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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 126933. February 23, 2001]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ILUMINADA DELMO VALLE y
SOLETA, accused-appellant.
DECISION
PARDO, J.:
The case is an appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch
65 convicting accused Iluminada Delmo Valle y Soleta of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale and
sentencing her to life imprisonment, to pay a fine of P100,000.00 and to indemnify complainants,
except Bemardo Gatus, the sum of P6,000.00 each.
By two (2) separate informations filed on April 23, 1996, with the Regional Trial Court,
Makati City a State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice charged accused with illegal
recruitment committed in large scale, as follows:
Criminal Case No. 96-924
"The undersigned State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice hereby accuses ILUMINADA
DELMO VALLE @ ADA of the crime of Illegal Recruitment committed in Large Scale, defined
and penalized under Article 38(a) in relation to Articles 13(b), 34 and 39 of Presidential Decree
No.442 otherwise known as the New Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended by Presidential
Decree Nos. 1690, 1920 and 2018, committed as follows:
"That between the period from August 1995 to March 1996 and sometime and prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, above-named accused, representing herself to have the capacity to contract,
enlist and transport workers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement to DINA B. PADIERNOS,
DARIO V. TAYAG, MA. ELENA O. LABITAG, MARICEL MIRANDA, TETCHIE B.
ALCANTARA, GLENN J. DONOR, NOEL S. SULA, JIM BAUTISTA, PRECI G. JUMUAD,
AGANA S. CARLOS, FLORIAN R. BUTIU, RUSTICO RAZON, EDGAR C. LOPEZ,
CATHERINE R. ROQUE, ANTONIO V. FAUSTINO, DARYL S. MANALANG, VERONICA
ELA YDA RAMlREZ, JONATHAN S. RIVERA, RONALD LACANILAO, MA. ROWENA
SIOSON, DIVINA C. BERNARTE, NARIA A. VERACRUZ, MYRA SHEILA MANUEL,
EMERETO DIONISIO, NELSON MORALES, LEIZEL R. DABU, ERIC HILARIO, ALLEN
C. DE LEON, FELICIANO MANANSALA, JR., ELOSIA REGALA, JUSTINA P. SANTOS,

MICHAEL O. ALOM, ROMMEL GA TIP, AGUSTINA SANTIAGO, MARISSA CANLAS,


MEINARDO PINLAC, AMIEL SONGCO, JONATHAN M. GANCUANCO, CECILIA LIM
LAGMAN, RHODORA M. CASTRO, MARILOU R. LLANTADA, RAMUND S. DAVID,
ROWENA O. SIMON, RITA V. MERCADO, RUSSEL GARCIA, RODRIGO SAMSON, JR.,
RANDY M. MARCELO, ARSENIO SUMANQUI, JR., JOAN E. MARQUEZ, EVELYN G.
BALUYUT, ELMARIE A. SORIANO, ENER T. PAMINTUAN, CLARIBEL CASTILLO,
EDMUND S. DAVID, MA. VICTORIA TOLENTINO, DONALD B. DIONISIO, ROLANDO
DE JESUS, ANNIE M. MALLARI, ANGELINA SANGALANG, CRISTINA DEL ROSARIO,
RICHARD F. CRUZ, ROMMEL J. ROMMEL, ALFREDO DELA CRUZ, JR., ORLANDO
VILLANUEVA, MARITES G. FEDERIS, REDEN E. RAZON, JULIETA Q. PASION,
MELISSA P. TONGCOL, JUNE M. PINEDA, MARY JANE OLALIA, LIZALYN
MASAMBAL, MARISSA MATIAS, LOUDESNIS LEABRES, DUREZA DAYRIT and ANNIE
MELENDRES as contract workers in London, England for and in consideration of the sum
ranging from P4,000.00 to P6,000.00 each as placement and processing fees, and for which the
complainants delivered and paid to herein accused the said amount, without first obtaining the
required license and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
"CONTRARY TO LAW.
Manila for Makati City , Metro Manila, April 11,1996.
ZENAIDA M. LIM
State Prosecutor[2]
Criminal Case No.96-925
"The undersigned State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice hereby accuses ILUMINADA
DELMO VALLE y SOLETA, a.k.a " ADA " of the crime of illegal recruitment committed in
large scale resulting in economic sabotage as defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of
the Philippines, as amended, in relation to Articles 38(a) and (b), and 34, penalized under Article
39(b) thereof, committed as follows:
"That sometime between the period from July 1995 to January 1996, in Makati City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, representing to
have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport workers for employment abroad, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the herein complainants, Pinky B. Cortez,
Roderick Q. Garcia, Jose C. Loren, Jr., Rowena L. Isip, Joselito O. Garcia, Joseph M. Isip, Allan
Javier dela Fuente, Evelyn B. Viray, Frederick Lawrence A. Trajano, Franklin M. Arreglo,
Bemardo S. Gatus, Nemencita C. Lopez and Marissa N. Galang, individually or as a group for

employment in London without first obtaining the required license and/or authority from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."
Manila for Makati City, April 10, 1996.
AIDA E. MACAPAGAL
State Prosecutor[3]
The prosecution recommended no bail for the temporary release of the accused.
Upon arraignment on May 2, 1996, accused entered a plea of not guilty in both cases. [4] A
joint trial on the merits ensued.
From August 1995 to March 1996, accused recruited 89 persons for employment in London
as salesladies, waitresses, service crew, cooks or helpers in fastfood chains or department stores
with a salary of one thousand pounds (1,000) a month. Accused received a fee ranging
from P4,000.00 to P6,000.00, to meet the expenses in processing documents that were to qualify
the applicants, like forged birth certificates, diplomas or transcript of records. She charged a
placement fee of P120,000.00 to be paid through salary deductions for a period of six months.
The applicants were video-taped as part of the screening process. They were made to believe that
whatever amounts they paid were to be returned to them if they were rejected. Accused also
encouraged the applicants to invite their friends to likewise apply for employment abroad
considering that 144 workers were needed and that they would not be able to leave unless the
number was completed.[5]
After several postponements of their departure, the complainants became suspicious. They
went to the Philippine Oversees Employment Administration ("POEA ") to check the authority of
the accused to operate. Complainants secured certifications[6] from the POEA stating that the
accused was not authorized or licensed to recruit workers for employment abroad.[7]
On February 29, 1996, complainants lodged their complaints [8] with the National Bureau of
Investigation. As a result accused was entrapped and arrested.[9]
On March 7, 1996, Ferdinand A. Garcia, Melanio L. Gatchalian and Nida P. Villanueva,
Supervising Agent and Special Investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation executed a
joint affidavit[10], for the purpose of filing a case of estafa and large scale illegal recruitment
against accused in the proper court.

On the other hand, accused denied that she engaged in illegal recruitment and placement
activities. According to her, she had an agreement with Claire Recruitment and General Services
("CRGS") to process the documents of prospective applicants, give I.Q. tests and have them
video-taped and screened at her residence. The complainants were aware of the fact that the
recruiter was CRGS, and not the accused. She also alleged that one of the complainants, Pinky
Bustos Cortez complained to the NBI because she refused to lend her money. The accused
claimed that Pinky Cortez collected money from the applicants. Accused also pointed to other
complainants namely, Bernardo Gatus, Joseph Isip and Boyet Razon as the persons who brought
the applicants to her house in Makati.[11]
Assessing the evidence, on August 15, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision finding
accused guilty of the charges. The court gave full credit to the case of the prosecution and found
unmeritorious the defense of the accused. The decretal portion reads:
"All the above cannot but prove that accused, beyond reasonable doubt, is guilty of the offense
charged.
"The foregoing considered, accused is sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00.
"She is also ordered to indemnify private complainants except Bemardo Gatus the sum of
P6,000.00 each.
"Costs against the accused.
"SO ORDERED.
"Makati City, August 15, 1996.
SALVADOR S. ABAD SANTOS
Judge"[12]
On August 26, 1996, accused filed a notice of appeal.[13]
In her Appellant's Brief,[14] accused Iluminada Delmo Valle questioned the sufficiency of the
prosecution's evidence. She contended that the prosecution failed to prove her guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. Hence, she was entitled to an acquittal.
We find the appeal devoid of merit.
Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as follows:

"xxx [ A ]ny act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or


procuring workers [ which] includes referrals, contact services, promis[ es ] 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."
Large-scale illegal recruitment has the following Essential elements:
"(1) The accused undertook [a] recruitment activity defined under Article 13(b) or any
prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code.
(2) She did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment
and placement of workers.
(3) She committed the same against three or more persons, individually or as a
group."[15]
All the foregoing elements were present in the case at bar.
Illuminada Delmo Valle made representations to each of the complainants that she could
send them to London for employment as salesladies, waitresses, service crew, cooks or helpers in
fastfood chains or department stores. This constitutes a promise of employment which amounts
to recruitment as defined in Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code. All the complaints positively
identified her as the person who promised them employment abroad for a fee.[16]
Accused's self -serving statement that she was just an employee of Claire Recruitment
General Services which is a licensed recruitment agency are belied by the testimonies of the
complaining-witnesses. She failed to establish an employment relationship with Claire
Recruitment General Services. She did not present the owner and operator of CRGS as a witness
to prove their relationship. In fact, accused did not explain why recruitment activities were done
in her residence at Guadalupe, Makati City , when she claimed that CRGS is located in Delpan
Street, Makati City .
In fine, there is no doubt as to accused-appellant's guilt. All the essential elements of the
crime of illegal recruitment in large scale have been established beyond reasonable doubt.
Accused-appellant recruited at least five persons, giving them the impression that she had the
capability of sending them to London to be employed as salesladies, waitresses, service crew,
cooks or helpers in fastfood chains or department stores. She collected various amounts for
recruitment and placement fees without license or authority to do so. Large scale illegal
recruitment is punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 under Article 39 (a) of
the Labor Code.[17] Hence, the trial court imposed the proper penalty .

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.


With costs against accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

[1]

In Criminal Case Nos. 96-924-925, Decision, dated August 15, 1996, Judge Salvador S. Abad Santos,
presiding, Rollo, pp. 29-32.
[2]
[3]

RTC Record, pp. 28-30.


RTC Record, pp. 1-3.

[4]

Certificate of Arraignment, RTC Record, p. 93.

[5]

TSN, May 14, 1996, pp. 7-9; TSN, May 20, 1996, pp. 4-23.

[6]

Dated March 1, 1996 and May 23, 1996 issued by POEA, RTC Records, p. 29 and p. 163.

[7]

TSN, May 23, 1996, pp. 4-5.

[8]

Complaint sheet and sinumpaang salaysay of the complainants, RTC Records, pp. 13-28, 9-27, 34-79.

[9]

TSN, May 29, 1996, pp. 8-10.

[10]

RTC Record, p. 30.

[11]

TSN, June 21, 1996, pp. 4-21.

[12]

RTC Decision, Rollo, pp. 29-32, at p. 32.

[13]

Rollo, p. 231.

[14]

Rollo, pp. 68-95.

[15]

People vs. Banzales, G.R. No. 132289, July 18, 2000.

[16]

TSNs, May 14, 1996, p. 6, May 20, 1996, p. 34, May 23, 1996, p. 9.

[17]

People vs. Hernandez, 304 SCRA 186 (1999).

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. Nos. 135030-33. July 20, 2001]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


CALDERON, accused-appellant.

vs. MERCY

LOGAN

DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us on appeal is the Joint Decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 103, in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-96-66231 to Q-96-66234 convicting the appellant of the
crimes of estafa and illegal recruitment in large scale.
The appellant, Mercy Logan y Calderon, was charged with three (3) counts of the crime of
estafa, as defined and penalized under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, in three (3)
separate informations which, save for the names of the private complainants and amounts
involved,[2] are substantially worded, thus:
Criminal Case No. Q-96-66231:
That on or about and during the period comprised from January to August 1994 in Quezon City,
Philippines, the said accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
Rodrigo Acorda y Javier in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false
manifestation and fraudulent representations which she made to said Rodrigo Acorda y Javier to
the effect that she had the power and capacity to recruit and employ factory and construction
worker for Japan and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent papers if given the necessary
amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of other similar deceits, induced and
succeeded in inducing said Rodrigo Acorda y Javier and to give and deliver, as in fact gave and
delivered to said accused the amount of P65,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and
representations, said accused well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were
made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount of P65,000.00 which amount once in
possession, with intent to defraud wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated,
misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of
said Rodrigo Acorda y Javier in the aforesaid amount of P65,000.00
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On the other hand, the information charging the appellant Mercy Logan y Calderon with the
crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, under Article 38(b) in relation to Article 39(a) of the
Labor Code of the Philippines, reads:
That in or about and during the period comprised from the year 1993 to August 1994, in Quezon
City, Philippines, the above-named accused, without any authority of law, did then and there,

wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, for a fee, enlist, recruit and promise employment/job
placement abroad to the following persons, to wit:
NAME AMOUNT
1. Rodrigo Acorda ------- P65,000.00
2. Orlando Velasco ------- P145,000.00
3. Florante Casia ---------- P100,000.00
Without first securing the required license or authority from the Department of Labor and
Employment.
That the crime described above is committed in large scale as the same was perpetrated against
three (3) or more persons individually or as a group as penalized under Art(s). 38 and 39, as
amended by P.D. 2018, of the Labor Code (P.D. 442).
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon being arraigned on October 1, 1996, the appellant, assisted by counsel of her choice,
entered separate pleas of Not guilty to each of the Informations in the instant criminal
cases. Thereafter, joint trial on the merits ensued.
It appears from the evidence adduced by the prosecution that private respondent Rodrigo
Acorda went to the office of the appellant, Mercy Logan, at 180-D Monterey Street, 15 th Avenue,
Cubao, Quezon City sometime in January 1994. Rodrigo was informed by the appellant who
purported to do business under the name and style Logan Promotion of Arts and Talents, [3] that
she could recruit or secure for him employment in Japan. After having communicated his desire
to apply for work in Japan, Rodrigo was required by the appellant to pay a placement fee in the
amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00). Rodrigo initially paid Ten
Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00)[4] to the appellant on January 31, 1994 and he was required to fill
up an application form.[5]
While his travel documents were allegedly being processed, Rodrigo was asked by the
appellant to pay the additional amount of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) which the former
did on February 7, 1994.[6] On April 27, 1994, Rodrigo paid her the amount of Thirty Five
Thousand Pesos (P35,000.00)[7] this time allegedly for the processing of his working visa.[8]
Rodrigo visited the appellant at her office on several occasions to inquire about his
employment application but he was told by the appellant to return each time inasmuch as his
travel documents were allegedly not yet processed. After losing his patience, Rodrigo requested

the appellant to return his money. The appellant then issued two (2) Bank of the Philippine
Islands (BPI) checks, with Serial Nos. 276712 and 276713[9], in the total amount of Sixty Five
Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) payable to Rodrigo Acorda. Rodrigo attempted to deposit the two
(2) BPI checks with the said drawee bank but he wasinformed that the account of the appellant
with the bank was already closed. [10] The appellant failed to make good her subsequent promise
to pay back the amount to him. Rodrigo discovered later that the appellant was not duly licensed
to recruit applicants for overseas employment.[11]
Private complainant Florante Casia met the appellant at her office through a friend who was
also a job applicant. The appellant required him to pay her the amount of One Hundred Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00) in consideration of an alleged employment as construction
worker in Japan. After some haggling, they settled for the amount of One Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P100,000.00) which Florante paid to the appellant in two (2) installments.
[12]
Thereafter, the appellant required Florante to fill up an application form and to submit his biodata.[13]
After several futile visits to the office of the appellant, Florante likewise grew tired of her
assurances for an employment in Japan. He filed a complaint with the police in Camp Crame,
Quezon City when appellant failed to return his money despite her promises and after having
learned at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that the appellant was not
licensed to recruit applicants for overseas employment.[14]
Private complainant Orlando Velasco applied for work at the office of the appellant in
December 1993 after he was informed that the appellant could secure jobs and send job
applicants to Japan for a fee of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00). He paid,
without asking for a receipt, Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to the appellant as initial payment
for the processing of his passport and other travel documents. [15] On February 8, 1994 he and his
mother paid the balance in the amount of One Hundred Forty Five Thousand Pesos
(P145,000.00)[16].
Like the other private complainants in the instant criminal cases, Orlando relied on
appellants promises of employment in Japan. After failing to receive his working visa, Orlando
attempted to contact the appellant by telephone who, by then, had already disappeared. He
realized his misfortune after learning at the POEA that the appellant was not a licensed job
recruiter, thus prompting him to seek assistance from the police.[17]
Appellant Mercy Logan denied that she swindled the private complainants of their money
nor promised them any overseas employment. Appellant disclosed that she maintained a dance
studio at 180-D Monterey Street, 15 th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City that was available only to
females, and that a certain Gloria de Leon used to refer women to the appellant who wished to
practice dancing in her studio.Appellant claimed that the private complainants merely vented

their anger on her after Gloria de Leon whose services were earlier engaged by them, absconded
without fulfilling her undertaking to provide them overseas employment for a fee.[18]
Although she admitted having signed the two (2) BPI checks for the amounts of Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00), respectively, payable to
Rodrigo Acorda, the appellant denied having actually received the said amounts inasmuch as,
according to her, she merely accommodated Gloria de Leon who promised her that she (de Leon)
would redeem the said checks.Anent the amount of One Hundred Forty Five Thousand Pesos
(P145,000.00) paid by Orlando Velasco, she declared that the same was also actually received by
Gloria de Leon in her office. Appellant denied having signed the receipts for the amounts of
Seventy Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00) and Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00),
respectively, evidencing payment by Florante Casia. However, on cross-examination, she
admitted that the same were prepared with her approval.[19]
Lastly, the appellant declared that she had delivered her sala set to Orlando Velasco who
agreed to withdraw his complaint against her in consideration thereof.[20]
After analyzing the evidence, the trial court rendered a decision on February 10, 1998, the
dispositive portion of which, reads:
ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered finding MERCY LOGAN guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal in all the four (4) cases at bench (3 for Estafa and 1 for Large- scale
Illegal Recruitment), and she is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment term of:
1. In Q-96-66231 (for Estafa involving P60,000.00), six (6) years of prision
correccional as minimum to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum;
2. In Q-96-66232 (for Estafa involving P100,000.00), six (6) years of prision
correccional as maximum (sic) to fourteen (14) years of reclusion temporal as
maximum;
3. In Q-96-66233 (for Estafa involving P150,000.00), six (6) years of prision
correccional as minimum to nineteen (19) years of reclusion temporal as maximum;
4. In Q-96-66233 (sic) (for Large-scale Illegal Recruitment), life imprisonment and the
accused is also ordered to pay a fine of P100,000.00.
On the civil aspect, the accused Mercy Logan is ordered to pay the private complainants by way
of restitution, the following sums:
1. To Rodrigo Acorda P60,000.00[21]

2. To Florante Casia P100,000.00


3. To Orlando Velasco P115,000.00
No moral damages is awarded. The complainants checked with POEA only after the accused was
not able to sent (sic) them to Japan.
This Court believes that legislation is needed so as not to make as estafa or illegal recruitment
complaints of persons who do not first verify with POEA whether an alleged recruiter is duly
licensed; or, at the very least, such prior verification should be made an element of these penal
laws.
These activities proliferate because people provide a market for them ignoring all government
efforts and expenses just to warn people not to deal with persons who are not duly licensed by
POEA; and then, when they do not land any job abroad, they go to the government to help solve
matters, in the process overloading the already overloaded court system. Some kind of penalty or
disincentive should be imposed on people who ignore governments efforts to deter unauthorized
recruitment for foreign placement from proliferating. After all, POEA operations are now
computerized and it is so easy for plain citizens to reach it. Congress, the Court hazarding its
humble opinion without meaning to be presumptuous, can gradually build the confidence of its
citizens towards government by gently enacting statutes that would encourage citizens not to
ignore our laws and placing some negative results when citizens do not, or they fail to give
government due attention.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished POEA.
SO ORDERED.
In her appeal,[22] appellant Mercy Logan essentially claims that she did not represent herself
as a job recruiter to the private complainants. According to her, the private complainants were
the ones who went to her office in Cubao, Quezon City and pleaded with her to help them find
jobs abroad. While she admitted having received money from the private complainants, the
appellant turned the same over to Gloria de Leon who actually recruited them for overseas
employment; and that Gloria de Leon reneged on her promise to the private complainants.
Hence, they implicated her in these cases inasmuch as their transactions with Gloria de Leon
took place in her office.
The appeal is not impressed with merit.
The essential elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale which is punishable
with life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) under Article
39(a) of the Labor Code, as amended, are as follows: 1) the accused engages in the recruitment

and placement of workers, as defined under Article 13(b) [23] or in any prohibited activities under
Article 34 of the Labor Code; 2) the accused has not complied with the guidelines issued by the
Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly with respect to the securing of a license or an
authority to recruit and deploy workers, whether locally or overseas; and 3) the accused commits
the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group.[24]
It has been established that the three (3) private complainants met with the appellant on
separate occasions in her office at 180-D Monterey Street, 15 th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City to
apply for overseas employment. On the said occasions, she promised them employment either as
construction workers or piggery helpers in Japan for a fee. Despite subsequent payment of her
required fees, she failed to secure for the three (3) private complainants any overseas
employment. Clearly, the appellant was engaged in large scale recruitment and placement
activities which were illegal for the reason that she had no license nor authority from the
Secretary of Labor and Employment.
The appellant cannot escape liability for her criminal acts by conveniently passing the blame
on a certain Gloria de Leon who has allegedly escaped to Taiwan after reneging on her
commitment to secure overseas employment for the private complainants. Like the trial court, we
entertain serious doubts on this version of the appellant which is self-serving and lacks
corroborative evidence to support it.
On the other hand, the testimonies of the private complainants that they transacted directly
with the appellant who promised them overseas jobs after receiving money from them were
found by the trial court to be honest and straightforward and thus worthy of full faith and
credence, as compared to the evasive and ambiguous answers of the appellant to the questions
propounded to her during the trial.[25] We accord great respect to the said finding of the trial court
considering that it is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses
themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.[26]
Besides, we find it hard to believe that the three (3) private complainants would be so
morally depraved as to maliciously impute grave charges against the appellant if she were not the
actual perpetrator thereof. The records of these cases do not show that they had any ill motive to
testify falsely against the appellant. They were not known to one another and did not have any
previous transaction with the appellant before they met her at her office to apply for overseas
employment. It is generally observed that it is against human nature and common experience for
strangers to conspire and accuse another stranger of a most serious crime just to mollify their
hurt feelings.[27]
The signatures[28] of the appellant appearing on the written receipts presented by the
prosecution during the trial of the instant criminal cases acknowledging receipt of the
corresponding amounts stated thereon undeniably support the testimonies of the private

