Delayed Justice for Sentosa 27++

(An interview with Atty. Felix Vinluan)

In this interview with Atty. Felix Vinluan, one of the counsels of the Sentosa 27++ (he lawyers for the Avalon 10, now among the Sentosa 27++ “fighters”), it is hoped that all grey areas about the Sentosa 27++ case will be clarified and for the whole Filipino nation to see – and to judge – if the Sentosa 27++ case is worth fighting for. The interview was conducted through e-mail last December.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 48, January 13-19, 2008

The so-called Sentosa 27++ represent the plight of all Filipino workers abroad, especially those who are working in the health sector.

Their case serves as a living testimony of the horrors of commodification of human beings through labor export, racism, and dirty elite politics of the Philippines and of the United States of America.

They have broken the mirror of illusions that the U.S. is a model of real democracy at work; and that the U.S. is truly a government of justice, equality, and brotherhood as it is trying to portray.

In this interview with Atty. Felix Vinluan, one of the counsels of the Sentosa 27++ (he lawyers for the Avalon 10, now among the Sentosa 27++ “fighters”), it is hoped that all grey areas about the Sentosa 27++ case will be clarified and for the whole Filipino nation to see – and to judge – if the Sentosa 27++ case is worth fighting for. The interview was conducted through e-mail last December.

Noel Sales Barcelona (NSB): Who are the Sentosa 27++? We have read and/or heard much news about them but they remain “faceless”?

Atty. Felix Vinluan (AFV): I beg to disagree that the Sentosa 27++ have remained “faceless”. That may have been true during the first few months of their legal battles, but they have since come out into the open, having realized that their legal battles are not just about their cause, but the cause of all Filipino migrant workers, as well as the cause of every worker in America, about every patient in America, and about every litigant and lawyer in America.

Why Sentosa 27++? There were initially 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist who filed discrimination charges against their respective petitioning/contracting employers. Over time, other nurses followed suit. Thus, the ++.

Their names are the following: Juliet Anilao, Harriet Avila, Mark Dela Cruz, Claudine Gamiao, Elmer Jacinto, Jennifer Lampa, Rizza Maulion, James Millena, Tess Ramos, Ranier Sichon, Dondon Parungao, Dulce Bayot, Archiel Buagas, Anna Capulong, Maricelle Dealo, Carlo Garcia, Eduardo Ilagan, Rhean Montecillo, Mitzi Ong, Louella Paglinawan, Ritchel Salve, Eileen Magnaye, Noralyn Ortega, Maritoni dela Rosa, Cecille Jayo, Alipio Esguerra, Jr., Dinah Caluya, Erlinda Castro, Marites Chan, Fe Cinco, Maria Gonzales, Rosina Medel, Rhodalyn San Jose, Rachelle Manugas, Anne Almendrala, and Rowena Lozada.

The Sentosa 27++ nurses are one of several individuals/groups being nominated as “Newsmaker of the Year” by Balitang Amerika.

NSB: Why did they go to America? Who helped them go there?

AFV: These nurses/physical therapists went to America to work. Each of them was recruited by the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency or SRA to work for a particular nursing home facility in New York. SRA is a single proprietorship owned and managed by Francris Luyun.

SRA represented that each of its nurse-recruits would be directly hired or employed by a particular nursing home facility. SRA claimed that it had several nursing home facility- principals in New York. SRA’s brochure and website claimed (still does) that it was a “direct-hire agency”, a “direct-hire employer,” and that “it guaranteed employment in our own health facilities.” Further, SRA had its nurse-recruits individually sign an employment contract with a particular nursing home facility. It was made clear to the nurse-recruits that they would be directly hired by the nursing home facility with which they signed a contract with.

For example, Elmer Jacinto signed an employment contract with Franklin Center. SRA told Mr. Jacinto that he would be hired directly by Franklin Center upon his arrival in the United States. In fact, Franklin Center was Mr. Jacinto’s immigration sponsor.

Furthermore, before his consular interview, SRA provided Mr. Jacinto a letter on Franklin Center’s letterhead confirming Franklin Center’s offer of employment to Mr. Jacinto. Thus, the U.S. Embassy approved Mr. Jacinto’s immigrant visa application.

Mr. Jacinto eventually left for the United States, expecting to work for Franklin Center. To Mr. Jacinto’s dismay, Franklin Center would not, could not, and did not provide him employment. Mr. Jacinto also found out that Mr. Luyun, SRA’s owner and proprietor, was also working in New York. In fact, Mr. Luyun met his nurse-recruits at JFK International Airport upon their arrival in New York. Mr. Luyun brought his nurse-recruits to staffing houses.

Share This Post