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Florida 15 takes protest to NY PDF Print E-mail
Apr 25, 2012 at 08:44 PM
NEW YORK CITY - The “Florida 15”, alleged human trafficking victims, together with Filipino immigrant advocate organizations, held a rally at the Philippine Consulate in New York on Monday.

“Pumunta kami rito sa Philippine Consulate para makahanap ng sagot. Actually, nag-eexpect kami ng maayos na sagot from them kasi inilatag na nga namin yung hinaing namin,” Annabelle Sibayan, one of the victims said.

The group claimed they were victims of their former Filipino employer and owner of San Villa Ship Management in Miami, Florida.

Earlier this month, the victims met with Consul Felipe Carino, who heads the legal and Assistance to Nationals Section of the Philippine Consulate in New York.

This time, Consul General Mario de Leon himself met with the group in a closed-door meeting, after the short rally. Their meeting lasted for about an hour and half.

In an email to Balitang America, Deputy Consul General Tess Dizon-de Vega said De Leon assured the group that he will tell Philippine and US government agencies to resolve their concerns at the soonest possible time.
They were also offered healthcare assistance through local Filipino non-profit organizations like the Kalusugan Coalition.

“We’re grateful that actually the new Philippine Consulate here in NY is warm and welcoming of the case, in terms of hearing the demands of the Filipino Immigrants here in NEW York,” said Bayan USA’s Gary Labao.

The ‘Florida 15’ victims were recruited from the Philippines to work in Florida. They were made to pay an average of $7,000 in placement and immigration fees but got paid below minimum wage with no overtime pay.

The group’s pro-bono lawyer, Atty. Felix Vinluan, filed a civil lawsuit against the San Villa Ship Management and its owner to claim unpaid wages and unpaid overtime pay as well as punitive damages.

The lawsuit calls for a trial by jury. --Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America News Bureau


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