Kababayans get free legal help from Pinoy workers advocates
By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North American Bureau
September 12, 2014
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants (PAWIS) in collaboration with the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center and the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC) presented their first free legal clinic in San Jose, Calif.
Kababayans were provided free consultation from lawyers in the areas of family law, housing, public benefits, domestic violence, bankruptcy, worker’s rights, and immigration.
“We know there are a lot of Filipino in the community who don’t have the access to these resources and services so we want to be able to serve the community in that way,” said Michael Dalupo, PAWIS Educational Officer.
PAWIS held this legal clinic to show undocumented workers that they still have the ability to seek legal help in their cases against their employers.
“I think a lot of our community members are afraid to come out to fight for their rights because of their immigrant status and in actuality the immigration status is irrelevant in regards to fighting for your worker’s rights,” said Dalupo.
“If you look at someone who won their lawsuit you also have the power to win your lawsuit,” said Atty. Lorna Garcia who is also the External Vice President of FBANC. “But time is of the essence so I would recommend seeking help. Whether you act on it or not it’s up to you but I think you should seek the help to see what your actions are.”
Bernardo Sapitola attended this recent free legal clinic because he has an issue with his social security.
Sapitola has been helped by PAWIS before when he experienced wage theft after his former employer did not give him or the other workers lunches or breaks.
“Thanks to PAWIS they’ve helped us again with these kinds of problems,” said Sapitola. “The company I used to work with before they compensated us, especially me.”
Sapitola encourages other Filipinos to take a stand if they are being victims of wage theft.
“I’m glad that we have this gathering tonight so that we can help more other kababayans that have problems with their work,” said Sapitola.
PAWIS hopes this free legal will be the first of many since the Filipino Bar Association of North America mainly provides free clinics in San Francisco which makes it hard for most Filipinos in the South Bay to make the trip.
You can contact Rommel Conclara at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.