REGIONAL Trial Court Judge Ester Veloso was asked to reverse her order acquitting an American of pornography for allegedly filming seven naked women who were having a “cat-fight” in Daanbantayan town, Cebu in 2011.
The prosecution filed a motion asking Veloso to reconsider her ruling dismissing the case against Joseph Christian Bogo for alleged violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
The prosecution argued that Veloso contradicted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and committed a “fatal error” when the judge gave credence as evidence to the video about the topless women while having a catfight.
“The court committed fatal error of law when it dismissed the case after applying the exclusionary rule and disregarded the testimonies of the victims pointing to the culpability of the crime charged,” read the prosecution’s pleading.
In December 2015, Veloso cleared Bogo from charges of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
“There were no overt acts within plain view of the barangay tanod that suggested that the accused was recruiting, hiring, or receiving minors for the purpose of pornography,” said Veloso in her 23-page order.
Police arrested Bogo, 34, a blogger, for his alleged involvement in pornography in Barangay Malbago, Daanbantayan, Cebu last Feb. 27, 2011.
Authorities rescued seven women, three of whom are minors. Bogo was caught allegedly in the act of videotaping half-naked women who were having a catfight.
One of the victims told the police that older victims received P2,000 after their “performance,” while the minors received P1,500.
Police seized from Bogo a mini-DV cartridge and the video camera he used to record the topless girls aged between 14 to 18 years old.
Bogo, in his demurrer to evidence, said they did nothing wrong when the tanod arrested them.
He argued that he did not commit any lascivious acts that may be considered pornography.
Granting that he recorded the cat-fight, Bogo said that such act cannot be considered as explicit sexual activities or pornography since it was not done for sexual purpose.
In her order, Veloso granted Bogo’s demurrer to evidence and ruled that the barangay tanod had no first-hand knowledge of what Bogo and the women were doing.
The alleged pornographic videos were obtained by the police only after the accused was arrested and his camera was confiscated, the judge said.
“Such evidence is inadmissible and cannot be used against the accused,” said Veloso.
In the pleading, the prosecution argued the crime of qualified trafficking of person does not require evidence of actual exploitation. It merely needs for the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime charged.
The prosecution asked Veloso to deny Bogo’s demurrer to evidence and convict him of qualified trafficking in person.
The defense, on the other hand, argued that Veloso cannot convict Bogo without violating his constitutional right against double jeopardy.
“The order has long become final and immutable, should be left undisturbed and should no longer be corrected or amended,” read the defense’s pleading.