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11.

People vs, ERLINDA ABORDO and VINA CABANLONG, Appellants The Case This is an appeal from the 21 June 2007 Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 01701. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the 10 May 2001 Decision [2] of the Regional Trial Court of Villasis, Pangasinan, Branch 50, convicting Erlinda Abordo (Abordo) of estafa in Criminal Case No. V-0654 and of illegal recruitment in Criminal Case No. V-0655, and convicting Abordo and Vina Cabanlong (Cabanlong) of estafa in Criminal Case Nos. V-0767, V-0769, and V-0772 and of illegal recruitment in Criminal Case Nos. V-0768, V-0770, and V-0771. The Facts The Informations against the accused read as follows: Criminal Case No. V-0654 (Estafa) That during the period from February 3, 1994 to March 3, 1994, at Poblacion Zone II, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo), by means of deceit, deliberately misrepresenting herself to be capable of causing the employment of laborers abroad, knowing fully well that she is not duly or legally authorized to recruit laborers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and receive from Jesus Rayray y Bascos the sum of P14,000.00, Philippine currency with the undertaking of working for his employment abroad and thereafter, despite repeated demands, the said accused who failed to cause complainants employment abroad, failed and refused to return the said amount of P14,000.00, thereby appropriating and converting the same for her own use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said Jesus Rayray y Bascos in the said amount.[3] Criminal Case No. V-0655 (Illegal Recruitment) That during the period from February 3, 1994 to March 3, 1994 at Barangay Poblacion Zone II, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo), did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Jesus Rayray y Bascos for employment abroad, without first securing the requisite license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.[4] Criminal Case No. V-0767 (Estafa) That during the month of December, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, by means of deceit, deliberately misrepresenting [themselves] to be capable of causing the employment of laborers abroad, knowing fully well that they are not duly or legally authorized to recruit laborers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and receive from Jaime Fernandez y Simon the sum of P45,000.00, Philippine currency with the undertaking of working for his employment abroad and thereafter, despite repeated demands, the said accused who failed to cause complainants employment abroad, failed and refused to return the said amount of P45,000.00, thereby appropriating and converting the same for their own use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said Jaime Fernandez y Simon in the said amount.[5] Criminal Case No. V-0768 (Illegal Recruitment) That during the month of December, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Jaime Fernandez y Simon for employment abroad, without first securing the requisite license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.[6] Criminal Case No. V-0769 (Estafa) That during the month of December, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, by means of deceit, deliberately misrepresenting [themselves] to be capable of causing the employment of laborers abroad, knowing fully well that they are not duly or legally authorized to recruit laborers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and receive from Exequiel Mendoza y Olivar the sum of P45,000.00, Philippine currency with the undertaking of working for his employment abroad and, thereafter, despite repeated demands, the said accused who failed to cause complainants employment abroad, failed and refused to return the said amount of P45,000.00, thereby appropriating and

converting the same for their own use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said Exequiel Mendoza y Olivar in the said amount.[7] Criminal Case No. V-0770 (Illegal Recruitment) That during the month of December, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Exequiel Mendoza y Olivar for employment abroad, without first securing the requisite license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.[8] Criminal Case No. V-0771 (Illegal Recruitment) That during the month of September, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Esmenia Cario y Millano for employment abroad, without first securing the requisite license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.[9] Criminal Case No. V-0772 (Estafa) That during the month of September, 1994 at Barangay San Blas, Municipality of Villasis, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused (Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong), conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, by means of deceit, deliberately misrepresenting [themselves] to be capable of causing the employment of laborers abroad, knowing fully well that they are not duly or legally authorized to recruit laborers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and receive from Esmenia Cario y Millano the sum of P15,000.00, Philippine currency with the undertaking of working for [her] employment abroad and, thereafter, despite repeated demands, the said accused who failed to cause complainants employment abroad, failed and refused to return the said amount of P15,000.00, thereby appropriating and converting the same for their own use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said Esmenia Cario y Millano in the said amount.[10] The prosecution established that sometime in January 1994, Abordo recruited Jesus Rayray (Rayray) for possible employment abroad and collected a total ofP14,000 as placement fee. Abordo assured Rayray that he could soon leave for abroad. Rayray was unable to leave as promised and only saw Abordo again when she was already in jail. [11] Sometime in September 1994, Abordo and Cabanlong went to the house of Esmenia Cario (Cario) in Lipay, Villasis, Pangasinan, to persuade her to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Cario and Cabanlong used to be neighbors in San Blas, Villasis, Pangasinan. Upon being convinced by the accused, Cario gave a total of P15,000 as placement fee. Despite this payment, Cario was unable to leave for abroad.[12] Sometime in December 1994, Abordo and Cabanlong went to the house of Segundina Fernandez (Segundina) in Caramitan, Villasis, Pangasinan. Cabanlong and Segundina are first cousins. Cabanlong introduced Abordo as a recruiter. The accused told Segundina that they could secure employment for her son, Jaime, in Hong Kong upon payment of the placement fee. Segundina and Jaime agreed to the proposition. Segundina gave the accused cash and other valuables amounting toP45,000. Abordo gave a plane ticket to Jaime, which turned out to be fake; hence, Jaime was unable to leave for abroad.[13] Sometime in December 1994, the accused went to the house of Exequiel Mendoza (Mendoza) in San Blas, Villasis, Pangasinan to convince him to work in Hong Kong as a security guard. Mendoza agreed to be recruited and to pay P45,000 as placement fee. Abordo assured him that as soon as he could pay the placement fee, he could work abroad. Mendoza gave Abordo cash and pieces of jewelry amounting to P39,000. Despite several promises from Abordo, Mendoza was unable to leave for Hong Kong. Thus, he demanded from the accused the return of his money and pieces of jewelry, but to no avail.[14] Adonis Peralta, Dagupan District Officer of the Department of Labor and Employment, issued certifications dated 29 September 1993 and 3 August 1993 stating that the accused were not included in the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency list of those licensed to recruit in Pangasinan.[15] The accused denied the charges against them. In their brief, the accused claimed that they could not be held liable for estafa under Article 315, 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code since the element of deceit was not established. They alleged that they received the placement fees on behalf of the travel agency. They argued that it was unclear whether the false statements or fraudulent representations were made prior to or simultaneously with the delivery of the money by the complainants. The Ruling of the Trial Court After the trial, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 50, Villasis, Pangasinan rendered a Decision dated 10 May 2001 disposing of the cases as follows: WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court finds the accused Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale in Crim. Case Nos. V-0655, V-0768, V0770 and V-0771, defined and penalized under Art. 38, par. (a) in relation to Art. 39, par. (a) of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended by P.D. 2018, and hereby sentences them to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay, jointly and severally, fine of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (100,000.00).

Accused Erlinda Abordo is, likewise, found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. V-0654, as provided under Art. 315, par. 2(a), and hereby sentences her to suffer the indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, as the maximum, and to reimburse Jesus Rayray the amount of FOURTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P14,000.00). Further, accused Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of estafa and hereby sentences them to suffer the indeterminate penalty of: 1) SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in it minimum and medium periods, as the minimum to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor, medium, as the maximum and to reimburse Jaime Fernandez the amount of FORTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P45,000.00) in Crim. Case No. V-0767; 2) SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum, to NINE (9) YEARS of prision mayor, medium, as the maximum and to reimburse Exequiel Mendoza the amount of THIRTY NINE THOUSAND PESOS (P39,000.00) in Crim. Case No. V-0769; and 3) SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum to FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, as the maximum, and to reimburse Esmenia Carino the amount of FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00) in Crim. Case No. V-0772. SO ORDERED.[16] The Ruling of the Court of Appeals The Court of Appeals found that the prosecution sufficiently established the accuseds guilt for illegal recruitment. The accused cooperated with each other in convincing complainants to pay placement fees for employment abroad. The accused received money from the complainants. The act of the accused of recruiting complainants for employment abroad without the necessary license from the POEA constitutes the offense of illegal recruitment. The Court of Appeals also found that the prosecution has established accuseds gui lt for estafa. The Court of Appeals stated that the very same evidence proving the accuseds commission of the offense of illegal recruitment also established that the accused connived in defrauding complainants by misrepresenting that they had the power, influence, agency and business to obtain overseas employment for complainants upon payment of placement fees. Complainants suffered damages to the extent of the various sums of money they delivered to accused. The Court of Appeals modified the penalties imposed on the accused as each information involved only one complainant. The accused cannot be convicted for illegal recruitment in large scale based on several informations each filed by only one complainant. The trial court erred in considering the three complainants in the two criminal cases when it convicted the accused of illegal recruitment in large scale. Since the accused were prosecuted under several informations for different complainants, the penalty imposed should be for each information. To convict the accused of illegal recruitment in large scale, there must be one information that must include all the complainants. Otherwise, the accused should be held liable only for simple illegal recruitment. The dispositive portion of the 21 June 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals reads: (1) In Criminal Case No. V-0655, accused-appellant Erlinda Abordo is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment and is sentenced to suffer a prison term of Six (6) years and One (1) day as minimum, to Twelve (12) years as maximum, and to pay a fine of P200,000. (2) In Criminal Case Nos. V-0768, V-0770 and V-0771, Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are found Guilty of three (3) counts of Simple Illegal Recruitment, and are sentenced to suffer a prison term of Six (6) years and one (1) day as minimum, to twelve (12) years as maximum, and to pay a fine of P200,000 on each count. (3) Accused Erlinda Abordo is, likewise, found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. V0654, as provided for under Art. 315, par. 2(a), and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, as maximum, and to reimburse Jesus Rayray in the amount of FOURTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P14,000). (4) Further, accused Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of estafa and are hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of: a) SIX (6) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor, medium, as the maximum and to reimburse Jaime Fernandez in the amount of FORTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P45,000) in Crim. Case No. V-0767;

b) SIX (6) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum, to NINE (9) YEARS of prision mayor, medium, as the maximum and to reimburse Exequiel Mendoza in the amount of THIRTY NINE THOUSAND PESOS (P39,000) in Crim. Case No. V-0769; and c) SIX (6) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, as the minimum to FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, as maximum, and to reimburse Esmenia Cario in the amount of FIFTEEN THOUSAND (P15,000) in Crim. Case No. V-0772.[17] The Issue The sole issue in this case is whether the accused are guilty of simple illegal recruitment and estafa under Article 315, 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. The Ruling of this Court The Court affirms the conviction of the accused for the crimes charged. However, the Court modifies the penalties imposed on the accused in the estafa cases. The elements of illegal recruitment are (1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (2) he undertakes any activity within the meaning of recruitment and placement defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code. [18] Recruitment and placement is any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, trans porting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers; and includes referrals, contact services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, that any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.[19] The prosecution sufficiently established Abordos guilt beyond reasonable doubt for the offense of simple illegal recruitment in Criminal Case No. V-0655. Without the necessary license, Abordo unlawfully recruited Rayray for deployment abroad. In exchange for this promised overseas job, Rayray paid AbordoP14,000. Conniving with Cabanlong, Abordo also illegally recruited Jaime, Mendoza, and Cario who paid the accused P45,000, P39,000 and P15,000, respectively, as placement fees. Despite their payments of the placement fees, all the complainants were unable to depart the country for work abroad. The Court of Appeals did not err in holding that the accused are guilty of simple illegal recruitment only, modifying the trial courts ruling that the accused are guilty of illegal recruitment i n large scale. Since the accused were prosecuted under several informations for different complainants, the penalty imposed should be for each information charged. [20] To convict the accused for illegal recruitment in large scale, there must be one information that must include all the complainants.[21]Otherwise, the accused should be convicted only for simple illegal recruitment.[22] Accordingly, the penalties imposed by the Court of Appeals in Criminal Case Nos. V-0655, V-0768, V-0770, and V-0771 (for simple illegal recruitment) are likewise correct.[23] The Court also affirms the conviction of Abordo for estafa committed against Rayray and the conviction of Abordo and Cabanlong for estafa committed against Jaime, Mendoza, and Cario. Conviction under the Labor Code for illegal recruitment does not preclude punishment under the Revised Penal Code for the felony of estafa. [24] The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed estafa under Article 315, 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, which states: 2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: (a) By using fictitious name or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits. The prosecution established that in falsely pretending to possess power to deploy persons for overseas employment, the accused deceived the complainants into believing that they would provide them overseas work. Their assurances made complainants pay the placement fees required in exchange for the promised jobs. The elements of deceit and damage for this form of estafa are indisputably present; hence, the conviction for estafa in Criminal Case Nos. V-0654 (against Abordo), V-0767, V-0769, and V-0772 (against Abordo and Cabanlong) should be affirmed. Under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, estafa is punished by the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years) to prision mayor in its minimum period (6 years and 1 day to 8 years), if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty x x x shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. x x x. The penalty prescribed for estafa is composed of only two, not three, periods. In such a case, Article 65 of the Revised Penal Code requires the division into three equal portions of time included in the penalty prescribed, and forming one period of each of the three portions. Therefore, the maximum, medium, and minimum periods of the penalty prescribed are: Minimum 4 years, 2 months, 1 day to 5 years, 5 months, 10 days Medium 5 years, 5 months, 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, 20 days Maximum - 6 years, 8 months, 21 days to 8 years[25] If the amount defrauded does not exceed P22,000 and there is no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the penalty prescribed shall be imposed in its medium period, or 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional to 6 years, 8 months and 20 days of prision mayor. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the prison sentence shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed. On the other hand, the minimum term shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for the crime. The penalty next lower to that prescribed by Article 315 is prision correccional in its minimum period (6 months, 1 day to 2 years and 4 months)

