shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt shaper twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate Group-35 star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love

Stardust Bar Managers Convicted, Sign of Sweeping Change in Philippines

Three traffickers who ran a large bar that was once viewed as untouchable were convicted yesterday in the Philippines. Stardust Showbar is at the heart of one of Metro Manila’s busiest districts, flanked by high-rise skyscrapers and high-end hotels. By day the area is bustling with businessmen and women, by night the neon lights turn on to reveal a red-light area.

Eight months ago, IJM helped the National Bureau of Investigation to rescue 13 young women, including two minors, who had been trafficked to this bar. In February of this year, authorities boarded up the bar’s entrance and nailed a giant sign over the door that declares Stardust Bar had been ordered closed for exploiting minors.

A trial against three of the main suspects ended with convictions on July 19, 2016. They were fined and sentenced to life imprisonment under the qualified anti-trafficking act, with additional charges under a child labor law.

“I never imagined Stardust Showbar could be closed down, let alone that I might see the managers convicted. I feel like I saw history unfold before my own eyes today,” said Sam Inocencio, IJM National Director in the Philippines.

The presentation of evidence ended in just three months. Historically, human trafficking cases in the Philippines have taken four to seven years to come to completion. The trial was part of a pilot program being tested out in Manila, wherein courts are required to schedule hearings close together.

“The speed of the decision is significant for the freedom that it brings to the survivors, giving them the closure they need and justice they deserve to heal quickly,” said IJM attorney Alexandrino Mallillin, who supported the two public prosecutors who actively prosecuted the case against the Stardust Bar floor managers. He commended Judge Cristina F. Javalera-Sulit for strictly adhering to the special rules on holding continuous trials in child trafficking cases.

This case is emblematic of a bigger change sweeping across the Philippines. In June, the U.S. State Department ranked the Philippines as a “Tier 1” country for the first time in the annual Trafficking in Persons report that grades governments on their efforts to combat trafficking. The message is clear: Philippine authorities will not tolerate businesses that exploit children, and traffickers will face consequences.

Become a Freedom Partner so IJM can send lawyers to represent survivors of violence >>

$
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

Billing Information

Your donation:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

Card Information

Your donation:

You are giving a one-time gift.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

Thank You!

Your receipt has been sent to your email.

How was the experience for you? Tell us here.
Questions? Contact us at [email protected] or at 703-465-5495

Donors in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, or the United Kingdom: by making a donation you agree that we may transfer your personal information to our IJM advancement offices in your country. That advancement office may contact you about future donations or for other fundraising purposes.

Login

Donor Portal

Review your giving, tax statements and contact info via the IJM Donor Portal.

please sign in
IJM Community

Your digital hub for the movement to end modern slavery. Get exclusive updates, connect with others, and find ways to go deeper with IJM.

Please Sign In