Maid’s ex-employer cites her poor hygiene, denies abuse accusations
MANILA, Philippines — The former employer of household helper Elvie Vergara on Tuesday denied allegations of maltreatment, claiming that the maid’s injuries and blindness could be the result of poor hygiene.
During a public hearing of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, France Ruiz said Vergara would usually not bathe for days, possibly leading to skin irritation and scratches.
Vergara’s case went viral on social media last month as the household helper allegedly suffered severe physical and emotional trauma and even became blind due to supposed abuse by her employers in Occidental Mindoro since 2020.
“Iyong mga sugat niya po, tamad po s’ya maligo minsan. Minsan inaabot ng apat na raw, limang araw [bago] siya maligo tapos iyung mga sugat-sugat na iyan nakakamot niya po,” France told senators in the hearing presided over by panel chair Senator Francis Tolentino.
(As for her wounds, she’s too lazy to bathe sometimes. Sometimes, it takes four or five days before she takes a bath, and then he scratches those wounds.)
The Senate panel previously issued a subpoena for the members of the Ruiz family, who allegedly mistreated Vergara.
France and Jerry Ruiz attended the hearing, but their children, aged 18 and 16, were absent due to their schooling, according to the family’s counsel.
According to France, the 44-year-old maid started working in their household on August 11, 2019, not in 2017, countering Vergara’s statement.
She also said that Vergara’s eye was injured after being hit by their other household helper named “JM” due to a conflict over personal belongings. She further claimed that Vergara already had eye problems when she started working for their family.
“Sinungaling po sila. Totoo po na sinusuntok po ako…parehas po sila ng amo ko na babae [France],” Vergara rebutted, adding that the couple also physically abused her when they were intoxicated.
(They are liars. They are indeed punching me…both him [Jerry] and my female boss [France].)
Dr. Alexander Cabungcal, from the ENT Neck and Head Surgery of the Batangas Medical Center, explained that Vergara’s old and healed head fracture might have been caused by an accident or force and not likely self-inflicted.
He added that the head injury might have also contributed to Vergara becoming blind in her left eye and to the hemorrhage in her right eye, which could still be fixed, although chances of its recovery are low.
Cabungcal was among several physicians invited to attend the hearing as resource persons.