complainants that they transacted directly with the appellant. Significantly, the signature of
Gloria de Leon does not appear on any of those written receipts. The appellant even issued two
(2) BPI checks in the total amount of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) payable to
Rodrigo Acorda. She also delivered to Orlando Velasco a sala set, as partial re-payment in kind,
which Orlando admitted had an equivalent value of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00). These
acts of the appellant certainly militate against her claim that she did not actually receive and
benefit from the amounts that she collected from the said private complainants.
The appellant cannot pretend having merely accommodated Gloria de Leon for the amount
of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) which is the total amount of her two (2) BPI checks
payable to Rodrigo Acorda inasmuch as her checking account in the BPI has already been closed
when private complainant Rodrigo Acorda attempted to encash the checks in the said drawee
bank. What appears clear then is that the appellant never really intended to settle her account
with the said private complainant. Her issuance of the two (2) BPI checks was merely a ploy
intended to dissuade the said private complainant from filing a case against her.
Consequently, in the light of these established facts, the appellant is guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crimes of three (3) counts of estafa and one count of illegal recruitment
in large scale. Under Article 39(a) of the Labor Code, the appellant should suffer, in the case of
illegal recruitment in large scale, the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00). In addition, she is liable to indemnify the private complainants
in the amounts which they respectively paid to her.
It is well-settled that a person who has committed illegal recruitment may be charged and
convicted separately of the crime of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under
paragraph 2(a) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. [29] The reason for the rule is that the
crime of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal intent of the accused is not
necessary for conviction, while the crime of estafa is malum in se where the criminal intent of the
accused is necessary for conviction. In other words, a person convicted under the Labor Code
may also be convicted of offenses punishable by other laws.[30]
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides that:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa).- Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
1st. 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; but the total penalty which
may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the

accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor orreclusion temporal, as the case may be.
2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount of
the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum
period, if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos; and
4th. By arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods, if such amount does not exceed 200
pesos, provided that in the four cases mentioned, the fraud be committed by any of the following
means:
xxx xxx xxx
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.
xxx xxx xxx
The elements of the above mode of committing estafa are: a) that there must be a false
pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; b) that such false pretense, fraudulent act or
fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of
the fraud; c) that the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or
fraudulent means, i.e., he was induced to part with his money or property because of the false
pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; and, d) that as a result thereof, the offended party
suffered damage.[31] The acts of the appellant of deliberately misrepresenting herself to the
private complainants as having the necessary authority or license to recruit applicants for
overseas employment so that she could as she did collect money from them allegedly for
processing fees and travel documents only to renege on her promise to get them overseas
employment and for failure to return the money she collected from the private complainants,
despite several demands, clearly amount to estafa punishable under Article 315, paragraph 2(a),
of the Revised Penal Code.
However, there is a need to modify the indeterminate penalty imposed by the trial court on
the appellant in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-96-66231 to Q-96-66233, for three (3) counts of estafa,
in accordance with our ruling in the case of People v. Gabres.[32] Our ruling in said case is to the
effect that in the determination of the indeterminate penalty for the crime of estafa, the fact that
the amount involved exceeds Twenty Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00) should not be initially

considered; instead the matter should be taken as analogous to a modifying circumstance in the
imposition of the maximum term of the full indeterminate sentence. That interpretation of the
law is in accord with the rule that penal laws should be construed in favor of the accused.
In Criminal Cases Nos. Q-96-66231 to Q-96-66233, since the penalty prescribed by law for
the charge of estafa involving more than Twenty Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00), is prision
correccionalmaximum to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next lower would be prision
correccional minimum to medium. In accordance with our ruling in People v. Gabres, the
minimum term of the indeterminate sentence would be anywhere within six (6) months and one
day to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional while the maximum term of the
indeterminate sentence would be at least six (6) years and one day of prision mayor plus an
additional one year for each additional Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), but the total penalty
shall not exceed twenty (20) years; and the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence shall
be prision mayor or reclusion temporal as the case may be.
Hence, in Criminal Case No. Q-96-66231, where the amount involved is Sixty Five
Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00), the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty should be reduced
to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional (which is the maximum of the
allowable minimum period of the indeterminate sentence) while the maximum term is at least six
(6) years and one day of prision mayorplus an additional one year for each additional Ten
Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), or a maximum term of ten (10) years and one day of prision
mayor.
In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66232, where the amount involved is One Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P100,000.00), the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty should be reduced to four
(4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional while the maximum term should be at least
six (6) years and one day of prision mayor plus an additional one year for each additional Ten
Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or a maximum term of fourteen (14) years and one day
of reclusion temporal.
In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66233, where the amount involved is One Hundred Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty should be
reduced to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional while the maximum term
should be at least six (6) years and one day of prision mayor plus an additional one year for each
additional Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or a maximum term of eighteen (18) years and one
day of reclusion temporal.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Joint Decision of the Regional trial court of Quezon City,
Branch 103 in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-96-66231 to Q-96-66234 is AFFIRMED with the
following modifications:

(1) In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66231 (for estafa involving Sixty Thousand Pesos
[P60,000.00]), the accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to ten
(10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
(2) In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66232 (for estafa involving One Hundred Thousand
Pesos [P100,000.00]), the accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate
penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
(3) In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66233 (for estafa involving One Hundred Forty-Five
Thousand Pesos [P145,000.00]), the accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to eighteen (18) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as
maximum.
(4) In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66234 (for large scale illegal recruitment), the accusedappellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, to pay a fine of One
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) and to pay the private complainants in the
following amounts: (a) Rodrigo Acorda, Sixty-Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00);
(b) Florante Casia, One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00); and (c) Orlando
Velasco, One Hundred Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P115,000.00).
Costs against accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, and Buena, JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., on official business.

[1]

Penned by Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr. Rollo, pp. 54-60.

[2]

In Crim. Case No. Q-96-66232: Complainant: Florante Casia y Catahom; Amount: P100,000.00. In Crim. Case
No. Q-96-66233: Complainant: Orlando Velasco y Baluyot; Amount: P145,000.00.
[3]

Exhibit G.

[4]

Exhibit A.

[5]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 4-6.

[6]

Exhibit B.

[7]

Exhibit C.

[8]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 7-9.

[9]

Exhibits D; E.

[10]

Exhibits D-2; E-2.

[11]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 9-12; 16-17.

[12]

Exhibits J; K.

[13]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 21-24.

[14]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 24-25.

[15]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 29-30.

[16]

Exhibit M.

[17]

TSN dated October 24, 1996, pp. 31-33.

[18]

TSN dated August 7, 1997, pp. 4-8.

[19]

TSN dated August 7, 1997, pp. 12-18.

[20]

TSN dated August 7, 1997, pp. 9-12.

[21]

Should be P65,000.00 per Exhibits A; B; C.

[22]

Appellants Brief, Rollo, pp. 39-53.


[23]

Article 13. Definitions -

xxx xxx xxx


(b) Recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, 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: 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.
xxx xxx xxx
[24]

People v. Maozca, 269 SCRA 513, 523 (1997); People v. Sadiosa, 290 SCRA 92, 101 (1998); People v. Ariola,
318 SCRA 206, 209-210 (1999); People v. Mercado, 304 SCRA 504, 515-516 (1999).
[25]

Decision, Rollo, pp. 54-60.

[26]

People v. Aquino, 284 SCRA 369, 376 (1998); Metro Transit Organization, Inc. v. NLRC, 284 SCRA 308, 314
(1998).
[27]

People v. Guevarra, 306 SCRA 111, 125 (1999).

[28]

Exhibits A-1; B-1; C-1; J-1; M-1.

[29]

People v. Yabut, 316 SCRA 237, 246-247 (1999); People v. Mercado, supra., p. 529.

[30]

People v. Sadiosa, supra, 103, citing People v. Bautista, 241 SCRA 216, 222 (1995).

[31]

People v. Juego, 298 SCRA 22, 33 (1998).

[32]

267 SRCA 581, 595-596 (1997).

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 130170. January 29, 2002]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROWENA ESLABON DIONISIO,


JOSEFINA MALLARI y PENAFLOR (Acquitted) and DIANE DOBLE y
MACATUMPAG (Acquitted), accused,
ROWENA ESLABON DIONISIO, accused-appellant.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Before us is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
94[1] in Criminal Case No. Q-91-26376, finding accused-appellant Rowena Eslabon Dionisio
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale and sentencing
her to suffer life imprisonment, pay a fine of P100,000.00 and reimburse to private complainants
the sums of money she collected.
The factual antecedents of the case, as appearing on the records, are as follows:
Sometime in August 1991, a certain Cora Molar enticed private complainant Juanita Castillo
to apply for overseas employment at the office of Jovial Trading and Employment Services,
located at the third floor of the Villa Building in Cubao, Quezon City. Lured by the prospect of
working abroad, Castillo went to the said office where she met accused-appellant Rowena
Dionisio and Josefina Mallari, a.k.a. Manay. Dionisio and Mallari assured Castillo that they had
the right connections and could send her to Saudi Arabia. They demanded from Castillo
P9,000.00 as service fee and to defray expenses for passport, medical examination and NBI
clearance.
When Castillo told them that she did not have the money at that time, Dionisio said that she
could make a partial payment of P5,000.00 and pay the balance later on. Dionisio sent Molar to
Castillos house to collect the downpayment on August 12, 1991. Castillo handed over P4,000.00
to Molar, following the telephone instruction of Dionisio, as evidenced by a receipt [2] signed by

Molar. According to Castillo, she went back to the Cubao office on August 17, 1991, where the
P4,000.00 was remitted to Dionisio by Molar. Dionisio and Mallari then promised to secure her a
visa so she could leave immediately for the oil-rich kingdom.
On September 3, 1991, Dionisio demanded another P1,000.00 from Castillo, which she
delivered on the same day as shown by a receipt [3] signed by Dionisio. Again, Dionisio assured
Castillo that she would facilitate the processing of all necessary documents and that a job
awaited Castillo abroad as governess and domestic helper.
After repeatedly following up her application with no result, it soon became apparent to
Castillo that she was hoodwinked. To confirm her suspicion, she went to the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA) office where she was informed that Dionisio, Mallari and
the firm known as Jovial Trading were neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for
overseas employment.[4] Castillo secured a certification[5] to this effect from the POEA and
forthwith, went to Camp Karingal where she executed a sworn statement [6] against Dionisio and
company.
At about the same time, private complainant Juan Carandang, together with Juanito Castillo,
Noel Villanueva and Lito Gorospe, were likewise recruited to work abroad by accused-appellant
and her cohorts. Carandang was introduced by a friend to Diana Doble, who accompanied him to
the office of Jovial Trading and introduced him to Dionisio and Mallari.
Dionisio asked for a processing fee of P3,000.00, which Carandang promptly gave on
August 3, 1991. Carandang was further persuaded to part with the additional amount of
P4,500.00 on two separate occasions, covered by two receipts[7] signed by Dionisio dated
September 23 and October 24, 1991.
Subsequently, Dionisio informed Carandang and his other companions that they were to
leave for the Middle East on October 31, 1991. A day before the scheduled departure date,
however, they were told that the same was postponed to November 6, 1991, on which date, they
were again told that their plane tickets have not yet been released. Soon enough, they all realized
that they were fooled by Dionisio, when they found out from the POEA that Dionisio, et al. were
not licensed recruiters.[8] Carandang likewise secured a certification[9] from the POEA and
executed a sworn statement against Dionisios group.
On the other hand, private complainant Alberto Meeks was also purportedly duped by
Dionisio and company. As testified by Albertos wife, Angelita, the Meeks spouses went to the
office of Jovial Trading on September 9, 1991 and gave Dionisio P7,000.00 as placement fee for
Albertos application for a job in South Korea. Dionisio issued and signed a receipt [10] for the said
amount in the presence of Mallari and Doble. However, Alberto was not able to go to South
Korea, as promised, and later found employment in Saudi Arabia through the efforts of another
recruitment agency.[11]
Thus, on November 11, 1991, Dionisio, Mallari, Doble and one Jane Doe alias Cora Molar,
whose real identity was not established, were charged before Branch 94 of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City for large scale illegal recruitment. The information against them reads:
That on or about the period comprised from August 1991 to October 1991, in Quezon City,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping one another, without any authority

of law, and for a fee, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit and promise
employment and/or job placement abroad to JUAN CARANDANG Y PRECILLA, JUANITO
GOROSPE Y SANTILLAN, JUANITA CASTILLO Y ALVAREZ, NOEL VILLANUEVA Y
HENSON, ALBERTO MEEKS Y ADAN, ANTONIO GANZON Y GARDE, ROBERTO
CRISTOBAL Y FABRES and REYNALDO CASTILLO Y PELAEZ, without first obtaining the
required license and/or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.
That the crime described above is committed in large scale as the same was perpetrated against
three (3) or more persons individually or as group as penalized under Article 38 and 39 as
amended by P.D. 2018 of the Labor Code (P.D. 442).
Contrary to Law.[12]
Upon arraignment on January 6, 1992, Dionisio, Mallari and Doble pleaded not guilty to the
information.[13] Cora Molar had absconded and remained at large. Trial on the merits then ensued.
On October 2, 1995, the trial court rendered judgment, decreeing as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused Rowena Eslabon-Dionisio
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment committed on a large scale and sentences
her to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000.00), to indemnify the following private complainants: Juanita Castillo-P4,000.00;
Juan Carandang-P4,500.00 and Alberto Meeks-P7,000.00; and to pay the costs.
The other two accused, Josefina Mallari and Diana Doble, are acquitted on ground of reasonable
doubt.
SO ORDERED.[14]
The trial court rejected Dionisios defense that the real illegal recruiter was Cora Molar, who
rented a table in the office of Jovial Trading where Dionisio was the sole proprietor. It
disregarded Dionisios claim that she received the money from the private complainants in behalf
of Molar and that Dionisio was engaged only in the business of buying and selling slippers,
cosmetics and other goods. The trial court gave credence to private complainants testimonies that
they were recruited by Dionisio, who did not possess the authority or license to conduct
recruitment activities, as certified by the POEA and the testimony of prosecution witness
Benjamin Vasquez, a POEA employee.[15]
Accused-appellant Dionisio is now before us on the following assignment of errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE
TESTIMONY OF THE COMPLAINANTS AND DISREGARDING THE THEORY OF
ACCUSED ROWENA ESLABON DIONISIO.
II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING DIONISIO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE


DOUBT OF THE CRIME CHARGED AND OF ORDERING HER TO PAY FINE AND
INDEMNIFICATION OF AMOUNTS TO COMPLAINANTS.[16]
Accused-appellant maintains that no conclusive proof was adduced by the prosecution to
show that she engaged in recruitment activities. She did not openly or directly advertise herself
as a recruiter, nor did she personally ask the private complainants to apply in her office for
overseas jobs. The name of her firm, Jovial Trading, alone implies that she was a merchant
engaged in the buying and selling of goods and not a recruiter.
Accused-appellant admits that she received the various amounts of money from private
complainants, as evidenced by receipts signed by her. However, she claims that she received the
said money on behalf of Cora Molar and did not benefit from it in any way. She further claims
that she merely entertained Molars clients in her absence since Molar rented a table in her office.
Accused-appellants submissions fail to convince us.
We agree with the trial courts observation that private complainants did not harbor any ill
motive to testify falsely against accused-appellant. Indeed, it is against human nature and
experience for strangers to conspire and accuse another stranger of a most serious crime just to
mollify their hurt feelings.[17] As such, the testimony of private complainants that accusedappellant was the person who transacted with them, promised them jobs and received money
therefor, was correctly given credence and regarded as trustworthy. The absence of evidence as
to an improper motive actuating the principal witnesses of the prosecution strongly tends to
indicate that their testimony is worthy of full faith and credit.[18]
Juanita Castillo described how she was recruited by accused-appellant in this wise:
xxxxxxxxx
Q. When you arrived at their office, whom did you meet?
A. I met Rowena Eslabon Dionisio and Josefina Mallari.
Q. And were you able to talk with them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And what was the nature of the conversation?
A. Rowena Dionisio and Josefina Mallari convinced me that they have a right
connection and they are what you call it malakas and they can send us abroad, that
they can process our papers to send us abroad.
Q. When you said here that they were malakas and that they have connections with
other agencies, you were convinced by them?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What did you do when you were convinced?
A. They asked for a P9,000.00 service fee and they told me, Rowena Dionisio and
Josefina Mallari, to process my papers including my passport, my medical
examination and my NBI clearance.

Q. And what did you do when you were told by them to give that P9,000.00?
A. I told them that I dont have enough money that total of P9,000.00, but they told me,
Josefina Mallari and Rowena Dionisio, you can give partial payment of P5,000.00
only and later on the balance of P4,000.00.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. Were you able to give partial payment to the herein accused?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When was that?
A. I gave the partial payment of P4,000.00 on August 12, 1991.
Q. Where did you give that P4,000.00?
xxxxxxxxx
WITNESS
In our house.
Q. To whom did you give that amount?
A. To Cora Molar.
Q. And who is that Cora Molar?
A. The representative. I gave the money, the P4,000.00, to Cora Molar through the
instruction of Rowena Dionisio.
COURT
I want to ... Thru the instruction. Why? Were you instructed by Rowena?
WITNESS
Yes, sir, thru the telephone.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. After you gave this P4,000.00, what did you do next?
A. I went to their office at 3rd Floor, Villa Building, Cubao, Quezon City.
Q. When was that?
A. August 17 of 1991.
Q. And what did you do when you went there to their office?
A. Cora Molar gave this money to Dionisio, to Rowena Dionisio.
Q. And after Cora Molar gave that money to Rowena Dionisio, what happened next?
A. They promised that they will do their best to get our visa right away or the soonest
possible time so that we can be sent abroad.

Q. When you said, they, whom are you referring to?


A. Josefina Mallari and Rowena Dionisio.
x x x x x x x x x.[19]
Similarly, Juan Carandang testified as follows:
xxxxxxxxx
Q. What transpired when you were accompanied by Doble to their office at Villa
Building?
A. I was introduced to Rowena Eslabon and she promised me that I will be working in
Saudi Arabia.
Q. And after talking with Eslabon that you are applying for work abroad, what did you
do next?
A. When she said that, she asked money from me to process the papers at the POEA.
Q. And were you able to give that money?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How much did Eslabon ask from you?
A. P3,000.00.
Q. Was there a receipt for that purpose?
A. None, sir.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. And after you paid her the sum of P3,000.00, what did she do next?
A. She told me to come back on a certain day in order to know if I will really have a
visa.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. Did you return as ordered by Rowena?
A. Yes. I came back and she told me I will prepare money in the amount of P2,500.00
because the visa is already ready and the amount is for the ticket.
Q. And did you again give the sum of P2,500.00 as requested by Eslabon?
A. On that date, I cannot give but I told her I will come back.
Q. Did you return?
A. Yes. Last September 23, I came back and gave her the amount of P2,500.00.
Q. Where did you give that amount?
A. I gave it to Rowena and she issued me a receipt.

xxxxxxxxx
Q. After giving the amount, what transpired next?
A. Rowena told me to call her next week and she told me I will ask for the result of my
application.
Q. Did you call her as requested?
A. Yes. And she told me when I called her to bring again some money.
Q. And did you bring as requested by Eslabon the money?
A. Yes, I came back on October 24 and I brought the amount of P2,500.00.
Q. And did you give that amount?
A. Yes.
Q. Was there a receipt to that effect?
A. Yes.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. When you were informed by Eslabon that on Oct. 31, you will be going to Saudi
Arabia, did you come back to the office of Eslabon on October 31?
A. On Oct. 30, I went to the office.
Q. Did you talk with somebody in the office of the lady?
A. Yes.
Q. What was the conversation all about?
A. When I came back on October 30 to confirm whether we will proceed or not, she
told me that it was postponed.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. After you were informed by Miss Eslabon that your schedule for Saudi Arabia was
postponed, what did you do?
A. I asked her why it was postponed and why we do not have ticket.
Q. What was her reply?
A. She said the tickets were still under process and because of her convincing words, I
believed her and asked her when we will return.
xxxxxxxxx
Q. What transpired at the office?
A. She said we will be able to leave on Nov. 6.
xxxxxxxxx

Q. And on Nov. 6, were you able to leave?


A. No, sir because the tickets were not released yet.
x x x x x x x x x.[20]
The above testimonies were corroborated by Angelita Meeks, who declared that her husband
was promised employment by accused-appellant as a factory worker in South Korea. She was
also personally assured by accused-appellant that her husband, Alberto, would be able to leave.
[21]

Private complainants were categorical and unequivocal in their statement that it was
accused-appellant who separately recruited them during the same period of time for jobs abroad.
Accused-appellant cannot feign innocence by claiming that it was actually Molar who promised
them overseas jobs, in light of her positive identification as private complainants recruiter.Hence,
accused-appellants mere denials cannot prevail over these positive and straightforward
testimonies.[22] Besides, it is inconceivable that private complainants could be mistaken in their
belief that it was accused-appellant who recruited them considering that it was she who
personally talked with them on several occasions and received the sums of money for which she
issued receipts where it was stated that the amount given was for processing and POEA.
[23]
Moreover, it was held in a number of cases that even the absence of receipts is not fatal to the
case of the prosecution, for as long as it is clearly established through the witnesses respective
testimonies, that the accused is the one involved in prohibited recruitment.[24]
Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code, defines recruitment and placement as x x x any act of
canvassing, enlisting, 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 (Italics ours). Consequently, even in the absence of
money given as consideration for accused-appellants services, she would still be considered as
having engaged in recruitment activities, since it was sufficiently demonstrated that she promised
overseas employment to private complainants.
The elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale are the following: 1) the
accused undertook a recruitment activity defined under Article 13 (b) or any prohibited practice
under Article 34 of the Labor Code; 2) the accused did not have the license or the authority to
lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and 3) the accused committed the
same against three or more persons individually or as a group.[25]
All the aforementioned elements were proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable
doubt. It was established that accused-appellant promised employment to the eight (8)
complainants and that she was not authorized or licensed to engage in such activity as certified to
by the POEA.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
94, finding accused-appellant Rowena Eslabon-Dionisio GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale and imposing on her the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT, and sentencing her to pay a fine in the amount of P100,000.00 and to
REIMBURSE the amounts received from private complainants, is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur.

[1]

Presided by Judge Romeo F. Zamora.

[2]

RTC Records, p. 116.

[3]

Ibid.

[4]

TSN, February 24, 1992, pp. 4-14.

[5]

Supra, note 2 at 117.

[6]

Id., at 118.

[7]

Id., at 119 & 120.

