The former employer of helper Elvie Vergara, who was allegedly abused for years, was cited in contempt during a Senate panel hearing on Tuesday and ordered detained at the Senate jail.
During the third hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Vergara’s case, Senator Jinggoy Estrada moved to cite France Ruiz for contempt, believing that she was the “mastermind of everything—of maltreating, of inflicting severe injuries” on Vergara.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa seconded the motion.
Estrada initially wanted to detain Ruiz at the Pasay City Jail and not in the Senate, but after a brief suspension of the hearing, he withdrew his motion.
Senator Francis Tolentino, chairman of the committee, said that a detention order would be issued against Ruiz “for continuously evading the questions propounded by the members of this committee, as well as falsely testifying under direct examination by committee members.”
“Consistent with the rules of the Senate, which considers a commitment order issued by a committee as a contempt of the Senate, the sergeant at arms is hereby directed to place under detention within the Senate premises said person, Mrs. France Garcia Ruiz,” Tolentino said.
Ruiz's family and legal counsel were given visitation rights.
Vergara went partially blind after allegedly suffering abuse at the hands of employers. The 44-year-old helper escaped from her employers, who were allegedly abusing her since 2020.
Ruiz and her husband repeatedly denied the allegations.
Ruiz also said that Vergara’s injuries and blindness were caused by a fight with their male house helpers.
These helpers, identified as JM and Patrick, denied injuring Vergara.
A witness known as "Dodong," also a former helper of the Ruizes, corroborated JM and Patrick's testimonies.
Meanwhile, to prove that they did not abuse their helper, the Ruiz couple agreed to undergo a polygraph test that would be administered by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Both JM and Patrick also agreed to be polygraphed.
Tolentino said the Committee on Justice and Human Rights may use the test results to determine the truth and could be included in the report on the case.
No intent to kill
Meanwhile, during Tuesday's hearing, Paluan Police Chief Police Major Rodrigo Borlado Jr. testified they did not find any evidence that shots were fired at witness "Dodong's" home.
Last week, Dodong escaped an alleged attempt on his life after an unidentified gunman opened fire on his house.
Borlado said that no evidence like bullets, cartridges, or bullet impacts were found at the crime scene. Nor did Dodong's neighbors hear any gunshots.
The Paluan Police Chief, however, stressed that this absence of evidence did not contradict Dodong's affidavit, in which he said that someone was threatening or scaring him.
“Sa investigation namin, tumutugma ang affidavit na binibigay niya [Dodong]... Doon sa affidavit niya, lumalabas na walang intent to kill. Pananakot lang po. Sa assessment, sa investigation namin, ‘yun din ang lumalabas na siya ay tinakot lamang,” Borlado said.
(Our investigation matches the affidavit given by Dodong. In his affidavit, it appears that there was no intent to kill. It's just a threat. In the assessment of our investigation, it also appears that he was only being scared.)
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, for its part, said they had a person of interest in the shooting incident, but could not name the suspect yet due to the still ongoing investigation. — DVM, GMA Integrated News