to prision correccional in its medium period (2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months). From this, the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence shall be taken.[26] Accordingly, in Criminal Case No. V-0654 (for estafa involving P14,000), Abordo is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional, as maximum. Abordo should also refund to Rayray the amount of P14,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. In Criminal Case No. V-0767 (for estafa involving P45,000), Abordo and Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years of prision mayor, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Jaime the amount of P45,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. In Criminal Case No. V-0769 (for estafa involving P39,000), Abordo and Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 9 years of prision mayor, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Mendoza the amount of P39,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. In Criminal Case No. V-0772 (for estafa involving P15,000), Abordo and Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Cario the amount of P15,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. The penalties in this case consisting in deprivation of liberty cannot be served simultaneously by reason of the nature of such penalties.[27] Hence, since the accused are sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment, the terms should be served successively.[28] WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the 21 June 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 01701 with the followingMODIFICATIONS: 1. In Criminal Case No. V-0654 (for estafa involving P14,000), Erlinda Abordo is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional, as maximum. Abordo should also refund to Jesus Rayray the amount of P14,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. 2. In Criminal Case No. V-0767 (for estafa involving P45,000), Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years of prision mayor, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Jaime Fernandez the amount of P45,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. 3. In Criminal Case No. V-0769 (for estafa involving P39,000), Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 9 years of prision mayor, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Exequiel Mendoza the amount of P39,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. 4. In Criminal Case No. V-0772 (for estafa involving P15,000), Erlinda Abordo and Vina Cabanlong are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional, as maximum. The accused should also refund to Esmenia Cario the amount of P15,000 with legal interest from the filing of the information until this amount is fully paid. SO ORDERED.

12. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LANIE ORTIZ-MIYAKE accused-appellant. DECISION REGALADO, J.: Accused-appellant Lanie Ortiz-Miyake was charged with illegal recruitment in large scale in the Regional Trial Court of Makati on a complaint initiated by Elenita Marasigan, Imelda Generillo and Rosamar del Rosario. In addition, she was indicted for estafa by means of false pretenses in the same court, the offended party being Elenita Marasigan alone. The information in the charge of illegal recruitment in large scale in Criminal Case No. 92-6153 reads as follows: That in or about the period comprised from June 1992 to August 1992, in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, falsely representing herself to have the capacity and power to contract, enlist and recruit workers for employment abroad did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously collect for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement abroad to the following persons, to wit: 1) Rosamar del Rosario; 2) Elenita Marasigan; 3) Imelda Generillo, without first securing the required license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment, thus amounting to illegal recruitment in large scale, in violation of the aforecited law. [1] The information in the charge for estafa in Criminal Case No. 92-6154 alleges:

That in or about or sometime in the month of August, 1992, in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of false pretenses executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, falsely pretending to have the capacity and power to send complainant Elenita Marasigan to work abroad, succeeded in inducing the latter to give and deliver to her the total sum of P23,000.00, the accused knowing fully well that the said manifestations and representation are false and fraudulent and calculated only to deceive the said complainant to part with her money, and, once in possession thereof, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously appropriate, apply and convert the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said Elenita Marasigan, in the aforementioned amount of P23,000.00. [2] Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges and the cases were tried jointly in Branch 145 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati. Of the three complainants in the case for illegal recruitment in large scale, Marasigan was the only one who testified at the trial. The two other complainants, Generillo and Del Rosario, were unable to testify as they were then abroad. Marasigan testified that she was a 32 year-old unmarried sales representative in 1992 when she was introduced to appellant by her co-complainants. [3] Appellant promised Marasigan a job as a factory worker in Taiwan for a P5,000.00 fee. At that time, Marasigan had a pending application for overseas employment pending in a recruitment agency. Realizing that the fee charged by appellant was much lower than that of the agency, Marasigan withdrew her money from the agency and gave it to appellant. [4] Marasigan paid appellant P5,000.00, but she was later required to make additional payments. By the middle of the year, she had paid a total of P23,000.00 on installment basis.[5] Save for two receipts, [6] Marasigan was not issued receipts for the foregoing payments despite her persistence in requesting for the same. Marasigan was assured by appellant that obtaining a Taiwanese visa would not be a problem. [7] She was also shown a plane ticket to Taiwan, allegedly issued in her name. [8]Appellant issued Marasigan a photocopy of her plane ticket, [9] the original of which was promised to be given to her before her departure. [10] Marasigan was never issued a visa. [11] Neither was she given the promised plane ticket. Unable to depart for Taiwan, she went to the travel agency which issued the ticket and was informed that not only was she not booked by appellant for the alleged flight, but that the staff in the agency did not even know appellant. Later, Marasigan proceeded to the supposed residence of appellant and was informed that appellant did not live there. [12] Upon verification with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), it was revealed that appellant was not authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment. [13] Marasigan wanted to recover her money but, by then, appellant could no longer be located. The prosecution sought to prove that Generillo and Del Rosario, the two other complainants in the illegal recruitment case, were also victimized by appellant. In lieu of their testimonies, the prosecution presented as witnesses Lilia Generillo, the mother of Imelda Generillo, and Victoria Amin, the sister of Del Rosario. Lilia Generillo claimed that she gave her daughter P8,000.00 to cover her application for placement abroad which was made through appellant. [14] Twice, she accompanied her daughter to the residence of appellant so that she could meet her; however, she was not involved in the transactions between her daughter and appellant. [15] Neither was she around when payments were made to appellant. Imelda Generillo was unable to leave for abroad and Lilia Generillo concluded that she had become a victim of illegal recruitment. The prosecution presented Victoria Amin, the sister of Rosamar Del Rosario, to show that the latter was also a victim of illegal recruitment. Victoria Amin testified that appellant was supposed to provide her sister a job abroad. She claimed that she gave her sister a total of P10,000.00 which was intended to cover the latters processing fee. [16] Victoria Amin never met appellant and was not around when her sister made payments. She assumed that the money was paid to appellant based on receipts, allegedly issued by appellant, which her sister showed her. [17] Del Rosario was unable to leave for abroad despite the representations of appellant. Victoria Amin claimed that her sister, like Marasigan and Generillo, was a victim of illegal recruitment. The final witness for the prosecution was Riza Balberte, [18] a representative of the POEA, who testified that appellant was neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment, POEA certificate certification. [19] Upon the foregoing evidence, the prosecution sought to prove that although two of the three complainants in the illegal recruitment case were unable to testify, appellant was guilty of committing the offense against all three complainants and, therefore, should be convicted as charged. On the other hand, appellant, who was the sole witness for the defense, denied that she recruited the complainants for overseas employment and claimed that the payments made to her were solely for purchasing plane tickets at a discounted rate as she had connections with a travel agency. [20] She denied that she was paid by Marasigan the amount of P23,000.00, claiming that she was paid only P8,000.00, as shown by a receipt. She further insisted that, through the travel agency, [21] she was able to purchase discounted plane tickets for the complainants upon partial payment of the ticket prices, the balance of which she guaranteed. According to

her, the complainants were supposed to pay her the balance but because they failed to do so, she was obliged to pay the entire cost of each ticket. The evidence presented by the parties were thus contradictory but the trial court found the prosecutions evidence more credible. On December 17, 1993, judgment was rendered by said court convicting appellant of both crimes as charged. [22] In convicting appellant of illegal recruitment in large scale, the lower court adopted a previous decision of Branch 78 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paraaque as a basis for the judgment. Said previous decision was a conviction for estafa promulgated on July 26, 1993, [23] rendered in Criminal Cases Nos. 74852-53, involving the same circumstances in the instant case, wherein complainants Generillo and Del Rosario charged appellant with two counts of estafa. This decision was not appealed and had become final and executory. In thus convicting appellant in the illegal recruitment case, the decision therein of the Regional Trial Court stated that the facts in the foregoing estafa cases were the same as those in the illegal recruitment case before it. It, therefore, adopted the facts and conclusions established in the earlier decision as its own findings of facts and as its rationale for the conviction in the case before it. [24] In Criminal Case No. 92-6153, the Makati court sentenced appellant to serve the penalty of life imprisonment for illegal recruitment in large scale, as well as to pay a fine ofP100,000.00. Appellant was also ordered to reimburse the complainants the following payments made to her, viz.: (a) Marasigan, P23,000.00; (b) Generillo, P2,500.00; and (c) Del Rosario, P2,500.00. In the same judgment and for the estafa charged in Criminal Case No. 92-6154, the Makati court sentenced appellant to suffer imprisonment of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the costs. In the instant petition, appellant seeks the reversal of the foregoing judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Makati convicting her of illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa. Specifically, she insists that the trial court erred in convicting her of illegal recruitment in large scale as the evidence presented was insufficient. Moreover, appellant claims that she is not guilty of acts constituting illegal recruitment, in large scale or otherwise, because contrary to the findings of the trial court, she did not recruit the complainants but merely purchased plane tickets for them. Finally, she contends that in convicting her of estafa, the lower court erred as she did not misappropriate the money paid to her by Marasigan, hence there was no damage to the complainants which would substantiate the conviction. We uphold the finding that appellant is guilty but we are, compelled to modify the judgment for the offenses she should be convicted of and the corresponding penalties therefor. Appellant maintains that her conviction for illegal recruitment in large scale is erroneous. It is her view that in the prosecution of a case for such offense, at least three complainants are required to appear as witnesses in the trial and, since Marasigan was the only complainant presented as a witness, the conviction was groundless. The Solicitor General also advocates the conviction of appellant for simple illegal recruitment which provides a lower penalty. The Court finds the arguments of the Solicitor General meritorious and adopts his position. The Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as x x x any act of canvassing, enlisti ng, contracting transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not x x x. [25] Illegal recruitment is likewise defined and made punishable under the Labor Code, thus: Art. 38. Illegal Recruitment. (a) Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of this Code. x x x. (b) Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in accordance with Article 39 hereof. x x x Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group. Art. 39. Penalties. (a) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) shall be imposed if Illegal Recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein;