[8]

TSN, April 29, 1992, pp. 2-5.

[9]

Supra, note 2 at 122.

[10]

Id., at 125.

[11]

TSN, October 6, 1992, pp. 2-3.

[12]

Supra, note 2 at 2.

[13]

Id., at 9.

[14]

Id., at 241.

[15]

TSN, August 3, 1992, p. 2.

[16]

Rollo, p. 42.

[17]

People v. Yabut, 316 SCRA 237, 249 (1999), citing People v. Guevarra, 306 SCRA 111 (1999).

[18]

People v. Calonzo, 262 SCRA 534, 540 (1996), citing People v. Villafuerte, 232 SCRA 225, 236 (1994).

[19]

Supra, note 4 at 2-10.

[20]

Supra, note 8.

[21]

Supra, note 11.

[22]

People v. Mercado, 304 SCRA 504, 527 (1999).

[23]

Supra, note 2.

[24]

See People v. Pabalan, 262 SCRA 574, 585 (1996), citing People v. Goce, 247 SCRA 780 (1995);
People v. Sendon, 228 SCRA 489 (1993); People v. Naparan, 225 SCRA 714 (1993).

People v. Castillon, 306 SCRA 271, 276 (1999), citing People v. Villas, 277 SCRA 391 (1997);
People v. Bautista, 241 SCRA 216 (1995); People v. Comia, 236 SCRA 185 (1994);
People v. Sendon, supra.
[25]

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 142981. August 20, 2002]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. CARMELITA ALVAREZ, appellant.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
In illegal recruitment, mere failure of the complainant to present written receipts for money
paid for acts constituting recruitment activities is not fatal to the prosecution, provided the
payment can be proved by clear and convincing testimonies of credible witnesses.
The Case
Before us is an appeal from the January 28, 2000 Decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 93, in Criminal Case No. Q-94-58179. The assailed Decision
disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises, the court finds the accused CARMELITA ALVAREZ
guilty of Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale constituting economic
sabotage. Accordingly, the court sentences her to serve [the] penalty of life imprisonment and to
pay a fine [of] P100,000.00. She is further ordered to indemnify the following complaining
witnesses in the amounts indicated opposite their names:
Arnel Damian P 16,500.00
Joel Serna P 18,575 plus US$50.00
Antonio Damian P 6,975.00 plus US$50.00

Roberto Alejandro P 47,320.00[2]


The July 18, 1994 Information[3] was filed by State Prosecutor Zenaida M. Lim. It charged
Carmelita Alvarez with illegal recruitment committed in large scale, under Article 13(b) in
relation to Articles 38(a), 34 and 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as follows:
That sometime between the period from November, 1993 to March, 1994, in Quezon City, Metro
Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the herein complainants,
namely: JESUS G. ESMA, JR., JOEL G. SERNA, ARNEL C. DAMIAN, ANTONIO C.
DAMIAN, RUBEN F. RIOLA, LORETA S. BOLOTAOLA, EDGAR R. BARCENAS, DENO
A. MANACAP, JERRY NEIL D. ABANILLA, ROBERTO ALEJANDRO, ESTER S. BONDOC
and JOSEPHINE LOMOCSO as contractworkers in Taiwan for and in consideration of the sum
ranging from P12,300.00 to P48,600.00, as placement and processing fees, and x x x which the
complainants delivered and paid to herein accused the said amount, without said accused first
having secured the necessary license or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration.[4]
On arraignment, appellant, assisted by Atty. Donato Mallabo, pleaded not guilty.[5] After trial
in due course, the RTC rendered the assailed Decision.
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The evidence for the prosecution is summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) as follows:
Arnel Damian is one of the complainants in the case at bar. He testified that he was introduced
to appellant by Reynaldo Abrigo, who was then the boyfriend of Teresita Gonzales (daughter of
appellant Carmelita Alvarez) at appellants house in 25-B West Santiago St., San Francisco del
Monte, Quezon City. During said meeting, appellant convinced complainant that if he could
produce [t]wenty-[f]ive [t]housand [p]esos (P25,000.00), he would be deployed to Taiwan as a
factory worker and would be receiving a salary of $600.00.
On December 27, 1993, complainant gave appellant [t]welve [t]housand [f]ive [h]undred [p]esos
(P12,500) for which he was issued a receipt (Exhibit A) with the words FOR PROCESSING
FEE written therein by appellant herself. Aside from the processing fee, complainant also gave
appellant [t]wo [t]housand [f]ive [h]undred [p]esos ([P]2,500.00) for medical expenses and one
thousand five hundred pesos (P1,500.00) for the passport, but was not issued a receipt for said
payments.

According to complainant, while waiting for the results of his medical examination, he received
a call informing him that appellant was arrested. Becoming suspicious, complainant then went to
the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) to verify whether appellant
had a license to recruit. As per Certification issued by the POEA on June 1, 1994, he found out
that appellant was not licensed to recruit. Realizing that appellant would never be able to send
complainant to Taiwan, he filed a complaint against appellant with the POEA.
On cross-examination, complainant clarified that Reynaldo Abrigo did not actually introduce him
to appellant, but merely gave appellants address and telephone number. Thereafter, complainant
went to appellants house together with Ruben Riola and Michael Lumahan. In addition,
complainant stated under cross-examination that appellant told him that according to the medical
examination results, complainant was unfit to work. Consequently, he demanded the return of his
money but appellant failed to do so.
Antonio Damian is also one of the complainants in the case at bar. He testified that he is the
brother of Arnel Damian and that when his brother failed the medical examination, his brother
Arnel immediately demanded from appellant the return of the processing fee. However, appellant
could not return the money to him anymore. Instead, appellant asked Arnel to look for another
applicant in order to save the processing fee. For which reason, Arnel asked his brother Antonio
to apply in his stead. During his first meeting with appellant on January 4, 1994, complainant
Antonio Damian was asked to pay [t]wo [t]housand [f]ive [h]undred [p]esos (P2,500.00) for
medical examination. Subsequently, he also gave [n]ine [h]undred [p]esos (P900.00) for
insurance; [s]eventy-[f]ive [p]esos (P75.00) for Pre-departure Orientation Seminar; [f]ifty
[d]ollars ($50.00) as part of the processing fee; and [t]hree [t]housand [f]ive [h]undred [p]esos
(P3,500.00) for the birth certificate. All of these were personally given to appellant
but no receipts were issued by appellant. As with all the other complainants, appellant promised
Antonio that he would work as factory worker in Taiwan and that he would receive a salary of
[t]wenty-[f]ive [t]housand [p]esos (P25,000.00). After waiting for two (2) months, Antonio
learned that appellant was arrested. Hence, he filed his complaint with the POEA against
appellant.
Joel Serna came to know of appellant also through Reynaldo Abrigo. He met appellant at her
house at 25-B West Santiago St., San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City on February 8,
1994. Like the others, Joel was promised employment in Taiwan as factory worker and was also
asked to pay various fees. Appellant gave him a list of the fees to be paid which
included: Processing fee P12,500.00; Medical examination P2,395.00; Passport P1,500.00; Visa
fee - $50.00; and Insurance P900.00. Appellants telephone number was also included in said
list. According to complainant Joel, said list was personally prepared by appellant in his
presence. Complainant Joel paid the various fees but was never issued any receipt for said
payment despite demands from appellant. Upon learning that appellant was arrested for illegal
recruitment, he went to the POEA and filed his complaint against appellant.

Roberto Alejandro testified that Onofre Ferrer, a provincemate, informed him that there were
applicants needed for the job in Taiwan. On March 6, 1994, both of them went to appellants
house where complainant Roberto was told by appellant that she had the capacity to send him to
Taiwan but he must first undergo medical examination.
Later, when Roberto was informed that he passed the medical examination, appellant told him to
bring [f]orty [t]housand [p]esos (P40,000) as processing fee and other documentary
requirements. A receipt was issued by appellant for the payment of said amount.
On March 9, 1994 appellant advised him to pay an additional [f]ive [t]housand (P5,000.00)
which he personally delivered to appellant on March 11, 1994. A receipt was also issued by
appellant for said amount.
After three (3) months of waiting and follow-up without any positive results, complainant filed
his complaint against appellant with the POEA.
David Umbao was presented on rebuttal by the prosecution and testified that on June 1, 1994, an
entrapment operation was conducted against Carmelita Alvarez where Jerry Neil Abadilla and an
agent by the name of Conchita Samones gave appellant the amount of P5,000.00 with a P500.00
bill marked as payment for the renewal of the promise of deployment. After appellant took the
money, she was immediately apprehended. Two witnesses were present during the entrapment
operations, one from the barangay and one from the homeowners association. The affidavit of
arrest setting out the details of the entrapment operation and the arrest was collectively executed
by the entrapment team.[6] (Citations omitted)
Version of the Defense
In her Brief,[7] appellant submits her own version of the facts as follows:
CARMELITA ALVAREZ testified that sometime in 1991, she met Director Angeles Wong at
the Office of the Deputy Administrator of the POEA, Manuel Quimson, who happened to be her
compadre.Sometime in November 1993, Director Wong called her about a direct-hire scheme
from Taiwan which is a job order whereby people who want to work abroad can apply directly
with the POEA. The said director told her that there were six (6) approved job orders from Labor
Attache Ellen Canasa. Seeing this as a good opportunity for her son, Edelito Gonzales, who was
then a new graduate, she recommended him and his sons friends, namely, Reynaldo Abrigo,
Renato Abrigo and two others surnamed Lucena, for employment. Unfortunately, Director Wong
called off the scheduled departure because the quota of workers for deployment was not met. To
remedy the situation, she approached Josephine Lomocso and a certain recruiter named Romeo
Dabilbil, who also recommends people to Director Wong with ready passports. When the thirty
(30) slots needed for the direct-hiring scheme were filed up, Director Wong set the tentative

schedule of departure on February 23, 1994. In view of the said development, Mr. Dabilbil
contacted the recruits from Cebu who even stayed at her (Conchitas) place in Capiz Street, Del
Monte, Quezon City for three (3) days to one (1) week while waiting to be deployed. On the
night of their scheduled departure and while they were having their despidida party, Director
Wong sent a certain Ross to inform them that a telex was received by him informing him
(Director Wong) that the factory where the recruits were supposed to work was gutted by a
fire. She was later advised by Director Wong to wait for the deployment order to come from
Taiwan. While the people from Cebu were staying in her house waiting for development, the
accused even advised them to file a complaint against Mr. Dabilbil before the Presidential AntiCrime Commission at Camp Crame. Surprisingly, she was also arrested for illegal recruitment on
May 31, 1994 and thereafter learned that on June 1, 1994, the Damian brothers filed a complaint
against her before the POEA. After her apprehension, the accused further testified that there was
some sort of negotiation between her lawyer, Atty. Orlando Salutandre, and the apprehending
officer, Major Umbao, regarding her release. According to her, if she [would] be able to raise the
amount of [t]hirty [t]housand [p]esos (P30,000.00), Major Umbao [would] not anymore refer her
for inquest, but would only recommend her case for further investigation and then she would be
released.Since she failed to raise the said amount, she was brought to the inquest fiscal.
REYNALDO ABRIGO testified that it was Director Angeles Wong who was actually recruiting
workers for deployment abroad because of a certain document which Alvarez showed to them
bearing the name of the said POEA Official.
EDELITO GONZALES testimony merely corroborated the testimony of defense witnesses
Carmencita Alvarez and Reynaldo Abrigo.
xxxxxxxxx
SUR-REBUTTAL EVIDENCE:
MARITES ABRIGO testified that while she was in the living room and her mother, accused
Carmelita Alvarez, was in her room inside their house on May 31, 1994, a group of persons
arrived and asked where her mother was. After telling them that her mother was inside her room
resting, a certain Major Umbao, together with some other persons, went straight to her mothers
room and knocked on the door.When her mother opened it and peeped through the opening of
the door, they immediately grabbed her. She was not able to do anything also, other than to tell
them that she has to consult first her lawyer.When her mother was brought to the POEA office
she was told that they have to produce P30,000.00.[8] (Citations omitted)
Ruling of the Trial Court

The trial court accorded full credibility to the prosecution witnesses. It held that
complainants had not been impelled by ill motives in filing the case against appellant. They all
positively identified her as the person who, without the requisite license from the government,
had collected from them processing and placement fees in consideration of jobs in Taiwan.
The trial court was convinced that appellant had deceived complainants by making them
believe that she could deploy them abroad to work, and that she was thus able to milk them of
their precious savings. The lack of receipts for some amounts that she received from them did
not discredit their testimonies. Besides, her precise role in the illegal recruitment was adequately
demonstrated through other means.
Further affirming her illegal recruitment activities was the entrapment conducted, in which
she was caught receiving marked money from a certain Jerry Neil Abadilla, to whom she had
promised a job abroad.
Her defense that she merely wanted to provide jobs for her son-in-law and his friends was
rejected, because she had subsequently retracted her allegation implicating Director Wong of the
POEA in her illegal recruitment activities. As she victimized more than three (3) persons, the
RTC convicted her of illegal recruitment committed in large scale.
Hence, this appeal.[9]
Issue
Appellant submits this lone assignment of error:
The court a quo gravely erred in finding accused-appellant Carmelita Alvarez guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for illegal recruitment in large scale.[10]
More specifically, appellant questions the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence showing
the following: (1) that she engaged in acts of illegal recruitment enumerated in Article 38 of the
Labor Code, (2) that she was not licensed to recruit, (3) that she received money from
complainants despite the absence of receipts, and (4) that her acts constituted illegal recruitment
in large scale.
This Courts Ruling
The appeal has no merit.
Main Issue:
Bases for Her Conviction

Appellant denies that she engaged in any act of illegal recruitment and claims that she only
recommended, through Director Wong of the POEA, her son-in-law and his friends for a directhire job in Taiwan.
We disagree. Prior to the enactment of RA No. 8042, the crime of illegal recruitment was
defined under Article 38(a) in relation to Articles 13(b) and 34 and penalized under Article 39 of
the Labor Code. It consisted of any recruitment activity, including the prohibited practices
enumerated under Article 34 of the Code, undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of
authority.It is committed when two elements concur: (1) the offenders have no valid license or
authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of
workers; and (2) the offenders undertake either any activity within the meaning of recruitment
and placement defined under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practices enumerated under Article
34.[11]
Under Article 13(b), recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting,
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. In the simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed when a person, who is not authorized
by the government, gives the impression that he or she has the power to send workers abroad.[12]
It is clear from the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses that appellant recruited them. On
direct examination, Arnel Damian testified thus:
Q When was that when Reynaldo Abondo introduced you to the accused?
A Last week of November. I cannot remember the exact date.
Q Where were you when you were introduced to the accused?
A At 25 V. West Santiago St., San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, in the house of Mrs.
Alvarez.
xxxxxxxxx
Q When you arrived at that place, whom did you see?
A Mrs. Alvarez.
Q What happened during your first meeting.
A We were recruited by her.

Q What did she tell you?


A That if we could come up with the amount of P25,000.00 but she was only asking
for P12,500.00 as processing fee.
Q What else did she tell you?
A That we were to act as replacement of three persons who backed out.
Q Did she tell you where were you going?
A We were told to go to Taiwan as factory worker.
Q Did she tell you how much salary will you receive?
A $600.00.[13]
Appellant had also recruited for a similar job in Taiwan, Joel Serna who testified as follows:
Q Will you please inform the Hon. Court why do you know Carmelita Alvarez?
A I came to know her when her daughter became the girlfriend of my friend and I was told
that she is recruiting workers for Taiwan.
Q After knowing that she was recruiting workers for Taiwan, what did you do, if any?
A I inquired from her and I was assured that the employment was not fake and I was told to
pay a processing fee.
Q When you said kanya or her to whom are you referring to?
A Carmelita Alvarez.
Q Do you still remember when was that?
A February 8, 1994.
Q Where did you meet?
A In her house at No. 25-B West Santiago St., SFDM, Quezon City.
Q What other things did she told you, if there was any?

A I would subject myself to a medical examination and after this, I would give her a
processing fee.
Q What was the purpose of that processing fee?
A So I could leave immediately for Taiwan.
Q Why are you going to Taiwan?
A I need a job.
Q If you give Mrs. Alvarez the processing fee, she will help you to go to Taiwan?
A Yes, sir.[14]
Antonio Damian, brother of Arnel, also testified to the same effect.
ATTY. DIGNADICE:
Q Will you please tell this Hon. Court the circumstances why you came to know Carmelita
Alvarez?
A I met Carmelita Alvarez on January 4, 1994.
COURT: (to the witness)
Under what circumstances did you happen to know her?
A I went to her house.
ATTY. DIGNADICE:
Q Why did you go to her house?
A Because I applied to her for work abroad.
Q Why did you apply for work abroad to her?
A Because of a brother who applied to her but failed the medical examination.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Arnel Damian applied for work abroad with Carmelita Alvarez?

A Yes, sir.
Q Was he able to leave for abroad?
A No, sir.
Q Why?
A Because he failed the medical examination.
xxxxxxxxx
Q What happened next after that?
A Because my brother failed with the medical examination, Carmelita Alvarez cannot return
the processing fee in the amount of P12,000.00 so she told my brother to look for another
applicant.
ATTY. DIGNADICE:
Q Did your brother look for another applicant as his replacement?
A He asked me to take my place to save the P12,000.00.[15]
Roberto Alejandro testified that appellant had also told him she could send him to Taiwan to
work.
Q When you reached that place whom did you see there?
A Mrs. Alvarez.
Q And what happened during that first meeting?
A She told me that she has the capacity of sending to Taiwan.[16]
More telling is Ruben Riolas testimony on appellants specific acts constituting illegal
recruitment.
Q Can you tell the Hon. Court what transpired with that first meeting of yours with Carmelita
Alvarez at Capiz District?

A When I got there, I was with two companions, because we were replacements of the three
others who backed out. We were asked by the mother if we were the friends of her
daughter and son-in-law who is from the church?
Q What was your answer?
A I said yes.
Q Was there anything that transpired during that meeting?
A We were asked by her if we were interested to work as Factory workers in Taiwan.
Q What was your answer, if any?
A We said we are interested if it is true.
Q After knowing that you are interested to work as factory worker in Taiwan, what did
Carmelita Alvarez do if there was any?
A We were shown a document stating that such person was receiving $600.00 salary.
xxxxxxxxx
Q After knowing that you will be receiving the same amount if you work as factory worker in
Taiwan, what did you do, if any?
A We were told to immediately pay the processing fee.
Q Who told you to pay the processing fee?
A Mrs. Carmelita Alvarez.
Q This processing fee is for what?
A So that she could process the papers with the POEA, for the facilitation with the POEA[,]
so that we could be included in the first batch.[17]
Q What happened on that date after paying the tax of P1,500.00.
A We were promised to leave on February 23, 1993.
Q Will you please elaborate more on the promise, what kind of promise was it, if you could
remember?

A That would be the latest date that we could leave for Taiwan.
Q Would you somehow remember the words of Carmelita Alvarez?
xxxxxxxxx
A Na papaalisin niya kami.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Why did you celebrate a dispededa?
A Because we were about to leave.
Q Who told you?
A Carmelita Alvarez.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Why were you celebrating this party?
A Because we will be leaving the following day.[18]
Furthermore, appellant committed other acts showing that she was engaged in illegal
recruitment. Enumerated in People v. Manungas Jr.[19] as acts constituting recruitment within the
meaning of the law were collecting pictures, birth certificates, NBI clearances and other
necessary documents for the processing of employment applications in Saudi Arabia; and
collecting payments for passport, training fees, placement fees, medical tests and other sundry
expenses.[20]
In this case, the prosecution proved that appellant had received varying amounts of money
from complainants for the processing of their employment applications for Taiwan. Arnel
Damian paid to appellant P12,500 for the processing fee,[21] P2,500 for the medical fee
and P1,500 for his passport.[22] Serna paid P12,000 for the processing fee,[23] P3,000 for his birth
certificate and passport,[24] P75 for a Departure and Orientation Seminar,[25] P900 for the
insurance fee and $50 for his visa.[26] Antonio Damian paid P2,500 for the medical fee,[27] P900
for the insurance, P75 for the Pre-Departure and Orientation Seminar (PDOS) fee, $50 for the
processing fee and P3,500 for his birth certificate.[28] Roberto Alejandro paid P40,000 for the
processing fee[29] and P5,000 for the insurance.[30] Riola paid P1,900 for his passport, P12,500 for
the processing fee, P900 for the insurance fee, P75 for the PDOS fee, P1,500 for the insurance
and $50 for travel tax.[31]

The trial court found complainants to be credible and convincing witnesses. We are inclined
to give their testimonies due consideration. The best arbiter of the issue of the credibility of the
witnesses and their testimonies is the trial court. When the inquiry is on that issue, appellate
courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that the latter was in a
better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their
deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. Its finding thereon will not be disturbed,
unless it plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if considered, may affect
the result of the case.[32] We find no cogent reason to overrule the trial court in this case.
No License
Appellant denies that she engaged in acts of recruitment and placement without first
complying with the guidelines issued by the Department of Labor and Employment. She
contends that she did not possess any license for recruitment, because she never engaged in such
activity.
We are not persuaded. In weighing contradictory declarations and statements, greater weight
must be given to the positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses than to the denial of the
defendant.[33] Article 38(a) clearly shows that illegal recruitment is an offense that is essentially
committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority. A non-licensee means any person,
corporation or entity to which the labor secretary has not issued a valid license or authority to
engage in recruitment and placement; or whose license or authority has been suspended, revoked
or cancelled by the POEA or the labor secretary.[34] A license authorizes a person or an entity to
operate a private employment agency, while authority is given to those engaged in recruitment
and placement activities.[35]
Likewise constituting illegal recruitment and placement activities are agents or
representatives whose appointments by a licensee or holder of authority have not been previously
authorized by the POEA.[36]
That appellant in this case had been neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for
overseas employment was certified by Veneranda C. Guerrero, officer-in-charge of the Licensing
and Regulation Office; and Ma. Salome S. Mendoza, manager of the Licensing Branch -- both of
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. [37] Yet, as complainants convincingly
proved, she recruited them for jobs in Taiwan.
Absence of Receipts
Appellant contends that the RTC erred when it did not appreciate in her favor the failure of
Complainants Serna and Antonio Damian to present, as proofs that she had illegally recruited
them, receipts that she had allegedly issued to them.

