THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of criminal charges against businessman Mariano Tanenglian, his wife Aleta, and their two children for eight counts of child abuse, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention filed by their household help.

Tanenglian is an estranged brother of tycoon Lucio Tan.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

In a 17-page resolution, the DOJ Task Force on Women and Children Protection also found probable cause against the Tanenglians to charge them with violations of the anti-trafficking in persons law.

The criminal charges were filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court based on the complaint filed by Mary Jane Sollano, 19, who accused her employers of alleged maltreatment, serious illegal detention, slavery and even frustrated homicide.

“The uncontroverted accounts of witnesses that for more than five years they have no knowledge of complainant’s whereabouts, that they have to rescue her from the respondents with the help of DSWD, CHR and QCPD, the fact that they were compelled to sign the documents presented to them by respondents’ lawyer as a condition before complainant could be released, and the fact that they received a big amount of money (P137,000) from the respondents bolster the findings that probable cause exist that crimes under RA 7610 and 9208 were committed by the respondents,” the task force said.

Prosecutors said Sollano was able to establish that respondents received and employed her as their housemaid for a period of more than five years, as evidenced by a “contract,” with an intention to extract forced labor or involuntary servitude from her for five years without salary and under constant condition of harm and threat.

“Within this period, complainant suffered cruelty, physical abuse from the hands of respondents, and had been subjected to a condition prejudicial to her normal development as a child, in violation of RA 7610,” the DOJ said, referring to the anti-child abuse law.

Based on records, Sollano was only 13 years old when she was recruited from her hometown in Zamboanga del Sur to work as a housemaid in the Tanenglian residence in June 2004. She was rescued by police and social workers on August 10, 2009.

According to Sollano, she endured a lot of hardships, even physical and sexual abuse, in the hands of her employers.

She said upon her arrival at the Tanenglian residence, she was locked up, not allowed to communicate with relatives, and was kicked, slapped, and suffered various physical abuses even for minor mistakes.

The DOJ gave credit to the claims of Sollano that at one time Aleta and daughter Fayette allegedly took nude pictures of her while hitting her with an iron bar and thick slippers.

In another instance, Fayette allegedly poured hot water on Sollano’s hands when she was caught stealing food, while son Maximillian allegedly chained her hands and neck to the point of choking her when she was caught getting food from the refrigerator.

Sollano claimed she was forced to steal food because she was deprived of food for several days.

As regards the case of trafficking, the Task Force said that respondents admitted receipt of Sollano and even presented a contract signed by Mariano showing that the complainant was employed as a housemaid. (JCV/Sunnex)