xxx (c) Any person who is neither a licensee nor a holder of authority under this Title found violating any provision thereof or its implementing rules and regulations shall, upon conviction thereof, suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than four (4) years nor more than eight (8) years or a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor more than P100,000.00, or both such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the court. x x x [26] During the pendency of this case, Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, was passed increasing the penalty for illegal recruitment. This new law, however, does not apply to the instant case because the offense charged herein was committed in 1992, before the effectivity of said Republic Act No. 8042. Hence, what are applicable are the aforecited Labor Code provisions. It is evident that in illegal recruitment cases, the number of persons victimized is determinative. Where illegal recruitment is committed against a lone victim, the accused may be convicted of simple illegal recruitment which is punishable with a lower penalty under Article 39(c) of the Labor Code. Corollarily, where the offense is committed against three or more persons, it is qualified to illegal recruitment in large scale which provides a higher penalty under Article 39(a) of the same Code. The position of the Solicitor General is that the conviction of appellant should be merely for the lesser offense of simple illegal recruitment. He submits that the Regional Trial Court of Makati erred in convicting appellant of illegal recruitment in large scale because the conviction was based on an earlier decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Paraaque where appellant was found guilty of estafa committed against Generillo and Del Rosario. It is argued that the Makati court could not validly adopt the facts embodied in the decision of the Paraaque court to show that illegal recruitment was committed against Generillo and Del Rosario as well. Illegal recruitment was allegedly proven to have been committed against only one person, particularly, Elenita Marasigan. Appellant, therefore, may only be held guilty of simple illegal recruitment and not of such offense in large scale. He further submits that the adoption by the Makati court of the facts in the decision of the Paraaque court for estafa to constitute the basis of the subsequent conviction for illegal recruitment is erroneous as it is a violation of the right of appellant to confront the witnesses, that is, complainants Generillo and Del Rosario, during trial before it. He cites the pertinent provision of Rule 115 of the Rules of Court, to wit: Section 1. Rights of accused at the trial. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be entitled: xxx (f) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. Either party may utilize as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who is deceased, out of or cannot, with due diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable or otherwise unable to testify, given in another case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, the adverse party having had the opportunity to cross-examine him. xxx It will be noted that the principle embodied in the foregoing rule is likewise found in the following provision of Rule 130: Section 47. Testimony or deposition at a former proceeding. - The testimony or deposition of a witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, may be given in evidence against the adverse party who had the opportunity to cross-examine him. Under the aforecited rules, the accused in a criminal case is guaranteed the right of confrontation. Such right has two purposes: first, to secure the opportunity of cross-examination; and, second, to allow the judge to observe the deportment and appearance of the witness while testifying. [27] This right, however, is not absolute as it is recognized that it is sometimes impossible to recall or produce a witness who has already testified in a previous proceeding, in which event his previous testimony is made admissible as a distinct piece of evidence, by way of exception to the hearsay rule. [28] The previous testimony is made admissible because it makes the administration of justice orderly and expeditious. [29] Under these rules, the adoption by the Makati trial court of the facts stated in the decision of the Paraaque trial court does not fall under the exception to the right of confrontation as the exception contemplated by law covers only the utilization of testimonies of absent witnesses made in previous proceedings, and does not include utilization of previous decisions or judgments. In the instant case, the prosecution did not offer the testimonies made by complainants Generillo and Del Rosario in the previous estafa case. Instead, what was offered, admitted in evidence, and utilized as a basis for the conviction in the case for illegal recruitment in large scale was the previous decision in the estafa case.

A previous decision or judgment, while admissible in evidence, may only prove that an accused was previously convicted of a crime. [30] It may not be used to prove that the accused is guilty of a crime charged in a subsequent case, in lieu of the requisite evidence proving the commission of the crime, as said previous decision is hearsay. To sanction its being used as a basis for conviction in a subsequent case would constitute a violation of the right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him. As earlier stated, the Makati courts utilization of and reliance on the previous decision of the Paraaque court must be rejected. Every conviction must be based on the findings of fact made by a trial court according to its appreciation of the evidence before it. A conviction may not be based merely on the findings of fact of another court, especially where what is presented is only its decision sans the transcript of the testimony of the witnesses who testified therein and upon which the decision is based. Furthermore, this is not the only reason why appellant may not be held liable for illegal recruitment in large scale. An evaluation of the evidence presented before the trial court shows us that, apart from the adopted decision in the previous estafa case, there was no other basis for said trial courts conclusion that illegal recruitment in large scale was committed against all three complainants. The distinction between simple illegal recruitment and illegal recruitment in large scale are emphasized by jurisprudence. Simple illegal recruitment is committed where a person: (a) undertakes any recruitment activity defined under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice enumerated under Articles 34 and 38 of the Labor Code; and (b) does not have a license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. [31] On the other hand, illegal recruitment in large scale further requires a third element, that is, the offense is committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group. [32] In illegal recruitment in large scale, while the law does not require that at least three victims testify at the trial, it is necessary that there is sufficient evidence proving that the offense was committed against three or more persons. This Court agrees with the trial court that the evidence presented sufficiently proves that illegal recruitment was committed by appellant against Marasigan, but the same conclusion cannot be made as regards Generillo and Del Rosario as well. The testimonies of Generillos mother, Lilia Generillo, and Del Rosarios sister, Victoria Amin, reveal that these witnesses had no personal knowledge of the actual circumstances surrounding the charges filed by Generillo and Del Rosario for illegal recruitment in large scale. Neither of these witnesses was privy to the transactions between appellant and each of the two complainants. The witnesses claimed that appellant illegally recruited Generillo and Del Rosario. Nonetheless, we find their averments to be unfounded as they were not even present when Generillo and Del Rosario negotiated with and made payments to appellant. For insufficiency of evidence and in the absence of the third element of illegal recruitment in large scale, particularly, that the offense is committed against three or more persons, we cannot affirm the conviction for illegal recruitment in large scale. Nonetheless, we agree with the finding of the trial court that appellant illegally recruited Marasigan, for which she must be held liable for the lesser offense of simple illegal recruitment. Appellants defense that she did not recruit Marasigan but merely purchased a plane ticket for her is belied by the evidence as it is undeniable that she represented to Marasigan that she had the ability to send people to work as factory workers in Taiwan. Her pretext that the fees paid to her were merely payments for a plane ticket is a desperate attempt to exonerate herself from the charges and cannot be sustained. Furthermore, no improper motive may be attributed to Marasigan in charging appellant. The fact that Marasigan was poor does not make her so heartless as to contrive a criminal charge against appellant. She was a simple woman with big dreams and it was appellants duplicity which reduced those dreams to naught. Marasigan had no motive to testify falsely against appellant except to tell the truth. [33] Besides, if there was anyone whose testimony needed corroboration, it was appellant as there was nothing in her testimony except the bare denial of the accusations. [34] If appellant really intended to purchase a plane ticket and not to recruit Marasigan, she should have presented evidence to support this claim. Also, in her testimony, appellant named an employee in the travel agency who was allegedly her contact person for the purchase of the ticket. She could have presented that person, or some other employee of the agency, to show that the transaction was merely for buying a ticket. Her failure to do the foregoing acts belies her pretensions. The Court likewise affirms the conviction of appellant for estafa which was committed against Marasigan. Conviction under the Labor Code for illegal recruitment does not preclude punishment under the Revised Penal Code for the felony of estafa. [35] This Court is convinced that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that appellant violated Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code which provides that estafa is committed: 2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud: (a) By using fictitious name or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.

The evidence is clear that in falsely pretending to possess power to deploy persons for overseas placement, appellant deceived the complainant into believing that she would provide her a job in Taiwan. Her assurances made Marasigan exhaust whatever resources she had to pay the placement fee required in exchange for the promised job. The elements of deceit and damage for this form of estafa are indisputably present, hence the conviction for estafa in Criminal Case No. 92-6154 should be affirmed. Under the Revised Penal Code, an accused found guilty of estafa shall be sentenced to: x x x The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos x x x. [36] The amount involved in the estafa case is P23,000.00. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum penalty shall be taken from the maximum period of the foregoing basic penalty, specifically, within the range of imprisonment from six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days to eight (8) years. On the other hand, the minimum penalty of the indeterminate sentence shall be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to that provided by law, without considering the incremental penalty for the amount in excess of P22,000.00. [37] That penalty immediately lower in degree is prison correccional in its minimum and medium periods, with a duration of six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months. On these considerations, the trial court correctly fixed the minimum and maximum terms of the indeterminate sentence in the estafa case. While we must be vigilant and should punish, to the fullest extent of the law, those who prey upon the desperate with empty promises of better lives, only to feed on their aspirations, we must not be heedless of the basic rule that a conviction may be sustained only where it is for the correct offense and the burden of proof of the guilt of the accused has been met by the prosecution. WHEREFORE, the judgment of the court a quo finding accused-appellant Lanie Ortiz-Miyake guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal recruitment in large scale (Criminal Case No. 92-6153) and estafa (Criminal Case No. 92-6154) is hereby MODIFIED, as follows: 1) Accused-appellant is declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt of simple illegal recruitment, as defined in Article 38(a) of the Labor Code, as amended. She is hereby ordered to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P100,000.00. 2) In Criminal Case No. 92-6154 for estafa, herein accused-appellant is ordered to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and to reimburse Elenita Marasigan the sum of P23,000.00. In all other respects, the aforestated judgment is AFFIRMED, with costs against accused-appellant in both instances. SO ORDERED.

14. G.R. Nos. 182978-79 April 7, 2009 BECMEN SERVICE EXPORTER AND PROMOTION, INC., Petitioner, vs. SPOUSES SIMPLICIO and MILA CUARESMA (for and in behalf of their daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma), WHITE FALCON SERVICES, INC. and JAIME ORTIZ (President,White Falcon Services, Inc.), Respondents. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x G.R. Nos. 184298-99 April 7, 2009 SPOUSES SIMPLICIO and MILA CUARESMA (for and in behalf of their daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma), Petitioners, vs. WHITE FALCON SERVICES, INC. and BECMEN SERVICE EXPORTER AND PROMOTION, INC., Respondents. DECISION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: These consolidated petitions assail the Amended Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated May 14, 2008 in CA-G.R. SP No. 80619 and CA-G.R. SP No. 81030 finding White Falcon Services, Inc. and Becmen Service Exporter and Promotion, Inc. solidarily liable to indemnify spouses Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma the amount of US$4,686.73 in actual damages with interest. On January 6, 1997, Jasmin Cuaresma (Jasmin) was deployed by Becmen Service Exporter and Promotion, Inc. 2(Becmen) to serve as assistant nurse in Al-Birk Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), for a contract duration of three years, with a corresponding salary of US$247.00 per month. Over a year later, she died allegedly of poisoning. Jessie Fajardo, a co-worker of Jasmin, narrated that on June 21, 1998, Jasmin was found dead by a female cleaner lying on the floor inside her dormitory room with her mouth foaming and smelling of poison.3

Based on the police report and the medical report of the examining physician of the Al-Birk Hospital, who conducted an autopsy of Jasmins body, the likely cause of her death was poisoning. Thus: According to letter No. 199, dated 27.2.1419H, issued by Al-Birk Police Station, for examining the corpse of Jasmin Cuaresma, 12.20 P.M. 27.2.1419H, Sunday, at Al-Birk Hospital. 1. The Police Report on the Death 2. The Medical Diagnosis Sex: Female Age: 25 years Relg: Christian The said person was brought to the Emergency Room of the hospital; time 12.20 P.M. and she was unconscious, blue, no pulse, no respiration and the first aid esd undertaken but without success. 3. Diagnosis and Opinion: Halt in blood circulation respiratory system and brain damage due to anapparent poisoning which is under investigation.4 Name Sex Marital Status Religion Profession Address : Jasmin Cuaresma : Female : Single Nationality: Philipino (sic) : Christian : Nurse : Al-Birk Genrl. Hospital Birth Place: The Philippines

