Illegal trafficking
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Atty. Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

This is a case about “trafficking in persons”, under Republic Act (RA) 9208, more specifically Sections 4 (a) and (e) in relation to Section 6 (a) and (d) that punishes recruiting, transporting, providing or receiving a person for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage; and giving or receiving payments or benefits to get the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation or prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs. Said trafficking is considered qualified when the offender is the ascendant, parent, sibling, guardian, or a person who exercises authority over the trafficked persons. This is illustrated in our case for today.

This is the case of Mirasol and her husband Sven. Mirasol is a housewife while Sven works in a printing press. They have three daughters, Kriza, 14 years old, Lucy, 10 years old and Lyca, 9 years old. When Kriza was just 13 years old, her mother Mirasol brought her to a hotel to meet a certain Michael who immediately had sexual intercourse with her. And even before that and for the next three years, Mirasol ordered her to engage in cybersex for three to four times a week in pornographic websites where she was shown in her underwear doing sexual activities in front of the computer. On the other hand, Mirasol, also ordered Lucy and Lyca to dance naked in front of the computer with internet connectivity, while facilitating the webcam sessions and chatting with a certain “Jim,” their usual client. And during those sessions, Sven would be outside the room or fixing the computer. The children were made to do sexual activities to earn money for their household expenses which were collected by Sven in remittance centers.

Thus Kriza already sought the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to rescue them. The DSWD coordinated with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). After investigation and technical verification of the pornographic websites, the NBI obtained a search warrant resulting in the rescue of Kriza, Lucy and Lyca, the confiscation of the computer units and paraphernalia and the arrest of their parents, Mirasol and Sven.

The couple were then charge with three counts of violation of Section 4 (e) in relation to Section 6 (a) and (d) of RA 9208 for conspiring and confederating with each other, by deception and taking advantage of the vulnerability of their daughters Kriza, Lucy, and Lyca, did then and there maintain said minors for purposes of prostitution and/or pornography who were made to dance naked in front of the camera being viewed through the internet by a foreigner  who pays a fee for the three minors to engage in private chat, show their genitals, buttocks, and breasts, instilling in their minds that the same is necessary for their support and daily sustenance. Mirasol was also charged together with a John Doe for taking advantage of the vulnerability of Kriza, her 14 year old daughter, in order to bring her to a hotel room occupied by one known as Michael who had sexual intercourse with Kriza in exchange for P100,000, in violation of Section 4(a) in relation to Section 6 (a) and (d)

For their defense, the couple merely denied the accusations and claimed not knowing any motive for their children’s accusations. They also alleged that Kriza ran away because she was impregnated by her boyfriend and denied that the computer gadgets were confiscated from them.

The RTC however found Mirasol and Sven guilty of four counts of Qualified Trafficking in Persons as defined and penalized under RA 9208. It found that the prosecution had proven their guilt of the crimes charged beyond reasonable doubt by conspiring and confederating with one another to maintain and exploit their children, Kriza, Lucy and Lyca into committing cybersex with several foreigners through various websites. According to the Regional Trial Court, their claim that the charges against them were merely fabricated cannot be given credence in the light of the children’s clear and straightforward testimonies and lack of motive to testify against their own parents. This ruling was affirmed by the CA with the following modifications: (1) Sven’s conviction is reduced to three (3) counts as he was only named as an accused in the three Informations filed with the RTC. The fourth Information only charged Mirasol and a certain John Doe.

The Supreme Court also affirmed the ruling of the CA. The SC said that Mirasol and Sven are indeed guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three counts of Qualified Trafficking of Persons under Section 4 (e) in relation to Section 6 (a) and (d) of RA 9206. According to the SC, the prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that: (1) Mirasol and Sven are the biological parents of Kriza, Lucy and Lyca who were all minors when the crimes against them were committed; (b) they made their children perform acts of cybersex for different foreign customers and thus engaged them in prostitution and pornography; (c) they received various amounts of money in exchange for the sexual exploitation of their children; and (d) they achieved their criminal design by taking advantage of their children’s vulnerability as minors and deceiving them that the money paid for the lewd shows are needed for the family’s daily sustenance.

The SC further ruled that Mirasol is guilty of one count of the same crime under Section 4 (a) in relation to Section 6 (a) and (d) of RA 9208 for transporting and providing Kriza to a foreigner for purposes of prostitution under the pretext that the money obtained from such illicit transaction is needed for the family’s daily sustenance.

So Mirasol and Sven were sentenced to life imprisonment in the three cases under Section 4 (e) and to pay a fine of P2 million, to pay moral damages of P500,000 and exemplary damages of 100,000 to the victims. Mirasol is also found guilty of trafficking in persons under Section 4 (a) and sentenced to life imprisonment and pay a fine of P2,000,000 plus P500,000 moral damages and P100,000 exemplary damages (People vs. XXX and YYY, G.R. 235652, July 8, 2018)

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