We disagree. The Court has already ruled that the absence of receipts in a case for illegal
recruitment is not fatal, as long as the prosecution is able to establish through credible
testimonial evidence that accused-appellant has engaged in illegal recruitment. [38] Such case is
made, not by the issuance or the signing of receipts for placement fees, but by engagement in
recruitment activities without the necessary license or authority.[39]
In People v. Pabalan,[40] the Court held that the absence of receipts for some of the amounts
delivered to the accused did not mean that the appellant did not accept or receive such
payments. Neither in the Statute of Frauds nor in the rules of evidence is the presentation of
receipts required in order to prove the existence of a recruitment agreement and the procurement
of fees in illegal recruitment cases. Such proof may come from the testimonies of witnesses.[41]
Besides, the receipts issued by petitioner to Arnel Damian and Roberto Alejandro already
suffice to prove her guilt.[42]
Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale
Since only two complainants were able to show receipts issued by appellant, petitioner
claims that the prosecution failed to prove illegal recruitment in large scale.
We disagree. The finding of illegal recruitment in large scale is justified wherever the
elements previously mentioned concur with this additional element: the offender commits the
crime against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group. [43] Appellant recruited at least
three persons. All the witnesses for the prosecution categorically testified that it was she who had
promised them that she could arrange for and facilitate their employment in Taiwan as factory
workers.
As for the defense that appellant had only referred complainants to Director Wong, her
public apology and retraction[44] belied her denials. After examining the transcripts, we concur
with the RTC that her averment that she was being prosecuted for her refusal to give grease
money to Major Umbao in exchange for her freedom does not disprove the fact that she was
caught in flagrante delicto in an entrapment operation.
We find appellants conviction for the crime charged sufficiently supported by evidence;
therefore, it should be sustained.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
against appellant.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), and Carpio, JJ., concur.

Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., on leave.

[1]

Penned by Judge Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr.

[2]

Rollo, p. 46.

[3]

Id., pp. 19-20.

[4]

Ibid.

Records, Vol. I, p. 65. The trial court, in its September 6, 1994 Order, denied the Urgent Motion to Defer
Arraignment of petitioners counsel de parte, Atty. Carlomagno R. Uminga; id., pp. 63-64.
[5]

Appellees Brief, pp. 3-9; rollo, pp. 95-101. This Brief was signed by Asst. Sol. Gen. Carlos N. Ortega,
Asst. Sol. Gen. Maria Aurora P. Cortes and Associate Solicitor Arturo C. Medina.
[6]

Signed by Attys. Arceli A. Rubin, Ramon E.A. Gatchalian and Pastor A.P. Morales of the Public
Attorneys Office.
[7]

[8]

Appellants Brief, pp. 7-10; rollo, pp. 62-65.

This case was deemed submitted for decision on October 30, 2001, upon this Courts receipt of
appellants Reply Brief, signed by Attys. Amelia C. Garchitorena, Elpidio C. Bacuyag and Pastor A.P.
Morales of the Public Attorneys Office.
[9]

[10]

Appellants Brief, p. 1; rollo, p. 56. Original in upper case.

People v. Diaz, 259 SCRA 441, 450, July 26, 1996; People v. Seoron, 267 SCRA 278, 284, January 30,
1997; People v. Gabres, 267 SCRA 581, 594, February 6, 1997.
[11]

[12]

People v. Diaz, supra, p. 456.

[13]

TSN, October 26, 1994, p. 4.

[14]

TSN, November 9, 1994, p. 4.

[15]

TSN, December 12, 1994, pp. 3-4.

[16]

TSN, February 20, 1995, p. 4.

[17]

TSN, September 4, 1995, pp. 4-6.

[18]

Id., pp. 12-14.

[19]

231 SCRA 1, 6, March 10, 1994.

[20]

People v. Tan Tiong Meng, 271 SCRA 125, 134, April 10, 1997.

[21]

TSN, October 26, 1994, p. 5.

[22]

Id., p. 8.

[23]

TSN, November 9, 1994, pp. 8-9.

[24]

Id., p. 12.

[25]

Id., p. 13.

[26]

Id., p. 14.

[27]

TSN, December 12, 1994, p. 4.

[28]

Id., p. 6.

[29]

TSN, February 20, 1995, pp. 6-7.

[30]

TSN, March 6, 1995, p. 9.

[31]

TSN, September 4, 1995, p. 16.

People v. Pabalan, 262 SCRA 574, 587, September 30, 1996; People v. Buemio, 265 SCRA 582, 595,
December 16, 1996.
[32]

[33]

Id., p. 588; People v. Diaz, supra, p. 454.

[34]

People v. Diaz, supra, p. 451.

[35]

People v. Benemerito, 264 SCRA 677, 691-692, November 21, 1996.

[36]

1, 2nd par., Rule X, Bk. II, POEA Rules and Regulations Governing Overseas Employment of 1991.

[37]

Exhs. B and N, records, Vol. II, pp. 351 & 364.

[38]

People v. Ong, 322 SCRA 38, 54, January 18, 2000; People v. Saley, 291 SCRA 715, July 2, 1998.

[39]

People v. Seoron, supra, p. 284.

[40]

Supra, p. 585.

[41]

Ibid.

[42]

Exhs. A and H, records, Vol. II, pp. 350 & 357.

Id.; People v. Diaz, supra, p. 452; People v. Benemerito, supra, p. 692; People v. Buemio, supra, p.
597.
[43]

[44]

Exhs. S and T, records, Vol. II, pp. 542 & 543-544.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. Nos. 145734-35. October 15, 2002]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. VICENTA MEDINA LAPIS, ANGEL
MATEO, AIDA DE LEON (at large) and JEAN AM-AMLAW (at large),appellants.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Illegal recruiters prey on our gullible and impoverished people by inveigling them with false
or fraudulent promises of attractive employment in foreign shores. Such vultures deserve the full
sanction of the law.
The Case
Vicenta Medina Lapis and Angel Mateo appeal the March 6, 2000 Joint Decision[1] of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City (Branch 138), finding them guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of illegal recruitment and estafa. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court rules
1. In Criminal Case No. 99-1112[,] accused Vicenta Medina Lapis and Angel Mateo are
pronounced guilty of violating Section 6, of Republic Act No. 8042, the Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 and they are both sentenced to suffer life imprisonment. Pursuant
to the last paragraph of Section 7, Republic Act No. 8042, considering that both accused are nonlicensers or non-holders of authority, they are both sentenced to pay fines of One Million Pesos
(P1,000,000.00) each. Both accused are ordered to indemnify both complainants jointly and
severally of the amount of P118,000.00, the net amount after deducting the recovery
of P40,000.00. They are likewise ordered to pay both complainants jointly and severally the
amounts of P24,000.00 as reimbursement for traveling expenses; P4,000.00 as rental for
boarding house, and P100,000.00 as unrealized income;

2. In Criminal Case No. 99-1113[,] accused Vicenta Medina Lapis and Angel Mateo are
guilty of violating Article 315 (2) (a) of the Revised Penal Code and they are both sentenced to
suffer imprisonment of twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal.
No civil liability need be imposed considering that in Criminal Case No. 99-1112 the same
was already provided.
Let the case as against Jane Am-amlao and Aida de Leon be sent to the archives to be
revived upon arrest, surrender or acquisition of jurisdiction over their person.
SO ORDERED.[2]
Two separate Informations,[3] both dated April 20, 1999, charged appellants with syndicated
illegal recruitment under Republic Act (RA) 8042 [4] and estafa under paragraph 2 (a) of Article
315 of the Revised Penal Code.[5]
In Criminal Case No. 99-1112, they were charged as follows:
That on or about March, 1998 and thereafter in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
confederating with each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the
herein complainants, MELCHOR F. DEGSI and PERPETUA L. DEGSI for employment as an
office worker and as a cook or mechanic in Japan, for and in consideration thereof, they were
required to pay the amount of P158,600.00 as alleged placement and processing fees, which the
complainants delivered and paid the amount ofP158,600.00 Philippine Currency, without the
accused having deployed the complainants despite the lapse of several months, to their damage
and prejudice.[6]
In Criminal Case No. 99-1113, the Information reads:
That on or about March, 1998 and thereafter in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
confederating with each other, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit
and promise employment to spouses MELCHOR and PERPETUA DEGSI in Japan for a total
consideration of one hundred fifty eight thousand and six hundred pesos (P158,600.00) as
placement and processing fees, knowing that they have no capacity whatsoever and with no
intention to fulfill their promise, but merely as a pretext, scheme or excuse to get or exact money
from said complainant as they in fact collected and received the amount of P158,600.00 from
said MELCHOR and PERPETUA DEGSI to their damage, loss and prejudice for the aforesaid
amount.[7]

With the assistance of their counsel de oficio,[8] appellants pleaded not guilty to the charges
during their arraignment on July 27, 1999.[9]
The Facts
Version of the Prosecution
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) relates how appellants, despite their lack of
authority or license, represented themselves as persons who had the capacity to send the victims
abroad for employment. We quote its version of the facts as follows:
The prosecution presented three witnesses, namely, Melchor Degsi and Perpetua Degsi
(Complainants for brevity) and Priscilla Marreo (or Priscilla Marelo).
The prosecution and appellants stipulated that appellants are not licensed or authorized to recruit
workers for employment abroad, in lieu of the testimony of Senior Labor Researcher Johnson
Bolivar of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Complainants are husband and wife, residents of Baguio City. They made a living earning an
average of P20,000.00 a month by selling fish and vegetables in a rented stall in said City, at
least until March 24, 1998 when they closed shop for reasons of attending to the demands of the
promised jobs for them in Japan. Both categorically identified Jane Am-amlao (or Jean Amamlaw), their co-vendor in Baguio City Market, as the person who approached them and assured
them that she knew a legal recruiter, an ex-POEA employee, who had the capacity to send them
both abroad. Jane Am-amlaw (or Am-amlaw for brevity) recruited complainants and personally
accompanied them on March 24, 1998 to meet the person she earlier referred to, or Aida de Leon
(or Alma de Leon), in the latters apartment at No. 7280 J. Victor St., Pio del Pilar, Makati.
Complainants likewise categorically identified Aida de Leon (de leon for brevity) as the person
who arranged a meeting in her apartment on March 24, 1998 between complainants and
appellant Angel Mateo (Mateo for brevity) whom de Leon introduced as their contact person for
Japan-bound workers. In said meeting, Mateo represented himself as having the capacity to send
people abroad and showed complainants various documents to convince them of his legitimate
recruitment operations. Convinced that Mateo had indeed the capacity to facilitate their
employment as an office worker and as a cook or mechanic in Japan, complainants, on that same
day, handed Mateo P15,000.00 which Mateo required them to pay for their processing fees. This
was to be the first of a series of sums of money to be extracted from complainants.
Complainants were able to positively identify Mateo in court as the contact person of de Leon
and who collected from them, from March 24, 1998 to June 23, 1998, sums of money for the
alleged necessary expenses relative to the promised jobs awaiting them in Japan in the total

amount of P158,600.00. Complainants likewise categorically identified Mateo as the same


person whose authorization was needed for the recovery of P40,000.00 of the P45,000.00 they
gave Mateo who in turn deposited it to Sampaguita Travel Agency under his own name.
Complainants likewise positively identified appellant Vicenta Vicky Lapis (Lapis for brevity) in
Court as the person introduced to them by Mateo as his wife on April 29, 1998 at Maxs
Restaurant in Makati when Lapis required complainants to pay P49,240.00 for their plane tickets
and travel taxes. Lapis is, in fact, only the live-in partner of Mateo. Lapis told complainants that
she was helping to speed up the process[ing] of their papers relative to the promised jobs
awaiting them in Japan. Complainants met again Lapis, who was with Mateo on May 2, 1998 at
the Makati Restaurant, annex of Maxs Restaurant, when Lapis assured them that Mateo could
really send them abroad and even wrote in a piece of paper appellants address at Phase I, Lot 14,
Blk 13 Mary Cris Subd., Imus, Cavite. On May 17, 1998, complainants once more met Lapis
who was with Mateo, de Leon and de Leons husband in Baguio City at the house of Priscilla
Marreos daughter. Both appellants updated complainant as to the status of their paper and
reiterated their promise that complainants would soon be leaving for Japan, then collected from
complainants unreceipted amount of P20,000.00. Complainants met again with Lapis, who was
again with Mateo, on May 19, 1998 at the Sampaguita Travel Agency. Mateo
extracted P45,000.00 from complainants and deposited it under his name. On that occasion,
Perpetua wanted to ask from the Sampaguita Travel Agencys employees where to pay
the P45,000.00 but failed to do so because Lapis took her attention away from asking while
Mateo asked Melchor to hand over to him said sum.
Priscilla Marreo (Priscilla for brevity) is the sister of Melchor who loaned complainants part of
the P158,000.00 which appellants extracted from complainant[s]. Thus, she made herself present
in most of the meetings between complainants and appellants together with the two other
accused where she witnessed the assurances and promises made by appellants relative to
complainants immediate departure for Japan and their corresponding demands of sums of
money. The testimony of Priscilla underscored the testimony of complainants showing that Amamlaw, de Leon, Lapis and Mateo indeed corroborated and confederated in the commission of
illegal recruitment.
The prosecution presented documentary evidence, such as varied unofficial receipts all bearing
the signature of Mateo; Sinumpaang Salaysay of Perpetua L. Degsi executed on July 21, 1998;
Affidavit executed by complainants on July 21, 1998; Requirement for Guarantee Letter of Visa
bearing the names of both private complainants; Request for Certification of POEA-CIDG, Team
to Mr. Hermogenes Mateo, Director II, Licensing Branch of POEA as represented by Johnson
Bolivar, Senior Labor Researcher of POEA, and the various documents that complainants
alleged to have been shown to them by Mateo to prove the legality of his recruitment operations.
[10]
(Citations omitted)

Version of the Defense


For their part, appellants deny that they were engaged in recruitment activities, and that they
promised foreign employment to the victims. Below is the version of the facts presented by the
defense:
VICENTA MEDINA LAPIS testified that she is the live-in partner of her co-accused
Mateo. They have been living together for almost three (3) years. According to her, she first met
both complainants at Maxs Restaurant in Makati when they talked to accused Mateo. She was
there only to accompany her live-in partner. The subject of the conversation between the
complainants and accused Mateo was a contract in Baguio City. She did not see complainant
deliver money to accused Mateo while they were in that meeting. She also has no knowledge
about the transaction between complainant and accused Mateo. She admitted that she went to
Baguio City together with accused Mateo to talk to the City Mayor. She likewise admitted that
the handwriting appearing in Exhibit F is hers but the reason why she gave it was only to comply
to the request of the complainant Perpetua Degsi regarding a matter to be followed up at the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The result of her follow-up rendered was that
complainant Perpetua Degsi has a pending case of estafa.
ANGEL MATEO averred that he is engaged in the importation of heavy equipment and
containers but he has never been engaged in recruitment. To prove that he was really engaged in
the delivery of heavy equipment, he presented a document of Import Service signed by a certain
Alexander Arcilla addressed to Honorable Timoteo Encar Jr., City Mayor, Cavite City dated
March 14, 1997 and were marked as Exhibit 1 and 1-a. He also presented another document of
Import Services issued by the Department of Trade and Industry addressed to Honorable Mayor
Maliksi as Municipal Mayor of Imus, Cavite; a photocopy of a Bill of Lading from Trade Bulk
cargoes by Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc.; and Invoice of used vehicles, airconditioners and
washing machines and the packing list which were all marked as Exhibits 3 to 5. Sometime in
March 24, 1998, he met the complainants at Pio del Pilar, in Makati City at the apartment of
accused Aida de Leon. He went there to follow-up their transaction about heavy equipment with
Mayor Binay because, it was accused de Leon who entered the transaction with Mayor
Binay. While he was there, the complainants were introduced to him by accused de Leon. He
admitted meeting the complainants on April 29, 1998 at Maxs Restaurant but the reason was for
him to meet Mrs. Marero in person and also because complainant Perpetua Degsi has a pending
case for large scale estafa and she needed a clearance. He denied having signed Exhibit B. He
further claimed that the topic of their meeting was to supply heavy equipment in Baguio City. He
denied having asked forP50,000.00 on May 6, 1999. He likewise denied signing the receipt
showing the total amount of P158,600.00.[11]
The Trial Courts Ruling

The trial court held that the evidence for the prosecution sufficiently established the criminal
liability of appellants for the crimes charged. It ruled in this manner:
Evidence for the prosecution clearly established that both complainants were enticed by accused
Mateo and were led to believe that the latter has the capacity to send them for employment to
Japan. Complainant Melchor Degsi and his wife Perpetua Degsi both testified to this fact. Acting
on their belief that indeed accused Mateo can deploy them to Japan, amounts were disbursed by
both complainants to accused Mateo to cover the processing and placement fees. x x x The Court
finds the evidence presented by the prosecution sufficient to establish that accused Mateo
violated Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 when he demanded amounts for placement and
processing fees but he failed to deploy both complainants. The Court has a similar conclusion
insofar as the accusation for estafa is concerned as the evidence shows accused Mateo knew
beforehand that he has no capacity to deploy both complainants abroad and that the enticement
to work abroad was merely a scheme or plan to exact money from both complainants. Deception
was proven.
Insofar as the accused Lapis is concerned it is to be noted that the theory of the prosecution is
that she acted in conspiracy with her co-accused Mateo who is her live-in partner. Evidence for
the prosecution shows that at least on three (3) occasions accused Lapis was present when
accused Mateo asked and received money from complainants in connection with their intended
employment in Japan. x x x The Court conclude[d] that accused Lapis has knowledge of the
intention of her co-accused Mateo in asking for money from both complainants. There was
active participation on her part in the recruitment of both complainants and in deceiving them
about the capacity to secure employment. The Court believes that conspiracy was established
beyond reasonable doubt. Her defense of ignorance of the transaction cannot be considered given
the positive evidence presented by the prosecution which should prevail over her plain denial.[12]
Hence, this appeal.[13]
The Issues
In their Brief, appellants interpose the following assignment of errors:
I
The court a quo gravely erred in finding accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
violations of Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995)
committed by a syndicate and Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.
II

The court a quo gravely erred in finding accused-appellant Vicenta Medina Lapis guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment and estafa.
III
The court a quo gravely erred in finding accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate.
IV
The court a quo gravely erred in finding accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of estafa defined and penalized under Article 315 par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code
as amended.[14]
The Courts Ruling
The appeal has no merit.
First Issue:
Syndicated Illegal Recruitment
Appellants aver that the finding of syndicated illegal recruitment by the lower court was
erroneous; its conclusion that the offense was committed by three (3) or more persons had no
factual or legal basis. Allegedly, without sufficient evidence, the trial court wrongfully presumed
that all of them had acted in conspiracy. According to them, the prosecution failed to prove
beyond reasonable doubt that they had conspired and confederated in illegally recruiting
complainants. Appellants conclude that, if at all, they could only be held liable for illegal
recruitment in its simple form. We disagree.
Illegal recruitment is committed when these two elements concur: (1) the offenders have no
valid license or authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment
and placement of workers, and (2) the offenders undertake any activity within the meaning
of recruitment and placement[15] defined in Article 13(b) or any prohibited practices enumerated
in Article 34 of the Labor Code.[16]
Under Article 13(b), recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting,
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. In the simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority
from the government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad for
employment purposes.[17]

We believe that the prosecution was able to establish the elements of the offense
sufficiently. The case records reveal that appellants did in fact engage in recruitment and
placement activities by promising complainants employment in Japan. Undisputed is the fact that
the former did not have any valid authority or license to engage in recruitment and placement
activities. Moreover, the pieces of testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the
prosecution clearly show that, in consideration of their promise of foreign employment, they
indeed received various amounts of money from complainants totalling P158,600.
Where appellants made misrepresentations concerning their purported power and authority
to recruit for overseas employment, and in the process, collected from complainants various
amounts in the guise of placement fees, the former clearly committed acts constitutive of illegal
recruitment.[18] In fact, this Court held that illegal recruiters need not even expressly represent
themselves to the victims as persons who have the ability to send workers abroad. It is enough
that these recruiters give the impression that they have the ability to enlist workers for job
placement abroad in order to induce the latter to tender payment of fees.[19]
It is also important to determine whether illegal recruitment committed by appellants can be
qualified as a syndicated illegal recruitment or an offense involving economic sabotage.
Section 6 of RA 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act
of 1995, provides that illegal recruitment shall be considered an offense involving economic
sabotage when it is committed by a syndicate or carried out by a group of three or more persons
conspiring and confederating with one another.
In several cases, illegal recruitment has been deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out
by a group of three or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with each other in carrying
out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under Article 38(b) of the
Labor Code.[20]
In this case, it cannot be denied that all four (4) accused -- Jane Am-amlaw, Aida de Leon,
Angel Mateo and Vicenta Medina Lapis participated in a network of deception. Verily, the active
involvement of each in the various phases of the recruitment scam formed part of a series of
machinations. Their scheme was to lure complainants to Manila and to divest them of their hardearned money on the pretext of guaranteed employment abroad. The prosecution evidence shows
that complainants were convinced by Jane Am-amlaw to go to Manila to meet someone who
could find employment for them abroad. Upon reaching the city, they were introduced to Aida de
Leon and Angel Mateo; Mateo claimed to have the contacts, the resources and the capacity to
employ them overseas. After that initial meeting, complainants made several payments to him,
supposedly for the processing requirements of their deployment to Japan.Later on, they met
Vicenta Medina Lapis who volunteered her assistance in the processing of their employment

papers and assured them that Mateo could easily send them abroad.Complainant Perpetua Degsi
testified on the devious trail of transactions with all of the accused as follows:
Q How did you come to know the accused in this case?
A They were introduced to me by one Aida de Leon and Jane Am-Amlao.
Q Who is this Jane Am-Amlao you are referring to?
A She is our co-member in Baguio.
Q What is she in relation to your recruitment by Angel Mateo and Vicenta Lapis?
A She was the first one who mentioned to us that she knows somebody who has the
capacity to send us abroad.
Q When was this?
A March, 1998.
Q When Jane Am-Amlao told you that she knows somebody who has the capacity to
send you abroad what happened next?
A On March 24, 1998 Jane accompanied us here in Manila.
Q Where in Manila particularly?
A At No. 72 J. Victor Street, Pio del Pilar, Makati in the apartment of Aida de Leon.
Q So what happened at the apartment of Aida de Leon?
A Jane told us that Aida de Leon was an ex-employee of POEA and she was able to
send many workers abroad.
Q Were you able to meet Aida de Leon?
A Yes, maam.
Q What happened when you met her?
A Aida called us by phone and according to her she has the contact person who can
explain [to] us the details on how to be able to work abroad.

Q After Aida called you up on the phone what happened next?


