A MINOR was convicted of simple trafficking in Mandaue City last Wednesday after he pleaded guilty of recruiting 11 persons, including two minors, for commercial sex.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 28 Judge Mercedita Dadole-Ygnacio sentenced 17-year-old George (real name withheld) to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P1 million.
But Dadole-Ygnacio suspended the sentence because George is a minor. This was in compliance with the Rule on Children in Conflict with the Law.
Instead, George will be brought to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) in the southern town of Argao, Cebu.
George, a resident of Compostela, Cebu, was arrested during an entrapment conducted by the Regional Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking 7 and the International Justice Mission-Cebu last March 15.
The entrapment was done at a fastfood outlet in Mandaue City where George was delivering for sex seven girls and four boys at P5,000 each to a police decoy and another asset.
The operatives rescued the victims, two of whom admitted they were 16 and 17 years old.
Three of the victims revealed that George contacted them through a dating website. He asked them to meet up with foreigners and bring along three to four young girls and boys.
George violated Republic Act 10364 or the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. He was first charged with qualified trafficking and pleaded guilty last Feb. 10.
Last May 7, George, through his lawyer, expressed his intention to change his earlier plea. From qualified trafficking, he wanted to plead guilty to simple trafficking, a lesser offense.
When the prosecution acceded, George was re-arraigned last May 21. He pleaded guilty to simple trafficking.
Judge Dadole-Ygnacio directed the RTC social worker to transfer the minor to the RRCY. She also directed the head of the center to submit to the court a progress report of the minor every three months.
Last Thursday, an underage girl from Cebu City was also convicted of trafficking another minor in 2012.
She was sentenced to 12 to 14 years and eight months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P2 million.
The court also suspended the sentence.
A suspended sentence means holding in abeyance the service of sentence imposed by the court on a minor. The minor will undergo rehabilitation within a fixed period, or as may be ordered by the court.