SAN MANUEL, Tarlac -- A 19-year-old househelp is facing 14 counts of qualified theft after robbing her employer of some P740,000 here.

San Manuel police chief Abraham Atencio identified the suspect as Damaris Almuete Caballero of Barangay Lanas, Mangaldan, Pangasinan.

The suspect was a stay-in housemaid of Ana Marie Pascual, an overseas Filipino worker in Canada, at their house in Barangay Legaspi, San Manuel.

Pascual has known the suspect through her cousin who recommended her. She worked with the Pascual for almost four years and treated her as a family member and not just an ordinary house help. They have trusted her even with their bank transactions and other important matters, police said.

Police said that Pascual used to remit money from Canada to a popular bank in the Philippines and Caballero will collect the money and deposit it under the account of the son of her employer starting early last year.

Unknown to Pascual, police said, Caballero was not depositing the money but she collects them, then tampers the passbook and sends Pascual a photocopy of the account. Pascual became aware of the modus of her maid when she returned home and went to the bank to ask why her passbook is not machine validated but the entries are only hand written.

When Caballero learned that her employer is returning to the Philippines she went missing. Pascual was able to convince Caballero to meet her when she told her that she has some papers to sign for the bank.

It was then that police arrested Caballero based on the complaint of Pascual and with a warrant of issued by Presiding Judge Serafin Cruz of Branch 67 of the Regional Trial Court but was released after few days when a lawyer took custody of the suspect.

"Dahil po sa ninakawan niya ako ng halagang P740,000 ako ay naglalaan ng P50,000 para sa kanyang ikakadarakip. Pinagkatiwalaan ko siya pero ninakawan niya ako na walang kamalay malay. Ang pera ay pinagpaguruan ko para sana ipon ng kinabukasan ng anak ko," Pascual said.

Police said Pascual hired a private lawyer to compel the unidentified lawyer who took custody of Caballero to produce her through Writ of Habeas Corpus. Any information on the whereabouts of the suspect can be relayed to police hotlines 0927-479-8674 and 09998-05-2045. (Homer Teodoro)