A We waited because according to her, that person is coming over to the house.
Q A[fter] waiting what happened after that?
A ANGEL MATEO arrived and he was introduced to me as the contact person and we
could ask him how we could work abroad.
Q Who is this siya, you are referring to?
A ANGEL MATEO.
Q Who introduced you to ANGEL MATEO?
A AIDA DE LEON.
Q After introducing you to ANGEL MATEO what happened?
A ANGEL MATEO showed us some documents AND HE WAS ABLE TO convince us
that he has the capacity to send us abroad.
Q What documents were shown to you?
A Incorporation documents of two companies one, Philippine company and one is
Japan company and some other documents they made in order to send workers
abroad.
Q After convincing you that he can send you abroad what happened after that?
A He asked for a processing fee and I asked him how much.
Q What did he tell you?
A He told me that he does not know because AIDA DE LEON will be the one to give us
the price.
Q After that what happened?
A I asked AIDA how much and she answered, twenty thousand pesos.
Q After telling you that the amount is P20,000.00 what happened next?

A We went to the bank to withdraw P20,000.00 but we were only able to


withdraw P15,000.00 and then we handed the P15,000.00 to ANGEL MATEO, in
front of Jane Am-Amlaw.
Q After receiving said amount from you by ANGEL MATEO what happened next?
A We parted ways.
Q Was there anything else that happened after that?
A Before we parted ways, [he] asked from us other documents like ID, birth certificate,
marriage contract in order for him to begin processing our papers.
Q After that what happened next?
A On March 31, we went back to [him] and we gave [him] the other documents needed
and we also gave [him] the balance for the processing fee.
Q Who is this niya or he you are referring to?
A Angel Mateo.
Q Where did you meet?
A [He] called me and we met in the apartment of AIDA.
Q Were you able to meet ANGEL MATEO in the apartment of AIDA DE LEON?
A Yes.
Q What happened there?
A We gave [him] the documents and we started processing the documents
Q What are those documents that you gave to ANGEL MATEO?
A Birth certificate authenticated, marriage contract and passport IDs and then we went
to Pasay City to start the processing of the passport.
Q You told us that ANGEL MATEO asked for the balance of P5,000.00, were you able
to pay the said amount to ANGEL MATEO?
A Yes, maam.

xxxxxxxxx
Q After receiving said amount of P5,000.00 what happened?
A After that meeting at Pasay City we parted ways but [he] did not issue us any receipt
so on April 15, [he] again called us up and told me that he needs NBI clearance so
we processed our NBI clearance.
Q You told us that ANGEL MATEO called you, where were you at that time?
A Baguio City.
Q Were you able to come here in Manila?
A Yes maam, we met in Quiapo.
Q Were you able to meet ANGEL MATEO in QUIAPO?
A [He] did not arrive in Quiapo.
Q So what did you do?
A We proceeded [to] the NBI and we called up AIDA and asked her why ANGEL
MATEO did not arrive and whom did AIDA talk to.
Q What was the reply of AIDA DE LEON?
A She told me that whatever ANGEL MATEO would tell us, thats what we should
follow.
Q After that what happened?
A The processing of our NBI clearance did not finish so on April 15 ANGEL MATEO
asked for P2,000.00 in order to help us process the NBI.
Q After calling you on April 15, what happened next?
A On April 29, 1998 me, my sister, Melchor, and Melchors sister together with ANGEL
MATEO met at Maxs Restaurant in Makati.
xxxxxxxxx
Q Were you able to meet ANGEL MATEO?

A Yes maam, they arrived together with somebody whom [she] introduced to us as [his]
wife.
Q Who is this wife you are referring to?
A She is Vicky Lapis, and later on we found out that she is Vicenta Medina Lapis.
Q What was this meeting all about?
A We were updated on what was happening on our papers and then ANGEL MATEO
AND VICENTA LAPIS asked for a plane ticket.
Q What was the update for the processing of your papers?
xxxxxxxxx
A Vicenta Lapis told us that she is just helping to speed up the processing of papers so
that we could be sent abroad immediately and she even showed us some documents
and I even told her that I could help them in typing those documents.[21]
The foregoing testimony very clearly demonstrates that the individual actuations of all four
(4) accused were directed at a singular criminal purpose -- to delude complainants into believing
that they would be employed abroad. The nature and the extent of the formers interactions
among themselves as well as with the latter clearly show unity of action towards a common
undertaking. Certainly, complainants would not have gone to Manila to meet Aida de Leon and
Angel Mateo without the prodding of Am-amlaw. They would not have made various payments
for their travel and employment papers without the fraudulent representations of Mateo De Leon.
Moreover, they would not have complied with further instructions and demands of Mateo
without the repeated assurances made by Lapis.
Even assuming that the individual acts of the accused were not necessarily indispensable to
the commission of the offense, conspiracy would have still been present. Their actions, when
viewed in relation to one another, showed a unity of purpose towards a common criminal
enterprise and a concurrence in their resolve to commit it.
In People v. Gamboa,[22] the Court had occasion to discuss the nature of conspiracy in the
context of illegal recruitment as follows:
Conspiracy to defraud aspiring overseas contract workers was evident from the acts of the
malefactors whose conduct before, during and after the commission of the crime clearly
indicated that they were one in purpose and united in execution. Direct proof of previous
agreement to commit a crime is not necessary as it may be deduced from the mode and manner

in which the offense was perpetrated or inferred from the acts of the accused pointing to a joint
purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. As such, all the accused,
including accused-appellant, are equally guilty of the crime of illegal recruitment since in a
conspiracy the act of one is the act of all.[23] (Emphasis supplied)
To establish conspiracy, it is not essential that there be actual proof that all the conspirators
took a direct part in every act. It is sufficient that they acted in concert pursuant to the same
objective.[24]
Conspiracy is present when one concurs with the criminal design of another, indicated by the
performance of an overt act leading to the crime committed.[25]
The OSG avers, as an incident to this issue, and in line with People v. Yabut,[26] that
complainants are entitled to recover interest on the amount of P118,000, which the trial court
awarded from the time of the filing of the Information until fully paid. We agree with the OSGs
observation and hereby grant the legal interest on the amount prayed for.
In a number of cases,[27] this Court has affirmed the trial courts finding that victims of illegal
recruitment are entitled to legal interest on the amount to be recovered as indemnity, from the
time of the filing of the information until fully paid.
Second Issue:
Appellants Liability for Estafa
Appellants argue that in a prosecution for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code, it is indispensable that the element of deceit, consisting of fraudulent
representations or false statements of the accused, be made prior to or simultaneous with the
delivery of the thing; and that such misrepresentations or false statements induce the
complainants to part with the object of the crime. The former allege that the prosecution failed to
point out with certainty whether their misrepresentations or false statements were made prior to
or at least simultaneous with the latters delivery of the money.
Under the cited provision of the Revised Penal Code, estafa is committed by any person who
defrauds another by using a fictitious name; or by falsely pretending to possess power, influence,
qualifications, property, credit, agency, business; by imaginary transactions or similar forms of
deceit executed prior to or simultaneous with the fraud.[28] Moreover, these false pretenses should
have been the very reason that motivated complainants to deliver property or pay money to the
perpetrators of the fraud. While appellants insist that these constitutive elements of the crime
were not sufficiently shown by the prosecution, the records of the case prove otherwise.

During almost all of their meetings, complainants paid various amounts of money to
appellants only after hearing the feigned assurances proffered by the latter regarding the formers
employment prospects in Japan. Even as early as their first meeting in the house of Aida de
Leon, the payment by complainants of the initial amount of P15,000 was immediately preceded
by an onslaught of promises. These enticing, albeit empty, promises were made by Angel Mateo,
who even showed them documents purportedly evincing his connections with various foreign
companies. Equally important, they relied on such misrepresentations, which convinced them to
pay the initial amount as processing fees. Complainant Melchor Degsi testified on the matter in
this wise:
Prosecutor Ong:
So when Angel Mateo arrived at the apartment of Aida de Leon, what did he do, if any?
Witness:
He introduced himself to us and told us that he can easily send us to Japan because he
knows many Japanese employers and he also showed us some documents, maam.
(Nagpakilala siya at ang sabi niya ay kayang-kaya niya kaming padalhin
sa Japan dahil marami siyang kilalang Japanese employer at may ipinakita siyang
mga dokumento, maam).
Q What are these documents, if you remember, that were shown to you?
A Papers of Japanese companies, Clean Supplies Co. Ltd., Arabian Boy Express
Corporation and that is the reason why we were convinced, maam.
Q So, after being convinced that Angel Mateo can send you abroad, what did you
do after that?
A Nakumbinsi nga po kami at pagkatapos noon ay nag-usap-usap silang tatlo nina
Jean Am-amlaw at humihingi na sila ng processing fee na P20,000, maam.
Q So what did you do when they were already asking for the amount of P20,000
from you as processing fee?
A We told them that we do not have any money that time and we have to withdraw
from the bank and then we went to Pasay and we withdrew the amount
of P15,000.00 so that was the only amount we were able to give them that time,
maam.
Q Who were with you when you withdrew the said amount from the bank in Pasay?

A Jean Am-amlaw and Angel Mateo, maam.


Q Who received the amount of P15,000?
A Angel Mateo in front of Jean Am-amlaw, maam.[29] (Emphasis supplied)
From the foregoing, it is evident that the false statements that convinced complainants of the
authenticity of the transaction were made prior to their payment of the various fees.Indubitably,
the requirement that the fraudulent statements should have been made prior to or simultaneous
with the actual payment was satisfied.
Verily, by their acts of falsely representing themselves as persons who had the power and the
capacity to recruit workers for abroad, appellants induced complainants to pay the required fees.
[30]
There is estafa if, through insidious words and machinations, appellants deluded complainants
into believing that, for a fee, the latter would be provided overseas jobs.[31]
Although we agree with the ruling of the RTC convicting appellants of estafa, we note that it
failed to apply the Indeterminate Sentence Law in imposing the penalty. Under Section 1 of that
law, the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence shall be the penalty properly imposed,
considering the attending circumstances; while the minimum term shall be within the range of
the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Code. [32] Hence, pursuant to the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the trial court should have fixed the minimum and the maximum penalties.[33]
The Revised Penal Code provides the penalties for estafa as follows:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). -- Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum
period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000.00 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; but the total penalty
which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the
accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
(Italics supplied)
Considering that complainants were defrauded in excess of the P22,000 limit fixed by law,
the maximum penalty of prision mayor should be imposed in its minimum period, or six (6)
years and one (1) day to eight (8) years, plus one (1) year for each additional P10,000 in excess
of the P22,000 limit. The total amount defrauded from the complainants was P158,600 -orP136,600 in excess of P22,000, which translates to an additional prison sentence of thirteen

(13) years based on the aforementioned computation. Accordingly, the maximum penalty to be
imposed should be nineteen (19) years and one (1) day to twenty-one (21) years, thus raising the
penalty to reclusion temporal. However, the penal provisions for the crime of estafa provide that
the total penalty to be imposed should not in any case exceed twenty (20) years imprisonment.
In Criminal Case No. 99-1113 for estafa, consonant with the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
appellants should thus be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of twelve (12) years ofprision
mayor which is the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Code for the offense to twenty
(20) years of reclusion temporal. Indeed, the expression the penalty next lower to that prescribed
by said Code for the offense, used in Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, means the
penalty next lower than that determined by the court in the case before it as the maximum.[34]
Third Issue:
Liability as Co-conspirator
Finally, appellants contend that the trial court should not have convicted Vicenta Medina
Lapis because the prosecution evidence did not sufficiently prove her participation in the
conspiracy to defraud the victims. They maintain that she merely accompanied Angel Mateo
during his meetings with complainants and that she had no knowledge of the intentions of her coaccused. They add that mere knowledge, acquiescence or agreement to cooperate is not enough
to constitute one as a co-conspirator.
We are not persuaded. As discussed earlier, Lapis not only knew of the conspiracy, but she
also offered her assistance in the processing of the employment requirements of
complainants. Contrary to her claim that she was merely an unknowing spectator in the
underhanded transactions, she deliberately inveigled them into pursuing the promise of foreign
employment. The records clearly belie her claim of innocence and indicate that her participation
in the criminal scheme transcends mere knowledge or acquiescence. Complainant Melchor Degsi
describes one of the many instances of how deeply involved Lapis was in the whole recruitment
charade:
Prosecutor Ong:
Mr. Witness, you testified a while ago that you were at Max Restaurant together with
Vicenta Lapis and Angel Mateo?
Witness:
Yes, maam.
Q: Could you remember what Vicenta Medina [Lapis] said to you?

A: She promised that we will be sent to Japan sooner as OCW, maam.


Q: Could you recall how she said it?
A: She said Sigurado kay, makakapunta kayo ng Japan, maam.
Q: During that time that she was telling you sigurado kay makakapunta kayo ng Japan,
did she show you anything?
A: Tinanong namin ang address nila at kusang loob na ibinigay ni Vicenta Medina
[Lapis] sa amin ang address at direksyon para makapunta kami sa Imus, Cavite,
maam.
Q: What was the reason why Vicenta Medina Lapis gave you the address?
A: Para sigurado raw kami na hindi sila illegal kaya ibinigay niya ang address nila,
maam.[35] (Emphasis supplied)
Once conspiracy is established, the act of one becomes the act of all regardless of the degree
of individual participation.[36] Moreover, the precise modality or extent of participation of each
individual conspirator becomes merely a secondary consideration.[37] Notwithstanding
nonparticipation in every detail of the execution of the crime, the culpability of the accused still
exists.[38]
WHEREFORE,
the
following MODIFICATIONS:

appealed

Decision

is

hereby AFFIRMED with

the

1. In Criminal Case No. 99-1112, appellants are ordered to pay legal interest on the amount
of P118,000 from the time of the filing of the Information until fully paid.
2. In Criminal Case No. 99-1113, appellants are sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of
twelve (12) years of prision mayor as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as
maximum.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

[1]

Rollo, pp. 20-27; records, Vol. 1, pp. 321-328; penned by Judge Sixto Marella Jr.

[2]

Id., pp. 26-27 & 327-328.

[3]

Both Informations were signed by State Prosecutor Jocelyn Ong.

[4]

Rollo, pp. 8-9; records, Vol. 1, pp. 2-3.

[5]

Id., pp. 10-11 & 6-7.

[6]

Id., pp. 8 & 2.

[7]

Id., pp. 10 & 6.

[8]

Atty. Lody Tancioco.

[9]

Records, Vol. 1, p. 121.

[10]

Appellees Brief, pp. 8-14; rollo, pp. 96-102. This was signed by Asst. Solicitors Carlos N. Ortega and
Cecilio O. Estoesta and Associate Solicitor Rebecca S. Dacanay.

[11]

Appellants Brief, pp. 11-13; rollo, pp. 54-56. This was signed by Attys. Amelia Garchitorena, Elpidio C.
Bacuyag and Pastor A.P. Morales of the Public Attorneys Office.

[12]

Decision, pp. 6-7; rollo, pp. 25-26; records, Vol. 1, pp. 326-327.

[13]

This case was deemed submitted for decision on April 24, 2002 upon receipt by this Court of appellees
Brief. Appellants Brief was received by this Court on November 28, 2001.

[14]

Appellants Brief, pp. 1-2; rollo, pp. 44-45. Original in upper case.

[15]

People v. Alvares, GR No. 142981, August 20, 2002, pp. 11-12; People v. Ordoo, 335 SCRA 331, July
10, 2000; People v. Diaz, 259 SCRA 441, 450, July 26, 1996; People v. Seoron, 267 SCRA 278,
284, January 30, 1997; People v. Gabres, 267 SCRA 581, 594, February 6, 1997.

[16]

People v. Ordoo, supra.

[17]

People v. Alvarez, supra, p. 11; People v. Diaz, supra, p. 456.

[18]

People v. Ong, 322 SCRA 38, January 18, 2000.

[19]

People v. Gamboa, 341 SCRA 451, September 29, 2000.

[20]

People v. Alvarez, supra; People v. Hernandez, GR No. 141221-36, March 7, 2002; People v.
Ordoo, supra.

[21]

TSN, September 14, 1999, pp. 6-13.

[22]

Note at 19.

[23]

Id., p. 459.

[24]

Fortuna v. People, 348 SCRA 360, December 15, 2000.

[25]

People v. Bato, 348 SCRA 253, December 15, 2000.

[26]

316 SCRA 237, October 5, 1999.

[27]

People v. Maozca, 269 SCRA 513, March 13, 1997; Abaca v. Court of Appeals, 290 SCRA 657, June 5,
1998; People v. Ong, 322 SCRA 38, January 18, 2000.

[28]

People v. Sagaydo, 341 SCRA 329, September 29, 2000; People v. Meris, 329 SCRA 33, March 28,
2000.

[29]

TSN, September 21, 1999, pp. 6-7.

[30]

People v. Ladera, 344 SCRA 647, November 15, 2000.

[31]

People v. Ganaden, 299 SCRA 433, November 27, 1998.

[32]

People v. Meris, 329 SCRA 33, March 28, 2000; Jacobo v. Court of Appeals, 270 SCRA 270, March 21,
1997.

[33]

Mari v. Court of Appeals, 332 SCRA 475, May 31, 2000.

[34]

Application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law by Prof. Esteban B. Bautista, Annotation, 78 SCRA 54,
July 28, 1977.

[35]

TSN, September 21, 1999, pp. 41-42.

[36]

People v. Sumalpong, 284 SCRA 464, January 20, 1998.

[37]

People v. Lising, 285 SCRA 595, January 30, 1998.

[38]

Marcelo v. Court of Appeals, 348 SCRA 740, December 27, 2000.

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 148137. January 16, 2003]

PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES, appellee,
FORTUNA, appellant.

vs.

DOMINGA

CORRALES

DECISION
VITUG, J.:
On 29 September 1998, Dominga Corrales Fortuna, herein appellant, was charged with
illegal recruitment in large scale under Section 6, paragraph (m), of Republic Act No. 8042, said
to have been committed thusly:
That sometime in the month of July, 1998, in the City of Cabanatuan, Republic of the Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused who is neither a
licensee nor holder of authority in the overseas private recruitment or placements activities, did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously undertake a recruitment activity by inducing
and convincing REBECCA P. DE LEON, ANNIE M. NUQUE, NENITA A. ANDASAN,
ANGELYN N. MAGPAYO, LINA N. GANOT and EDGARDO C. SALVADOR, that she could
secure for them a job in Taiwan, and as a result of such enticement, said Rebecca P. De Leon,
Annie M. Nuque, Nenita A. Andasan, Angolan N. Magpayo, Lina N. Ganot and Edgardo C.
Salvador, who were interested to have such employment, gave and delivered to the accused the

total sum of THIRTY TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED PESOS (P32,400.00), Philippine
Currency, representing medical fees in connection thereof, to the latters damage and prejudice as
they were not able to get a job in Taiwan through no fault of their own as promised by the
accused, who likewise failed to reimburse to herein complainants the aforementioned amount
despite repeated demands; that considering that there are six (6) or more complainants prejudiced
by the unlawful acts of the accused, the same is deemed committed in large scale and considered
an offense involving economic sabotage.[1]
When arraigned on 29 February 2000, appellant Dominga Fortuna, with the assistance of
counsel, pleaded not guilty to the crime charged; trial then ensued.
Taking the witness stand for the prosecution were private complainants Lina Ganot, Nenita
Andasan and Angelyn Magpayo.
Lina N. Ganot, Angelyn N. Magpayo, Nenita A. Andasan, Rebecca P. De Leon, Annie M.
Nuque and Edgardo L. Salvador met Dominga Fortuna y Corrales in a seminar on Tupperware
products being then promoted for sale in Cabanatuan City. Fortuna took the occasion to converse
with private complainants, along with some of the attendees, offering job placements in
Taiwan. Convinced that Fortuna could actually provide them with jobs abroad, private
complainants, on 06 July 1998, each gave her the amount of P5,400.00 to take care of the
processing fee for medical examination and other expenses for securing their respective
passports. On 13 July 1998, private complainants took the medical examination in
Manila. Weeks went by but the promised departure had not materialized. Suspecting that
something was not right, they finally demanded that Fortuna return their money. Fortuna, in the
meanwhile, went into hiding.After having later learned that Fortuna had neither a license nor an
authority to undertake recruiting activities, Angelyn Magpayo filed a complaint which, in due
time, ultimately resulted in the indictment of Fortuna for illegal recruitment. During the
preliminary investigation, as well as later at the trial, Fortuna gave assurance to have the money
she had received from private complainants returned to them but, except for the amount of
P1,250.00 paid to Angelyn Magpayo, Fortuna was unable to make good her promise.
Dominga Fortuna, in her testimony, admitted having attended the seminar on June 1998
where she then met Annie Nuque, Rebecca De Leon, Nenita Andasan, Edgardo Salvador,
Angelyn Magpayo and Lina Ganot. During the seminar, she purchased Tupperware products
from private complainants after she was convinced to be their sub-agent. Initially, she was able
to remit payments to private complainants on her sales but, when she failed to make subsequent
remittances, she was threatened with criminal prosecution. In order to settle the matter, she
executed separate promissory notes. When she again failed to pay, private complainants filed the
case for illegal recruitment against her. Originally, there were six private complainants but
eventually only three of them pursued the case because the others were finally able to leave for
abroad.
In its decision, dated 02 January 2001, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Cabanatuan
City, held Dominga Corrales Fortuna guilty of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale. The trial court
held:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Dominga Fortuna GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale and hereby imposes upon her the penalty of life

imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) pesos, as the same involves
economic sabotage.
She is likewise ordered to reimburse five thousand four hundred (P5,400.00) each to Lina Ganot,
Nenita Andasan representing the amount they gave to the accused as processing fee and the
amount of four thousand one hundred fifty (P4,150.00) pesos in favor of Angelyn Magpayo, as
there was a partial restitution during the trial of the original five thousand four hundred
(P5,400.00) pesos she delivered to the accused.[2]
Seeking a reversal of her conviction, appellant Fortuna, in her assignment of errors, would
now have the Court conclude that I. The court a quo erred in convicting the accused-appellant on an information wherein the facts
alleged therein do not constitute an offense;
II. The court a quo erred in finding that accused-appellant violated Section 6, par. (m) of R.A.
8042 when it did not reimburse the alleged amounts received from private complainants;
III. The court a quo erred standing its finding that the accused-appellant was guilty of illegal
recruitment.[3]
The appeal is bereft of merit.
The crime of illegal recruitment is committed when, among other things, a person who,
without being duly authorized according to law, represents or gives the distinct impression that
he or she has the power or the ability to provide work abroad convincing those to whom the
representation is made or to whom the impression is given to thereupon part with their money in
order to be assured of that employment.[4]
Verily, the testimony presented at the trial by the complaining witnesses adequately
established the commission of the offense.
Testimony of complainant Lina Ganot
Q. Mrs. Witness, where were you in the month of June, 1998?
A. At Macatbong, Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q. Were you gainfully employed at that time?
A. No, sir.
Q. On that particular month, June, 1998, having been unemployed at that time, was
there ever an occasion that you tried to look for a job?
A. Yes, sir, I [tried] to look for a job.
Q. Was there ever an occasion that you tried to be a seller of Tupperware products?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Please tell us in connection with this intention of yours to sell Tupperware products,
did you ever attend a seminar?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where?
A. At Burgos Avenue, Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q. Have you ever come across this particular name Dominga Corrales Fortuna?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And where were you able to meet this particular person?
A. At the seminar of the Tupperware, sir.
Q. What transpired with respect to this particular meeting?
A. She recruited us and told us that she will give us good jobs, sir.
COURT
Q. Where is she now?
A. There, sir (witness pointing to a person who, when asked, answered by the name of
Dominga Corrales Fortuna).
FISCAL
Q. How was this accused able to relate to you that job placement will be available for
you in Taiwan?
A. She told me [to give] her P5,400.00 for processing fee and she went to our house and
I gave the said amount, sir.
Q. Upon hearing this particular proposition, what was your reaction?
A. I believe[d] and I thought that I [could] really work, sir.
Q. Aside from the processing fee of P5,400.00, were there any other financial matter
that was given by you?
A. None, sir; when we went to Manila, we shouldered our expenses.
Q. When did you go to Manila?
A. July 13, 1998, sir.
Q. What was the purpose why you went there?
A. For medical purpose, according to her, sir.
Q. And who was with you?
A. The accused, sir.
Q. Aside from you and the accused, were there any other persons?

