Child sexual molestation

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

This is about qualified trafficking in persons under Republic Act (RA) 9208, as amended by RA 10364. This is the case of Betty, who is already separated from her husband and working abroad. Before their separation, Betty and her husband had a daughter, Annie.

When Annie was about 14 years old and a Grade 4 student, her mother went home for a yearly vacation accompanied by Hadji, a man from Kuwait. Since then, Hadji provided them financial support. But such support was actually in exchange for allowing him to touch and lick Annie’s private parts. Despite Annie’s refusal, her mother persisted and reminded her that Hadji had been generous in providing them with their basic needs. Hence, Annie had no choice but to give in to the sexual molestation by Hadji about twice or thrice a week. Betty then accompanied Annie to get a passport, but they ended up in a mosque where Annie was forced to marry Hadji so she could travel with him to Kuwait. When Hadji tried to have sexual intercourse with her, Annie pretended that she could not breathe. So Hadji stopped but told her that she could not deny him sexual access because she was already his wife.

Later on, Annie went to the Commission on Filipino Overseas Workers (CFO) to attend a guidance and counselling seminar, which is a pre-requisite for Filipino spouses of foreign nationals to acquire a passport. During the seminars, the supervising officer of the CFO, Romy Lazaro, found out that Annie was a Catholic and was 14 years old while her partner, Hadji, was a Muslim and 56 years old; and that Annie’s mother, Betty, deceived her into marrying Hadji. So, Annie was referred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for intervention and assistance as a victim of human trafficking, with her mother Betty as the perpetrator. In the said office, Annie revealed all that happened to her as above enumerated. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also conducted an investigation and gathered the documentary evidence from the CFO. The NBI psychologist then interviewed Annie, and observed that she had difficulty in relating to people, especially with the opposite sex. She was also suffering from trauma brought about by sexual violence that she experienced in the hands of Hadji.

In view of all these findings, Betty and Hadji were charged with qualified trafficking in persons under Section 4(c) in relation to Section(a) and (d) of RA 6208 as amended by RA 10364 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, where Annie and the other officers of the CFO, DSWD, and NBI testified to prove the above facts.

Only Betty was arrested and tried by the RTC because Hadji remained at large. Betty testified that Hadji was her employer in Kuwait who usually comes to the Philippines with her and stays in her house, sleeping with her two sons while her daughter Annie would sleep beside her. She said that she had no knowledge that Hadji and Annie were in a relationship. She denied that she deceived and forced Annie to marry Hadji. Was Betty guilty?

Yes, all the elements of qualified trafficking in persons are present in this case: First, Annie’s birth certificate shows she was only 13 years old at the time her spurious marriage with Hadji took place. Betty also admitted that she is the mother of Annie.

Second, the evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt that Betty forced and deceived her own daughter Annie into marrying Hadji for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Betty also knows that even when Annie was only nine to 10 years old, Hadji was already sexually abusing her but she did nothing. She even triggered it each time.

Third, Betty took advantage of Annie’s minority and vulnerability when she coerced her to submit to the sexual desires of Hadji as a form of payment for the latter’s financial support to the family.

Fourth, the sexual abuses went on for several years until Annie was 14 years old, when Betty saw the possibility of marrying her off to Hadji.

Fifth, not satisfied with marriage alone, Betty also allowed Hadji to have sexual intercourse with Annie to consummate their marriage.

Finally, Betty even assisted Annie in the CFO to get a passport so that she could be with Hadji. She even submitted a false marriage certificate showing that Annie was of legal age. Taken together, these acts of Betty lead to the indubitable conclusion that she delivered and provided Hadji her own daughter for purposes of sexual exploitation, and that she and Hadji acted in concert with the common design and purpose of committing the crime.

So Betty and Hadji are guilty of qualified trafficking in persons and sentenced to life imprisonment, to pay a fine of P2,000,000 and moral damages of P500,000 as well as exemplary damage of P100,000. (People vs. BBB and XXX, GR 252507, April 18, 2022)

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