February 2, 2023

A beautician convicted for human trafficking in a court in Baguio has been cleared by the Court of Appeals on grounds of reasonable doubt.
In a decision promulgated Feb. 18, the 11th Division of the Court of Appeals acquitted Melvin Eden of the charges of violating Republic Act 9208 or the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
Eden has been accused of prostituting women. He was caught in an entrapment operation on June 14, 2017 receiving marked money from an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation-Cordillera for bringing women to a hotel in Baguio for a supposed client.
In 2019, the Regional Trial Court Branch 60 sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment plus a fine of P1 million with subsidiary imprisonment in case he cannot pay the fine.
But the CA reversed the decision of the lower court, saying it was the NBI that instigated Eden to commit the crime.
“In entrapment, wrongdoing originates from the mind of the criminal. In instigation, the law officer conceives the commission of the crime and suggests to the accused who adopts the idea and carries it into execution.”
Citing the testimony of confidential agent Steve Mabanta that it was him who called Eden to provide him with women and it was also the NBI that chose the hotel where the accused will bring the two women from whom the supposed client will choose from, the court said there is merit to clear the accused of the charge.
“The prosecution was not able to prove the elements of trafficking. While the accused accompanied the two women to the hotel to meet Mabanta’s foreigner friend, the prosecution failed to establish the means used by the accused to obtain the consent of the two women as well as the purpose of bringing them to the hotel,” the court said. – Rimaliza A. Opiña