Age doesn’t matter: Senate panel OKs arrest warrant vs 18-year-old in maid abuse case
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel issued a warrant of arrest against the 18-year-old daughter of a couple from Occidental Mindoro for allegedly being involved in the maltreatment of a 44-year-old maid.
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada moved to issue the arrest warrant because the teenager did not show up during Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing on justice and human rights.
The Senate panel previously issued a summons for the members of the Ruiz family, who allegedly abused Elvie Vergara.
The Ruiz couple attended the hearing, but their children, aged 18 and 16, were absent due to their schooling, according to the family’s counsel.
“Malalaki na po ang mga anak ng amo ko. ‘Yung panganay po, 18 [years old], ‘yung bunso 16 [years old],” Vergara told senators in the probe.
(My boss’s children are grown up. The eldest, 18 years old, the youngest 16 years old.)
“So, hindi na menor de edad (So, no longer a minor)?” panel chair Senator Francis Tolentino asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) representative in the hearing.
DSWD Assistant Secretary Irene Dumlao answered that children 18 years old and below are considered minors.
Estrada followed through and asked: “Can’t the committee invite them here? Because they are also involved in this issue. Eighteen years old is not considered a minor anymore. Correct?”
But Dumlao said: “Ang sa atin po kasi sa DSWD, of course we always take a primordial interest in the best interest of the children. So ang sinasabi nga po natin, 18 years old and below ay kinakailangang protektahan po natin.”
(For us in the DSWD, of course, we always take a primordial interest in the best interest of the children. So what we are saying is that we must protect 18-year-olds and below.)
“So ibig sabihin, hindi namin siya pwede ipatawag kapag 18 years old?” Estrada pressed, to which Dumlao said she would have to consult legal experts about the matter.
(So that means we cannot summon if 18?)
Nevertheless, Estrada moved to issue a warrant of arrest against the 18-year-old daughter of the Ruiz couple.
“Anyway, I move that we subpoena this 18-year-old daughter of the spouses. They’ve already been invited maybe — I stand corrected — issue a warrant of arrest,” he said.
The motion received no objection from panel members, and Tolentino approved it.
The Senate initiated a motu proprio investigation into the alleged severe maltreatment of Vergara, who sustained injuries and became partially blind after the Ruiz family allegedly subjected her to various physical and emotional abuse. Vergara’s case went viral on social media in early August.
Her employers reportedly mistreated her for three years since 2020 in Occidental Mindoro.
INQUIRER.net opted to keep the teenage children in this case unnamed, considering the explanation of the DSWD official in the Senate hearing.