A. We were accompanied by my co-complainants, sir, aside from the accused.[5]


Testimony of Angelyn Magpayo COURT:
Q. Do you know the accused?
A. Yes, Your Honor.
Q. Point to her now.
A. Shes the one, sir. (Witness pointing to a person whom when asked of her name
answered Dominga Fortuna y Corrales.)
Q. How did you come to know her?
A. I came to know her during the seminar of Tupperware, Your Honor.
FISCAL MACARAIG:
Q. Why did you have to attend this seminar in the selling of Tupperware?
A. As an additional business, sir.
Q. Could you please tell us, where this seminar [was] being held at that time?
A. At Burgos St., Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q. And when did you meet the accused for the first time?
A. At the seminar in Tupperware, sir.
Q. Could you please tell us what transpired during the first meeting with the accused?
A. She introduced herself to us, sir.
Q. Afterwards, what happened next?
A. She conversed with us and asked if we want[ed] to work outside the Philippines, sir.
Q. And what was your response to the offer of the accused?
A. I said I [was] willing because I already have a passport, sir.
Q. Aside from that particular question, what other matters that you and the accused
talked [about]?
A. She asked me if I [had] P5,400.00 for the processing of necessary papers, sir.
Q. And what was your response to this question?
A. I said I will raise [the] money, sir.
Q. [Were] you able to raise [the] money?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. When was the appointed time that you [would] have to hand or give the money to the
accused?

A. July 6, 1998, sir.


Q. And were you able to actually give the money, the P5,400.00?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was there a receipt of this particular payment?
A. None, sir.
Q. Could you please tell us why there was no receipt for this particular payment?
A. Because I trusted her, sir.
Q. And after the payment of P5,400.00 what happened next?
A. She brought us to Manila for medical purposes, sir.
Q. And what happened thereafter?
A. I was not able to get the result of the medical examination, sir.
Q. By the way, what country was mentioned to you by the accused where you were
going to work?
A. Taiwan, sir.
Q. And were you able to go to Taiwan?
A. No, sir.
Q. Could you please tell us why there was a failure in going to Taiwan?
A. After the medical examination, she never showed herself, sir.[6]
Testimony of Nenita Andasan Q. Do you know a certain Dominga Fortuna y Corrales?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. In what capacity were you able to know this Dominga Fortuna?
A. During the seminar of Tupperware, sir.
Q. And what is this seminar all about?
A. About selling Tupperware products, sir.
Q. And where was this seminar of Tupperware held?
A. At Burgos Avenue, Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q. Do you know who [was] the one conducting this seminar?
A. No, sir.
Q. Why did you attend this particular seminar of Tupperware products?
A. Because I was invited, sir.

Q. How many persons attended that seminar?


A. I cannot recall how many persons there were, sir.
Q. When was this seminar held?
A. In the month of June, 1998, sir.
Q. June of what year?
A. 1998, sir.
Q. You mentioned awhile ago that it was during the seminar of Tupperware products
that you were able to meet Dominga Fortuna, will you please tell us what transpired
during that particular meeting?
A. We [had] conversation and then she asked us if we wanted to go abroad, sir.
Q. Who was the one [who] asked you that?
A. The accused Dominga Fortuna, sir.
Q. And what was your particular response?
A. I said to her yes, sir, because I want[ed] to have a job.
Q. Were you the only one [who] was present at the seminar of Tupperware that was
offered this job?
A. Also my co-complainants, sir.
Q. What happened afterwards, after you told her that you were interested in working
abroad?
A. We set the date in order to fix our papers, sir.
Q. By the way, were those the only matters told to you by the accused at that point in
time?
A. She also told us to prepare money needed for that, sir.
Q. And how much would that money be to be prepared by you?
A. P5,400.00, sir.
Q. And did she tell you what this P5,400.00 is all about?
A. For processing of papers needed, sir.
Q. And when was the time that you had to actually pay or tender this P5,400.00?
A. In July, 1998, sir.
Q. Were you able to comply with this particular requirement?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And when did you actually comply with this requirement?

A. On July 6, 1998, sir.


Q. To whom did you personally tender this P5,400.00?
A. In the house of Mrs. Ganot, sir.
Q. And where is the house of this Mrs. Ganot?
A. At Macatbong, Cabanatuan City, sir.
Q. By the way, who is this Mrs. Ganot?
A. She is the one heading us, sir,
Q. Do you have knowledge whether this Mrs. Ganot [was] also interested in working
abroad?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How many were you who were present when you actually tendered the P5,400.00?
A. We were six (6), sir.
Q. Do you know the names of the others?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Will you please tell us the names of those other persons who were present when you
actually tender the P5,400.00 to the accused?
A. Rebecca de Leon, Annie Nuque, Nenita Andasan, Angelyn Magpayo, Lina Ganot
and Edgardo Salvador, sir.
Q. At that point in time after you had given the amount of P5,400.00 to the accused,
was there an official receipt that was issued or given to you by the accused?
A. None, sir.
Q. Do you know of any reason why there was no receipt?
A. Because we trusted her, sir, because we were barriomates.
Q. At that point in time that you actually handed the P5,400.00, where was Dominga
Fortuna?
A. She was present, sir.
Q. Did she tell you anything before and after the giving of this P5,400.00?
A. She said that we will be going to Manila to process our papers and passport and we
will have a medical examination, sir.[7]
The narration made by the complaining witnesses does appear to be straightforward,
credible and convincing, and there scarcely is any reason for ignoring the trial court in its
evaluation of their credibility. Indeed, the trial court has additionally observed:

x x x. There is no showing that any of the complainants had ill-motives against accused Dominga
Fortuna other than to bring her to the bar of justice. Furthermore, appellant was a stranger to
private complainants before the recruitment. It is contrary to human nature and experience for
persons to conspire and accuse a stranger of such a serious crime like this that would take the
latters liberty and send him or her to prison. Against the prosecutions overwhelming evidence,
accused could only offer a bare denial and an obviously concocted story.
Doctrinally, the assessment made on testimonial evidence by the trial judge is accorded the
highest respect for it is he who has the distinct opportunity to directly perceive the demeanor of
witnesses and personally ascertain their reliability. The rule has been said that a person charged
with illegal recruitment may be convicted on the strength of the testimony of the complainants, if
found to be credible and convincing, and that the absence of receipts to evidence payment to the
recruiter would not warrant an acquittal, a receipt not being fatal to the prosecution's cause.[8]
The pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 8042 state:
SEC. 6. Definition. For purposes of this act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing,
enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring,
contract of services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not,
when undertaken by a non-license or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of
Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines:
Provided, that any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or promises for a
fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged.
x x x x x x x x x.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or
more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale
if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.
Sec. 7. Penalties.
(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not
less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less
than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00).
(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal
recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein.
Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the person illegally recruited
is less than eighteen (18) years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority.
This Court finds the information which has charged appellant with the offense of Illegal
Recruitment in Large Scale, defined and penalized in Republic Act No. 8042, to be sufficient in
form and substance. While the information cited Section 6, paragraph (m), of Republic Act No.

8042, its factual averments, however, are sufficient to constitute the crime of Illegal Recruitment
in Large Scale under the aforequoted provisions of the law. It is not the specific designation of
the offense in the information that controls but it is the allegations therein contained directly
apprising the accused of the nature and cause of the accusation against him that matter. [9] The
requisites constituting the offense of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale have sufficiently been
proven by the prosecution. First, appellant, undeniably, has not been duly licensed to engage in
recruitment activities; second, she has engaged in illegal recruitment activities, offering private
complainants employment abroad for a fee; and third, she has committed the questioned illegal
recruitment activities against three or more persons. Illegal recruitment in large scale (when
committed against three or more persons), like illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate
(when carried out by a group of three or more persons), would be deemed constitutive of
economic sabotage[10] carrying a penalty, under section 7, paragraph (b), of Republic Act 8042, of
life imprisonment and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand (P500,000.00) pesos nor
more than one million (P1,000,000.00) pesos. The sentence imposed by the trial court thus
accords with the penalty prescribed by law.
A word in passing. No two cases are exactly alike; almost invariably, surrounding
circumstances vary from case to case. It is this reality that must have compelled the adoption by
the Revised Penal Code of the scheme of graduated penalties providing, correspondingly, for the
circumstances that affect criminal liability. The system allows the judge to have a good latitude
in the sentencing process. Indeed, in other jurisdictions, a bifurcated proceeding is prescribed in
order to help make certain that the penalty is commensurate to the wrong done. Under this
procedure, the guilt and the innocence of the accused is first determined and then, after a verdict
of plea or guilt, a pre-sentence hearing is conducted where the judge or a jury would hear
argument and receive additional evidence on such matters as the nature of the offense, manner of
its commission, the milieu of time and place, as well as the education, religion, physical and
mental state of the accused, along with still other conditions or circumstances, that may find
relevance in either mitigating or aggravating the punishment to be meted, [11] all calculated to
enhance a fair judgment. Statutory provisions for a single penalty, like those prescribed in
Republic Act No. 8042, virtually ignore these safeguards that help obviate the danger of
imposing either too great or too little a punishment for the offense.
It is in the above light and given the factual circumstances of the case at bar, that Congress
might see it fit to revisit Republic Act No. 8042 towards adopting the provisions of the Revised
Penal Code on penalties, including its traditional nomenclatures, that could pave the way for the
proper appreciation of the various circumstances long tested that affect criminal
liability. Meanwhile, the Court respectfully recommends to the President of the Philippines a
possible commutation of sentence.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, in
Criminal Case No. 8589 for Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale against appellant Dominga
Corrales is AFFIRMED.
Let copies of this decision be forwarded to the Office of the President and to the Congress of
the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

[1]

Rollo, p. 8.

[2]

Rollo, p. 73.

[3]

Rollo, p. 54.

[4]

People vs. Ong, 322 SCRA 38; People vs. Goce, 247 SCRA 780.

[5]

TSN, 09 May 2000, pp. 3-4.

[6]

TSN, 23 May 2000, pp. 4-8.

[7]

TSN, 16 June 2000, pp. 4-8.

[8]

People vs. Saulo, 344 SCRA 605.

[9]

People vs. Elamparo, 329 SCRA 404.

[10]

Sec. 10 of the Omnibus Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act 8042.

See Gerald D. Robin, Introduction to the Criminal Justice System, 2 nd Edition, Harper and Row
Publishers, New York (1984), at 332.
[11]

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 148198 October 1, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ELIZABETH BETH CORPUZ, appellant.


DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is an appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 54, in
Criminal Case No. 99-176637 finding appellant Elizabeth Corpuz guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale constituting economic sabotage under Sec. 6 (l) and
(m) in relation to Sec. 7(b) of R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of l995, and sentencing her to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00.
The Information against appellant reads as follows:

That sometime in July 1998 in the City of Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, representing herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and
transport workers abroad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit for a
fee the following persons, namely: BELINDA CABANTOG, CONCEPCION SAN DIEGO,
ERLINDA PASCUAL AND RESTIAN SURIO for employment abroad without first obtaining
the required license and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
and said accused failed to actually deploy without valid reasons said complainants abroad and to
reimburse the expenses incurred by them in connection with their documentation and processing
for purposes of deployment abroad to their damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]
When arraigned on March 21, 2000, appellant pleaded not guilty. Whereupon, trial on the
merits ensued.
The facts of the case are as follows:
In June 1998, private complainants Belinda Cabantog, Concepcion San Diego, Erlinda
Pascual and Restian Surio went to Alga-Moher International Placement Services Corporation at
1651 San Marcelino Street, Malate, Manila to apply for employment as factory workers in
Taiwan. They were accompanied by a certain Aling Josie who introduced them to the agencys
President and General Manager Mrs. Evelyn Gloria H. Reyes. [3] Mrs. Reyes asked them to
accomplish the application forms. Thereafter, they were told to return to the office with
P10,000.00 each as processing fee.[4]
On July 30, 1998, private complainants returned to the agency to pay the processing
fees. Mrs. Reyes was not at the agency that time, but she called appellant on the telephone to ask
her to receive the processing fees. Thereafter, appellant advised them to wait for the contracts to
arrive from the Taiwan employers.[5]
Two months later, nothing happened to their applications. Thus, private complainants
decided to ask for the refund of their money from appellant [6] who told them that the processing
fees they had paid were already remitted to Mrs. Reyes. When they talked to Mrs. Reyes, she
told them that the money she received from appellant was in payment of the latters debt.Thus, on
January 13, 1999, private complainants filed their complaint with the National Bureau of
Investigation[7] which led to the arrest and detention of appellant.
On March 23, 2000, while the case was before the trial court, private complainants received
the refund of their processing fees from appellants sister-in-law. Consequently, they executed
affidavits of desistance[8] from participation in the case against appellant.
For her part, appellant resolutely denied having a hand in the illegal recruitment and claimed
that she merely received the money on behalf of Mrs. Reyes, the President/General Manager of
Alga-Moher International Placement Services Corporation, where she had been working as
secretary for three months prior to July 30, 1998. On that day, Mrs. Reyes called her on the
telephone and told her to receive private complainants processing fees. In compliance with the
order of her employer and since the cashier was absent, she received the processing fees of
private complainants, which she thereafter remitted to Mrs. Reyes. She had no knowledge that
the agencys license was suspended by the POEA on July 29, 1998.[9]

On November 16, 2000, the trial court rendered the assailed decision, the dispositive portion
of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the above observations and findings accused Elizabeth Beth Corpuz is
hereby found guilty of the offense charged in the Information for violation of Sec. 6 (l), (m) in
relation to Sec. 7 (b) of R.A. 8042 without any mitigating nor aggravating circumstances
attendant to its commission, without applying the benefit of the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
Elizabeth Beth Corpuz is hereby sentenced to suffer a life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P500,000.00.
Her body is hereby committed to the custody of the Director of the Bureau of Correction for
Women, Mandaluyong City thru the City Jail Warden of Manila. She shall be credited with the
full extent of her preventive imprisonment under Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code.
No pronouncement of civil liability is hereby made since all the complainants have been
refunded of the fees.
SO ORDERED.[10]
In this appeal, appellant raises the following assignment of errors:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED IN THAT:
A. THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
THAT THE ACCUSED REPRESENTED HERSELF TO HAVE THE
CAPACITY TO CONTRACT, ENLIST AND TRANSPORT WORKERS
ABROAD, OR UNLAWFULLY RECRUIT THE COMPLAINANTS FOR A
FEE.
B. THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
THAT THE ACCUSED HAS MANAGEMENT CONTROL OVER ALGAMOHERs RECRUITMENT BUSINESS.[11]
The Information charged appellant for Illegal recruitment in large scale under Section 6 (l)
and (m) of R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of
1995, which reads:
SECTION 6. Definition. For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and
includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether
for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated
under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor
Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any
manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed
so engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts, whether committed by any person,
whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority:

xxxxxxxxx
(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the Department of Labor and
Employment; and
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation
and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take
place without the worker's fault. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large
scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage.
xxxxxxxxx
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or
more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale
if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.
The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and
accessories. In case of juridical persons, the officers having control, management or direction of
their business shall be liable.
Appellant contends that she is not liable for the foregoing illegal recruitment activities
considering that she was merely an employee having no control over the recruitment business of
the Alga-Moher International Placement Services Corporation and that she did not actually
recruit the private complainants. Moreover, she did not appropriate for her own use the
processing fees she received and she had no knowledge that the agencys license was suspended
by the POEA.
The trial court convicted appellant based on its findings that despite the suspension of the
agencys license, appellant still convinced the applicants to give their money with the promise to
land a job abroad. Moreover, as the registered secretary of the agency she had management
control of the recruitment business.
It is axiomatic that findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the collective
testimonies of witnesses and probative weight thereof and its conclusions culled from said
findings are accorded by this Court great respect, if not conclusive effect, because of the unique
advantage of the trial court in observing and monitoring at close range, the conduct, deportment
and demeanor of the witnesses as they testify before the trial court. [12] However, this principle
does not apply if the trial court ignored, misunderstood or misconstrued cogent facts and
circumstances of substance which, if considered, would alter the outcome of the case. [13] The
exception obtains in this case.
The records of the case show that Alga-Moher International Placement Service Corporation
is a licensed land-based recruitment agency. Its license was valid until August 24, 1999.
[14]
Likewise, appellant was its registered secretary while Mrs. Evelyn Gloria H. Reyes is its
President/General Manager.[15] Part of its regular business activity is to accept applicants who
desire to work here or abroad. Appellant, as secretary of the agency, was in charge of the custody
and documentation of the overseas contracts.

On July 30, 1998, appellant received the processing fees of the private complainants since
the cashier was absent that day. Her receipt of the money was in compliance with the order of her
employer, Mrs. Reyes. She did not convince the applicants to give her their money since they
went to the agency precisely to pay the processing fees upon the earlier advice of Mrs.
Reyes. Private complainant Belinda Cabantog testified as follows:
FISCAL BALLENA:
Q. Please tell the Court how did it happen that you went to the said agency?
A. When someone brought us there and introduced to the owner, Sir.
Q. And who is this friend or person you said you know who accompanied you?
A. Aling Josie, Sir.
Q. What is her full name?
A. I do not know, Sir.
Q. And who is this owner to whom you were introduced?
A. Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. And why do you know this Ty was the owner?
A. Because she is the friend of Aling Josie, Sir.
Q. Now, after the introduction to this owner what happened?
A. We were told to fill up the application form by Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. And after filling up this application form, what did you do with the same?
A. We went home and we were asked to come back, Sir.
Q. Now, did you come back?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. When did you come back?
A. July 30, Sir.
COURT:
Q. What year?
A. 1998, Your Honor.
FISCAL BALLENA:
Q. What happened when you come back?
A. When we came back we brought along the processing fee they needed, Sir.
Q. Why did you bring this processing fee?
A. We were required to bring it for the smooth processing of the papers, Sir.

Q. Who required you to bring this processing fee?


A. Mrs. Evelyn Ty, Sir.
Q. Now, when you came back what happened?
A. She was not at the office so she called up by phone and told us to give the money,
Sir.
Q. And to whom did to give the money?
A. Beth Corpuz, Sir.[16]
From the foregoing testimony, it is clear that all appellant did was receive the processing
fees upon instruction of Mrs. Reyes. She neither convinced the private complainants to give their
money nor promised them employment abroad.
Moreover, as stated in the last sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be
held liable for illegal recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of
juridical persons, the officers having control, management or direction of their business shall be
liable.
In the case at bar, we have carefully reviewed the records of the case and found that the
prosecution failed to establish that appellant, as secretary, had control, management or direction
of the recruitment agency. Appellant started her employment with the agency on May 1, 1998
and she was tasked to hold and document employment contracts from the foreign employers.
[17]
She did not entertain applicants and she had no discretion over how the business was
managed.[18] The trial courts finding that appellant, being the secretary of the agency, had control
over its business, is not only non sequitur but has no evidentiary basis.
An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable
as principal, together with his employer, if it is shown that he actively and consciously
participated in illegal recruitment. Settled is the rule that the existence of the corporate entity
does not shield from prosecution the corporate agent who knowingly and intentionally causes the
corporation to commit a crime. The corporation obviously acts, and can act, only by and through
its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law must deter. The employee or agent of a
corporation engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the carrying on of such
business and will be prosecuted as principal if, with knowledge of the business, its purpose and
effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however slight his
contribution may be. The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application in criminal
cases, and no man can escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime
upon the ground that he simply acted as an agent of any party. The culpability of the employee
therefore hinges on his knowledge of the offense and his active participation in its
commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting under the direction of his
superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally liable
for an act done for and in behalf of his employer.[19]
Anent the issue of whether or not appellant knowingly and intentionally participated in the
commission of the crime charged, we find that she did not.
In the appreciation of evidence in criminal cases, it is a basic tenet that the prosecution has
the burden of proof in establishing the guilt of the accused for the offense with which he is

charged.[20] Ei incumbit probation qui dicit non qui negat, i.e., he who asserts, not he who denies,
must prove.[21] The conviction of appellant must rest not on the weakness of his defense, but on
the strength of the prosecutions evidence.[22]
In the case at bar, the prosecution failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove appellants
active participation in the illegal recruitment activities of the agency. As already established,
appellant received the processing fees of the private complainants for and in behalf of Mrs.
Reyes who ordered her to receive the same. She neither gave an impression that she had the
ability to deploy them abroad nor convinced them to part with their money. More importantly,
she had no knowledge that the license was suspended the day before she received the
money.Their failure to depart for Taiwan was due to the suspension of the license, an event
which appellant did not have control of. Her failure to refund their money immediately upon
their demand was because the money had been remitted to Mrs. Reyes on the same day she
received it from them.
While we strongly condemn the pervasive proliferation of illegal job recruiters and
syndicates preying on innocent people anxious to obtain employment abroad, nevertheless, we
find the pieces of evidence insufficient to prove the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable
doubt. They do not pass the requisite moral certainty, as they admit of the alternative inference
that other persons, not necessarily the appellant, may have perpetrated the crime. Where the
evidence admits of two interpretations, one of which is consistent with guilt, and the other with
innocence, the accused must be acquitted. Indeed, it would be better to set free ten men who
might be probably guilty of the crime charged than to convict one innocent man for a crime he
did not commit.[23]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 54, in Criminal Case No. 99-176637 finding appellant Elizabeth
Corpuz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale constituting
economic sabotage under Sec. 6 (l) and (m) in relation to Sec. 7(b) of R.A. No. 8042, is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant Elizabeth Corpuz is ACQUITTED of the offense
charged on the ground of reasonable doubt. The Superintendent of the Correctional Institution
for Women is directed to cause the immediate release of appellant unless she is lawfully held for
another offense, and to inform this Court of the date of her release, or the ground for her
continued confinement, within ten days from notice.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, and Carpio, JJ., concur.
Azcuna, J., on leave.

