KASAMA Vol. 7 No. 3 / May-June 1993 / Philippines Australia Solidarity Group Queensland


by Emere Distor

"WE were expecting her to spend easter in Sydney," said Mila's sister Ofelia Santos, as she controlled herself from yet another sob.

Her sister, Milagros "Mila" Wills, 36, was brutally murdered last Saturday morning inside her unit in Morningside, a Brisbane suburb. With Mila during the attack was Marissa, her seven-week old daughter with the man charged for her murder.

Police investigating the incident believed that the attacker used a "light coloured piece of timber" in bashing Mila's head causing a large hole in her skull.

Felipe Mercado, Mila's brother who lives in Sydney, thought the weapon used was likely to be the kitchen stone pestle since it was obviously freshly-cleaned when they checked the kitchen cupboards.

Mila was sent to the hospital at around 8 o'clock, five hours after she was attacked by her de-facto husband, Bruce Hughes, 38, who claimed to be an ex-military man.

She died the next day after doctors from the Princess Alexandra Hospital turned off her life-support system.

Mila Bordador Wills arrived in Australia 11 years ago after marrying Harry Wills, an Australian she met in a deaf and mute institute in Manila. Their union produced a daughter, Melissa, now six years old.

In 1990, Mila separated from Harry and moved to her Morningside unit with their daughter Melissa. Their separation, according to her close friends was caused by her in-laws interference to prevent Mila's mother to come to Australia.

Mila's mother, Marciana Bordador came to Brisbane on a temporary visa in 1988, but was forced to go home when the Immigration Department refused her request for extension.

"Despite her disability to hear and talk, Mila lived a very normal and happy life," said Cynthia Mowat, Mila's confidante.

"But sometimes, she was worried taking babies to the doctors and explaining what was wrong."

Mila then met Bruce Hughes and bore him a daughter. The relationship soured after 18 months and the two separated November last year.

Mila Wills is the 15th Filipina violently murdered in Australia since 1980, making Filipinos the ethnic group hardest hit by cases of domestic violence.

The statistics prompted the Filipino community in Brisbane to create an inter-organisation committee that will monitor the case of Mila Wills.

"We hope to see justice in here," said a leader of a Filipino community group in Brisbane.

His fear was not at all baseless. A few days after Mila's murder, a man convicted of killing his Filipina wife in Sydney was set free for lack of evidence.

The Centre for Philippine Concerns-Australia (CPCA), a national network of Filipino groups and individuals in Australia, shared the same disappointment but would not be reluctant to rally, in case whitewashing occurred.

"We strongly condemn the ruthless killing of Filipino women in Australia," said the Centre's co-ordinator. "Mila Wills was thrice violated, first as a woman, then as a Filipino migrant and as a disabled person."

Mila's body was flown to the Philippines on April 10th and buried in her hometown, Meycauayan Bulacan.