Woman, 41, gets life sentence

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Friday, January 31, 2014


A 41-YEAR-OLD woman was convicted yesterday of qualified trafficking after allegedly trying to bring three minors to Bulacan province for the purpose of prostitution.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 Judge Toribio Quiwag sentenced Rebecca Estrada to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P3 million.

Quiwag also ordered Estrada to pay the complainant moral damages of P500,000 and exemplary damages of P100,000.

The case stemmed from a rescue operation on Oct. 2, 2007 conducted by the Philippine National Police-Police Center for Aviation Security.

The operation was conducted after the mother of one of the victims sought help from the authorities. The victim, then only 14, was allegedly recruited without her parents’ consent.

The police rescued the victims and arrested Estrada at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. Estrada failed to show any documents establishing right of custody or authority to travel with the three minors.

Based on the police investigation, the victims were recruited through deception for the purpose of prostitution in Bulacan.

‘Just’

Estrada was charged with violation of Republic Act 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

“We believe the judgment is just. It was based on strong prosecution evidence,” lawyer Lawrence Aritao of the International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a phone interview.

The IJM, an international organization devoted to ending modern-day slavery, is helping in the prosecution of human traffickers in the country.

In 2007, it launched Project Lantern, which aims to rescue women and girls from sex trafficking in Cebu and develop the capacity of the public justice system to fight trafficking.

Estrada was the 18th person convicted of human trafficking in Cebu since 2003, Aritao said.

Her conviction came less than two months after two women were sentenced to life imprisonment in a court in Cebu City for their alleged involvement in human trafficking.

RTC Branch 24 Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan also ordered Dahlia Alibay and Joan Ortiz to pay a fine of P2 million.

“We hope this decision will serve as a deterrent to other persons who are tempted to profit by selling sexual services of children,” Aritao said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 31, 2014.

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