On 27.2.1419H, Dr. Tariq Abdulminnem and Dr. Ashoki Komar, both have examined the dead body of Jasmin Cuaresma, at 12.20 P.M., Sunday, 22.2.14189H, and the result was: 1. Report of the Police on the death 2. Medical Examination: Blue skin and paleness on the Extrimes (sic), total halt to blood circulation and respiratory system and brain damage. There were no external injuries. Likely poisoning by taking poisonous substance, yet not determined. There was a bad smell in the mouth and unknown to us.5(Emphasis supplied) Jasmins body was repatriated to Manila on S eptember 3, 1998. The following day, the City Health Officer of Cabanatuan City conducted an autopsy and the resulting medical report indicated that Jasmin died under violent circumstances, and not poisoning as originally found by the KSA examining physician. The City Health Officer found that Jasmin had abrasions at her inner lip and gums; lacerated wounds and abrasions on her left and right ears; lacerated wounds and hematoma (contusions) on her elbows; abrasions and hematoma on her thigh and legs; intra-muscular hemorrhage at the anterior chest; rib fracture; puncture wounds; and abrasions on the labia minora of the vaginal area. 6 On March 11, 1999, Jasmins remains were exhumed and examined by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The toxicology report of the NBI, however, tested negative for non-volatile, metallic poison and insecticides.7 Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma (the Cuaresmas), Jasmins parents and her surviving heirs, received from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) the following amounts: P50,000.00 for death benefits; P50,000.00 for loss of life; P20,000.00 for funeral expenses; and P10,000.00 for medical reimbursement. On November 22, 1999, the Cuaresmas filed a complaint against Becmen and its principal in the KSA, Rajab & Silsilah Company (Rajab), claiming death and insurance benefits, as well as moral and exemplary damages for Jasmins death.8 In their complaint, the Cuaresmas claim that Jasmins death was work -related, having occurred at the employers premises;9 that under Jasmins contract with Becmen, she is entitled to "iqama insurance" coverage; that Jasmin is entitled to compensatory damages in the amount of US$103,740.00, which is the sum total of her monthly salary of US$247.00 per month under her employment contract, multiplied by 35 years (or the remaining years of her productive life had death not supervened at age 25, assuming that she lived and would have retired at age 60). The Cuaresmas assert that as a result of Jasmins death under mysterious circumstances, they suffered sleepless nights and mental anguish. The situation, they claim, was aggravated by findings in the autopsy and exhumation reports which evidently show that a grave injustice has been committed against them and their daughter, for which those responsible should likewise be made to pay moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees. In their position paper, Becmen and Rajab insist that Jasmin committed suicide, citing a prior unsuccessful suicide attempt sometime in March or April 1998 and relying on the medical report of the examining physician of the Al-Birk Hospital. They likewise deny liability because the Cuaresmas already recovered death and other benefits totaling P130,000.00 from the OWWA. They insist that the Cuaresmas are not entitled to "iqama insurance" because this refers to the "issuance" not insurance of iqama, or residency/work permit required in the KSA. On the issue of moral and exemplary damages, they claim that the Cuaresmas are not entitled to the same because they have not acted with fraud, nor have they been in bad faith in handling Jasmins case. While the case was pending, Becmen filed a manifestation and motion for substitution alleging that Rajab terminated their agency relationship and had appointed White Falcon Services, Inc. (White Falcon) as its new recruitment agent in the Philippines. Thus, White Falcon was impleaded as respondent as well, and it adopted and reiterated Becmens arguments in the position paper it subsequently filed. On February 28, 2001, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision 10 dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. Giving weight to the medical report of the Al-Birk Hospital finding that Jasmin died of poisoning, the Labor Arbiter concluded that Jasmin committed suicide. In any case, Jasmins death was not service-connected, nor was it shown that it occurred while she was on duty; besides, her parents have received all corresponding benefits they were entitled to under the law. In regard to damages, the Labor Arbiter found no legal basis to warrant a grant thereof.

On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission (Commission) reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. Relying on the findings of the City Health Officer of Cabanatuan City and the NBI as contained in their autopsy and toxicology report, respectively, the Commission, via its November 22, 2002 Resolution 11 declared that, based on substantial evidence adduced, Jasmin was the victim of compensable work-connected criminal aggression. It disregarded the Al-Birk Hospital attending physicians report as well as the KSA police report, finding the same to be inconclusive. It declared that Jasmins death was the result of an "accident" occurring within the employers premises that is attributable to her employment, or to the conditions under which she lived, and thus arose out of and in the course of her employment as nurse. Thus, the Cuaresmas are entitled to actual damages in the form of Jasm ins lost earnings, including future earnings, in the total amount of US$113,000.00. The Commission, however, dismissed all other claims in the complaint. Becmen, Rajab and White Falcon moved for reconsideration, whereupon the Commission issued its October 9, 2003 Resolution12 reducing the award of US$113,000.00 as actual damages to US$80,000.00. 13 The NLRC likewise declared Becmen and White Falcon as solidarily liable for payment of the award. Becmen and White Falcon brought separate petitions for certiorari to the Court of Appeals. 14 On June 28, 2006, the appellate court rendered its Decision,15 the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows: WHEREFORE, the subject petitions are DENIED but in the execution of the decision, it should first be enforced against White Falcon Services and then against Becmen Services when it is already impossible, impractical and futile to go against it (White Falcon). SO ORDERED.16 The appellate court affirmed the NLRCs findings that Jasmins death was compensable, the same having occurred at the dormitory, which was contractually provided by the employer. Thus her death should be considered to have occurred within the employers premises, arising out of and in the course of her employment. Becmen and White Falcon moved for reconsideration. On May 14, 2008, the appellate court rendered the assailed Amended Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows: WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are GRANTED. Accordingly, the award of US$80,000.00 in actual damages is hereby reduced to US$4,686.73 plus interest at the legal rate computed from the time it became due until fully paid. Petitioners are hereby adjudged jointly and solidarily liable with the employer for the monetary awards with Becmen Service Exporter and Promotions, Inc. having a right of reimbursement from White Falcon Services, Inc. SO ORDERED.17 In the Amended Decision, the Court of Appeals found that although Jasmins death was compen sable, however, there is no evidentiary basis to support an award of actual damages in the amount of US$80,000.00. Nor may lost earnings be collected, because the same may be charged only against the perpetrator of the crime or quasi-delict. Instead, the appellate court held that Jasmins beneficiaries should be entitled only to the sum equivalent of the remainder of her 36 month employment contract, or her monthly salary of US$247.00 multiplied by nineteen (19) months, with legal interest. Becmen filed the instant petition for review on certiorari (G.R. Nos. 182978-79). The Cuaresmas, on the other hand, moved for a reconsideration of the amended decision, but it was denied. They are now before us via G.R. Nos. 184298-99. On October 6, 2008, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. Nos. 184298-99 with G.R. Nos. 182978-79. In G.R. Nos. 182978-79, Becmen raises the following issues for our resolution: (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT GAVE MORE CREDENCE AND WEIGHT TO THE AUTOPSY REPORT CONDUCTED BY THE CABANATUAN CITY HEALTH OFFICE THAN THE MEDICAL AND POLICE REPORTS ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH OF KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA AND AL-BIRK HOSPITAL. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN ON THE BASIS OF THE POSITION PAPERS AND ANNEXES THERETO INCLUDING THE AUTOPSY REPORT, IT CONCLUDED THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA WAS CAUSED BY CRIMINAL AGGRESSION. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA WAS COMPENSABLE PURSUANT TO THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN TALLER VS. YNCHAUSTI, G.R. NO. 35741, DECEMBER 20, 1932, WHICH IT FOUND TO BE STILL GOOD LAW. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA NOTWITHSTANDING ITS ADMISSIONS THAT "IQAMA INSURANCE" WAS A TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR SINCE "IQAMA" IS NOT AN INSURANCE. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT CONCLUDED THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN WAS WORK RELATED. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE TO JASMINS BENEFICIARIES FOR THE REMAINDER OF HER 36-MONTH CONTRACT COMPUTED IN THIS MANNER: MONTHLY SALARY OF US$246.67 MULTIPLIED BY 19 MONTHS, THE REMAINDER OF THE TERM OF JASMINS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT, IS EQUAL TO US$4,686.73. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE TO PAY INTEREST AT THE LEGAL RATE FROM THE TIME IT WAS DUE UNTIL FULLY PAID. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN AND WHITE FALCON JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH THE EMPLOYER NOTWITHSTANDING THE ASSUMPTION OF LIABILITY EXECUTED BY WHITE FALCON IN FAVOR OF BECMEN. On the other hand, in G.R. Nos. 184298-99, the Cuaresmas raise the following issues: (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF THE CIVIL CODE CONSIDERED GENERAL LAW DESPITE THE CASE BEING COVERED BY E.O. 247, R.A. 8042 AND LABOR CODE CONSIDERED AS SPECIAL LAWS. (THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE DECEASEDS FUTURE EARNINGS WHICH IS (AN) INHERENT FACTOR IN THE COMPUTATION OF DEATH BENEFITS OF OVERSEAS FILIPINO CONTRACT WORKERS.

