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Cablegate: Grp Convicts First Traffickers Under Anti-Tip Law

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANILA 005633

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, G/TIP, EAP/RSP, INL, DRL/IL, DRL/CRA
DEPT PLEASE PASS USAID FOR ANE/TS - L. SAULS
LABOR FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KWMN ELAB KCRM RP
SUBJECT: GRP CONVICTS FIRST TRAFFICKERS UNDER ANTI-TIP LAW

REF: A. MANILA 5373

B. MANILA 5326
C. MANILA 4831
D. MANILA 3500

1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified --
Please handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary: A court in Batangas City, Luzon recently
convicted the first three individuals under a 2003 anti-
trafficking law. The defendants, facing a serious charge
with the potential for a long jail term, pled guilty to a
lesser offense, resulting in a sentence of six months
community service and a 50,000 peso (USD 940) fine. A
Philippine Department of Justice (DoJ) call for reports on
all TIP cases in regional, provincial, and city courts
revealed that a court in Mindanao had convicted another
individual of "white slavery" under a separate anti-
prostitution statute in April. End Summary.

-----------------
First Convictions
-----------------

3. (SBU) On November 9, 11, and 14, the Fourth Regional
Trial Court in Batangas City (located about 60 miles south
of Manila) sentenced three individuals under R.A. 9208, the
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. These mark the first
successful convictions under the anti-trafficking law,
passed in December 2003. The regional court originally
charged the three, who had been peddling prostitutes on the
street, under Section 4 of the R.A. 9208 -- "trafficking for
the purpose of prostitution" -- which carries a maximum
sentence of 20 years. However, the accused reached deals
with the prosecutor to plead guilty to the lesser offense of
violating Section 11 of R.A. 9208 -- "engaging the services
of trafficked persons for the purpose of prostitution." The
court sentenced each defendant to six months of community
service and a 50,000 peso (USD 940) fine. (Note: According
to Mission sources, the victims, who had testified when the
cases were originally filed, failed to appear at subsequent
trials. This prompted the prosecutor to accept a guilty
plea to a lesser charge. End Note.)

4. (U) Progress on TIP cases has been slow, as is common
among all types of cases in the Philippine judicial system.
Of the 41 cases filed under R.A. 9208 between December 2003
and November 2005, the recent trials in Batangas were the
first to reach a verdict. Overburdened judges, lack of
resources, poor police-prosecutor cooperation, and witness
tampering all contribute to the glacial pace of justice in
the Philippines. Nonetheless, increased numbers of
government and NGO prosecutors trying TIP cases has resulted
in a quadrupling of cases filed from 2004 to 2005 (ref B).
Mission has actively supported this effort through training
programs to help police, prosecutors, and social workers
build more effective TIP cases (ref A). Senior DoJ
officials have promised to provide more detail on the
Batangas cases and other pending TIP cases when they meet
with Ambassador John Miller during his December 3-6 visit.

--------------------------------------
TIP Conviction Under a Related Statute
--------------------------------------

5. (U) Earlier in the year, a National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) sting operation led to the arrest of a
woman in Butuan City on the island of Minanao in the
southern Philippines. The Regional Trial Court convicted
the defendant on April 22, 2005 under R.A. 7610, "white
slave trade," an anti-prostitution law that predates R.A.
9208. The court sentenced her to between one year and one
day and two years, four months, and one day in jail. DoJ
headquarters in Manila had been unaware of this case until
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez issued a Department-wide
order on November 10 directing all regional, provincial, and
city prosecutors to submit a report on trafficking cases
within their jurisdiction.
JONES

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