or held back their laughter when the magistrate asked after checking a jacket why it was small and Tong retorted, “I am skinny.”

For several times the complainant, behaving more like a boss than a witness, raised her voice at the defense lawyer and called her a liar during her cross-examination.

She disliked being pestered with questions about gifting the clothes to Pelongo, her alleged poor memory of events, and her requiring the maid to clean her mother’s house in Tsuen Wan, her husband’s office in Fotan, and other illegal work.

Tong said she hired Pelongo as domestic worker but could not remember when, and that the Filipina left her household after her contract expired.

When the lawyer suggested to Tong that Pelongo refused to renew her contract because she was not paid the right salary and was overworked, the employer shot back: “I don’t mind, I can hire a hundred Filipino domestic workers.”

The case started when Cabarlog reportedly made a phone call to Tong on January 25 and reported that her former helper, Pelongo, had spirited many items out of her flat in Symphony Bay, Ma On Shan, and given them away to friends.

Tong said she arranged a meeting with “Gemma” (Cabarlog) in Taipo – because she did not know the caller – to see the stolen goods. When she found out that the goods were hers, she called the police.

After that Tong said she learned from her grown-up son that he was missing some money, which the mother put at $2,000. The Nokia phone that Pelongo allegedly stole also had $1,000 stored in its SIM card.

Pelongo, the last to take the witness stand, refuted the accusations, saying Cabarlog and Bolledo made up the story and conspired with Tong to seek revenge after she broke off with her girlfriend Bolledo. He alleged the sisters used her as guarantor for a loan from a lending company which she ended up paying. The two also allegedly made Pelongo pay for the rent for their boarding house.

Lam, however, dismissed Pelongo’s evidence as “incredible” and ordered her jailed for six months.



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