Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/12/05MANILA5710.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5710
2005-12-07 09:02
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005710

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, G/TIP, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, INL, DRL/IL,
DRL/CRA, EAP/PD
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS USAID FOR ANE/TS – L. SAULS
LABOR FOR ILAB
BEIJING FOR AMBASSADOR JOHN R. MILLER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KWMN ELAB KCRM RP MY
SUBJECT: TIP: TWO DEFENDANTS SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT UNDER ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING LAW

REF: A. MANILA 5633

¶B. MANILA 5373
¶C. MANILA 5326
¶D. MANILA 4984

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (U) Summary: On December 5, a regional court in
Zamboanga City, Mindanao, sentenced two members of a
trafficking syndicate to life imprisonment for recruiting a
victim and selling her to a brothel in Malaysia. This marks
the first jail sentence handed down under the Philippines’
2003 anti-trafficking law. Regional prosecutors attributed
the relative speed of the case (four months from start to
finish) to close cooperation between their office and
police, and the high priority the judge gave the trial.
Word of the convictions has been played up in the press.
The convictions were a signal event, but need to be followed
up by additional prosecutions and convictions. End Summary.

——————————-
Court Hands Down Life Sentences
——————————-

¶3. (U) The Ninth Regional Trial Court in Zamboanga City
located on the island of Mindanao in the southern
Philippines sentenced two traffickers to life imprisonment
and a fine of 2.5 million pesos (USD 47,000) on December 5.
(Note: The trial judge issued the decision on November 29,
but it was officially promulgated on December 5. End Note.)
The court also ordered the accused to pay 100,000 pesos (USD
1880) for “moral and exemplary damages plus court costs” to
the victim. The judge found both defendants guilty of
“qualified” trafficking under Republic Act 9208, the
Philippines anti-trafficking in persons act of 2003, and
illegal recruitment, both of which carry life prison
sentences. The case marks the first convictions under R.A.
9208 resulting in a jail sentence. (Note: In November,
three individuals pled guilty to a minor offense under R.A.
9208 and received a sentence of six months of community
service — see ref A. End Note.)

¶4. (U) According to the court’s December 5 finding, three
individuals (all Filipino nationals) associated with a
trafficking syndicate recruited the victim, a Filipino
national, for a job in a restaurant in Kota Kinabalu,
Malaysia, in exchange for a 28,000 peso (USD 530) placement
fee. After obtaining false documents, the traffickers
escorted the victim to Malaysia, where they sold her to the
owner of the “Pipen Club” on Labuan island in Sabah. From
June 14 to July 8, 2005, the victim was forced to service
sexually several customers per night and was beaten on
several occasions before escaping with the help of relatives
living in Malaysia. She returned to Zamboanga and filed a
complaint with police there on August 2, 2005. The police
arrested the two suspects who were convicted on December 5,
and charged them with trafficking and illegal recruitment.
A third suspect named in the complaint remains at large.

¶5. (U) The two convicted traffickers are expected to
appeal. They remain incarcerated.

——————–
Prosecutor’s Remarks
——————–

¶6. (SBU) In a December 5 meeting with Ambassador John
Miller of G/TIP held in Zamboanga, Regional State Prosecutor
Ricardo Cabaron — who personally directed the case — said
his office had been able to move the case forward so quickly
(four months from arrest to convictions) because of close
prosecutorial cooperation with local police and strong
support from local officials. Cabaron also noted that the
judge had made the case a high priority and held weekly
“marathon” hearings until it was resolved. (Note:
Ambassador Miller visited the Philippines from December 3-6.
Please see Septel report on his visit. End Note.)

———————–
Positive Press Reaction
———————–

¶7. (U) Word of the convictions has been played up in the
press. The Philippine Department of Justice released a
statement detailing the case and the sentencing decision on
December 6, which received coverage. Several national
newspapers also ran articles about the convictions quoting
Ambassador Miller’s comments referencing the matter during
his December 6 press availability. A December 6 editorial
in the Philippine “Inquirer,” a major national newspaper,
praised the convictions as long overdue. Zamboanga City
Mayor Celso Lobregat was quoted by the press as stating at a
December 6 press conference: “This should serve as a warning
against human traffickers that the city is serious in the
prosecution of anti-trafficking.”

——-
Comment
——-

¶8. (SBU) The speed with which the case sailed through is
remarkable. Cases of all kinds in the Philippines typically
take two to three years to complete due to an overburdened
court system, intermittent hearings, and poor police-
prosecutor cooperation. Officials in Zamboanga were among
the first to receive USG-funded training in how to build
effective cases under the anti-trafficking law in June 2005
— see ref D. The convictions were very good news, but need
to be followed up by additional prosecutions and
convictions.

¶9. (U) Ambassador Miller did not have the opportunity to
review this message.

JONES

   

 

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