Can Italian envoy escape punishment vs child Abuse?
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed that an Italian ambassador is currently being held by Laguna police on the grounds of child trafficking. The secretary added that the diplomat will remain detained while initial investigations take place.
While child trafficking is counted as a crime against humanity in the Philippines, 46-year-old Italian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Daniele Bosio’s case is special because he is a diplomat. Ambassadors are internationally protected from lawsuits by foreign policy laws.
Does this mean Bosio can escape prosecution under Philippine laws which condemns child trafficking?
According to witnesses Lily Flordelis and Catherine Scerri, they saw Bosio ‘touching and caressing’ three under-aged boys while in a pool in Splash Island Resort, Biñan City, Laguna. This prompted the witnesses to alert the police in the resort, who then arrested the diplomat and took custody of the children on Saturday.
Laguna Police Director Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula said that the boys were aged 9, 10 and 12. An interview of the suspect revealed that the boys were street children from Caloocan City whom he brought to the resort over the weekend. The diplomat added that he had the permission of the boys’ parents to join him.
An interview of the victims proved that the diplomat and the boys were unrelated, although one of them said Bosio was his father. The boys added that they were given food and money and that they stayed in the diplomat’s house in Manila for two days before heading to Laguna. Bosio also allegedly ‘bathed and scrubbed their bodies.
‘Of course we know his intentions were something else,’ said Spitula. The children have since been turned over to Biñan City’s Social Welfare and Development Office.
Italian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Daniel Bosio
Based on the evidences, Laguna police charged the Italian diplomat with child trafficking and abuse. According to Republic Act (RA) No 9208 and its extension RA No 10364, child trafficking includes recruiting and transporting children below 18 years within the country to exploit their vulnerability. Child trafficking is punishable by 20 years imprisonment and a fine between Php1m to Php2m.
Meanwhile, Republic Act 7610 states that child abuse includes harming children sexually or emotionally and degrading their dignity as human beings. A special provision under this law says that a person keeping children, aged 12 and below and who are unrelated to him, in a public place like a resort will be punished with 10-12 years imprisonment and a hefty fine.
Although Bosio is internationally protected by the 1961Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Secretary de Lima clarified that Bosio cannot invoke his right to diplomatic immunity in this case because the Philippines is not his host country.
Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno has already visited Bosio at the Laguna City Jail to extend whatever legal assistance the diplomat needs. The Italian Embassy in Manila and the Foreign Ministry in Italy have yet to comment further on the issue.
Italian daily La Republica ran an article early this week stating that Bosio is ‘a person close to children’ and is widely involved in civic causes for children’s welfare.