The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a woman in Cebu who was caught peddling two children for sex in 2008.
The court found no reason to reverse the Court of Appeals ruling affirming the conviction of Shirley Casio for violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
“Based on the definition of trafficking in persons and the enumeration of acts of trafficking in persons, accused performed all the elements in the commission of the offense when she peddled AAA and BBB and offered their services to decoys in exchange for money,” the court said.
Two officers testified that during a police entrapment, they acted as decoys in Cebu City’s red-light district, Casio called their attention by asking, “Do you like girls, guys?”
She told the officers to wait and returned with two girls whose services were offered at a cost of 500 pesos each.
In her defence, Casio said that one minor “admitted engaging in prostitution” before she recruited her and the girl “was predisposed to having sex with customers for money.”
The court rejected this, saying that “trafficking in persons can still be committed even if the victim gives consent”.
“The victim’s consent is rendered meaningless due to the coercive, abusive, or deceptive means employed by perpetrators of human trafficking. Even without the use of coercive, abusive, or deceptive means, a minor’s consent is not given out of his or her own free will,” the Court said.
Casio was sentenced to life in prison and a fine of two million pesos. She will also have to pay 500,000 pesos in moral damages and 100,000 in exemplary damages.