ANOTHER criminal case has been filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the businessman Mariano Tanenglian, his wife, and two children in connection with a slew of criminal complaints filed by a housemaid.

Tanenglian is the estranged brother of tycoon Lucio Tan.

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In a 10-page resolution, the DOJ Task Force on Women and Children found probable cause against Tanenglian, wife Aleta, and children Fayette and Maximilian for nine counts of child abuse, human trafficking, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention charges filed by Aljane Bacanto.

State prosecutors gave weight to the direct and positive testimony of Bacanto, who testified that she was only 16 when employed by the Tanenglians at their residence in Quezon City.

The DOJ panel found merit in the human trafficking charges, citing the existence of an important aspect of the crime – slavery.

“(Bacanto’s) Employment was with the intention to enslave and to extract force labor/service from the complainant. These intentions are inferred from the acts of respondents when they, in fact, detained complainant from the time she was employed and subjected her to incredibly long hours of work for 2 years and 7 months without salary and under constant conditions of cruelty, maltreatment and threat,” the resolution stated.

On the other hand, the respondents are also liable for kidnapping and serious illegal detention when they deprived Bacanto of liberty for over five days.

“Respondents who are private individuals illegally deprived complainant of her liberty by not allowing her to leave their premises from the time of her employment on May 2006 up to Jan. 2009 coupled with threat that if she made an attempt to leave, something of great harm will happen to her. This detention, needless to state, is a deprivation of complainant’s liberty,” the panel said.

But the DOJ junked the charges of frustrated homicide against the Tanenglians.

Bacanto said that during her three-year stay at the Tanenglians, she suffered extreme cruelty and physical abuse from the respondents and had been subjected to conditions prejudicial to her normal development as a child.

She was employed from May 2006 up to January last year when she was rescued by social workers and law enforcers from the Tanenglian household.

In her complaint, Bacanto said that ever since she came to live with them, the Tanenglians prohibited her from going out of the house, or call anybody on the phone.

She said she was only allowed to write letters to her family in Tacloban, but upon dictation of Fayette who told her never to tell her parents of her situation.

On top of that, she never received any salary from the respondents, nor were she and the other housemaids ever fed enough food.

She revealed that she was only given food whenever her employers were satisfied with her job. She said the refrigerators in the house were padlocked and that there were many instances when she was not able to eat in three consecutive days.

This deprivation of food prompted the maids to try to steal food. But she said that once they were caught stealing several times, they were severely punished and mauled by their employers. At one point, she said that she was forced to eat dog food to survive.

Last week, the DOJ initiated the filing of similar criminal charges against the Tanenglians over the complaint of the first maid, Mary Jane Sollano, who was rescued by authorities in August last year.

Bacanto’s testimony supported that of Sollano. She was the one who reported their ordeal to the family of Sollano after she left Tanenglian’s house, which led to the rescue of the latter.

The DOJ is investigating a similar complaint filed by a third housemaid, Gina Renacia. (JCV/Sunnex)