Pinoy nurses in NY get $25K legal aid from RP gov't

A group of Filipino nurses facing criminal charges in New York has received $25,000 in legal assistance from the Philippine government to pursue legal actions against their employer.

Twenty-seven Filipino nurses quit their jobs in April 2006 from the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. They accused SentosaCare group of companies of breach contract after they were assigned to work outside the scope specified in their contract upon arrival in the US.

Eleven of them, including medical board top placer Elmer Jacinto, have been accused of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children in a pediatric ventilator unit after leaving their posts in April last year due to labor row.

The US justice department, Civil of Rights Division, dismissed the case on Aug. 31, 2007 for “insufficient evidence of reasonable cause to believe the injured parties were discriminated."

In the sidelines of her New York trip last September, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo privately met four representatives of the group, known as Sentosa 27++ .

“After hearing the plight of the nurses and upon their request, the President committed to help them in their litigation expenses," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

Philippine Consul General to New York Cecilia Rebong handed over the amount to 10 representatives of the Sentosa nurses last October 30.

There are now about 38 Filipino nurses involved in various administrative, civil and criminal cases against SentosaCare group of companies.

Their cases arose from alleged breaches of contract and discriminatory acts by SentosaCare. The Sentosa 27++ Legal Defense Trust was then set up to pursue their legal remedies.

The DFA previously provided legal assistance funds to 10 of the nurses who were criminally charged for alleged endangerment of patients.

A similar case of alleged abandonment of patients was earlier filed by Sentosa against the Filipino nurses before the Office of Professional Discipline of the New York State Education Department. This administrative case was duly dismissed for lack of merit.

The Suffolk County District Attorney indicted the 11 Filipino nurses last March for allegedly endangering the lives of their patients.

The decision of the US Department of Justice - Office of the Special Counsel dismissing the discrimination charges filed by the nurses also led to the dismissal of several cases filed before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) where the nurses charged Sentosa Care of illegal recruitment, misrepresentation and contract substitution.

POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz, in a 30-page ruling signed in September, asserted that in the case “no regulation on overseas employment was violated by the respondents in the recruitment and deployment of the complainants to its principal in the United States." The case was dismissed for “utter lack of merit." - GMANews.TV

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