2 sued for qualified trafficking in Tagum

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


AN OWNER and a floor manager of a bar in Tagum City were charged with qualified trafficking for allegedly hiring four girls, all minors, as guest relations officers (GROs) and dancers.

Regional prosecutor Antonio B. Arellano, Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons(Iacat)-Davao chair, identified the two suspected human traffickers as Marian Sedato Rebuta and Jeyflor Gabayan Delgado, the owner and the floor manager of Apple Bar II Disco Pub, located at Gante Road, Tagum City.

They were charged with Qualified Trafficking in Persons under Section 6 of RA 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003), as amended by RA 10364. Both suspects are presently detained.

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The amended trafficking law allows the media to disclose the name of the suspects unlike the originally law that provides very stiff penalties to media persons who divulge identities of trafficking suspects.

The four minors aged between 15 to 17 years old were rescued in an operation conducted by the Iacat, led by the Department of Justice- Regional Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force (DOJ-RATTF), in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), on January 25.

"After reports were received by DOJ-RATTF members, that minors were employed to work as GROs and dancers in a local bar operating in Tagum City, an inter-agency rescue operations of Iacat Network was organized and conducted," Arellano said.

He said the victims later confirmed that they were employed at the bar, working as GROs and dancers.

Under the law, Qualified Trafficking in Persons is a non-bailable offense and punishable with life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P2 million but not more than P5 million.

"The rescue operation was one of the many successful efforts of the Iacat 11 Network to curb human trafficking in the region," Arellano said.

He said the first ever conviction for Attempted Trafficking in Persons in the country was handed down by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 8 Judge Salvador Ibaretta, Jr. in December last year.

The accused Frederick Apique was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.

Just this year, he said another case for human trafficking was decided by the RTC Branch 19 in Digos City, through Judge Carmelita Davin, finding the accused guilty for Use of Trafficked Person.

"Since the offense was committed before the recent amendments, the accused, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Joel Pomperada was sentenced to only six months of community service," Arellano said.

Under the Expanded-Anti Trafficking in Persons Law, Use of Trafficked Persons now carries the penalty of six to 12 years or 17 to 40 years if it involves sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct with a minor.

"The recent successes in the prosecution of human trafficking cases can be attributed to the extensiveness of the new anti-trafficking law and the intensified campaign against human trafficking carried out by the Iacat 11 Network," he said.

The Iacat 11 Network is chaired by Arellano and co-chaired by DSWD 11 Director Priscilla N. Razon.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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