Minor convicted of trafficking

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


AN UNDERAGE girl from Cebu City was convicted yesterday of trafficking another minor in 2012.

Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Bienvenido Saniel Jr. found Mae (real name withheld) guilty of violating Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

Mae was sentenced to 12-14 years and eight months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P2 million.

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But since Mae is a minor, the penalty imposed on her is suspended, pursuant to the Rule on Children in Conflict with the Law.

A suspended sentence means holding in abeyance the service of sentence imposed by the
court upon finding a child in conflict with the law guilty, whereby the child undergoes rehabilitation within a fixed period, or as may be ordered by court.

Background

Juliet (not her real name) filed a qualified trafficking complaint against Elaine and her companion, who is also a minor girl.

Juliet, who was then 13-year-old, said the two set her up with Mae’s foreigner-boyfriend on Sept. 27, 2012.

She said she was forced to have sex with him in a motel.

Afterwards, she said they returned to the mall where Mae and her companion were waiting.

Juliet said the foreigner gave her P1,000. He also gave Mae and her companion money, she said.

Mae and her companion, who remains at large, denied the charges.

In their counter-affidavit, the two girls said it was Juliet who was “very eager” to meet the foreigner.

Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Jose Nathaniel Andal did not give weight to their defense. At 13, Andal said, it was “unlikely” for Juliet to go with the foreigner and have sex with him.

<>Lower penalty, fine

The accused filed a motion that sought to reverse Andal’s resolution, but it was denied.

Lawyer Maria Laarni Sheila Guico of the International Justice Mission served as a private prosecutor.

Judge Saniel convicted Mae after she pleaded guilty. And since she admitted to the crime, the judge ruled that “privilege mitigating circumstance of minority and ordinary mitigating circumstance of voluntary plea of guilty should be appreciated.”

That was why he imposed a lower penalty and fine, instead of life imprisonment and a fine between P2 million and P5 million. 

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 06, 2014.

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