Senate cites abused maid’s ex-employer for contempt

(PHILSTAR) MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel cited a former employer of housemaid Elvie Vergara in contempt over her inconsistent responses during yesterday’s continuation of a public hearing on Vergara’s alleged maltreatment.

Sen. Francis Tolentino, who chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights, directed the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to detain France Ruiz in the Senate premises after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada made a motion to cite her in contempt.

“The Senate committee, after consultation with the members and a closed-door deliberation, hereby approves that Estrada’s motion and detention order be issued to Ruiz for continuously evading the questions propounded by this committee as well as falsely testifying under direct examination by committee members,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino, Estrada and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa noted Ruiz’s inconsistent replies to their questions regarding Vergara’s condition while she was their househelp.

Ruiz claimed in a television interview, a clip of which was shown during yesterday’s hearing, that Vergara had a boyfriend who abused her.

“I am not a polygraph machine, I am not claiming to be an expert investigator, but your answer in the television interview showed you were groping for words, you were inventing what you were saying. As an investigator, we consider the verbal and nonverbal messages. Our resource person has a penchant to lie,” Dela Rosa said.

Estrada also made a motion to cite Ruiz in contempt, saying that he believes Ruiz “is the mastermind of everything, of maltreating, inflicting severe injuries leading to the total blindness of Aling Elvie.”

Estrada added that Ruiz should be detained in the crowded Pasay City Jail instead of the Senate custodial center. Dela Rosa seconded the motion.

Tolentino, however, urged Estrada to consider detaining Ruiz in the Senate instead, saying that her presence is needed for the next hearing.

Estrada noted that there are other witnesses who signified their intention to testify on Ruiz’s treatment of Vergara.

The househelp said Ruiz kicked and punched her in various parts of her body.

Vergara said in Filipino that only Ruiz, not her former employer’s husband, hurt her.

The househelp said Ruiz “sank my face into the toilet bowl for five minutes and she banged my head against the wall non-stop until my head bled. When it bled, she opened the faucet and ordered me to take a bath.”

Upon hearing Vergara’s testimony, Estrada described Ruiz as “walang hiya, walang awa at walang puso (shameless, ruthless and heartless).”

Three other witnesses – John Mark Taroma, a certain Pao-pao and Dodong – testified that they saw the Ruizes physically abusing Vergara.