Traffickers’ get life prison term

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Friday, December 13, 2013


A COURT in Cebu City convicted two women yesterday afternoon for their alleged involvement in human trafficking.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24 Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan sentenced Dahlia Alibay and Joan Ortiz to life imprisonment. They were also ordered to pay a fine of P2 million.

Himalaloan told both accused that his decision will undergo automatic review before three justices at the Court of Appeals (CA). If his decision is affirmed, the Supreme Court (SC) will review the case.

International Justice Mission (IJM) Philippines Director Andrey Sawchenko said they are glad that the court found “fair evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict the accused.”

Message

“We are appreciative that the court recognized the suffering of the victims and has delivered a verdict in line with the evidence in this case,” he said. “The message of this conviction is that the crime of trafficking in persons will not go unpunished.”

Ortiz was teary eyed when she heard the verdict, while Alibay kept silent. They refused to be interviewed.

Alibay and Ortiz were charged with violating Section 4 (e) in relation to Section 6 (a, c) of Republic 9208, or the the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

Section 4 (e) prohibits any person to “maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography.”

Under Section 6 (a, c), the accused committed qualified trafficking when the trafficked person is a child and “when the crime is committed by a syndicate, or in large scale.”

Amendment

“Trafficking is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group,” the law read.

RA 9208 was amended through RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

The law punishes any person who “recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, provides, or receives a person by any means, including those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship, for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.”

Sawchenko said he hopes the conviction of Alibay and Ortiz would deter those who plan to traffick children and women.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 14, 2013.

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