The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) hailed the recent set of human trafficking convictions in Region III as these cases mark a milestone in the government's fight against trafficking in persons (TIP), in that these were the first convictions in Angeles City, Pampanga, a widely known hub of trafficking activities in the country since the law was enacted in 2003.
Both cases were presided over by the Angeles City's Regional Trial Court Judge Ma. Angela T. Paras-Quiambao and rendered separately on October 01, 2013 and November 08, 2013. In both instances, the accused were found to be in violation of Section 4a (Acts of Trafficking) in relation to Section 6a (Trafficking of a minor) or Qualified Trafficking in Persons, as penalized by Section 10c, of Republic Act No. 9208.
In the October 1 conviction, the Court found the accused Ruth De la Rosa guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Qualified Trafficking in Person for forcing her niece into prostitution.
In the second case, the Presiding Judge found Esmeraldo Tejero and Marilyn Valencia guilty of peddling several under-aged girls to both foreign and local customers.
Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, Chairperson of IACAT, said that these convictions are among the key achievements of the government in combatting trafficking in persons since the inception of the law in 2003. "It is important to highlight that both cases were heard and decided by the court in a span of eight (8) to nine (9) months, "De Lima stated.
"The swift disposition of these human trafficking cases gives us the confidence that our mission to hunt down and prosecute syndicates operating to exploit the vulnerable will find fulfillment," she added.
Judge Paras-Quiambao, in her ponencia/decision, said that "...the Judiciary has a valid interest to uphold in preventing such offense (human trafficking). Once guilt beyond reasonable doubt has been established by the prosecution, the court will render swift justice of conviction."
Assistant City Prosecutor Percival T. Atinaja, the lead counsel for the State, said that "the cooperation between the government agencies as well as non-government organizations was instrumental in securing this conviction."
"The court hopes that this decision will serve as a reminder to offenders of trafficking in persons that there is still justice in this country that will render them liable for their acts," Judge Paras-Quiambao added.
"We urge our prosecutors to double, if not triple, the efforts in securing convictions so we could keep human trafficking syndicates off the streets," De Lima concluded.