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Stories continue to change in case of deported pregnant Filipino woman

Merlin Gerin Lloren and her son in a 2017 photo. [SN file photo]
Sponsor says she's the biggest liar he's ever met
ausage@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Immigration officer Siliva Patu can't recall whether he received any bond money from the family of the 7-month pregnant Filipino national who was forced to leave American Samoa last month.

Patu kept changing his statement Samoa News asked him about the $2,200 the family of the Filipino woman alleges they gave him back in Dec. 2015.

This past Sunday, Patu told Samoa News over a telephone interview that he has receipts for the $2,200 the family of the Filipino woman gave him for the bonds and he confirmed that he did receive the money.

But Patu changed his story the following day, on Monday. He told Samoa News he doesn't recall receiving any money from the Filipino woman's family.

“Please give me time so I can go back to the family and ask them about the bonds. All I remember is that my wife was issued a 30-day permit to bring the woman and her son in to American Samoa in 2016, but I don’t recall whether her family gave me any money for the bonds,” Patu told Samoa News.

“But you mentioned during our telephone conversation yesterday (Sunday) that you did receive the money from the family for the bonds and you also have the receipts,” Samoa News told Patu.

He responded, “That’s correct, but I don’t recall whether they actually gave me any money for the bonds. I need more time so I can go back to the Filipino woman’s aunty and ask her about the money. The aunty was the one who came to us and asked for a chance to sponsor this Filipino woman and her son, and we accepted because we wanted to help people like her.”

According to Merlin Gerin Lloren, her mother and cousin went to the Immigration Office in Utulei and gave Patu $2,200 for their bonds. The first payment was for her father’s bond in the amount of $1,100, followed by her and her son’s bond payment of $1,100 a few weeks later.

Lloren told Samoa News that both her mother and cousin were advised by this immigration officer that the bonds for her, her son, and her father must first be paid in full so he (Patu) could process their immigration paperwork prior to their arrival. And when everything is ready, they will be able to get their immigration IDs as soon as they enter the territory, before their permits expire.

Patu said he never promised anything to the aunty who came and asked for a chance to sponsor Lloren.

“I don’t recall anything like that happening,”, Patu said, referring to the advice he allegedly gave the family of the Filipino woman regarding the payment of bonds.

“I never gave the family advice nor did I promise them that they will get their IDs. I didn’t talk to the family near their church as stated by the Filipino woman in her story.

“All I can confirm is that her father has already paid his bond,” Patu said. When Samoa News asked whether he has receipts for the father’s bond, Patu's response was, "Please give me some time so I can go back to the family and ask them if they have the receipts.”

According to Patu, he would never do such bad things to immigrants who come to American Samoa seeking a better future for their families.

“All me and my wife do is help these people by sponsoring them and making sure they are legally here. We never do anything to harm them or make them feel that their constitutional rights are being violated while residing here," Patu said.

He told Samoa News that except people from Samoa who have 250 slots open every year under our immigration laws, people from the Philippines and all other countries have only 5 slots.

Chief Immigration Officer Peseta Dennis Fuimaono did not mince words when he called Samoa News Monday morning and asked why we even considered the Filipino woman's side of the story. (See Monday's Samoa News edition for details).

“Why are you considering (amanaia) her story,” Peseta asked Samoa News in a raised tone.

“She’s the one who told my staff that she was 4 months pregnant. Then lied to you about everything that was on the paper today (Monday).”

Samoa News asked Peseta if there’s any new information about the issue he wanted to share, he responded, “Go and interview Mr. Heo first and then I will talk to you later.”

Heo is the president of H&H Samsung Inc., the company Lloren claims sponsored her and hired her for only a week before she was forced to leave last month.

During a Samoa News interview that lasted over 20 minutes, Heo described Lloren as the biggest liar he's ever met. He also bashed Samoa News for publishing wrong information from Lloren.

According to Heo, Lloren applied for a job with his company but the problem was, she didn’t have an immigration ID. His company then helped her by sponsoring her for the purpose of legalizing her in the territory.

Heo denies Lloren’s story that she was hired by H&H Samsung Inc. for only one week before she was let go and ended up being forced to leave the territory.

“I never hired her nor gave her a 3-year contract. She was only here for one week observing and training,” Heo recalled.

After a week, Heo said he advised Lloren to stay home until she gets her Immigration ID. A few months later, Lloren’s Board hearing was called, and she was supposed to appear together with her new sponsor, Heo, but she failed to appear.

Heo said his staff tried to contact her but she was not to be found. She never answered her phone. He said he didn’t know Immigration was trying to find her.

He told Samoa News he was contacted by the Immigration Office, telling him he had to pay return tickets for Lloren and her son to Manila. He was also asked to provide pocket money for her and her son because his company sponsored her.

“I hate this keige," Heo said. "She came here last year crying and asked for help and I helped her, but she turned around and spread rumors that I’m the father of her pepe (unborn child). I spent almost $3,000 to pay for their fare to Manila but I heard they are in Apia now. I waste my money and now they are not going. I also gave her $200 for pocket money,” Heo said.