By: Cathrine Gonzales, INQINQUIRER.net, 25 Mar 2021
MANILA, Philippines — Two women arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in December 2019 for offering minors for sexual services were convicted for human trafficking by a Laguna court.
NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor said Thursday that the Sta. Cruz, Laguna Family Court Branch 6 convicted Mary Jane Mendoza and Magdalena Viray, who were previously arrested by agents of the NBI-Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Division (NBI-AVAWCD).
Distor said that in September 2019, personnel of the NBI-AVAWCD received information that the two were “offering minor girls for sexual pleasure for a fee.”
Upon confirmation of their illegal activity, operatives then launched an entrapment operation which led to the arrest of the suspects, together with their companion identified as Warren Masacayan.
According to Distor, victims and witnesses also gave their testimonies during court hearings which confirmed that Mendoza and Viray had indeed committed qualified trafficking.
On March 4, the court found Mendoza and Viray guilty beyond reasonable doubt for five counts of qualified trafficking in persons under Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 as further amended by RA No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.
The court ordered the two accused to suffer life imprisonment for each count, pay a fine of P2 million without eligibility for parole, and to pay each complainant with P200,000 as moral damages and P100,000.00 for exemplary damages, according to Distor.
The court, however, ordered the acquittal of Masacayan for the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt for the crime.