Friday, July 18, 2008

Philippines: Life Imprisonment for the Country’s 11th Human Trafficking Convict


By Gemma Bagayaua

A Batangas court recently sentenced a woman to life imprisonment after finding her guilty of trafficking minors for sexual exploitation.

Apart from the prison sentence, Batangas Regional Trial Court Judge Florencio S. Arellano also ordered the accused to pay a fine of P2million apart from P50,000 for moral damages to each of her victims in a decision promulgated June 30, 2008.

The verdict was the culmination of a three-year case that began in March 2005, when the woman was nabbed by authorities at the Batangas pier while accompanying seven girls.

The suspect in this case is only the 11th person convicted of human trafficking since the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was enacted in 2003.

The accused and her victims were en route to Sabang, Puerto Galera when a security guard on duty at the passenger terminal noticed the “young looking” girls and tipped off authorities.

The girls later told authorities they were recruited by the accused in Quezon City and Mandaluyong City, and were initially promised employment as waitresses in Batangas City. En route, they learned that their actual destination was Sabang Disco in Puerto Galera were they were supposed to work as Guest Relations Officers (GROs) with instructions to entertain guests and have sex with them in exchange for large sums of money.

At the time, two of the victims were minors—aged 15 and 16. We’re withholding the names of both the accused and the victims due to the law’s provisions on confidentiality.

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