(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN REDUCING THE DEATH BENEFITS AWARDED BY NLRC CONSIDERED FINDINGS OF FACT THAT CANNOT BE DISTURBED THROUGH CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT. The issue for resolution is whether the Cuaresmas are entitled to monetary claims, by way of benefits and damages, for the death of their daughter Jasmin. The terms and conditions of Jasmins 1996 Employment Agreement which she and her employer Rajab freely entered into constitute the law between them. As a rule, stipulations in an employment contract not contrary to statutes, public policy, public order or morals have the force of law between the contracting parties. 18 An examination of said employment agreement shows that it provides for no other monetary or other benefits/privileges than the following: 1. 1,300 rials (or US$247.00) monthly salary; 2. Free air tickets to KSA at the start of her contract and to the Philippines at the end thereof, as well as for her vacation at the end of each twenty four-month service; 3. Transportation to and from work; 4. Free living accommodations; 5. Free medical treatment, except for optical and dental operations, plastic surgery charges and lenses, and medical treatment obtained outside of KSA; 6. Entry visa fees will be shared equally between her and her employer, but the exit/re-entry visa fees, fees for Iqama issuance, renewal, replacement, passport renewal, sponsorship transfer and other liabilities shall be borne by her; 7. Thirty days paid vacation leave with round trip tickets to Manila after twenty four-months of continuous service; 8. Eight days public holidays per year; 9. The indemnity benefit due her at the end of her service will be calculated as per labor laws of KSA. Thus, the agreement does not include provisions for insurance, or for accident, death or other benefits that the Cuaresmas seek to recover, and which the labor tribunals and appellate court granted variably in the guise of compensatory damages. However, the absence of provisions for social security and other benefits does not make Jasmins employment contract infirm. Under KSA law, her foreign employer is not obliged to provide her these benefits; and neither is Jasmin entitled to minimum wage unless of course the KSA labor laws have been amended to the opposite effect, or that a bilateral wage agreement has been entered into. Our next inquiry is, should Jasmins death be considered as work -connected and thus compensable? The evidence indicates that it is not. At the time of her death, she was not on duty, or else evidence to the contrary would have been adduced. Neither was she within hospital premises at the time. Instead, she was at her dormitory room on personal time when she died. Neither has it been shown, nor does the evidence suggest, that at the time she died, Jasmin was performing an act reasonably necessary or incidental to her employment as nurse, because she was at her dormitory room. It is reasonable to suppose that all her work is performed at the Al-birk Hospital, and not at her dormitory room. We cannot expect that the foreign employer should ensure her safety even while she is not on duty. It is not fair to require employers to answer even for their employees personal time away from work, which the latter are free to spend of their own choosing. Whether they choose to spend their free time in the pursuit of safe or perilous undertakings, in the company of friends or strangers, lovers or enemies, this is not one area which their employers should be made accountable for. While we have emphasized the need to observe official work time strictly, 19 what an employee does on free time is beyond the employers sphere of inquiry. While the "employers premises" may be defined very broadly not only to include premises owned by it, but also premises it leases, hires, supplies or uses,20 we are not prepared to rule that the dormitory wherein Jasmin stayed should constitute employers premises as would allow a finding that death or injury therein is considered to have been incurred or sustained in the course of or arose out of her employment. There are certainly exceptions, 21 but they do not appear to apply here. Moreover, a complete determination would have to depend on the unique circumstances obtaining and the overall factual environment of the case, which are here lacking. But, did Jasmin commit suicide? Rajab, Becmen and White Falcon vehemently insist that she did; thus, her heirs may not claim benefits or damages based on criminal aggression. On the other hand, the Cuaresmas do not believe so. The Court cannot subscribe to the idea that Jasmin committed suicide while halfway into her employment contract. It is beyond human comprehension that a 25-year old Filipina, in the prime of her life and working abroad with a chance at making a decent living with a high-paying job which she could not find in her own country, would simply commit suicide for no compelling reason. The Saudi police and autopsy reports which state that Jasmin is a likely/or apparent victim of poisoning arepatently inconclusive. They are thus unreliable as evidence. On the contrary, the autopsy report of the Cabanatuan City Health Officer and the exhumation report of the NBI categorically and unqualifiedly show that Jasmin sustained external and internal injuries, specifically abrasions at her inner lip and gums; lacerated wounds and abrasions on her left and right ears; lacerated wounds and hematoma (contusions) on her elbows; abrasions and hematoma on her thigh and legs; intra-muscular hemorrhage at the anterior chest; a fractured rib; puncture wounds; and abrasions on the labia minora of the vaginal area . The NBI toxicology report came up negative on the presence of poison. All these show that Jasmin was manhandled and possibly raped prior to her death. Even if we were to agree with the Saudi police and autopsy reports that indicate Jasmin was poisoned to death, we do not believe that it was self-induced. If ever Jasmin was poisoned, the assailants who beat her up and possibly raped her are certainly responsible therefor. We are not exactly ignorant of what goes on with our OFWs. Nor is the rest of the world blind to the realities of life being suffered by migrant workers in the hands of some foreign employers. It is inconceivable that our Filipina women would seek employment abroad and face uncertainty in a foreign land, only to commit suicide for unexplained reasons. Deciding to leave their family, loved ones, and the comfort and safety of home, to work in a strange land requires unrivaled strength

and courage. Indeed, many of our women OFWs who are unfortunate to end up with undesirable employers have been there more times than they care to, beaten up and broken in body yet they have remained strong in mind, refusing to give up the will to live. Raped, burned with cigarettes, kicked in the chest with sharp high-heeled shoes, starved for days or even weeks, stabbed, slaved with incessant work, locked in their rooms, forced to serve their masters naked, grossly debased, dehumanized and insulted, their spirits fought on and they lived for the day that they would once again be reunited with their families and loved ones. Their bodies surrendered, but their will to survive remained strong. It is surprising, therefore, that Rajab, Becmen and White Falcon should insist on suicide, without even lifting a finger to help solve the mystery of Jasmins death. Being in the business of sending OFWs to work abroad, Becmen and White Falcon should know what happens to some of our OFWs. It is impossible for them to be completely unaware that cruelties and inhumanities are inflicted on OFWs who are unfortunate to be employed by vicious employers, or upon those who work in communities or environments where they are liable to become victims of crime. By now they should know that our women OFWs do not readily succumb to the temptation of killing themselves even when assaulted, abused, starved, debased and, worst, raped. Indeed, what we have seen is Rajab and Becmens revolting scheme of conveniently avoiding responsibility by clinging to the absurd theory that Jasmin took her own life. Abandoning their legal, moral and social obligation (as employer and recruiter) to assist Jasmins family in obtaining justice for her death, they immediately gave up on Jasmins case, which has remained under investigation as the autopsy and police reports themselves indicate. Instead of taking the cudgels for Jasmin, who had no relative or representative in the KSA who would naturally demand and seek an investigation of her case, Rajab and Becmen chose to take the most convenient route to avoiding and denying liability, by casting Jasmins fate to oblivion. It appears from the record that to this dat e, no follow up of Jasmins case was ever made at all by them, and they seem to have expediently treated Jasmins death as a closed case. Despite being given the lead via the autopsy and toxicology reports of the Philippine authorities, they failed and ref used to act and pursue justice for Jasmins sake and to restore honor to her name. Indeed, their nonchalant and uncaring attitude may be seen from how Jasmins remains were repatriated. No official representative from Rajab or Becmen was kind enough to mak e personal representations with Jasmins parents, if only to extend their condolences or sympathies; instead, a mere colleague, nurse Jessie Fajardo, was designated to accompany Jasmins body home. Of all lifes tragedies, the death of ones own child must be the most painful for a parent. Not knowing why or how Jasmins life was snuffed out makes the pain doubly unbearable for Jasmins parents, and further aggravated by Rajab, Becmen, and White Falcons baseless insistence and accusation that it was a self -inflicted death, a mortal sin by any religious standard. Thus we categorically hold, based on the evidence; the actual experiences of our OFWs; and the resilient and courageous spirit of the Filipina that transcends the vilest desecration of her physical self, that Jasmin did not commit suicide but a victim of murderous aggression. Rajab, Becmen, and White Falcons indifference to Jasmins case has caused unfathomable pain and suffering upon her parents. They have turned away from their moral obligation, as employer and recruiter and as entities laden with social and civic obligations in society, to pursue justice for and in behalf of Jasmin, her parents and those she left behind. Possessed with the resources to determine the truth and to pursue justice, they chose to stand idly for the sake of convenience and in order that they may avoid pecuniary liability, turning a blind eye to the Philippine authorities autopsy and toxicology reports instead of taking action upon them as leads in pursuing justice for J asmins death. They have placed their own financial and corporate interests above their moral and social obligations, and chose to secure and insulate themselves from the perceived responsibility of having to answer for and indemnify Jasmins heirs for her death. Under Republic Act No. 8042 (R.A. 8042), or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, 22 the State shall, at all times, uphold the dignity of its citizens whether in country or overseas, in general, and Filipino migrant workers, in particular.23 The State shall provide adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers.24 The rights and interest of distressed25 overseas Filipinos, in general, and Filipino migrant workers, in particular, documented or undocumented, are adequately protected and safeguarded.26 Becmen and White Falcon, as licensed local recruitment agencies, miserably failed to abide by the provisions of R.A. 8042. Recruitment agencies are expected to extend assistance to their deployed OFWs, especially those in distress. Instead, they abandoned Jasmins case and allowed it to remain unsolved to further their interests and avoid anticipated liability which parents or relatives of Jasmin would certainly exact from them. They willfully refused to protect and tend to the welfare of the deceased Jasmin, treating her case as just one of those unsolved crimes that is not worth wasting their time and resources on. The evidence does not even show that Becmen and Rajab lifted a finger to provide legal representation and seek an investigation of Jasmins case. Worst of all, they unnecessarily trampled upon the person and dignity of Jasmin by standing pat on the argument that Jasmin committed suicide, which is a grave accusation given its un-Christian nature. We cannot reasonably expect that Jasmins parents should be the ones to actively pursue a just resolution of her case in the KSA, unless they are provided with the finances to undertake this herculean task. Sadly, Becmen and Rajab did not lend any assistance at all in this respect. The most Jasmins parents can do is to coordinate with Philippine authorities as mandated under R.A. 8042, obtain free legal assistance and secure the aid of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment, the POEA and the OWWA in trying to solve the case or obtain relief, in accordance with Section 2327 of R.A. 8042. To our mind, the Cuaresmas did all that was within their power, short of actually flying to the KSA. Indeed, the Cuaresmas went even further. To the best of their abilities and capacities, they ventured to investigate Jasmins case on their own: they caused another autopsy on Jasmins remains as soon as it arrived to inquire into the true cause of her death. Beyond that, they subjected themselves to the painful and distressful experience of exhuming Jasmins remains in order to obtain another autopsy for the sole purpose of determining whether or not their daughter was poisoned. Their quest for the truth and justice is equally to be expected of all loving parents. All this time,

Rajab and Becmen instead of extending their full cooperation to the Cuaresma family merely sat on their laurels in seeming unconcern. In Interorient Maritime Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRC,28 a seaman who was being repatriated after his employment contract expired, failed to make his Bangkok to Manila connecting flight as he began to wander the streets of Bangkok aimlessly. He was shot to death by Thai police four days after, on account of running amuck with a knife in hand and threatening to harm anybody within sight. The employer, sued for death and other benefits as well as damages, interposed as defense the provision in the seafarer agreement which provides that "no compensation shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or death resulting from a willful act on his own life by the seaman." The Court rejected the defense on the view, among others, that the recruitment agency should have observed some precautionary measures and should not have allowed the seaman, who was later on found to be mentally ill, to travel home alone, and its failure to do so rendered it liable for the seamans death. We ruled therein that The foreign employer may not have been obligated by its contract to provide a companion for a returning employee, but it cannot deny that it was expressly tasked by its agreement to assure the safe return of said worker. The uncaring attitude displayed by petitioners who, knowing fully well that its employee had been suffering from some mental disorder, nevertheless still allowed him to travel home alone, is appalling to say the least. Such attitude harks back to another time when the landed gentry practically owned the serfs, and disposed of them when the latter had grown old, sick or otherwise lost their usefulness.29 (Emphasis supplied) Thus, more than just recruiting and deploying OFWs to their foreign principals, recruitment agencies have equally significant responsibilities. In a foreign land where OFWs are likely to encounter uneven if not discriminatory treatment from the foreign government, and certainly a delayed access to language interpretation, legal aid, and the Philippine consulate, the recruitment agencies should be the first to come to the rescue of our distressed OFWs since they know the employers and the addresses where they are deployed or stationed. Upon them lies the primary obligation to protect the rights and ensure the welfare of our OFWs, whether distressed or not. Who else is in a better position, if not these recruitment agencies, to render immediate aid to their deployed OFWs abroad? Article 19 of the Civil Code provides that every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. Article 21 of the Code states that any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage. And, lastly, Article 24 requires that in all contractual, property or other relations, when one of the parties is at a disadvantage on account of his moral dependence, ignorance, indigence, mental weakness, tender age or other handicap, the courts must be vigilant for his protection. Clearly, Rajab, Becmen and White Falcons acts and omissions are against public policy because they undermine and subvert the interest and general welfare of our OFWs abroad, who are entitled to full protection under the law. They set an awful example of how foreign employers and recruitment agencies should treat and act with respect to their distressed employees and workers abroad. Their shabby and callous treatment of Jasmins case; their uncaring attitude; their unjustified failure and refusal to assist in the determination of the true circumstances surrounding her mysterious death, and instead finding satisfaction in the unreasonable insistence that she committed suicide just so they can conveniently avoid pecuniary liability; placing their own corporate interests above of the welfare of their employees all these are contrary to morals, good customs and public policy, and constitute taking advantage of the poor employee and her familys ignorance, helplessness, indigence and lack of power and re sources to seek the truth and obtain justice for the death of a loved one. Giving in handily to the idea that Jasmin committed suicide, and adamantly insisting on it just to protect Rajab and Becmens material interest despite evidence to the contrary is against the moral law and runs contrary to the good custom of not denouncing ones fellowmen for alleged grave wrongdoings that undermine their good name and honor. 30 Whether employed locally or overseas, all Filipino workers enjoy the protective mantle of Philippine labor and social legislation, contract stipulations to the contrary notwithstanding. This pronouncement is in keeping with the basic public policy of the State to afford protection to labor, promote full employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers. This ruling is likewise rendered imperative by Article 17 of the Civil Code which states that laws which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.31 The relations between capital and labor are so impressed with public interest, 32 and neither shall act oppressively against the other, or impair the interest or convenience of the public. 33 In case of doubt, all labor legislation and all labor contracts shall be construed in favor of the safety and decent living for the laborer.34 The grant of moral damages to the employee by reason of misconduct on the part of the employer is sanctioned by Article 2219 (10)35 of the Civil Code, which allows recovery of such damages in actions referred to in Article 21.36 Thus, in view of the foregoing, the Court holds that the Cuaresmas are entitled to moral damages, which Becmen and White Falcon are jointly and solidarily liable to pay, together with exemplary damages for wanton and oppressive behavior, and by way of example for the public good. Private employment agencies are held jointly and severally liable with the foreign-based employer for any violation of the recruitment agreement or contract of employment. This joint and solidary liability imposed by law against recruitment agencies and foreign employers is meant to assure the aggrieved worker of immediate and sufficient payment of what is due him.37 If the recruitment/placement agency is a juridical being, the corporate officers and directors and partners as the case may be, shall themselves be jointly and solidarily liable with the corporation or partnership for the aforesaid claims and damages.38 White Falcons assumption of Becmens liability does not automatically result in Becmens freedom or release from liability. This has been ruled in ABD Overseas Manpower Corporation v. NLRC.39 Instead, both Becmen and White Falcon should be held liable solidarily, without prejudice to each having the right to be reimbursed under the provision of the Civil Code that whoever pays for another may demand from the debtor what he has paid. 40

