Maid goes blind at hands of alleged abusive employers

Posted at 08/09/2012 8:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines – After 5 years of working as a maid in Manila to support her parents and siblings, 21-year-old Bonita Baran went home to her family in Catanduanes without her sight anymore.

Bonita was sent back to her province by her employers because she was "not useful" anymore after she lost her eyesight from constant beating. She said her employers made her wear a diaper so she would not have a hard time finding a comfort room during her trip.

Bonita started working for Analiza and Reynold Marzan at their house along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City in 2007.

She said her first year with the Marzans went smoothly but noted she was only earning 700 pesos (about US$16.70) a month. Her salary was later increased to 800 pesos a month (about US$19.15).

It was during her second year that Analiza allegedly started beating her every day for being inefficient.

"Iyung [unang] taon, 'di ako sinasaktan, 'yung unang naranasan ko yung sinasaktan ako halos araw-araw, paulit-ulit," she told dzMM on Thursday.

"Kung may nakita siya na hindi maganda, kapag hindi malinis, sinasaktan niya po ako."

Allegedly force-fed cockroaches

Her punishments included allegedly being hit repeatedly with reed broom (walis tambo), figurines or any hard object Analiza got hold of.

She was also reportedly scorched with a flat iron in the face, force-fed with cockroaches and spoiled food, choked and stabbed with scissors in the arm.

"Pag nasugatan na niya ako, sasabihin niya 'sorry.' Hindi daw niya sinasadya," she said.

"Ang sabi niya sa akin, bakit ang tagal-tagal ko daw mamatay," she added.

Bonita said Analiza's husband then supposedly replied: "Bakit gusto mo siyang patayin? Saan mo siya itatapon?"

She said the husband sometimes tried to stop Analiza from the alleged beating, but did little to save her.

She noted that Analiza's three children were also witnesses to the alleged beatings.

Escaping from the Marzan household along Visayas Avenue proved a hard task for Bonita, as her employers reportedly locked her up every time she left the house.

She also said she would be sent inside her room whenever the couple had guests in the house.

Her communication with her family in Catanduanes was also limited.

Blindness

Bonita said she started losing her sight last year when Analiza allegedly kept punching her eyes almost everyday.

She said there was a time that Analiza allegedly punched her so hard that blood gushed through her eyes.

"Sinusuntok niya ako, tapos ilang araw na parang namamaga siya binuhusan ako ng isang tabong tubig," she said.

According to Dr. Erwin Erfe, Forensics Laboratory head of the Public Attorney's Office, said Bonita lost complete use of her right eye.

Doctors are trying to rehabilitate Bonita's left eye, which has retained 10% of its function.

Erfe said a medico-legal report showed that Bonita sustained at least 200 scars, mostly from burn injuries.

Justice

Bonita admitted she tried to fight back during the supposed beatings but that she was too weak to go against a bigger woman such as Analiza.

"Tuwing sinasaktan ako, sumigigaw ako pero tinatakpan niya ang bibig ko… Nilakasan ko ang loob ko. Nagdadasal ako gabi-gabi," she said.

Persida Rueda-Acosta, PAO chief and Bonita's legal counsel, accompanied the victim last week to the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office to file attempted murder, serious physical injuries and serious illegal detention charges against the couple.

"Kung may bitay ngayon, bitay yan," Acosta said.

"Sa ibang bansa, nagagalit tayo [sa mga dayuhang nang-aapi sa mga Pilipino], pero dito pala sa sarili nating bayan may ganitong mga inaapi."

Acosta said they have yet to file a request for a hold departure order for the couple before the Department of Justice. The DOJ remains closed today due to bad weather.

She said they will also seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Immigration in preventing the couple from leaving the country.

Acosta said the couple's bicycle shop was already closed for good when investigators went there. She said the couple still lives in their house along Visayas Avenue.