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Cebu News

2 get life for trafficking

Mylen Manto - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Regional Trial Court in Cebu City has sentenced an Australian national and his Filipina accomplice to life imprisonment after they were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of human trafficking yesterday for recruiting, maintaining, and hiring minors to engage in prostitution and pornography in exchange for money.

Acting presiding judge Marlon Jay Moneva of Branch 20 convicted Drew Frederick Shobbrook for two counts and Leslie Ann Fernandez for one count of Section 4 (a), qualified by Section 6(a) and Section 6(c) of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

“Indeed, the act of both accused in recruiting herein victims by taking advantage of their vulnerability and of giving payments to achieve their consent in order to satisfy the desires of accused Drew’s flesh indubitably completes the elements that constitute the crime of tracking in persons,” the decision read.

Assisted by lawyer Salvador Solima, Shobbrook and Fernandez, each wearing a yellow t-shirt issued by the Cebu City Jail, stood before Moneva during the promulgation around 10 a.m. Both were meted to pay jointly and severally the fine of P2 million and P600,000 to each victim.

Shobbrook was likewise ordered to pay another P2 million as he was convicted for another two counts of the same offense.

Fernandez broke into tears after hearing the verdict.

Last April 17, 2013 at around 5 p.m. Shobbrook and Fernandez were arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation lead by Reynaldo Villordon Jr., inside Fernandez’ rented apartment along A. Lopez St., in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.

The NBI recovered electronic devices where photos of girls either naked or engaged in sexual acts were stored.

Shobbrook and Fernandez were charged for allegedly helping with each other in recruiting minor girls for prostitution and sexual exploitation in exchange for money.

Aside from RA 9208, Shobbrook was also charged and convicted of the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

Moneva said the photographs of children posing in a lewd and sexually explicit manner indeed showed that the latter committed the crime charged.

For this, Shobbrook was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole under the Indeterminate Sentence Law and to pay a fine of P1 million.

After the proceedings, Solima told the media that they will file an appeal citing it’s his clients’ right to question the court’s decision.

Villordon, who is now an executive officer of NBI Dumaguete City, said on behalf of NBI-7 Regional Director Patricio Bernales that they will not stop running after the violators of the law especially against human trafficking.

Villordon sent their gratitude to the International Justice Mission for their cooperation in the successful prosecution of the case that led to the conviction of Shobbrook and Fernandez.

IJM Field Office Director John Tanagho said the convictions of both the accused sends a strong message not just to foreigners but also to Filipinos that if they sexually abuse children they will be held accountable. (FREEMAN)

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