WHEREFORE, the Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 14, 2008 in CA-G.R. SP No. 80619 and CA-G.R. SP No. 81030 is SET ASIDE. Rajab & Silsilah Company, White Falcon Services, Inc., Becmen Service Exporter and Promotion, Inc., and their corporate directors and officers are found jointly and solidarily liable and ORDERED to indemnify the heirs of Jasmin Cuaresma, spouses Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma, the following amounts: 1) TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P2,500,000.00) as moral damages; 2) TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P2,500,000.00) as exemplary damages; 3) Attorneys fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award; and, 4) Costs of suit. SO ORDERED. 16. [G.R. No. 136821. October 17, 2002] ROVELS ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner, vs. EMMANUEL B. OCAMPO, JOSE M. SILVA, SR., THE HEIRS OF EXPEDITO LEVISTE, SR.,*CONRADO CALALANG, and FRANCISCO CARREON, SR., respondents. DECISION SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari[1] is the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 5, 1998 [2] in CA-G.R. SP No. 43260, affirming the Decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in SEC Case No. 09-95-5135 dismissing the petition to be declared the majority stockholder of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation (TTTDC). The petition was filed by Rovels Enterprises, Inc. (Rovels), herein petitioner. Rovels is a domestic corporation engaged in construction work. Its President is Eduardo Santos. TTTDC was among Rovels clients. In payment for the services rendered by Rovels, the Board of Directors of TTTDC passed a Resolution on December 29, 1975 providing as follows: RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved that payment for professional fees and services rendered by x x x Rovels Enterprises x x x be made in cash if funds are available, or its equivalent number of shares of stock of the corporation at par value, and should said creditors elect the latter mode of payment, it is further resolved that the President and/or his Secretary be authorized as they are hereby authorized, to issue the corresponding unissued shares of stock of the corporation.[3] (emphasis added) The Resolution was signed by three of TTTDCs directors, namely, Victoriano Leviste, Bienvenido Cruz, Jr. , and Roberto Roxas. Roberto Roxas is the President of TTTDC and stockholder of Rovels at the same time. Noticeably, the signatures of the other two (2) TTTDC directors Jose Silva, Jr. and Emmanuel Ocampo do not appear in the subject Resolution despite their presence in the December 29, 1975 Board meeting.[4] On February 23, 1976, Eduardo Santos, President of Rovels, on behalf of TTTDC, filed with the SEC an application for exemption from registration of TTTDCs unissued shares of stock transfe rred to it (Rovels) as payment for its services worth One Hundred Eight Thousand Pesos (P108,000.00). This was done because under Section 4 (a) of the Revised Securities Act, no shares of stocks shall be transferred unless first registered with the SEC or permitted to be sold.[5] On May 7, 1976, the SEC, in its Resolution No. 260,[6] granted Eduardo Santos application. On March 1, 1976, the TTTDC Board of Directors passed another Resolution [7] repealing its Resolution of December 29, 1975, thus: RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, that the Resolution of December 29, 1975 authorizing the payment of creditors with unissued shares of the corporation be as it is hereby repealed: Resolved further that the matter as well as the amount of the creditors claims be given adequate study and consideration by the Board. (emphasis added) In view of the December 29, 1975 TTTDC Board Resolution transferring to Rovels the said shares of stock as construction fee, TTTDC Directors Jose Silva, Jr. and Emmanuel Ocampo filed a complaint with the SEC against Roberto Roxas, TTTDC President, and Eduardo Santos, Rovels President, docketed as SEC Case No. 1322. In their complaint, Silva and Ocampo alleged that there was no meeting of the TTTDCs Board of Directors on December 29, 1975; that they did not authorize the transfer of TTTDCs shares of stock to Rovels; that they never signed the alleged minutes of the meeting; and that the signatures of the other two (2) Directors, Victoriano Leviste and Bienvenido Cruz, Jr., as well as that of TTTDCs Secretary Francisco Carreon, Jr., were obtained through fraud and misrepresentation. They also alleged that the TTTDC Board Resolution dated December 29, 1975 was repealed by the March 1, 1976 Resolution. They thus prayed that the transfer of TTTDCs shares of stock to Rovels pursuant to Resolution dated December 29, 1975 be annulled. On March 17, 1979, SEC Hearing Officer Eugenio E. Reyes issued a Decision[8] in favor of Silva and Ocampo, the dispositive portion of which reads: Considering that the (December 29, 1975) board resolution which authorizes the corporation to pay its creditors with its unissued shares of stock x x x had been expressly revoked or repealed on March 1, 1976 as earlier pointed out, Commission Resolution No. 260 (granting Santos application for exemption from registration of the unissued shares), when issued on May 7, 1976 x x x had lost its legal basis. Consequently, the corresponding issuance of shares was without authority of the board of directors. xxx xxx xxx WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Commission finds and so holds that the purported board resolution of December 29, 1975, not having been properly passed upon at a duly constituted board meeting, cannot be recognized as valid and hence, without legal force and effect. Consequently, the issuance of shares of stock to corporate creditors of the Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation is null and void . In view thereof, the shares in question are still considered unissued and remain part of the authorized capital stocks of the Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation. This is without prejudice to the rights of said corporate creditors as against Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation for the latters contractual obligations. (emphasis added) On appeal by Roberto Roxas and Eduardo Santos, the SEC en banc, in its Decision dated September 2, 1982 in SEC-AC No. 049,[9] affirmed the Decision of the SEC Hearing Officer. This Court, in its Decision of June 20, 1983 in G.R. No.

61863,[10] likewise affirmed the Decision of the SEC en banc. The Decision of this Court became final and executory on September 2, 1983.[11] Subsequently, TTTDC, Jose Silva, Emmanuel Ocampo, Victoriano Leviste, Francisco Carreon, Jr., and Expedito Leviste, Sr., another stockholder of TTTDC, (the SILVA GROUP, now respondents), filed with the SEC a petition against Eduardo Santos, Sylvia S. Veloso, Josefina Carballo, Augusto del Rosario, Reynaldo Alcantara and Lauro Sandoval (the SANTOS GROUP), docketed as SEC Case No. 3806. (The SANTOS GROUP were nominees of Rovels who, by virtue of the shares of stock issued pursuant to the December 29, 1975 Resolution, proceeded to act as directors and officers of TTTDC). In their petition, the SILVA GROUP prayed that they be declared the true and lawful stockholders and incumbent directors and officers of TTTDC. On July 6, 1993, SEC Hearing Officer Alberto P. Atas rendered a Decision[12] in favor of the SILVA GROUP, thus: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioners (SILVA GROUP) and against the respondents (SANTOS GROUP), as follows: a. Declaring petitioners as the lawful stockholders, directors and officers of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation; b. Declaring respondents, to be not stockholders of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation; c. Declaring respondents to be not directors or officers of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation; d. The writ of preliminary injunction issued on November 6, 1990 is hereby made permanent; and e. Ordering the Records Division of this Commission to purge the records of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation of all papers and documents filed by respondents purportedly in behalf of Tagaytay Taal Tourist Development Corporation. (emphasis and words in parentheses added) The above Decision became final and executory on September 1, 1994 [13] as no appeal was interposed by either the SILVA GROUP or the SANTOS GROUP. However, Rovels, to whom the TTTDC shares of stock (worth P108,000.00) were transferred, claimed that it became aware of the July 6, 1993 SEC Decision only in June of 1995. So on September 6, 1995, it filed a petition with the SEC,[14] docketed as SEC Case No. 09-95-5135, praying that it be declared the majority stockholder of TTTDC as against respondents Ocampo, Silva, Leviste, Sr., Calalang and Carreon (belonging to the SILVA GROUP). The material allegations of the petition state that: (1) TTTDC passed a Resolution dated December 29, 1975 authorizing the transfer of its unissued shares to Rovels as the latters construction fee;[15] (2) Pursuant to that Resolution, TTTDC shares of stock worth P692,000.00 were transferred to Rovels;[16] (3) While TTTDC, in its March 1, 1976 Resolution, repealed the December 29, 1975 Resolution, such repeal does not bind Rovels for lack of notice; [17] (4) Several interrelated cases (SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806) were filed with the SEC involving the SILVA and SANTOS GROUPS;[18] (5) Rovels is not bound by the SEC Decisions since it was not impleaded as a party in said cases.[19] Forthwith, the SILVA GROUP filed a motion to dismiss[20] the petition on the following grounds: (1) Rovels has no cause of action since TTTDCs December 29, 1975 Board Resolution was repealed by its March 1, 1976 Resolution; [21] (2) the petition is barred by the prior SEC Decisions in SEC Case No. 1322 declaring that the issuance of TTTDCs shares of stock to Rovels is valid, and the SEC Decision in 3806 declaring the SILVA GROUP as the lawful stockholders of TTTDC; [22] and (3) the petition is barred by estoppel, prescription and laches since it was filed long after Rovels was notified of the repeal of the December 29, 1975 TTTDC Resolution.[23] In an Order dated April 22, 1996[24] in SEC Case No. 09-95-5135, SEC Hearing Officer Manuel P. Perea dismissed Rovels petition on the grounds of lack of cause of action,res judicata, estoppel, laches and prescription. This Order was affirmed by the SEC en banc in its Decision dated January 20, 1997[25] in SEC AC No. 560. Upon a petition for review, docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 43260, the Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated June 5, 1998,[26] affirmed the January 20, 1997 SEC en bancDecision. Rovels motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.[27] Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari,[28] alleging that the Court of Appeals erred: I IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER ROVELS HAS NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENTS; and II IN HOLDING THAT THE PETITION IN SEC CASE NO. 09-95-5135 IS BARRED BY PRIOR JUDGMENT (RES JUDICATA), LACHES, PRESCRIPTION AND ESTOPPEL.[29] The petition is unmeritorious. On the first assigned error, we find that the Court of Appeals is correct in affirming the dismissal of Rovels petition in SEC Case No. 09-955135 for lack of cause of action. A cause of action is defined as the delict or wrongful act or omission committed by a person in violation of the right of another.[30] A cause of action exists if the following elements are present: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff, (2) the correlative obligation of the defendant to respect such right, and (3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of plaintiffs right.[31] The test is whether the material allegations of the complaint, assuming them to be true, state ultimate facts which constitute plaintiffs cause of action, such that plaintiff is entitled to a favorable judgment as a ma tter of law.[32] The pertinent portions of Rovels petition filed with the SEC read: xxx xxx xxx 5. x x x. On December 29, 1975, TTTDC in a Resolution signed by majority members of the Board of Directors resolved that TTTDC pay its creditors through a debt-to-equity swap; xxx xxx xxx 9. x x x the relation between the Silva faction and the Santos faction became adversarial. The Silva faction attempted to form an alleged new board of directors and repealed the Board Resolution dated December 29, 1975 Resolution regarding the debt to equity swap. Thus, it resolved:

RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, that the Resolution of December 29, 1975 authorizing the payment of creditors with unissued shares of the corporation be as it is hereby repealed : Resolved further that the matter as well as the amount of the creditors claims be given adequate study and consideration by the Board. x x x 10. That what is clear from the above Resolution of March 1, 1976 is the admission that indeed TTTDC owes certain amount of money from its creditors. The creditors became stockholders of record as a result of shares of stock issued in implementation of the debt to equity conversion. Corresponding shares of stock were issued and signed by then president of the corporation Roberto Roxas and then corporate secretary Francisco N. Carreon, Jr. Copy of said Certificate of Stocks are hereto attached and marked as Annexes D to P and made an integral part hereof. xxx xxx xxx 12. That several interrelated cases were filed by Eduardo L. Santos (SEC Case No. 1322), on one hand, and Expedito M. Leviste, Francisco Carreon, Felicisimo Ocampo and Jose M. Silva (SEC Case No. 3806) and vice versa on the other. Petitioner, Rovels Enterprises, Inc. was never made a party in any of these cases and its nominees in the Board of Directors of TTTDC continued to exercise its function from 1976. xxx xxx xxx 19. That to implement the decision in SEC CASE 3806, which declared the Silva Group as the duly authorized directors and officers, without looking deeply into the records of the case, i.e. the sub-poened authentic Stock and Transfer Book of TTTDC and the earlier decision in PED Case No. 89 -0644, will constitute irreparable damage to the petitioner. Specially so, Silva executed an affidavit showing 5 Directors of TTTDC but the stock certificates were not signed by the corporate secretary who died in 1982. xxx xxx xxx 21. That petitioner which became duly registered majority stockholder thru debt to equity swap had been an innocent party to such controversy between the aforesaid 2 ruling thereof, hence, petitioner remains as is on a status quo basis as majority stockholder of TTTDC. xxx xxx xxx PRAYER WHEREFORE, premises considered, petitioner prays that this Honorable Commission render judgment in favor of petitioner and against respondents (SILVA GROUP): xxx xxx xxx 2. After due notice and hearing, re-declaring petitioner lawful registered majority stockholder of TTTDC x x x; 3. Ordering respondents to desist from sitting in the Board of Directors of TTTDC as they are not lawful registered stockholders in the books of the said corporation. xxx xxx x x x[33] A reading of the above petition (paragraph 5) shows that Rovels prayer to b e declared the majority stockholder of TTTDC is anchored on the December 29, 1975 TTTDC Board Resolution transferring its shares of stock to Rovels as construction fee. This Resolution could have vested in Rovels a right to be declared a stockholder of TTTDC. However, the same petition (paragraphs 9 and 10) concedes that the December 29, 1975 Resolution was repealed by the March 1, 1976 Resolution. The petition likewise alleges (paragraphs 12 and 19) that there were prior interrelated cases filed with the SEC between the SILVA and SANTOS GROUPS, namely: (1) SEC Case No. 1322 (wherein the SEC en banc in its Decision dated September 2, 1982 nullified the TTTDC Board Resolution dated December 29, 1975, which Decision was affirmed with finality by this Court in G.R. No. 61863) and (2) SEC Case No. 3806 (wherein the SEC declared the SILVA GROUP as the legitimate stockholders of TTTDC, not Rovels nominees [the SANTOS GROUP]). Clearly, on the face of its petition, Rovels cannot claim to be the majority stockholder of TTTDC. Relative to the second assigned error, Rovels contends that it is not bound by the SEC Decision in SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806 and in G.R. No. 61863 as it was never a party in any of these cases. This contention brings us to the issue of res judicata. The requisites of res judicata,[34] also known as the rule on bar by prior judgment, are: 1) the former judgment must be final; 2) the court which rendered it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; 3) the judgment must be on the merits; and 4) there must be between the first and the second actions, identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action. The first three (3) requisites of res judicata are present in this case. This is not disputed by the parties and is, in fact, established by the record. The controversy arises as to whether there is identity of the parties in the present SEC Case No. 09-95-5135, on the one hand, and in prior SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806, on the other. Contrary to its claim, Rovels is bound by the previous SEC Decisions. It must be noted that Eduardo Santos, President of Rovels, was one of the respondents in both SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806. Clearly, Rovels and Eduardo Santos, being its President, share an identity of interests sufficient to make them privies-in-law, as correctly found by the Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision, thus: In the case at bench, there can be no question that the r ights claimed by petitioner and its stockholders/directors/officers who were parties in SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806 are identical in that they are both based on the December 29, 1975 Resolution. Stated differently, they shared an identity of interest from which flowed an identity of relief sought, namely, to be declared owners of the stocks of TTTDC, premised on the same December 29, 1975 Resolution. x x x. This identity of interest is sufficient to make them privies -in-law, one to the other, and meets the requisite of substantial identity of parties.[35] It bears stressing that absolute identity of parties is not required for the principle of res judicata, or the rule on bar by prior judgment, to apply. Mere substantial identity of parties, or a community of interests between a party in the first case and a party in the subsequent case even if the latter was not impleaded in the first case, is sufficient. [36] Rovels cannot take refuge in the argument that, as a corporation, it is imbued with personality separate and distinct from that of the respondents in SEC Case Nos. 1322 and 3806. The legal fiction of separate corporate existence is not at all

times invincible and the same may be pierced when employed as a means to perpetrate a fraud, confuse legitimate issues, or used as a vehicle to promote unfair objectives or to shield an otherwise blatant violation of the prohibition against forum-shopping. While it is settled that the piercing of the corporate veil has to be done with caution, this corporate fiction may be disregarded when necessary in the interest of justice.[37] The doctrine of res judicata states that a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction is conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies, and constitutes an absolute bar to subsequent actions involving the same claim, demand or cause of action.[38] This is founded on public policy and necessity, which makes it to the interest of the State that there should be an end to litigations, and on the principle that an individual should not be vexed twice for the same cause.[39] Just recently, we emphatically declared in In Re: Petition Seeking for Clarification as to the Validity and Forceful Effect of Two (2) Final and Executory but Conflicting Decisions of the Honorable Supreme Court:[40] Every litigation must come to an end once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable. This is a fundamental and immutable legal principle. For (j)ust as a losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of his case by the execution and satisfaction of the judgment, which is the life of the law. Any attempt to thwart this rigid rule and deny the prevailing litigant his right to savour the fruit of his victory, must immediately be struck down. Finally, this Court sustains the Appellate Courts finding that the filing of Rovels petition in the instant SEC Case No. 09 95-5135 is barred by estoppel, prescription and laches. There is no merit to Rovels claim that it was only in June of 1995[41] when it became aware of the repeal of the December 29, 1975 TTTDC Resolution and of the consequent nullification of the transfer of its shares of stock. It is undisputed that Eduardo Santos was present in the March 1, 1976 TTTDC Board meeting wherein the December 29, 1975 Resolution was repealed. We hold that Eduardo Santos, being the President of Rovels, is considered as its (Rovels) agent. As such, his knowledge of the repeal of the December 29, 1975 Resolution, under the theory of imputed knowledge, is ascribed to his principal (Rovels). It was only on September 6, 1995, or almost twenty (20) years from the time Eduardo Santos learned of the March 1, 1976 Resolution, that Rovels filed its petition in SEC Case No. 09-95-5135. Within that long period of time, Rovels did nothing to contest the March 1, 1976 TTTDC Resolution to protect its rights, if any. Obviously, such inaction constitutes estoppel, prescription and laches. As stated by Rovels itself, Article 1149 of the New Civil Code limits the filing of actions, whose periods are not fixed therein or in any other laws, toonly five (5) years. In addition, the principle of laches or stale demands provides that the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier, or the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warrants a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.[42] In sum, this Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit any reversible error in its challenged Decision. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 5, 1998 and its Resolution dated December 21, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 43260, are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. 18. ROMULO B. DELA ROSA, Petitioner, - versus G.R. No. 182262 Present: CARPIO, J., Chairperson, NACHURA, PERALTA, ABAD, and MENDOZA, JJ. Promulgated: April 13, 2011

MICHAELMAR PHILIPPINES, INC., substituted by OSG SHIPMANAGEMENT MANILA, INC.,* and/or MICHAELMAR SHIPPING SERVICES, INC., Respondents.

Petitioner Romulo B. dela Rosa (Dela Rosa) appeals by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court the August 22, 2007 Amended Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 93115, and the March 18, 2008 Resolution [2] denying its reconsideration. The antecedents Dela Rosa was hired by respondent Michaelmar Philippines, Inc., for and on behalf of its principal Michaelmar Shipping Services, Inc. (respondent), as 3rdEngineer on board the vessel MT Goldmar for a period of nine months.[3] He boarded MT Goldmar on February 15, 2003. However, on April 14, 2003, he was discharged for his alleged poor pe rformance, and was repatriated to the Philippines. Claiming termination without just cause and due process, Dela Rosa filed a complaint [4] for illegal dismissal, nonpayment of salaries/wages, payment of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees with the Labor Arbiter (LA), against respondents.

