A MAN faces 20 years in prison and a fine of P1 million after a court found him guilty of selling four girls in Lapu-Lapu City for sex, nearly seven years ago.

Lapu-Lapu Regional Trial Court Branch 27 Judge Toribio Quiwag convicted Gaudisio Gerra for human trafficking, a violation of Republic Act 9208.

“Trafficking in human beings, if only to emphasize the gravity of its hideousness, is tantamount to modern-day slavery at work,” said Judge Quiwag in the six-page decision he issued last May 31.

“It is a manifestation of one of the most flagrant forms of violence against human beings…It is exploitation, coercion, deception, abduction, rape, physical, mental and other forms of abuse, prostitution, forced labor and indentured servitude. People who take part and even facilitate in the happening of such ‘hideous activity’ deserve nothing but the condemnation of the law,” the decision further read.

According to a fact sheet provided by the International Justice Mission (IJM), the prosecution presented five witnesses, including one of the victims, and four police officials.

To his victims, Gerra was Tita Joj, Jade or Tata.

Last Dec. 9, 2009, the Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RAHTTF) 7 led by Senior Insp. Teresa Macatangay conducted a series of simultaneous anti-human trafficking in persons entrapment and rescue operations on Maximo V. Patalinjug Ave. in Lapu-Lapu City.

The RAHTTF 7 coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 and IJM.

According to the IJM, RAHTTF 7 operatives arrested five pimps in the area who were trafficking women and children on that night.

Gerra was one of the subjects of the operation.

At that time, Gerra sold four girls for sex at P1,000 each to police decoys near FMH Grill. Authorities arrested Gerra when the marked money was handed to him inside a taxi, before they had reached a motel.

All the girls were rescued.

In a text message, Mariejo Sevilla of IJM said all the girls are now in their respective hometowns.

“They are back in their communities right now but we cannot give further details as to their whereabouts,” Sevilla said.

Gerra was detained in the Lapu-Lapu City Jail.