AUSTRALIAN Peter Gerald Scully and his Filipina partner Carme Ann Alvarez on Wednesday, June 13, were found guilty of one count of qualified trafficking in persons and five counts of rape by sexual assault.
In a 70-page decision signed by Presiding Judge Jose Escobido of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37 issued on Friday, June 8, the court said both Scully and Alvarez were guilty beyond reasonable doubt of committing the crimes.
Two of the couple’s child victims were in the court room during the promulgation of judgment.
A representative from the Australian Federal Police as well as women’s and children’s right groups were also on hand to witness the court proceedings.
“Wherefore, premises considered, this court finds accused Peter Gerald Scully and accused Carme Ann Alvarez a.k.a Sweet, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of committing the crimes,” reads part of the court ruling.
The two were meted with penalties of life imprisonment for the qualified trafficking of person and will made to pay P5 million fine and another six to nine years of imprisonment and fine of P120,000 for damages for each count of rape by sexual assault charges.
The six cases were among the 75 criminal offenses faced by Scully and his cohorts.
More than 50 cases were committed in Cagayan de Oro City, eight in Bukidnon and two in Surigao.
Acting Regional State Prosecutor Merlynn Uy said the promulgation was just for the first batch as 50 more cases involving other victims and co-accused are still under trial.
Uy said the decision will not affect other cases because of the different facts.
"We are happy of this decision because this is considered a victory for all of us, especially for the children,” Uy said.
Uy said the court has also denied the urgent motion to postpone the promulgation filed by the defense counsel.
Uy said defense lawyers had filed an urgent motion asking the court to postpone the promulgation. Scully’s present defense lawyers said the Australian’s defense was “mishandled” thereby depriving Scully the opportunity to present evidence. But this was denied by the court.
But Scully may still remain at the city jail in Barangay Lumbia as the Australian still has to attend hearings for his other cases under trial.
Scully was arrested in February 2015 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon by virtue of six arrest warrants in connection to the sexual and physical abuse allegedly committed in Apovel, Subdivision, Barangay Bulua.
Scully's other supposed crimes committed were subsequently uncovered and was then charged with multiple cases of child abuse, kidnapping, human trafficking, voyeurism, sexual assault, and murder.
Meanwhile, a network of civil society organizations lauded the court’s decision.
Lawyer Perfecto Justino Mendoza, legal officer of BALAOD Mindanaw, said Scully's conviction will hopefully start the full recovery process of the victims.
The Kagay-anon Against Sex Offenders (KASO), a local anti-trafficking group, is now calling for a more concrete and stronger protective measures for the children following Scully’s and Alvarez’s conviction.
KASO said as cases of online sexual exploitation continue to proliferate in Cagayan de Oro, Scully's conviction will be a big impact, and will serve as a warning to other sexual offenders.
"We all know that the longer we delay justice for the children, the longer it takes for them also for their recovery. The quest for justice is a very important component in their full recovery,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said Scully’s victims are under the protection of the government but said the children cannot live as normal children because they are also “imprisoned” while the cases are still being heard.
"The promulgation will really be good for the children," he added.
Mendoza also pointed out that authorities haven't done enough with Cagayan de Oro still one of the top cities with the highest incidence of human trafficking.
Al Rashide Galaura, child protection officer of Oro Youth Development Council meanwhile said the city government continues to work to make the city a safer environment for children.
Galaura said the city has approved a children code which seeks protection of every children, as well as creating programs like the Search for Most Friendly Barangays and Most Friendly Police Stations to promote children's rights and welfare.
KASO said there are still other sex offenders roaming around freely in the city, and this is why they continue to seek justice for all the children traumatized by sexual assaults.
"KASO encourages stakeholders to collaborate and to take on initiative towards the protection of children. As adult child protectors, we should be in the frontline of defense. This kind of unified undertaking will really help create an environment that is safer for children," it says.