This is an excerpt of a story appearing in the Cebu Sun-Star. The full story will appear in my July column.
Cebu Sun-Star newspaper, By Kevin A. Lagunda, Friday, June 20, 2014
The three wailed after it was announced that Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Bienvenido Saniel Jr. has acquitted them of violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
The raiding team rescued more than a hundred victims. But only six women, aged 24, 19, 18, 31, 16, and 17, executed affidavits against the three.
The alleged bar owner Vinzon Young and two other partners were not caught.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama revoked the permit and ordered the bar’s closure the following month.
But Saniel, in his decision, said the evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to convict the three women.
Former International Justice Mission (IJM)-Philippines director Andrey Sawchenko, however, said they will review the decision before making any move.
“I think we are confident that the evidence showed there was human trafficking activity occurring at Jaguar,” he said.
The prosecution claimed Jaguar violated the law for it recruited women for prostitution.
PO3 Napoleon Talingting testified that his team conducted surveillance at the bar on three occasions; they recorded the transactions through a hidden camera.
Before the three women were arrested, Talingting, PO2 Lyman Norefil Arsua and PO1 Nef Nemenzo acted as customers. They were given partners inside a room.
Seno allegedly negotiated with Talingting for the “bar fine” of their partners. The police officer agreed to pay P15,000.
Amancio went inside the room and accepted the money from Talingting. She went out and gave the payment to Hinayon.
It was at this instance that the police officers arrested Amacio, Seno and Hinayon. They also implemented the search warrants.
Two witnesses corroborated the police officers’ testimonies. They confirmed that “bar fine” means the girl is taken out by the customer for sex.
“Business,” on the other hand, means the sexual activity happened inside the room.
Saniel, however, noted in his decision that the three women taken by the police officers inside the room were not even identified nor presented as witnesses.