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19/06/2013: PH Authorities to Assist Pinoys in 7-11 Exploitation Case

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-064-2013
19 June 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Consulate General in New York are in touch with concerned United States authorities in connection with the investigation of the reported exploitation of undocumented Filipinos working in various 7-11 convenience stores in New York and Virginia.

Acting on instructions of Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla and Consul General Mario De Leon contacted the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the Eastern District Court of New York to inquire on the status of the case.

“We also want to check the condition of the Filipino nationals involved in order to determine the kind of assistance that could be extended to them,” Ambassador Cuisia said in a statement issued from Kingston, Jamaica, where he presented his credentials as Manila’s non-resident ambassador to the Caribbean island-state.

Ambassador Cuisia said consular and legal assistance will be extended to the Filipino nationals involved in the case, including Filipino citizen Ramon Nanas, 49, of Great River, New York, who was among nine persons indicted by authorities in connection with the case.

Ambassador Cuisia said that other than Nanas and the eight others who were indicted, US authorities have not released the names of the more than 50 employees of various 7-11 stores in New York and Virginia who included a still undetermined number of Filipinos.

Consul General De Leon said US authorities have also made it clear that the employees have not been arrested, detained or charged for any offense and are considered victim of exploitation. They will serve as witnesses and will appear in a hearing scheduled on July 18 at the Eastern District Court of New York.

According to Consul General De Leon, the US Department of Justice said the employees were exploited, their wages stolen and were required to live in unregulated boarding houses.

Nanas and the eight others, who have been described as owners or managers of at least 14 7-11 stores in Long Island and Norfolk, were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants.

The Eastern District Court of New York had said the investigation of the case is still ongoing and may involve other undocumented foreign nationals working in other 7-11 stores in several states.

“We are closely monitoring developments related to this case,” Ambassador Cuisia said.###