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Cebu News

Trafficking raps vs American nat’l dropped

Mylen P. Manto - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Citing lack of evidence, the Regional Trial Court has dismissed the case filed against an American national accused of taking videos of naked girls having a catfight in Daanbantayan, Cebu.

In her 23-page decision, Judge Ester Veloso of Branch 6 granted the demurer to evidence filed by American national Joseph Christian Bogo, 34, who was charged for violation of Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act.

Veloso said “it is clear” that barangay tanods who came to arrest Bogo during the alleged videotaping incident on January 27, 2011 in Barangay Malbago, Daanbantayan “had no first-hand knowledge of the activities going on between the accused and the women.”

“A report was made to the barangay captain, who then assigned someone to verify the information. It was further established that when the tanod arrived at the scene, the accused was in his tent with four girls. There was no videotaping going on,” read the decision.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Malbago barangay captain Virgilio Misa and members of the Barangay Intelligence Network Danilo Villegas and Luciano Manilano against Bogo and one Cheryl Toreon.

In their complaint, they alleged that around 10 a.m. on January 27, 2011, a man reported at their barangay hall that there were children wrestling while naked and were being videotaped by a foreigner in Sitio Looc.

Misa instructed his men to verify the report.

“The two BIN members who are as well affiants in this case proceeded to the area and saw four pitched tents,” Misa said.

The BIN members were allegedly shocked upon checking one of the tents and seeing an almost naked foreigner, who was later identified as Bogo, with four girls.

They confiscated a camera from the foreigner and turned it over to the police station. The camera allegedly had a video of girls pretending to fight each other with their breasts exposed.

A 17-year-old girl corroborated the statements of the complainants, alleging that she knew Bogo because he was the fiancé of her cousin and was staying at their rented house.

She alleged that she was engaged in a “catfight” with another girl wearing two-piece while being taped. She added that the loser got P1,500 while the winner of the supposed fight got a higher price.

Further, a 14-year-old girl said Toreon recruited them for a catfight and was told that they will be paid by a foreigner.

Bogo, however, filed a demurer to evidence claiming he was illegally arrested, thus, the evidence obtained were inadmissible.

According to him, the prosecution failed to prove the offense charged against him since he was arrested by the barangay tanods without committing any crime.

Veloso ruled in favor of Bogo.

“There were no overt acts within plain view of the barangay tanod that suggested that the accused was recruiting, hiring, or receiving minors for the purpose of pornography,” the decision read.

The alleged pornographic videos obtained by the police came only after Bogo was arrested and his camera was confiscated, thus, the evidence is inadmissible and cannot be used against him, added Veloso. — (FREEMAN)

ACIRC

BARANGAY

BARANGAY INTELLIGENCE NETWORK DANILO VILLEGAS AND LUCIANO MANILANO

BARANGAY MALBAGO

BOGO

CHERYL TOREON

DAANBANTAYAN

JOSEPH CHRISTIAN BOGO

JUDGE ESTER VELOSO OF BRANCH

MISA

VELOSO

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