People v. Mora


People v. Mora

G.R. No. 242682

July 1, 2019


                The RTC and CA convicted Nerissa Mora a.k.a. Neri Balagta Mora for the crim of Qualified Trafficking in Persons. That on November 26, 2011, Mora was able to convince AAA, then a minor, to come with her to Buraburan, Buhi, Camarines Sur. Upon arriving thereat, Mora left AAA at Otoy's Videoke Bar (Otoy's) owned by Polvoriza; thereafter, Polvoriza locked AAA inside a room therein, prohibited her from going out, and took her mobile phone and destroyed its SIM card. Polvoriza then made AAA work as an entertainer at Otoy's under the stage name "Rizza M. Rañada," forcing her to take shabu, dance naked, and even have sex with the customers. Eight (8) months later, AAA was able to escape from Polvoriza's custody and return to her father, to whom she narrated her ordeal. Her father then took AAA to the police station to report the matter and also to a medico-legal, who, after examination, confirmed, inter alia, that AAA sustained multiple hymenal lacerations which could have resulted from consensual and forcible sexual contact.


                Whether or not Mora's conviction for Qualified Trafficking in Persons should be upheld.


                Yes. Section 3 (a) of RA 9208 defines the term "Trafficking in Persons" as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt of persons with or without the victim's consent or knowledge, within or across national borders by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude or the removal or sale of organs." The same provision further provides that "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall also be considered as 'trafficking in persons' even if it does not involve any of the means set forth in the preceding paragraph."The crime of "Trafficking in Persons" becomes qualified when, among others, the trafficked person is a child. As correctly ruled by the courts a quo, Mora and Polvoriza are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged as the prosecution had clearly established the existence of the elements thereof, as seen in the following: (a) Mora, through deception and by taking advantage of AAA's vulnerability as a minor, was able to "convince" the latter to go to Buraburan, Buhi, Camarines Sur; (b) upon arrival thereat, Mora took AAA to Polvoriza's videoke bar, i.e., Otoy's, and left her there; and (c) since then and for the next eight (8) months, Polvoriza forced AAA to work as a prostitute in Otoy's, coercing her to perform lewd acts on a nightly basis, such as dancing naked in front of male customers and even having sex with them. In this regard, the courts a quo correctly found untenable Mora and Polvoriza's insistence that it was AAA who voluntarily presented herself to work as an' entertainer/sex worker in Otoy's, as trafficking in persons can still be committed even if the victim gives consent -.most especially in cases where the victim is a minor; In this regard, case law instructs that "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.


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