The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) cites Judge Raphael Yraztorsa of Regional Trial Court ofMandaue City for handing down the first human trafficking conviction in Mandaue City. A bar manager of a “high-end” and “untouchable” strip club was convicted for violation of RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and sentenced with lifetime imprisonment and a fine of 5 million pesos.
Nicole Cabillan, manager of Club Harem, was caught in an anti-trafficking operation in 2006 by the elements of the IACAT headed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the International Justice Mission (IJM), one of IACAT’s non-government organization members representing the children's sector.
Four victims of human trafficking – two were minors – were rescued in the said operation. One of them testified that she was sold to customers for sex at the age of 14.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, chairperson of IACAT, said she is optimistic that a lot more of those who have already been caught will be brought to justice. “Catching these human traffickers is one thing, punishing them is another,” De Lima said.
The conviction for such a crime is a first in the jurisdiction of the Mandaue court but marks the 108th for the whole country since the conception of the IACAT in 2005. Cabillan was charged with another suspect who died during the pendency of the case.
“Every conviction of a trafficker demonstrates that these crimes are no longer tolerable in the Philippines. The days of impunity have ended. We are seeing a wave of momentum,” stated Andrey Sawchenko, IJM National Director of the Philippines.
Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Branch 28 Judge Raphael Yraztorsa agreed with the prosecution and specified in the ruling that Cabillan violated Sec 4(e) in relation to Sec 6(a) of RA 9208, or when the trafficked person is a child. This is also considered by the same law as qualified trafficking that imposes a penalty of life imprisonment and payment of fines amounting to at least one million pesos (P1M).
“We will ensure that proper and prompt prosecution will be done so those who are guilty will be punished,” De Lima concluded