Secretary De Lima hails conviction of two for Trafficking in Persons

25 March 2014

Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima lauded the decision of the RTC-Muntinlupa sentencing a live-in couple to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P1million for each for violation of Section 4, par. (a) and (e), in relation to Sec. 6 (a) of R.A. 9208, Qualified Trafficking in Persons.

Convicted for trafficking a 16-year-old minor were Joel Marculeta y Sedeño and Nora Magdang y Perle.

"This demonstrates our sustained commitment to give justice to whom it is due," Secretary Leila De Lima said after receipt of the decision of the Muntinlupa RTC where Senior Asst. State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo successfully prosecuted the case.

RTC-Muntinlupa City, Branch 207 Judge Contreras found that for several times, both accused conspired, facilitated, promoted and peddled16-year-old minor, herein private complainant, to render sexual services to several male customers, collected fees therefrom and in the process earned money as commission.

Court records show that in 2009, private complaint met accused Joel Marculeta and Nora Magdang at their residence at 349 Umali St., Muntinlupa City during the Poblacion Fiesta and were introduced to each other by common friends. Then sometime in June 2009 at around 8:00 in the evening, complainant received a text message from Marculeta asking her to proceed to Marculeta's house because somebody wanted to meet her. Complainant immediately proceeded to accused's house where she was introduced to a male customer and was made to board a car and proceeded to a hotel at San Pedro, Laguna where the man made sex with her. Complainant then received a text message from Marculeta that her customer had given him the amount of P2,500.00.Thereafter, the customer brought back complainant to accused house to get the money, however, accused gave her P2,000 only and retained P500.00 as her commission.

The same scheme happened during the second incident in January 2010 and was repeated several times.

During the trial, the complainant positively identified accused Joel and Nora as the persons who facilitated her sexual service to male customers which was corroborated by SP02 Antonio Villa who testified that, on 7 May 2010 at about 2:00 in the morning, their office responded to a tipster report that a drug session was going on at 349 Umali St., Poblacion Muntinlupa, residence of both accused and caught them in flagrante delicto having pot session, hence, arrested them and saw private complainant sifting at the corner and when asked if she is included in the pot session, the latter replied she is scheduled for "booking.

"Knowing that complainant was only 16 years old, SP02 Villa's team rescued and turned her over to the Women's Desk of their police station for further investigation and filing of the proper charges.

The defense witnesses testified, however, that they had known complainant for more than three (3) years and even stayed at their residence and considered her as their child until she left without permission for suspecting them to have stolen her cellphone and denied having booked her claiming that the instant case was filed to avenge and get back at them whom she suspected to have stolen her missing cellphone.

The Court found unbelievable the testimony of the accused and is not swayed to take hook, line and sinker their defense.

"From June 2009 to May 7, 2010 accused conspired, confederated together and mutually helping one another recruited, harbored, received, maintained or hired private complainant for purposes of prostitution, by peddling "booking" her on several occasions to several men in exchange for monetary consideration," the Court said.

"No evidence was ever presented by the defense that would convince this Court that said witnesses were motivated by malice, ill-will or other evil motive in testifying against the accused," Judge Contreras stressed in his decision.

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