[1]

Rollo, pp. 65-76; penned by Judge Romulo A. Lopez.

[2]

Rollo, p. 6.

[3]

Also known as Mrs. Ty.

[4]

TSN, May 8, 2000, pp. 3-5.

[5]

TSN, May 8, 2000, pp. 5-8.

[6]

TSN, June 16, 2000, pp. 7-8.

[7]

TSN, May 8, 2000, p. 9.

[8]

TSN, June 16, 2000, pp. 6-8.

[9]

TSN, September 6, 2000, pp. 3-11.

[10]

Rollo, pp. 75-76.

[11]

Rollo, p. 54.

[12]

People v. Santiago, G.R. No. 133445, 27 February 2003.

[13]

People v. Delos Reyes, G.R. No. 135241, 22 January 2003.

[14]

Folder of Exhibits, p. 1.

[15]

Id.

[16]

TSN, May 8, 2000, pp. 4-5

[17]

TSN, September 6, 2000, p. 13.

[18]

TSN, September 6, 2000, p. 4.

[19]

People v. Chowdury, 582 Phil. 459, 469-470 (2000).

[20]

People v. Tajada, G.R. No. 147200, 17 December 2002.

[21]

People v. Quijano, Sr., G.R. Nos. 144523-26, 10 June 2003.

[22]

People v. Taboga, G.R. Nos. 144086-87, 6 February 2002.

[23]

People v. Sarap, G.R. No. 132165, 26 March 2003.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. Nos. 114967-68

January 26, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
CRISPIN BILLABER y MATBANUA, Appellant.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
Convicted of illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa, Crispin Billaber y Matbanua appeals
the decision of Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.

The Information in Criminal Case No. 92-108577, charging the accused with illegal recruitment
in large scale reads, as follows:
That on or about and during the period comprised between May 3, 1992 and June 16, 1992,
inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, representing himself to have the
capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully, for a fee, recruit, and promise employment/job placement to the
following persons, namely: Raul Durano y Juabal, Elizabeth Genteroy y Evangelista and Tesita
Onza y Paala without first having secured the required license or authority from the Department
of Labor.
CONTRARY TO LAW.1
That in Criminal Case No. 92-108578 for the crime of estafa reads:
That on or about May 3, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud Raul Durano y Juabal in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representations
which he made to said Raul Durano y Juabal to the effect that he had the power and capacity to
recruit and employ said Raul Durano y Juabal and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent
papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of similar
deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said Raul Durano y Juabal to give and deliver, as in
fact he gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P18,000.00 on the strength of said
manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same were false and
fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact he did obtain the amount of P18,000.00
which amount once in his possession, with intent to defraud, he willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to his own personal use and benefit, to
the damage and prejudice of said Raul Durano y Juabal in the aforesaid amount ofP18,000.00
Philippine Currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2
Upon arraignment on 6 October 1992, the accused pleaded "not guilty" to the crimes
charged.3 Joint trial ensued thereafter.
The prosecution presented as witnesses, private complainants Elizabeth Genteroy, Raul Durano
and Tersina4Onza, as well as police investigator PO2 Venerando R. Mias. The evidence offered
by the prosecution established the following facts.
Sometime in April 1992, private complainant Elizabeth Genteroy, a public school teacher, was
introduced to accused Crispin Billaber by her friends, Laarni Nova and Olivia Montemayor, at
the office of Kingly Commodities in Makati. 5 The accused told Genteroy that he could help her
acquire the necessary papers and find her a job as a seamstress in the United States for a fee
of P40,000.00.6 The accused also informed Genteroy that he was in need of someone who was
willing to work as a driver in the US.7

Sometime in the same month, Genteroy introduced the accused to private complainant Raul
Durano somewhere in Makati.8 The accused offered Durano a job as his (the accuseds) personal
driver in the US. The accused charged Durano a fee of P18,000.00 for the processing of his
papers.9 The accused further assured Durano that he would be able to leave for the US within one
month.10
On 3 May 1992, at about 7:00 p.m., Durano paid the accused P18,000.00 at Minims Restaurant
at the corner of Taft Avenue and U.N. Avenue, Manila. 11 Durano asked for a receipt, but the
accused said it was not necessary since they will leave together within a month.12
On 4 May 1992, at about 7:00 p.m., private complainant Genteroy also paid the
accused P10,000.00 in Jollibee, Tayuman Branch at the corner of Rizal Avenue, Sta. Cruz,
Manila.13 The accused said that the amount would be used to secure the pertinent papers, like a
passport, visa and the ticket.14 The accused likewise told Genteroy that she may give the balance
of P30,000.00 at the airport, or she could settle the amount in the US. 15 Like Durano, Genteroy
requested a receipt, but the accused declined and assured her that she, together with the group
and the accused, will be leaving together16 on the 3rd week of June 1992.17 The departure date
was subsequently re-set to 23 July 199218 because there were others who wanted to join them.19
Meanwhile, sometime in the first week of June 1992, Genteroy introduced the accused to private
complainant Tersina Onza, a seamstress, at the office of Kingly Commodities. 20 The accused
asked Onza if she was interested in managing a dress shop that the accused was to put up in
California.21 For a fee of P10,000.00, the accused would process Onzas passport and other
papers.22 Onza accepted the accuseds offer.23
On 16 June 1992, Onza received a phone call from the accused telling her that he needed
the P10,000.00 because he "will catch up the time" so she could leave with them for the US on
the 23rd of July.24 That evening, at about 8:30, Onza gave P10,000.00 to the accused in front of
Jollibee, at the corner of Avenida and Tayuman Streets, Manila.25 Just like with the other private
complainants, the accused, despite demand, did not issue Onza a receipt. 26 He assured her that it
was not necessary since they would be leaving together with him on 23 July 1992.27
Thereafter, the accused instructed the three private complainants, Genteroy, Durano and Onza, to
meet him on 23 July 1992 at the airport, where he would bring them their travel papers. 28 The
three private complainants, including others also allegedly recruited by the accused, did as they
were told and waited at the airport on the date specified. 29 The accused, however, failed to show
up at the airport.30
On 25 July 1992, Durano chanced upon the accused at the canteen of Emilio Aguinaldo College
in Manila.31 A commotion ensued when Durano tried to stop the accused from leaving the
canteen.32 A police officer who happened to be taking a snack at the canteen brought both
Durano and the accused to the United Nations Station of the Western Police District (WPD) for
investigation.33

The prosecution also offered in evidence a Certification, 34 dated 28 July 1992, from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) stating that the accused was not
licensed or authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment.
The accused, the sole witness for the defense, is a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii. 35 He described
himself as a part-time travel agent 36 who came to the Philippines to put up a travel agency. 37 He
failed in that venture, however, because he did not have any money.38
The accused denied receiving any money from private complainants,39 who were merely his
acquaintances.40 He said that he did not receive any money from private complainant Tersina
Onza, who purportedly handed her payment to private complainant Raul Durano. 41 Durano
allegedly misled Onza into believing that he (Durano) turned over the money to the
accused.42 The accused further claimed that Durano asked his (Duranos) common law-wife,
private complainant Genteroy, to talk to Onza so the latter would file a case against him (the
accused).43
Many times before, Durano allegedly had tried to extort money from the accused without
success.44 Durano even offered to drop the case against him in exchange for money.45
The claims of frame-up and extortion notwithstanding, the trial court gave credence to the
testimonies of private complainants, which it found "highly credible." On 24 February 1994, the
trial court rendered a decision convicting the accused of the crimes charged, as follows:
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 92-108577, this Court finds the accused, Crispin Billaber y
Matbanua, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale and
sentences him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00, plus
the costs. The accused is further ordered to pay actual damages to the complainants, Raul
Durano, Elizabeth Genteroy and Tesina Onza the sums of P18,000.00,P10,000.00
and P10,000.00, respectively, with interest thereon at the legal rate of 6% per annum from the
date of filing these criminal cases, July 27, 1992, until the amount shall have been fully paid.
In Criminal Case No. 92-108578, this Court also finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa under Article 315, subdivision Nos. 2 and 3, of the Penal Code (as
regards Complainant Raul Durano), and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of one
(1) year, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correccional as minimum to five
(5) years, five (5) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as maximum and to pay
the costs.
SO ORDERED.46
The accused, now appellant, assigns the following errors:
1. In not taking into consideration that Accused-appellant was picked-up on July 25, 1992,
"invited" by police operatives without any warrant at the instance of complainant Tresina Onza,
45 years old, who did not even state the amount allegedly taken or paid by her to Accused-

appellant left blank in her statement made before the WPD operatives who stole his watch and
wallet containing $350.00 in cash and P5,250.00 in Philippine currency.
2. Failure to take into consideration the various pleas made by Accused-appellant in asking for
WPD police officers that he be afforded the assistance of counsel which was turned down and
detained for seventy (70) days when arraigned on October 6, 1992, before the Metropolitan Trial
Court, Br. 24, City of Manila, by City Court Judge Aida Rangel Roque.
3. Failure to take into consideration the unnecessary delays in scheduling the pre-trial of a
detained American tourist when Judge Aida Roque scheduled the pre-trial on November 12,
1992, exactly 106 days of detention, when the scheduled pre-trial was again moved to December
15, 1992, when all was again reset for December 22, 1992 over the vehement objection of
defense counsels for dismissal of the cases for failure to prosecute when the trial was again reset
for the fourth time on January 19, 1993, "for lack of material time" over the objection of defense
de-oficio counsel as Accused was scheduled to fly back to Hawaii since December 22, 1992, on
time for Christmas season.
4. Failure to take into consideration the plight of Accused who had already served sentence and
was ordered discharged by RTC Judge David G. Nitafan of Branch 52, Manila, in appealed Crim.
Case Nos. 93-125980 and 125981 with complaining witnesses Elizabeth Genteroy and Teresiana
Onza, respectively, when the same Judge Nitafan directed the Prison Officer thru the City Jail
Warden to discharge from custody Accused Billaber on March 20, 1994, after taking note in his
seven-page Order that
"With the above conclusion, it is clear that the accused had overstayed in jail."
5. The Court further failed to take into consideration that "double jeopardy" exists when Judge P.
Laguio, Jr. convicted accused Billaber to life sentence in Criminal Case nos. 92-108577-78 when
on April 5, 1994, Judge Laguio, Jr. promulgated the decision convicting accused Billaber without
taking into consideration that the other two (2) appealed cases before Judge David G. Nitafan
were already dismissed since March 20, 1995. Judge Laguio failed to take "judicial notice" of the
March 20, 1994, dismissal order leaving the uncorroborated testimony of complainant Raul
Durano.
6. Judge Perfecto AS. Laguio, Jr. committed "falsification" by antedating his decision to
February 24, 1994, upon realizing that the accused Billaber was ordered released from the City
Jail when he promulgated his "alleged decision" on April 5, 1994, or forty (40) days late if
ever he had the decision prepared as early as February 24, 1994, when he had no valid or
plausible reason to delay the promulgation of his very late decision when the case was
terminated on November 24, 1993, and submitted for decision when the erring judge took him
five (5) months (November 24, 1993 to April 5, 1994) to decide after he had taken "judicial
notice" that Judge David G. Nitafan had already dismissed accused Billaber for having
"overstayed in jail" in the application of the mandatory provision of article 70 of the Revised
Penal Code on simultaneous service of one year in Criminal Case Nos. 286919-20 as
promulgated by Judge Aida Rangel Roque of Branch 24, Metropolitan Trial Court, City of

Manila, when accused has already served THREE YEARS AND FOUR MOS. from his illegal
arrest on July 25, 1992, up to the present November 15, 1995, deprived of his liberty.
7. The Court a quo erred in holding accused guilty of "illegal recruitment" as charged when only
one (1) case of "Estafa" with Raul Durano as complaining witness was well within the competent
jurisdiction of Judge Perfecto AS. Laguio, Jr. as the other two "estafa" cases filed by Elizabeth
Genteroy and Teresina Onza were already DISMISSED on March 24, 1994, two weeks ahead of
the delayed promulgation of the questioned decision of Judge Laguio on April 5, 1994,
antedating the same decision to February 24, 1994, and after five (5) months from the time the
case was submitted for decision on November 24, 1993.47
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in not considering that he was accosted without a
warrant on 25 July 1992.
The details of the alleged arrest are sketchy at best. It appears that appellant was brought to the
police station, together with private complainant Durano, not because of the present charges but
because of the commotion that ensued between the two at the canteen of the Emilio Aguinaldo
College.48 At the police station, Durano and the two other private complainants then executed
statements charging appellant with illegal recruitment and estafa.49
Any question, if at all, as to whether there was an actual arrest 50 or whether, in the commotion,
appellant committed, was actually committing, or was attempting to commit an offense, 51 have
been rendered moot. Appellant did not allege any irregularity in a motion to quash before
entering his plea,52 and is therefore deemed to have waived any question of the trial courts
jurisdiction over his person.53
Appellant also maintains that he was denied his right to counsel while he was at the police
station. Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense has, among other
rights, the right to competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. 54 Any
confession or admission obtained in violation of this right shall be inadmissible in evidence
against the accused.55 The allegation that appellant was deprived his right to counsel, even if true,
would not alter the outcome of this case for it does not appear that the prosecution offered in
court any confession or admission obtained as a consequence of an un-counseled custodial
investigation.
The claim that the pre-trial conference and the trial were repeatedly postponed in violation of
appellants right to speedy trial is not supported by the record.
After appellants arraignment and plea on 6 October 1992, the trial court scheduled the pre-trial
conference for 12 November 1992.56 On the latter date, the trial court, upon appellants own
instance, issued an Order dispensing with the pre-trial conference.57
In the same Order, the trial court set the date for trial on 15 December 1992. 58 Private
complainants, however, failed to appear on said date, prompting the defense to move for the
dismissal of the case.59 The trial court denied the motion since it was only the first time that the
private complainants failed to appear.60 The trial court then reset the trial to 22 December 1992,

warning that "should the prosecution witnesses fail to appear, [the court] will be constrained to
dismiss [the] case for failure to prosecute."61
The records further reveal that on 22 December 1992, the court again reset the trial to 19 January
1993, this time with the "agreement of both the prosecution and the defense."62
The prosecution conducted the direct examination of private complainant Raul Durano in the
trial of 19 January 1993, but his cross-examination was postponed to 28 January and 2 February
1993 for lack of time.63 Evidently, the trial court had to hear two other cases awaiting trial on the
same day.64
Over the defenses objection, the hearing of 28 January 1993 was again postponed when private
complainants Genteroy and Durano, who were present in court, left because they thought that
trial would not push through that morning.65
Trial proceeded until 24 November 1993, when the defense rested.66 Other than the 30 September
1993 hearing, when the accused asked for postponement because of his counsels absence, 67 trial
was continuous.
The Constitution mandates that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a speedy
trial.68 The right to speedy trial is deemed violated only when the proceedings is attended by
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the trial are
asked for and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is
allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.69
None of these circumstances attended the proceedings below. Only twice did the prosecution fail
to present a witness, resulting in the resetting of the trial, once on the private complainants
erroneous belief that the hearing was not going to push through. That the cross-examination of
private complainant Durano on 19 January 1993 had to be postponed because of two other cases
pending hearing does not constitute a violation of the accuseds right to speedy trial. The parties
in said two cases likewise deserve a speedy disposition of their cases 70 and, understandably, the
trial judge had to budget the courts time to accommodate them. All in all, there was actually
only one unjustified postponement in the proceedings below, which cannot be described as
vexatious, capricious or oppressive.
Appellant next claims that his conviction constituted double jeopardy since these cases were
allegedly already dismissed by Branch 52 of the Manila RTC, presided by Judge David Nitafan.
Apparently, private complainants Genteroy and Onza filed separate complaints for estafa (MeTC
Crim. Case Nos. 286919-20) against appellant prior to the filing of the complaints for estafa by
private complainant Durano and for illegal recruitment in large scale by all three. Convicted by
the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila of two counts of estafa and sentenced in each
case to one year of prision correccional, the accused appealed to the Manila RTC, Branch 52
(Crim. Case Nos. 93-125980-81). Judge Nitafan ordered the release of the accused on the ground
that service of the accuseds sentence should be simultaneous and that the accused had served
such sentence.

For double jeopardy to exist, three requisites must be present: (1) a first jeopardy must have
attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and (3) the
second jeopardy must be for the same offense as that in the first.71
The cases before Branch 52 consisted of two counts of estafa committed against Genteroy and
Onza. On the other hand, the present cases, which sprang from Branch 18, are for one count of
estafa committed against Durano and for illegal recruitment in large scale, filed at the instance of
Durano, Genteroy and Onza. Plainly, there is no identity between the estafa cases in Branch 52
and the estafa case in Branch 18 because each case arose from different sets of facts and
committed against different persons. Neither do any of the estafa cases bar a prosecution for
illegal recruitment, since they are entirely different offenses and neither one necessarily includes
or is necessarily included in the other. A person who is convicted of illegal recruitment may, in
addition be convicted of estafa under Article 315 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. There is no
problem of jeopardy because illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, in which the criminal
intent is not necessary, whereas estafa is malum in se in which the criminal intent of the accused
is necessary.72 The claim of double jeopardy, therefore, is patently without merit.
Appellant accuses Judge Laguio, Jr., who rendered the appealed decision, of falsifying the
rendition of the judgment of conviction. The Judge allegedly antedated the judgment to make it
appear that the decision was rendered on 24 February 1994. In a notice from the clerk of court,
however, defense counsel was informed that promulgation of judgment was to be made on 5
April 1994. The motive for such falsification was to prevent double jeopardy from attaching
because defense counsel had informed Judge Laguio, Jr. that Judge Nitafan had already ordered
appellants release in the latters Decision dated 24 March 1994.
Appellant makes equally serious allegations against the police, whom he accuses of taking his
valuables, of arbitrary detention or delay in his delivery to the judicial authorities, and of
violating his right to counsel.
The accusations against the trial judge, as well as against the police, have no bearing in the
disposition of this appeal. They are not relevant in the adjudication of his guilt and have no place
in these proceedings. The veracity of appellants accusations will have to await the filing of the
appropriate charges and the conduct of an investigation before the proper forum.
The crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is committed when the following elements concur,
to wit: (1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to engage
lawfully in recruitment and placement of workers; (2) he or she undertakes either any activity
within the meaning of "recruitment and placement" defined under Article 13, paragraph (b), or
any prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code; and (3) that the accused
commits the acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group. 73 All three elements
were established during the trial. The first element is substantiated by the POEA
certification.74 The second is supported by the testimonies of the private complainants Durano,
Genteroy and Onza. The third element is evident from the number of complainants against whom
the accused committed illegal recruitment.

The absence of receipts to evidence payment to the recruiter would not warrant an acquittal, a
receipt not being fatal to the prosecutions cause. 75 The trial court found the testimonies of
private complainants to be credible.76The assessment of the testimonial evidence by the trial
judge is accorded the highest respect for it was he who had the distinct opportunity to directly
perceive the demeanor of witnesses and personally ascertain their reliability.1wphi1
The penalty prescribed for illegal recruitment in large scale is life imprisonment and a fine
of P100,000.00. Thus, the trial court imposed the correct penalty for illegal recruitment in large
scale upon appellant.
Appellant is also guilty of estafa, defined and punished by Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code:
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
1st. 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; but the total penalty which
may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the
accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
.
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.
.
There are three ways of committing estafa under Article 315 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code: (1)
by using a fictitious name; (2) by falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications,
property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; and (3) by means of other similar
deceits. Under this class of estafa, the element of deceit is indispensable.77
In this case, private complainant Raul Durano was led by appellant to believe that he possessed
the power and qualifications to provide Durano with work abroad, when in fact he was not
licensed or authorized to do so. Deceived, private complainant parted with his money and
delivered the same to appellant. Plainly, appellant is guilty of estafa.
The penalty prescribed by Article 315 is composed of only two, not three, periods, in which case,
Article 65 of the same Code requires the division of the time included in the penalty into three

equal portions of time included in the penalty prescribed, forming one period of each of the three
portions. Applying the latter provision, the maximum, medium and minimum periods of the
penalty prescribed are:
Maximum - 6 years, 8 months, 21 days to 8 years
Medium - 5 years, 5 months, 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, 20 days
Minimum - 4 years, 2 months, 1 day to 5 years, 5 months, 10 days
Appellant was proved to have defrauded private complainant Durano in the amount of P18,
000.00. Thus, 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, as the
amount defrauded does not exceedP22,000.0078 and as no aggravating or mitigating circumstance
is present.79
In imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, the Court is
required to impose upon the accused an indeterminate sentence. The maximum term thereof shall
be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules
of the said Code. Here, the maximum term is 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision
correccional to 6 years, 8 months and 20 days of prision mayor.
On the other hand, the minimum term shall be "within the range of the penalty next lower to that
prescribed by the Code for the offense." 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.
The trial court sentenced appellant to suffer imprisonment of 1 year, 8 months and 21 days of
prision correccional as minimum to 5 years, 5 months and 11 days of prision correccional as
maximum. This indeterminate sentence is within the maximum and minimum terms as
determined above. The penalty imposed for estafa is correct.
The trial court, however, erred in awarding private complainants Genteroy and Onza the amount
of P10,000.00 each as actual damages in the illegal recruitment case (Crim. Case No. 92108577). Previously, the MeTC in the estafa cases Genteroy and Onza filed (Case Nos. 28691920) ordered appellant to pay private complainants the same amounts. Section 1, Rule 111 of the
Rules of Court provides that, "In no case may the offended party recover damages twice for the
same act or omission of the accused."
The rate of six percent (6%) per annum as interest imposed on the actual damages of P18,000.00
awarded to private complainant Durano is also erroneous. As the amount of P18,000.00 given by
Durano in consideration of his placement constitutes a loan or forbearance of money, the rate of
interest should be twelve percent (12%) per annum in line with this Courts pronouncement
in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals:80

II. With regard particularly to an award of interest in the concept of actual or compensatory
damages, the rate of interest, as well as the accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows:
1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan
or forbearance of money, the interest due should be that which may have been stipulated in
writing. Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially
demanded. In the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be
computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the
provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil Code.81
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 92-108577, appellant Crispin Billaber y Matbanua is found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale under Article 38
of the Labor Code, as amended, and sentences him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and
to pay a fine of P100,000.00, plus the costs. Accused-appellant is further ordered to pay to
private complainant Raul Durano the sum of P18,000.00 as actual damages, with interest thereon
at the rate of 12% per annum from July 27, 1992, the date of filing of this criminal case, until the
amount shall have been fully paid.
In Criminal Case No. 92-108578, appellant is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of estafa under Article 315 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and sentences him to suffer the
indeterminate penalty of one (1) year, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision
correccional as minimum to five (5) years, five (5) months and eleven (11) days of prision
correccional as maximum and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo, Sr., JJ., concur.

