1. Which law firm have we contracted to provide professional legal services to us?
We have retained the services of FARUQI and FARUQI, LLP, a New York City -based law firm “whose practice is focused on complex civil and class action litigation…involving issues of corporate governance (www.faruqilaw.com).” In addition, Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) will assist and serve as Of Counsel which will oversee developments through its entirety. FALDEF is a national organization “providing pro bono legal services to members of the Filipino American community who are suffering legal injustices by reason of their immigrant origins and status and unable to engage legal aid and assistance on account of poverty (www.faldef.org).”
2. What courses of action will be undertaken?
Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP and FALDEF have presented to:
· Represent the Pilipino Educators Network (PEN) in the Department of Labor
· File a motion to delay the final dispositive motion on the Settlement
· Oppose the DOL’s attempt to dismiss earlier claims from the teacher-
· Argue the settlement before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
· Appeal to higher courts if needed
· Assist in securing funding assistance from the Philippine government
3. How much will it cost to retain Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP?
A retainer of $75,000 was initially required by the law firm for work to begin. It is common for a person seeking the services of a lawyer (attorney) to pay a retainer ("retainer fee") to the lawyer, to see a case through to its conclusion. In addition to the retainer fee, an agreement between a client and an attorney may provide for a "contingent fee". Retainer fee can be paid on a fixed, pre-negotiated rate or on a variable hourly rate depending on the nature of retainer and also, the practice of the lawyer/advocate being retained. Both models exist in the industry. If a matter or question is needed to be handled, a corresponding amount is reduced from the fee. Such fee may increase depending on the developments. Billable hour will be determined upon the signing of agreement to retain Faruqi and Faruqi, LLP.
To generate legal funding, an initial $300 pledge has to be paid by interested individuals. Funding assistance is at present being requested from Philippine government agencies (DFA, DOLE, OWWA, etc.) as initiated by FALDEF and the Philippine Embassy. Personal donations are also very much appreciated.
4. What do I need to do to be counted in this litigation process?
You MUST be a member of the Pilipino Educators Network (PEN). Commit to submit an initial pledge of $300 paid to PILIPINO EDUCATORS NETWORK or simply PEN. On the memo space, write FARUQI & FARUQI. Then see PEN’s Task Force Justice for confirmation.
5. What is the role of PEN in this legal undertaking?
One of the law firm’s focus practices is on class action litigation. During the August 8, 2011 informational session, the lawyers advised the significance of representing PEN as an organization with all its members. Therefore, ONLY DULY REGISTERED MEMBERS (those who have paid the annual membership fee) of the organization can be represented in this undertaking subject to personal decision (pledge of commitment). Coordinate with PEN’s membership committee to verify your membership.
6. How long is this undertaking going to last?
There is no specific length of time for this undertaking. The lawyers have started action on our behalf. We are in the process of setting up an account to be utilized solely for this cause, following existing and applicable regulations. FALDEF is assisting us on this matter.
7. Which agency/organization has extended support for this cause?
The Philippine Embassy is working on the political level as well as seeking DFA allocation of legal assistance fund. It had made appeals to Sec. Hilda Solis – for modification of the debarment, to Sec. Janet Napolitano - for parole visa, to Delegate Kris Valderrama - for continuing support to the teachers' cause and to propose a resolution calling on the DOL and DHS to afford justice to the teachers, and to US Sen. Benjamin Cardin - for justice for the teachers. It had requested a meeting with Dr. William Hite after the July 7 Settlement Finding was released, unfortunately, Dr. Hite had ignored the appeal. It appealed for the modification of the debarment in a meeting with the Asst. Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division and the Director of Foreign Labor Certification, Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor. All of these meetings are initiated through the efforts of Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., and Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla in behalf of the teachers to appeal for justice for them not be adversely affected by the debarment. The Embassy was with the teachers in most of their meetings with lawyers, and other stakeholders, including meetings with PGCEA and MSEA. It also has facilitated two forums held on July 14 and August 8 as that invited resource speakers to present relevant information on proper courses of action to take. (www.philippineembassy-usa.org).
On the other hand, FALDEF, through its president JTS Mallonga, Esq., is instrumental in qualifying the Filipino teachers as “distressed nationals” in order to receive funding assistance. This is stipulated and described in the memorandum of understanding signed between the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Association of Filipino American Association some years back.
We are still awaiting assistance from the consular offices of other international teachers affected.
Please direct all other specific questions to any of Task Force Justice (TFJ) members or the PEN Executive Board. Please provide real name other than email address to be identified.
Chair: Jun Ballano email@example.com
Vice Chair: Millie Saluria firstname.lastname@example.org
Members: Maria Suyin Sy-Opeda email@example.com
Diana Cerda firstname.lastname@example.org
Miriam Alcantara email@example.com
Charmaine Beharie firstname.lastname@example.org
Aileen Montillano email@example.com
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