The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) marked another labor trafficking conviction after Judge Silverio Castillo of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila handed down the decision against a recruitment agency owner based in Tondo, Manila.
"This case is the third labor trafficking case resolved since the creation of the Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003," Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, chairperson of IACAT said.
The Manila RTC found Myrna Mendoza guilty beyond reasonable doubt on two (2) counts of qualified trafficking in Persons with a prison term of twelve (12) years and one (1) day as minimum to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months as maximum period. The court also instructed her to pay a fine of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00).
Section 3 of RA 9208 defines forced labor as "the extraction of work or services from any person by means of enticement, violence, intimidation or threat, use of force or coercion, including deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority or moral ascendancy, debt-bondage or deception."
"This case should yet again serve as a warning against those who intends to cause harm to other Filipinos through deceitful means," De Lima added.
In the given case, the Court established that Mendoza recruited a couple of minors, in two separate occasions, and compelled them to work under extreme conditions. In one case, she recruited one of the minor victims to work as a house helper, but ended up working under her own employ. The court found that the victim was working under deplorable situations and was physically beaten by Mendoza.
On another instance, Mendoza was found to have recruited a minor and her mother to work as garment factory workers ending up house helpers. They were forced to work so they could repay their placement fees of P20,000. Such falls under debt bondage. It is defined as the pledging by the debtor of his/her personal services or labor or those of a person under his/her control as security or payment for a debt, when the length and nature of services is not clearly defined or when the value of the services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt.
"The government, through IACAT and its partners, will make sure that these individuals who exploit our vulnerable countrymen will suffer the full force of the law," De Lima concluded.