Domestic helpers claimed an early victory in their right of abode battle with the Hong Kong government yesterday. The government abandoned efforts to introduce late evidence into the case, which it said would show the 'great impact' of allowing helpers to claim permanent residence. The move was welcomed by Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a Filipino denied residence despite working in the city for 25 years. She is one of five Filipinos who claim in a judicial review that this breaches the Basic Law. It came a day before a scheduled hearing of the government's application to file the evidence. A government source said the decision had been made 'in order to avoid any delay of the hearing of this case of great public interest'. The government had sought to file statistics showing the 'great numbers' of helpers who would qualify for permanent residence. It would also indicate the 'great social and policy impact' and burden on social welfare that would result if the judicial review succeeds. The government was reported to have been seeking to submit that there were about 100,000 domestic helpers who had lived in Hong Kong for seven years. They would then bring in family members, leading to an influx of about 400,000. A lawyer for Vallejos, Mark Daly, said the hearing scheduled for today would not go ahead, but refused to confirm the numbers. Other arguments on the admissibility of government evidence already submitted, that were also to have been heard today, will be dealt with when the case is heard in the High Court on Monday. The development came as the Catholic Church stepped up the political struggle by rallying 36 groups to 'declare war' on pro-Beijing figures and government loyalists who have called for an interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress Standing Committee even before the court case starts. The groups - including trade unions, religious groups and human rights bodies - blamed the government loyalists for provoking Hongkongers' populist sentiment and fuelling discrimination against the helpers. 'The government and its allies have exaggerated the potential impact of allowing the workers to stay, but they cannot explain why these Filipino and Indonesian workers have to be treated differently. This is discrimination,' said Jacky Hung Ling-yu, of the Justice and Peace Commission. 'We now declare war on the Beijing loyalists. We will stand on the workers' side.' They also called on lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun to resign as a board member of the Equal Opportunities Commission because he had led a group opposing abode rights for foreign domestic helpers. The activists also won support from an 11-year employer of helpers, Shirdy Kan Sun-wa, who said the situation was 'a tragedy' . Leftist political heavyweights including NPC member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie have taken turns this month to suggest various ways - an interpretation of the Basic Law in particular - for the government to plug the possible influx of helpers. Opponents to the right of abode claim are collecting signatures and organising a march on Sunday.