By Ferdinand Fabella
5 August 2005
Three jobseekers who were forced to work as maids in exchange for jobs abroad have accused their employer, the ambassador-designate in Italy, of maltreatment and verbal abuse. The three complainants claimed that former Iloilo governor Emily Relucio Lopez, who is reportedly being groomed as the new Philippine ambassador to Italy, subjected them to humiliation and even seriously threatened them during their short stint as “trainees” at her residence in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.
In affidavits filed before the Makati City police, Maria Isabel Lorecca Hernandez, Rosario “Lhot” Quiambao and Ma. Salve Serrano, all college graduates, said Lopez promised to hire them as her “household staff” once she assumes her ambassadorship to Italy.
But they were required to complete a two-month paid “training” at her house before they could go to Italy. “We were lured to the offer because she assured us that she would shoulder all the expenses for the processing of our papers and that, once we’re in Italy, we would be paid $300 a month,” said Hernandez, a graduate of legal management from the Ateneo de Naga University in Camarines Sur.
During a press conference in Makati City, Hernandez said she and her sister Serrano, a former OFW and graduate of industrial engineering, were introduced to Lopez last July 5 by a friend of Lopez who works at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. They refused to name Lopez’ friend.
“At first, we didn’t know that we had to work as maids but we accepted it anyway because she assured us of jobs in Italy,” Serrano said. It was only when they started working as stay-in maids that they got to know Lopez’ “oppressive attitude.”