Search

 

Cablegate: Zamboanga Court Convicts Human Trafficker

VZCZCXRO9315
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2366/01 2940937
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200937Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2111
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 3479
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002366

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, INL, DRL
LABOR FOR ILAB
JUSTICE FOR CRIMINAL DIVISION
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN EAID RP
SUBJECT: ZAMBOANGA COURT CONVICTS HUMAN TRAFFICKER

REF: A. MANILA 02324 (MANILA AIRPORT OPENS NEW SHELTER)
B. MANILA 02035 (STAKEHOLDERS UNITE AGAINST HUMAN
TRAFFICKING)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A Zamboanga City municipal trial court on
October 14 sentenced a human trafficker to 30 years in prison
for the 2004 trafficking and illegal recruitment of two
women, adding a fine of $41,300 (1.9 million pesos). This
decision represents the tenth conviction under the 2003
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law and the fourth successful
anti-trafficking prosecution in Zamboanga. The convicted
trafficker, working with two others, had tricked three women
to travel with her to Sandakan, Malaysia, where they were
forced to work in a nightclub. The victims eventually
escaped back to Zamboanga, where two of them filed charges.
The City of Zamboanga, a launch pad for traffickers to
Malaysia and beyond, has been at the forefront in the fight
against trafficking, benefiting from the support of U.S.
grant recipients in trafficking awareness training for public
officials. The city has two dedicated prosecutors who focus
exclusively on trafficking cases, leading the city to account
for one-third of trafficking convictions nationwide under the
2003 law. END SUMMARY.

ZAMBOANGA CONVICTS ITS FOURTH TRAFFICKER
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) A Zamboanga City municipal trial court sentenced a
human trafficker on October 14 to 20 years in prison for
trafficking and an additional 10 years for illegal
recruitment, with respective fines of $26,100 and $15,200
(1.2 million pesos and 700,000 pesos). This decision
represents the second trafficking conviction in the
Philippines in 2008, the tenth conviction nationwide under
the 2003 Anti-Trafficking in Persons law, and the fourth such
conviction in Zamboanga. In June 2004, three traffickers
offered Brunei sales jobs to three Zamboanga City residents,
who were instead trafficked to Sandakan, Malaysia, and forced
to work in a nightclub. One of the victims was released
shortly after arrival because she was considered over-age. A
second victim escaped with the help of a family member
residing in Sandakan, while the third victim was "purchased"
by a British national for $2,300 (8,000 ringgits) and forced
to live with him. Several months later, with her passport
and Malaysian immigration entry stamp about to expire, the
British man allowed her to travel back to Zamboanga to renew
her paperwork, but she did not return.

3. (SBU) Zamboanga prosecutors filed a case in July 2005
against two recruiters: Edwina Guarin, who was convicted, and
her sister, Charito Rebollos, who is still at large and has a
pending warrant of arrest. The victims were unable to
identify the third trafficker, who also remains at large.
The prison sentence for Rebollos, while lengthy at 30 years,
was not a life sentence because the crime did not amount to
"qualified trafficking." To meet this higher threshold,
there must be additional circumstances such as minor victims,
three or more victims, or three or more traffickers (a
syndicate), none of which existed in this case. During the
three-year trial, the victims resided with their families and
did not require witness protection, although the Zamboanga
prosecutor's office was prepared to provide it. The third
victim decided not to participate in the case.

VICTIMS WERE COLLEGE GRADUATES
------------------------------

4. (SBU) Unlike many other Filipina trafficking victims, the
two women who testified in this case were college graduates,
and one of them had a job at a pharmacy. However, like other
victims, they were tempted under false pretenses by the
prospect of better economic opportunities abroad. The
recruiters had offered them $650 a month (30,000 pesos), far
more than they could hope to earn in Zamboanga in other
professions. That these educated women fell prey to
trafficking reflects not only the powerful allure of overseas
employment, but also the ongoing shortage of jobs with decent
pay, even in the relatively prosperous city of Zamboanga.

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN COURT
-----------------------------

5. (SBU) Zamboanga's Third Assistant City Prosecutor noted

MANILA 00002366 002 OF 002


that five key factors contributed to success in this trial.
With regard to process, close coordination among the various
justice sectors, as well as awareness of the law among law
enforcement and prosecution officials, established solid
grounds for the case to go to trial. In addition, the
victims' resolve and courage to pursue their traffickers was
a key factor in the trial's outcome. The relatively speedy
trial took only three years from start to finish, considered
fast in the Philippines' inefficient justice system, a
reflection of the prosecution's preparedness and thorough
presentation of testimonial and documentary evidence.
Finally, financial assistance through a government program
enabled the victims to participate in each stage of the trial.

6. (SBU) The City of Zamboanga has benefited from U.S.
government grants to the anti-trafficking NGO Visayan Forum
Foundation, which operates a halfway house in the city and
has conducted anti-trafficking training and awareness
programs with local government partners, including
prosecutors and port officials. These programs have
contributed to an increasing level of awareness within the
justice system that creates the conditions for successful
trafficking prosecutions. There are, at present, three
ongoing trafficking trials in Zamboanga courts in which the
prosecutors have rested their cases and the defense is
presenting arguments. Prosecutors are hopeful these trials
will result in more convictions. Meanwhile, city officials
are expanding their potential array of legal weapons. On
October 16, city officials held a third public hearing on the
creation of a local ordinance on human trafficking.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC