51-year-old American Robert Edward Neves is to face trial for accompanying a 17-year-old girl he met on a dating site.
Neves will be charged with violation of Republic Act #7160 – The Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. Neves is also being charged with Republic Act #9208 – the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act (also amended by Republic Act #10364 – The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act).
Bail has been set at 120,000 peso per offence.
Prosecution attorney Jennifer Karen Alo-Leyson resolved to elevate the cases in court after Neves opted not to file a counter-affidavit and undergo preliminary investigation.
The case began in February 2014 when a member of the Cebu Port Police arrested Neves for being with a 17-year-old girl. Under the law, it is illegal for any persons to keep or have in their company a minor which is 12 years or under, or who is 10 years or more his junior, in any public place, hotel, motel, bar, pension house, sauna, massage parlor, beach or any tourist resort or any similar place.
Violators of such acts can face imprisonment and be fined no less than 50,000 peso.
The American and the girl were at Pier 1 in Cebu City when they were questioned – the two were on their way to Bohol. The minor admitted to authorities that her and Neves were in fact in a relationship and that they had met in an online date site, becoming lovers when they met in person.
The girl said Neves promised her parents he would take care of her and shoulder the expenses of her college education.
Under Section 4 (b) Republic Act #9208, a person is prohibited to “introduce or match for money, profit, or material, economic or other consideration.”
The act further states that “any Filipino woman” should not also be matched “to a foreign national, for marriage for the purpose of acquiring, buying, offering, selling or trading her to engage in prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage.”