Traversing the complaint, respondents alleged that Dela Rosa was validly terminated. They averred that Dela Rosas work performance was unsatisfactory, and that despite the advice given to him by his superiors, Dela Rosas job performance did not improve; he continued to be incompetent and inefficient. On March 16, 2003, Chief Engineer Stephen B. Huevas (Engr. Huevas) issued a warning letter to Dela Rosa, but he refused to receive the same. Worse, on April 9, 2003, Dela Rosa simply stopped working. Left with no recourse, Engr. Huevas sent a letter dated April 9, 2003 to the principal, communicating his intention to disembark Dela Rosa. On April 14, 2003, Dela Rosa was repatriated upon payment of all the benefits due him. Respondents, therefore, prayed for the dismissal of the complaint.[5] On March 31, 2004, the LA rendered a decision[6] dismissing the complaint. In so ruling, the LA made much of Dela Rosas failure to deny or rebut respondents allegations that he refused to receive the warning letter on March 16, 2003, and then stopped working on April 9, 2003, without any valid reason. Dela Rosas failure to rebut these serious allegations, the LA held, gave rise to an inference that the same were true. The LA further lent credence to the entries in the logbook and further declared that Dela Rosa already waived his right to contest the said entries because he refused to receive the warning letter addressed to him. The LA disposed, thus: WHEREFORE, a Decision is hereby rendered DISMISSING the case for lack of merit.[7] Dela Rosa appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). On July 29, 2005, the NLRC issued a Resolution[8] dismissing the appeal and affirming the LA. In so ruling, the NLRC sustained respondents claim that Dela Rosa neglected his duty as 3rd Engineer and abandoned his job, justifying the termination of his employment. Dela Rosa filed a motion for reconsideration,[9] but the NLRC denied it on November 24, 2005.[10] Dela Rosa then went to the CA via certiorari. On January 31, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision[11] reversing the NLRC. It held that respondents failed to allege and prove with particularity the charges against Dela Rosa. The particular acts which would indicate Dela Rosas unsatisfactory performance were neither specified nor described in the warning letter and were never entered in the ships logbook. It declared respondents pieces of evidence as self-serving, which could not support the findings of lawful termination. The CA added that Dela Rosas alleged incompetence, disobedience, and refusal to work while on board MT Goldmar did not constitute a clear case of insubordination and abandonment of work that would warrant his termination. The CA decreed that: WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Resolutions are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, Petitioner Romulo B. dela Rosa is hereby declared to have been illegally dismissed from employment and private respondents are therefore ordered to pay him his salaries corresponding to the unexpired portion of his employment contract. No costs. SO ORDERED.[12] Dela Rosas victory, however, was only fleeting because on a motion for reconsideration, the CA rendered an Amended Decision, viz.: After a careful study of the grounds relied upon by [respondents], this court finds the instant motion meritorious, considering that the 24 November 2005 Resolution of the National Labor Relations Commission has already become final and executory on February 28, 2006 and the corresponding entry of judgment thereon issued on June 15, 2006. Jurisprudence dictates that once a judgment becomes final, all the issues between the parties are deemed resolved and laid to rest. Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that once a judgment has become final the winning party be not be [sic] deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end [sic]controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them. As such, it becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect except only to correct clerical errors or mistake. WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED and Our assailed decision considered academic. SO ORDERED.[13] Dela Rosa filed a motion for reconsideration on September 30, 2007. Pending resolution of petitioners motion, respondent Michaelmar Philippines, Inc. filed aManifestation/Motion to Substitute Michaelmar Phils.,[14] Inc. with OSG

Shipmanagement Manila, Inc. (OSG Shipmanagement). It alleged that OSG Shipmanagement is the new manning agent in the Philippines of Michaelmar Shipping Services, Inc., and it assumes the full responsibility for all contractual obligations to seafarers originally recruited and processed by Michaelmar Philippines, Inc.[15] The CA noted and granted the motion in its Resolution[16] dated November 12, 2007, and accordingly ordered the impleading of OSG Shipmanagement as respondent, in substitution of Michaelmar Philippines, Inc. On March 18, 2008, the CA issued a Resolution[17] denying Dela Rosas motion for reconsideration.

Hence, this appeal by Dela Rosa, arguing that: I THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN PROMULGATING THE AMENDED DECISION OF 22 AUGUST 2007 REVERSING AND SETTING THE EARLIER DECISION DATED 31 JANUARY 2007 ON THE GROUND THAT THE CASE HAS ALREADY BECOME MOOT AND ACADEMIC. II THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN ERRONEOUSLY APPLYING THE JURISPRUDENCE LAID DOWN IN THE CASE OF SALVA VS. CA, 304 SCRA 632. III THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR OF LAW IN ERRONEOUSLY APPRECIATING THE ENTRY OF JUDGMENT ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION ON JUNE 15, 2006 THEREBY GIVING IT THE EFFECT OF DISMANTLING THE RIGHT OF THE PETITIONER TO REMEDIAL MEASURES IN PROTECTION OF HIS RIGHTS AS SET FORTH BY LAW.[18] The CA dismissed Dela Rosas petition on ground of mootness. It considered the November 24, 2005 NLRC Resolution sustaining Dela Rosas dismissal as final and executory. As such, the resolution became immutable and unalterable. The CA was wrong. A decision issued by a court becomes final and executory when such decision disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined by the court, such as when after the lapse of the reglementary period to appeal, no appeal has been perfected.[19] The period or manner of appeal from the NLRC to the CA is governed by Rule 65, pursuant to the ruling of this Court in St. Martin Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission.[20] Section 4 of Rule 65, as amended, states that the petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, or resolution sought to be assailed. Record shows that Dela Rosa received a copy of the November 24, 2005 Resolution of the NLRC, denying his motion for reconsideration on December 8, 2005.[21] He had sixty (60) days, or until February 6, 2006, to file his petition for certiorari. February 6, 2006, however, was a Sunday. Thus, Dela Rosa filed his petition the next working day, or on February 7, 2006. Undoubtedly, Dela Rosas petition was timely filed. In Leonis Navigation Co., Inc. v. Villamater,[22] we explained: [J]udicial review of decisions of the NLRC is sought via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and the petition should be filed before the CA, following the strict observance of the hierarchy of courts. Under Rule 65, Section 4, petitioners are allowed sixty (60) days from notice of the assailed order or resolution within which to file the petition. Thus, although the petition was not filed within the 10-day period, petitioners reasonably filed their petition for certiorari before the CA within the 60-day reglementary period under Rule 65. Further, a petition for certiorari does not normally include an inquiry into the correctness of its evaluation of the evidence. Errors of judgment, as distinguished from errors of jurisdiction, are not within the province of a special civil action for certiorari, which is merely confined to issues of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. It is, thus, incumbent upon petitioners to satisfactorily establish that the NLRC acted capriciously and whimsically in order that the extraordinary writ of certiorari will lie. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or despotically. The CA, therefore, could grant the petition for certiorari if it finds that the NLRC, in its assailed decision or resolution, committed grave abuse of discretion by capriciously, whimsically, or arbitrarily disregarding evidence that is material to or decisive of the controversy; and it cannot make this determination without looking into the evidence of the parties. Necessarily, the appellate court can only evaluate the materiality or significance of the evidence, which is alleged to have

been capriciously, whimsically, or arbitrarily disregarded by the NLRC, in relation to all other evidence on record. Notably, if the CA grants the petition and nullifies the decision or resolution of the NLRC on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction, the decision or resolution of the NLRC is, in contemplation of law, null and void ab initio; hence, the decision or resolution never became final and executory.[23] Indubitably, the issuance of an entry of judgment by the NLRC cannot render Dela Rosas petition for certiorari as moot and academic. Thus, the CA erred for ruling otherwise. On the merits of the case. Dela Rosa seeks a reversal of the findings of fact of the LA and the NLRC. He insists that he was terminated without just cause and due process. It is evident that the issue raised in this petition is the correctness of the factual findings of the LA and the NLRC. The rule is that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. In a petition for review on certiorari, the scope of the Supreme Courts judicial review is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact. [24] This doctrine applies with greater force in labor cases inasmuch as factual questions are mainly for the labor tribunals to resolve. [25] While this Court has recognized exceptions to this rule,[26] none of these exceptions finds application here. Dela Rosa was dismissed for his alleged poor performance. To support the claim of valid dismissal, respondents presented the following entries[27] in the ships logbook, viz.: WARNING LETTER WAS PRESENTED TO THIRD ENGINEER R. DELA ROSA CONCERNING HIS PERFORMANCE AS THIRD ENGINEER ON BOARD MT GOLDMAR. HOWEVER, HE REFUSED TO AFFIX HIS SIGNATURE OR ACKNOWLEDGE SAID WARNING LETTER, IN SHORT, HE HAS NO INTENTION OR WHATSOEVER TO IMPROVE.[28] @0800HRS 09 APRIL 03 THIRD ENGR R. DELA ROSA CEASES TO WORK WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE AND INSTRUCTION, AS WELL AS A VALID REASON NOT TO BE IN THE ENGINE ROOM TO CARRY OUT HIS ROUTINE DUTY/RESPONSIBILITIES.[29] Dela Rosa claims that the entries were fabricated. However, he did not bother to present proof to substantiate his assertion. In Talidano v. Falcon Maritime & Allied Services, Inc.[30] and Abacast Shipping & Management Agency, Inc. v. NLRC,[31] we held that a ships logbook is a respectable record that can be relied upon to authenticate the charges filed and the procedure taken against employees prior to their dismissal. Therefore, the LA and the NLRC cannot be faulted for giving weight to the logbook entries. It is trite to say that the factual findings of quasi-judicial bodies are generally binding as long as they are supported substantially by evidence in the record of the case. This is especially so where, as here, the agency and its subordinate who heard the case in the first instance are in full agreement as to the facts. [32] Dela Rosa failed to convince us that the factual findings of the LA and the NLRC are not supported by evidence on record or the impugned judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. In Bolinao Security and Investigation Service, Inc. v. Toston,[33] we held: It is axiomatic that factual findings of the NLRC affirming those of the Labor Arbiter, who are deemed to have acquired expertise in matters within their jurisdiction, when sufficiently supported by evidence on record, are accorded respect if not finality, and are considered binding on this Court. As long as their Decisions are devoid of any unfairness or arbitrariness in the process of their deduction from the evidence proffered by the parties before them, all that is left is the Courts stamp of finality by affirming the factual findings made by the NLRC and the Labor Arbiter. Indubitably, Dela Rosa was dismissed from employment for a just cause. Accordingly, he is not entitled to any salary for the unexpired portion of his employment contract. However, we note that Dela Rosa was not accorded due process. Under Article 277(b)[34] of the Labor Code, the employer must send the employee, who is about to be terminated, a written notice stating the causes for termination, and must give the employee the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. For officers and crew who are working in foreign vessels involved in overseas shipping, there must be compliance with the applicable laws on overseas employment, as well as with the regulations issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, such as those embodied in the Standard Contract for Seafarers Employed Abroad (Standard Contract). [35] Section 17 of the Standard Contract supplies the disciplinary procedure against an erring seafarer: SEC. 17. DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES. The Master shall comply with the following disciplinary procedures against an erring seafarer: A. The master shall furnish the seafarer with a written notice containing the following: 1. Grounds for the charges as listed in Section 31 of this Contract or analogous act constituting the same.

2. Date, time and place for a formal investigation of the charges against the seafarer concerned. B. The Master or his authorized representative shall conduct the investigation or hearing, giving the seafarer the opportunity to explain or defend himself against the charges. These procedures must be duly documented and entered into the ship's logbook. C. If after the investigation or hearing, the Master is convinced that imposition of a penalty is justified, the Master shall issue a written notice of penalty and the reasons for it to the seafarer, which copies furnished to the Philippine agent. D. Dismissal for just cause may be affected by the Master without furnishing the seafarer with a notice of dismissal if there is a clear and existing danger to the safety of the crew or the vessel. The Master shall send a complete report to the manning agency substantiated by witnesses, testimonies and any other documents in support thereof. In this case, there was no showing that respondents complied with the foregoing procedure. The only notice allegedly given to Dela Rosa was a letter warning[36] dated March 16, 2003. Such letter, however, did not cite the particular acts constituting Dela Rosas alleged poor performance. Likewise, there was no formal investigation of the charges. Certainly, respondents failed to observe the necessary procedural safeguards. In Agabon v. NLRC,[37] we ruled that if the dismissal is for a just cause, the lack of statutory due process should not nullify the dismissal, or render it illegal or ineffectual. The violation of petitioner's right to due process only warrants the payment of indemnity in the form of nominal damages, the amount of which is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court, taking into consideration the relevant circumstances. Accordingly, we deem the amount of P30,000.00 as nominal damages sufficient vindication of Dela Rosas right to due process under the circumstances of this case. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Romulo B. dela Rosa is declared validly dismissed. However, respondent Michaelmar Shipping Services, Inc. and substitute respondent OSG Shipmanagement Manila, Inc. are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, petitioner Romulo dela Rosa P30,000.00, as nominal damages, for noncompliance with statutory due process. SO ORDERED.