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Pampanga court dismisses sex trafficking case vs Japanese tourist

October 2, 2017 ·  By Jun A. Malig for www.rappler.com

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The judge says the court had no other recourse but to exonerate Michihiro Suzumura, as the information dated July 28 by Assistant City Prosecutor Mark Oliver Sison fails to establish the existence of probable cause against Suzumura in violating Republic Act 9208

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ANGELES CITY, Philippines – The regional trial court here dismissed 5 cases filed against a Japanese tourist who was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl in a hotel in the tourist district of Balibago village last July 21.

Judge Maria Angelica Paras-Quiambao of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 59 also ordered the commander of Police Station 4 here to release Michihiro Suzumura, 43, from detention in her order dated September 5, 2017.

The judge said the court had no other recourse but to exonerate Suzumura, as the information dated July 28 by Assistant City Prosecutor Mark Oliver Sison failed to establish the existence of probable cause against the Japanese tourist in violating Republic Act 9208 (The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).

Judge Quiambao said that on August 7, the court directed Sison to submit additional evidence to establish the acts committed by Suzumura as alleged in the assistant city prosecutor’s information dated July 28.

“Should there be no additional pieces of evidence available, Assistant City Prosecutor Sison was directed to file an amended information which will conform with the evidence submitted, within five days from receipt of said Order,” the judge added.

Sison initially failed to comply with the court’s directive but on August 17, he was given a 5-day extension – until August 22 – to submit what the court required from him.

“The order dated August 7, 2017 bears warning on the dismissal of the case as to accused Michihiro Suzumura should Angeles City Prosecutor Sison fail to comply therewith… To this day, Assistant City Prosecutor Sison has not taken action on the said Order,” Judge Quimbao said in her order dismissing the case against the Japanese man.

Rappler sent text messages to Sison’s mobile phones to get his comments but he has not responded as of filing.

Sison filed 5 criminal cases (no. 02318 to 02322) against Suzumura for trafficking in persons with no bail recommended. The Japanese was charged along with 4 Filipino females, including a 17-year-old, and 3 John Does – all suspected of pimping minors.

In one of the pieces of information prepared by Sison against Suzumura and his co-accused on July 28, it said that one of the femal suspects approached a 14-year-old girl last July 14, offering her a job.

At around 1:00 p.m. on July 21, the suspect called the victim and brought her to 1st Avenue Hotel in Balibago, Angeles City.

In the hotel, the victim-complainant alleged Suzumura paid P500 to the suspected female pimp, then had sex with the young girl and gave her P1,000. But the older sister of the victim, who was waiting outside the room, got angry after learning about what had happened to her sibling and decided to seek the authority’s help for the arrest of the Japanese tourist.

While Suzumura was being questioned at the Police Station 4, Sison said the former’s phone received several text messages offering him minors for sex. This prompted policemen to form a team and plan an operation that resulted in the arrest of 3 suspected female pimps.

The police report said two of the apprehended suspected pimps were aged 18 while the third one was 21 years old.

When the court directed the Local Civil Registrar of Angeles City on August 8 to submit copies of the birth certificates of the two suspected 18-year-old pimps, it was found out that one of them was a minor and was brought to the social welfare and development office.

The court also cited its observation that 3 minor complainants – aged 13, 15, and 17 – stated that they were recruited by the 3 female suspects to work as prostitutes to foreign tourists to earn money. But though they were brought to the 1st Avenue Hotel by the suspects, they neither met Suzumura nor had sex with him.

While the judge dismissed the cases against Michihiro Suzumura, the cases against his co-accused – May Ann Abudo, Jessica Dimarucut, and a minor female described as child-in-conflict-with-the-law – remains pending with the court.

Arraignment and pre-trial sessions are set for October 17 and 26. – Rappler.com

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