THE National Bureau of Investigation in Northern Mindanao (NBI-10) on Tuesday, April 2, filed criminal charges against two Chinese nationals and two alleged pimps who were arrested after the rescue of 10 young women, seven of whom are below the legal age of 18.
Chinese nationals Shen Zhi Quang, 27, and Li Qi, 26 and the two alleged Filipino pimps were charged for trafficking in person in violation of Republic Act 9208 otherwise known as the "Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003;" another case filed was in violation of Republic Act 7610, or the "Anti Child Abuse Law."
NBI Regional Director Patricio Bernales Jr. said all four accused underwent the inquest proceedings Tuesday.
"Fiscal ang mag-decide sa bail (it is up to the prosecutors whether they will be allowed of bail)," he said.
Meanwhile, the two alleged pimps claimed to be minors themselves, aged 17. Both reside in Calaanan, Cagayan de Oro City.
They denied the accusation that they brought the girls to the hotel in Cugman on March 31, but they could not explain why they were at the hotel during the rescue of the girls.
"Mismo ang mga babae makaingon wala mi labot. Gipaapas raman ko didto kay mga barkada ug silingan man mi nila ana (even the girls would say that we are not involved. I was just told to go there with friends, since we are neighbors)," one of them said.
Meanwhile, lawyer Edgardo Uy, chairperson of the Regulatory and Complaints Board (RCB), said he also wanted the operator of the hotel to be implicated in the criminal cases.
"Mas gusto ko ma-link ang operator sa criminal case (I wanted the hotel operators be linked to the criminal case),"Uy said. It was the RCB that conducted an operation inside the hotel that led to the rescue of the girls, although some of them were already rescued in previous operations from another inn.
Uy earlier said that the establishment will likely face closure and the operator will be penalized with imprisonment of at most one year and fine of P5,000 for violation of the city Children Welfare's Code.
The city ordinance provides that every hotel, motel, inn, are required to register the names of the minors in a separate log book to avoid cases of human trafficking and prostitution in their establishments.
"Gatan-awon nato ang (we are looking at the) involvement sa (of the) operator kay naa man (because there is a) presumption nga hibaw-an sa (that the) operator nga naay (knew that there were) minor(s) nga naka (who) check(ed)-in," Uy said.
He also said that the RCB is requesting for copies of the official report from the NBI before they could proceed with the investigation on the hotel. The hotel management has yet to respond on this.