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Cablegate: Latest Tip Conviction

VZCZCXRO9563
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2459/01 2040826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230826Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7528
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002459

SIPDIS

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: LATEST TIP CONVICTION

REF: A. MANILA 1276
B. MANILA 1054
C. MANILA 1043
D. MANILA 688

1. Summary: On July 20, a regional trial court in Cebu City
convicted and sentenced two people to life imprisonment for
trafficking in persons (TIP), the sixth conviction in the
Philippines to result in a jail sentence and the first in
Cebu. The judge also fined the defendants three million
pesos (USD 66,900) and ordered them to pay 100,000 pesos (USD
2,230) in civil damages to each of the nine victims. The
International Justice Mission, an NGO grantee of the State
Department's Trafficking in Persons Office (G/TIP),
celebrated the conviction, as it is the first trafficking
case that any NGO investigated and prosecuted that led to a
conviction, underscoring the unusual but effective
partnership between the Philippine government and NGOs on
this issue of common concern. End Summary.

----------------------
TIP CONVICTION IN CEBU
----------------------

2. On July 20, the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City found
defendants Theresa Castro and Rolando Cuico guilty of
"qualified trafficking" (Section 6 of Republic Act 9208, the
2003 anti-TIP law) and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The judge fined the two traffickers three million pesos (USD
66,900) and ordered them to pay each of the nine victims
100,000 pesos (USD 2,230) for "moral and exemplary damages."

3. This case stems from an investigation in the slum
community of Kamagayan in Cebu City by the NGO International
Justice Mission (IJM) beginning in December 2004, shortly
after IJM received a two-year $227,000 grant from G/TIP. The
Kamagayan neighborhood was a well-known destination point for
trafficked women and children, often from poorer communities
in Mindanao and typically between the ages of 17-25, although
children as young as 14 were sold for sex in the
neighborhood's makeshift brothels after having been tricked
into forced prostitution with promises of work as domestic
helpers in Cebu. .

3. Based on NGO reports and law enforcement surveillance,
undercover operatives from the Philippine National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) and IJM investigators conducted an
entrapment operation against the two suspects, who reportedly
had forced many women and children into prostitution in
Kamagayan. IJM rescued nine victims, including three minors,
while authorities arrested two "pimps" and charged them with
violation of R.A. 9208. Under R.A. 9208, cases involving
criminal syndicates or the trafficking of minors
automatically count as "qualified trafficking" and carry
stiffer penalties, including life imprisonment. "Qualified
trafficking" is also a non-bailable offense. Social workers
from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) immediately took custody of the victims
and have provided assistance over the past two years.

-----------------------------------
IJM'S EFFORTS TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING
-----------------------------------

4. IJM established its office in Manila in 2001 and assembled
a team of Philippine investigators, lawyers, and social
workers to combat the exploitation and trafficking of
children. The office provides free legal, investigative, and
social work assistance to abused and exploited children.
Prior to the enactment of the 2003 Anti-TIP Law, IJM
investigated and prosecuted cases of child sexual
exploitation under R.A. 7610, the Special Protection of
Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and
Discrimination Act. Since 2003, however, IJM attorneys have
pursued all of their trafficking cases under the Anti-TIP Law.

5. Since the awarding of the two-year G/TIP grant to IJM, its
attorneys have filed 22 cases of trafficking with the
Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ), leading to the arrest
of 53 suspects and the rescue of 54 victims. DOJ found
probable cause in seventeen of the 22 cases and filed these
in the courts. The five other cases remain at DOJ, still
undergoing inquest proceedings or preliminary investigations.
The July 20 conviction in Cebu (one of the 17 filed in
court) is the first conviction in a case that IJM had

MANILA 00002459 002 OF 002


investigated and initiated. The majority of IJM's cases
result from similar entrapment operations -- conducted in
close coordination and alongside Philippine law enforcement
agents and government social workers.

6. IJM-Philippines' Executive Director Patty Sison-Arroyo
received the Embassy's prestigious Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino
Fellowship in Public Service in 2006. In 2007, IJM
established a full-time office in Cebu to increase its
presence and pursue cases in the Visayas. In the 2007 G/TIP
grant process, IJM submitted a new proposal, which was the
top recommendation of the Mission's TIP Working Group from
among 23 proposals.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. This trafficking conviction in Cebu is a testament to the
proactive efforts of Philippine NGOs, most notably IJM, to
combat the exploitation of trafficked women and children in
the Philippines. This case also highlights an unusual but
effective partnership between an NGO and the Philippine
government to investigate and prosecute human traffickers.


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

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