‘No sanctions’ on lawyers of Baja’s accuser – judge

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO – Judge Victor Marrero of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York has denied the motion to “impose sanctions” on the lawyers of the accuser of former Philippine Ambassador Lauro L. Baja for allegedly misrepresenting the accuser as a nursing graduate.

Judge Marrero said the sanctions are “premature and unproductive under the circumstances of this case … absent a fuller factual record.”

Baja lawyer Salvador E. Tuy Jr. earlier asked the court to cite the lawyer’s of accuser Marichu Baoanan in contempt “for material misrepresentation in their pleadings…”

Tuy based his request “on a recent discovery we obtained from the Philippines Commission on Higher Education (CHED), certifying that plaintiff Marichu Baoanan (then Marichu Lim Suarez, maiden name) did not graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Unciano College and General Hospital as alleged in a complaint” with an attached transcript of record.

On the other hand, Baoanan’s lawyers presented a different CHED certification that Baoanan was a nursing graduate of Unciano but it did not have a transcript of record.

An e-mail by this reporter to Dr. Alfredo A. Caramat, registrar of Unciano Colleges, verifying which of the two CHED certifications was authentic has remained unanswered.

Tuy said “this material misrepresentation is the heart and soul of plaintiff’s causes of action where she alleged that she is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Unciano Colleges and General Hospital.

“Because of this nursing degree she was promised by defendants a nursing job in New York and not as a domestic helper for the price of 500,000 Philippine pesos (US$10,000).

“Plaintiff claims she paid defendants 250,000 pesos (US$5,000) cash in the Philippines and upon arrival in the US, defendants forced her into involuntary servitude to collect the balance of 250,000 pesos.”

Tuy said the plaintiff’s attorneys should be held accountable for failing to ascertain the veracity of plaintiff’s claim of being a nursing graduate that was used to prop up the complaint.

He said this matter should have been discoverable through meaningful pre-filing investigation.

Tuy added he is also in possession of other material evidence which lead to the conclusion that plaintiff may be a fugitive from several criminal fraud cases in the Philippines, which are the main reasons she came to the US.

Tuy said: “it is our opinion that plaintiff has engaged in a pattern of criminal fraud cases in the Philippines, including this matter and that she deliberately sought to portray herself as victim of human trafficking to be able to secure her temporary T visa in order to stay in the US.”

He added that the case against his client “should be dismissed because everything else alleged in the complaint may be untrue and unsupported by any discoverable evidence.”

On Feb. 26, Judge Marrero gave the United States government 60 more days to comply with his order last Jan. 29, “inquiring whether an expression of interest by the US government” is forthcoming on the case of human trafficking filed against Baja.

Judge Marrero wanted to hear from the US government whether Baja and his family are exempted from “civil immunity for an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving state (the United States) outside his official functions” as provided for under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Baja, his wife, Norma Castro Baja, their adult daughter, Maria Elizabeth Baja Facundo and Labaire International were named defendants by Baoanan in 15 causes of action, including claims of human trafficking, involuntary servitude, and forced labor.

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