[1]

Records, p. 2.

[2]

Id., at 8.

[3]

Id., at 12.

[4]

Also appears as Tresina in the Records.

[5]

TSN, February 16, 1993, pp. 1-2.

[6]

Id., at 3.

[7]

Id., at 9.

[8]

TSN, January 19, 1993, p. 4.

[9]

Id., at 4-5, 7.

[10]

Id., at 5, 7.

[11]

Id., at 6.

[12]

Id., at 5.

[13]

TSN, February 16, 1993, p. 3.

[14]

Id., at 4.

[15]

Ibid.

[16]

TSN, February 16, 1993, p. 10.

[17]

Id., at 5, 14.

[18]

Id., at 4-5.

[19]

Id., at 15.

[20]

TSN, February 23, 1993, p. 3.

[21]

Ibid.

[22]

TSN, February 23, 1993, p. 4.

[23]

Ibid.

[24]

TSN, February 23, 1993, pp. 4-5.

[25]

Id., at 5.

[26]

Id., at 5-6.

[27]

Id., at 5.

[28]

Id., at 6.

[29]

Ibid.

[30]

TSN, February 23, 1993, p. 7.

[31]

TSN, January 19, 1993, p. 9.

[32]

Ibid.

[33]

Ibid.

[34]

Exhibit A.

[35]

TSN dated November 24, 1993, pp. 1, 5.

[36]

Id., at 1.

[37]

Id., at 3.

[38]

Id., at 4.

[39]

Id., at 3.

[40]

Id., at 5.

[41]

Id., at 3.

[42]

Id., at 6.

[43]

Id., at 3.

[44]

Id., at 6.

[45]

Ibid.

[46]

Records, p. 79.

[47]

Rollo, pp. 66-67.

[48]

TSN, 19 January 1993, p. 9.

[49]

TSN, 10 June 1993, pp. 2-3.

[50]

SECTION 1. Definition of arrest. Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he may be
bound to answer for the commission of an offense. (Rule 113, Rules of Court.)

[51]

See Section 5 (a), Rule 113, Rules of Court.

[52]

See Section 3 (b) in relation to Section 1, Rule 117, Rules of Court.

[53]

See Section 8, Rule 117, Rules of Court.

[54]

CONST., art. III, sec. 12 (1).

[55]

Id., art. III, sec. 12 (3).

[56]

Records, p. 12.

[57]

Id., at 13.

[58]

Ibid.

[59]

Records, p. 17.

[60]

Ibid.

[61]

Ibid.

[62]

Records, p. 22.

[63]

Id., at 24-25.

[64]

Ibid.

[65]

Records, p. 29.

[66]

Records, p. 66.

[67]

Id., at 60.

[68]

CONST., art. III, sec. 14 (2).

[69]

Binay v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 120681-83, Magsaysay v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 128136,
October 1, 1999, 316 SCRA 65.

[70]

CONST., art. III, sec. 16.

[71]

People v. Tac-An, G.R. No. 148000, 27 February 2003.

[72]

People v. Ong, G.R. No. 119594, 18 January 2000, 322 SCRA 38.

[73]

People v. Baytic, G.R. No. 150530, 20 February 2003.

[74]

Exhibit C.

[75]

People v. Fortuna, G.R. No. 148137, January 2003.

[76]

Records, p. 79.

[77]

People v. Olermo, G.R. No. 127848, 17 July 2003.

[78]

REVISED PENAL CODE, art. 315.

[79]

Id., art. 65 in relation to art. 64.1.

[80]

G.R. No. 97412, July 12, 1994, 234 SCRA 78.

[81]

Id., at 95.

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 132029. July 30, 2004]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. MARIO ALZONA, appellant.

DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before us is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated July 28, 1997 rendered in CA-G.R.
CR No. 17228, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the joint decision of the trial court finding appellant MARIO ALZONA guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale and sentencing him to suffer the
penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00 (Criminal Case No. 92-113702)
and estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 92-113706 to 92-113709) is AFFIRMED with modification in the
sense that the penalty which should be imposed upon herein appellant in Criminal Case No. 92113709 is the indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as
minimum, to 9 years of prision mayor, as maximum.
Pursuant to Section 13(2), Rule 124 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, let
this case be certified and the entire records thereof be elevated to the Supreme Court for review.
Costs against the appellant.
SO ORDERED.
On December 4, 1996, an Information for Large Scale Illegal Recruitment against appellant
Mario Alzona, docketed as Criminal Case No. 92-113702 and seven Informations for Estafa
against appellant and his wife, Miranda Alzona, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113703 to
92-113709, were filed before Branch 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila (RTC for
brevity). All eight cases were consolidated and jointly tried by the RTC. However, due to the
failure of private complainants to testify and present their evidence, Criminal Cases Nos. 92113703 to 92-113705 were dismissed but only as against appellant Mario Alzona.
In Criminal Case No. 92-113702, the Information charges appellant as follows:
That in (sic) or about and during the period comprised between August 2, 1991 and March 30,
1992, inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, representing himself to have
the capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then
and there willfully, and unlawfully, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement
abroad to the following persons, namely: LYDIA C. RAMOS, MELINDA P. GONZALES,
MARCELA R. MERCADO, FERNANDO P. DELA CRUZ, LEONARDO C. MERCURIO,
MARIO REGINO P. DECENA and JAMES M. MAZON, without first having secured the
required license or authority from the Department of Labor.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
In Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113706 to 92-113709, the Informations allege that appellant,
conspiring and confederating with his wife, Miranda Alzona, defrauded private complainants
Fernando Dela Cruz, James Mazon, Leonardo Mercurio and Mario Regino Decena, by means of
false manifestations and fraudulent representation that they had the power and capacity to recruit

and employ the private complainants and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent papers if
given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of other similar
deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said private complainants to give and deliver, as in
fact private complainants delivered sums of money to appellant and his wife, the latter well
knowing that their representations were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain
sums of money from private complainants, which money, once in their possession, they
misappropriated, misapplied and converted to their own personal use and benefit, to the damage
and prejudice of the private complainants.
Upon arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to the foregoing charges. Trial
ensued. Accused Miranda Alzona remains at-large.
The facts of the case, as established by the prosecution, are as follows.
Private complainant Mario Regino Decena came to know of appellant because a friend of
his, Goring Rodil, was able to work abroad through the facilitation of appellant. Decena met
appellant at the latters house at 1532 Hizon St., Sta. Cruz, Manila, where appellant asked him to
prepare P38,000.00, inclusive of the P1,000.00 for the passport, so he can leave within one
month. Said amount was supposed to pay for his fare going to Korea where appellant said he
would be employed as a factory worker with a monthly salary of $450.00. Both appellant and
Miranda convinced him to apply for work abroad. He then paid theP1,000.00 for the passport
and on February 10, 1992, he paid another P33,000.00, received by appellant himself. The latter
refused to give him a receipt for the amounts he paid. Despite having paid the total ofP34,000.00,
appellant failed to send him to work in Korea and also failed to return his money.[2]
Another private complainant, Leonardo Mercurio, also went to appellants house in Sta.
Cruz, Manila and applied to appellant and his wife for work abroad. Mercurio and his brother-inlaw, Fernando Dela Cruz, were accompanied by Decena who had also applied to the spouses
Alzona for overseas work. Mercurio talked mainly to appellants wife, Miranda, in the presence
of appellant. She asked him to payP1,000.00 for the passport. Appellant was seated around the
same table where he and Miranda were talking. Appellant and Miranda asked Mercurio and his
brother-in-law to pay P20,000.00 each on March 30, 1992. Thus, on March 30, 1992, Mercurio
delivered to appellant the amount of P20,000.00 and despite his request for a receipt, appellant
refused to issue one. The total fees being asked for by appellant wasP38,000.00. After receiving
the P20,000.00, appellant reminded Mercurio to pay the balance so he can depart within a week
for Korea where appellant promised him employment as a factory worker with a monthly salary
of at least $450.00. Appellant instructed Mercurio to buy an attach case and a coat and
tie. Mercurio was not able to depart by the first week of April as promised by appellant but he
continued to follow-up his application. Sometime in July of 1992, Mercurio became impatient
and demanded from appellant for the return of his money. On August 21, 1992, Mercurio filed a
complaint with the police against appellant.[3]
Private complainant Fernando Dela Cruz corroborated the testimony of Mercurio on all
material points. On some of the occasions that he and Mercurio followed-up their applications,
Dela Cruz talked to appellant himself who would always tell him to prepare because they will
soon be leaving for Korea. The last time they went to appellants house, the Barangay Captain of
the place informed them that appellant had already been apprehended.[4]

Private complainant James Mazon had a similar experience with appellant and
Miranda. After having heard that appellant and Miranda were accepting applicants for
employment abroad, Mazon went to appellants residence during the first week of January,
1992. Appellant and Miranda promised that he would be deployed to Korea where he will be
employed as a factory worker. He was told to pay the placement fee of P38,000.00 inclusive of
charges for the passport. Appellant told Mazon that he was in-charge of booking and procuring
tickets, while Miranda was the one who made arrangements with regard to the application for a
job abroad. On January 10, 1992, he gave P15,000.00 to appellant who did not issue a
receipt. Upon receiving such partial payment, appellant promised him that he would be deployed
within one to two months. He was never deployed to Korea and he heard from the other private
complainants who were also from Mulanay, Quezon, that appellant was already in jail.[5]
Risa Balverde, a Licensure Officer III of the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA) testified that appellant was neither licensed nor authorized by the POEA
to recruit workers for overseas employment.[6]
For his defense, appellant merely denied that he ever met, talked to or received money from
the aforementioned four private complainants; nor had he been involved in illegal
recruitment. He presented the alibi that he, being a jeepney driver, was out of their house
everyday from 7 o clock in the morning to around 9 oclock in the evening, so private
complainants could not have talked to him at his house at 1532 Hizon St., Sta. Cruz, Manila. He,
however, admitted that in 1989, he found out that his wife was engaged in recruiting workers for
abroad. In fact, his wife had been going back and forth to Korea around six times a year since
1990, to accompany people. He stopped being a jeepney driver on July 15, 1992, because so
many people were going to their house.[7]
Appellants daughter, Marites Alzona, corroborated her fathers testimony that he is a jeepney
driver and is out of their house everyday from 6 oclock in the morning to 10 oclock in the
evening, and therefore, private complainants could not have met her father. She admitted that she
had seen private complainants talking to her mother at their house beginning August 1991 but
she was unaware as to what their purpose was for coming to their house. She would see them at
their house around four times a month, but the last time she saw them was in July 1992. Her
mother left for Korea on July 15, 1992 and thereafter, every time private complainants would
come looking for her mother, she would be the one to talk to them. When she told them that her
mother had left for Korea, private complainants became angry. On August 5, 1992, she and her
father were arrested at their house.[8]
Appellants sister, Esther Panday, testified that she owns the jeepney being driven by
appellant everyday, twelve hours a day. Such being the case, she believed appellant could not
have engaged in any other sideline such as recruiting workers for abroad.[9]
After both parties had rested their case, the trial court rendered judgment, [10] the dispositive
portion of which read as follows:
WHEREFORE, this court finds the accused Mario Alzona GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
Illegal Recruitment in large scale in Criminal Case No. 92-113702 and of four (4) separate
crimes of estafa in Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113706, 92-113707, 92-113708 and 92-113709 and,
as a consequence thereof, sentences him as follows:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 92-113702, to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine
of P100,000.00; and
(2) In Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113706, 92-113707, 92-113708 and 92-113709, to suffer in each
case the indeterminate penalty of one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional
minimum as minimum to five (5) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional maximum
as maximum.
Further, the accused shall indemnify the private complainants Fernando dela Cruz, James Mazon,
Leonardo Mercurio and Mario Regino P. Decena the respective sums of P21,000.00, P15,000.00,
P21,000.00, and P34,000.00, with interest thereon at the legal rate from judicial demand until
fully paid.
Costs against the accused in all the above-mentioned cases.
Anent Criminal Cases No. 92-113703, 92-113704 and 92-113705, the same are hereby ordered
dismissed as against accused Mario Alzona for lack of evidence.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.[11]
Appellant appealed the criminal cases to the Court of Appeals with the following
Assignment of Errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT ILLEGALLY
RECRUITED THE COMPLAINANTS.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF 4
COUNTS OF ESTAFA DESPITE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO PROVE THAT HE
CONSPIRED WITH HIS WIFE IN DEFRAUDING THE COMPLAINANTS.
Appellant points out that the testimonies of Mercurio, Dela Cruz and Mazon showed that it
was actually only Miranda who transacted with private complainants. Therefore, argues
appellant, there was no sufficient evidence to prove that appellant was acting in confederation
with his wife. Furthermore, appellant claims that private complainants merely implicated him
because they could no longer find Miranda who was the one who recruited private complainants
for overseas employment.
On July 28, 1997, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision, the decretal portion of which
has been quoted earlier.
First, we tackle the charge of Illegal Recruitment against appellant. Pertinent provisions of
the Labor Code state thus:

Article 13. Definitions. ...


(b) Recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, 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: 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.
...
Article 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 nonholders of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of this Code. The
Department of Labor or any law enforcement officer may initiate complaints under this Article.
(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
Illegal Recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or
more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or
illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph hereof. Illegal
Recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons
individually or as a group, . . .
Article 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; . . .
Pursuant to the foregoing, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime of
illegal recruitment in large scale, to wit:
(1) the person undertakes any recruitment activity defined under Article 13, paragraph (b), or any
prohibited practice enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) said person does not have
a license or authority to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the act is
committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group.[12]
The testimonies of prosecution witnesses, namely: private complainants Decena, Mercurio,
Dela Cruz, and Mazon and Licensure Officer III Balverde, of the POEA, prove that appellant and
his wife Miranda promised overseas employment to private complainants upon payment of
placement fees, without the necessary license therefor. Appellant maintains that he could not
have transacted with private complainants as he was out of their house as a jeepney driver from 6
oclock in the morning to 9 oclock in the evening, seven days a week. With these conflicting

versions of the parties, it is quite clear that the resolution of this case revolves around the
credibility of witnesses.
We are constrained to scrutinize the entire records of the case and determine whether the
prosecution evidence has proven the existence of all the elements of the crimes of Illegal
Recruitment and Estafa.
It is important to keep in mind the oft-repeated rule that:
. . . where the issue is on credibility, the findings of the trial court will generally not be
disturbed. The trial court has the advantage of hearing the witnesses and observing their conduct
during the trial, circumstances that carry great weight in appreciating credibility. The trial court
is thus in a better position to settle such an issue.[13]
We have carefully reviewed the records of the case and find no cogent reason to overturn the
factual findings of the trial court, especially its evaluation of the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses, thus: the testimonies of private complainants . . . given in clear, logical and
straightforward manner, mentioning details of the incidents that could not have been merely
concocted, reflecting spontaneity and sincerity in the narration of events, are indicative of the
truth of what actually happened.[14]
The testimonies of the four private complainants, viewed in their totality, have indeed
established that appellant and Miranda cooperated with each other in convincing private
complainants to pay them a placement fee of P38,000.00 for employment as factory workers
in Korea, despite the absence of the required license therefor. The alleged segmented portions of
the testimonies of Mercurio, Dela Cruz, and Mazon, quoted by appellant in his appellants brief,
that supposedly would show that only his wife Miranda was involved in illegal recruitment, were
obviously taken out of context. A scrutiny of the entirety of all four private complainants
testimonies would show that sometimes, it would be appellant who would transact business with
private complainants and at other times, it would be appellants wife Miranda. Most damning for
appellant, however, is the fact that all the private complainants categorically stated that it was
appellant who received sums of money from them and refused to issue a receipt. Such fact shows
that he actively engaged in the recruitment of three or more workers for employment abroad
despite the lack of the necessary license from the POEA, which act constitutes the crime of
illegal recruitment in large scale.
Next, we come to the charges of four separate counts of estafa against appellant. Article 315,
paragraph 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code provides thus:
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means
mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
1st. 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 10,000.00; but the total penalty which may
be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the accessory

penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the
penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
.........
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.
...
Verily, the very same evidence proving appellants commission of the crime of illegal
recruitment in large scale also established that appellant and Miranda acted with unity of purpose
in defrauding private complainants by misrepresenting that they (appellant and Miranda) had the
power, influence, agency and business to obtain overseas employment for private complainants
upon payment of a placement fee, which complainants did pay and deliver to appellant. Thus,
private complainants suffered damages to the extent of the various sums of money they delivered
to appellant, i.e., P34,000.00 from Decena,P21,000.00 each from Mercurio and Dela Cruz,
and P15,000.00 from Mazon. The prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that
appellant is guilty of the four counts of estafa.
The Court of Appeals was correct in modifying the penalty imposed on appellant with
regard to Criminal Case No. 92-113709, competently explaining thus:
We note, however, that the trial court imposed the wrong penalty in Criminal Case No 92113709 . . . involving the amount of P34,000.00. Pursuant to Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code, if the amount defrauded exceedsP22,000.00, the penalty of prision correccional in its
maximum period to prision mayor in the minimum period shall be imposed in its maximum
period (6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years) adding one year for each additionalP10,000.00;
but the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years.
The amount defrauded, as stated above, is P34,000.00. Hence, the penalty should be imposed in
the maximum period (6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years) plus one year, there being only
one P10,000.00 in excess ofP22,000.00. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
maximum penalty should be taken from the aforementioned maximum period, while the
minimum term shall be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree, i.e.,prision
correccional in its minimum and medium period which has a duration of 6 months and 1 day to 4
years and 2 months. Accordingly, the correct penalty should be 4 years and 2 months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to 9 years of prision mayor as maximum.
An appeal in a criminal case opens the entire case for review. [15] The typographical error in
the dispositive portion of the decision rendered by the RTC regarding the penalty to be imposed
on appellant in Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113706 to 92-113708 should be corrected from one (1)
year and eight (8) months of prision correccional minimum as minimum to five (5) months and
eleven (11) days of prision correccional maximum as maximum to one (1) year and eight (8)

months of prision correccional as minimum to five (5) years and eleven (11) days of prision
correccional as maximum.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated July 28, 1997 in CA-G.R. CR
No. 17228 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION only as to Criminal Cases Nos. 92-113706 to
92-113708 where appellant is hereby sentenced in each case, to suffer the indeterminate penalty
of one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional as minimum to five (5) years and
eleven (11) days of prision correccional as maximum.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

[1]

Penned by then Court of Appeals Associate Justice, now Supreme Court Associate Justice Angelina
Sandoval-Gutierrez, concurred in by Court of Appeals Associate Justices Fidel P. Purisima and
Bernardo Ll. Salas.

[2]

TSN of July 19, 1993, pp. 3-11.

[3]

TSN, July 21, 1993, pp. 2-8.

[4]

TSN, July 29, 1993, pp- 4-7.

[5]

TSN, August 11, 1993, pp. 2-10.

[6]

TSN, January 10, 1994, pp. 2-4.

[7]

TSN, February 21, 1994, pp. 3-11.

[8]

TSN, February 28, 1994, pp. 4-12; TSN, March 7, 1994, pp. 2-5.

[9]

TSN, April 21, 1994, pp. 3-8.

[10]

Penned by Judge Rebecca G. Salvador.

[11]

CA Rollo, pp. 26-27.

[12]

People vs. Olermo, 406 SCRA 412, 425-426 (2003).

[13]

Id. at p. 426.

[14]

RTC Decision, CA Rollo, p. 22.

[15]

People vs. Feliciano, 365 SCRA 613, 629 (2001).

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 169076

January 23, 2007

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
JOSEPH JAMILOSA, Appellant.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City in
Criminal Case No. Q-97-72769 convicting appellant Joseph Jamilosa of large scale illegal
recruitment under Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8042, and sentencing him to life
imprisonment and to pay a P500,000.00 fine.
The Information charging appellant with large scale illegal recruitment was filed by the Senior
State Prosecutor on August 29, 1997. The inculpatory portion of the Information reads:
That sometime in the months of January to February, 1996, or thereabout in the City of Quezon,
Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, representing to
have the capacity, authority or license to contract, enlist and deploy or transport workers for
overseas employment, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally recruit, contract
and promise to deploy, for a fee the herein complainants, namely, Haide R. Ruallo, Imelda D.
Bamba, Geraldine M. Lagman and Alma E. Singh, for work or employment in Los Angeles,
California, U.S.A. in Nursing Home and Care Center without first obtaining the required license
and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Contrary to law.2
On arraignment, the appellant, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The case for the prosecution, as synthesized by the Court of Appeals (CA), is as follows:
The prosecution presented three (3) witnesses, namely: private complainants Imelda D. Bamba,
Geraldine M. Lagman and Alma E. Singh.
Witness Imelda D. Bamba testified that on January 17, 1996, she met the appellant in Cubao,
Quezon City on board an aircon bus. She was on her way to Shoemart (SM), North EDSA,
Quezon City where she was working as a company nurse. The appellant was seated beside her
and introduced himself as a recruiter of workers for employment abroad. The appellant told her
that his sister is a head nurse in a nursing home in Los Angeles, California, USA and he could
help her get employed as a nurse at a monthly salary of Two Thousand US Dollars ($2,000.00)
and that she could leave in two (2) weeks time. He further averred that he has connections with
the US Embassy, being a US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent on official mission in

the Philippines for one month. According to the appellant, she has to pay the amount of
US$300.00 intended for the US consul. The appellant gave his pager number and instructed her
to contact him if she is interested to apply for a nursing job abroad.
On January 21, 1996, the appellant fetched her at her office. They then went to her house where
she gave him the photocopies of her transcript of records, diploma, Professional Regulatory
Commission (PRC) license and other credentials. On January 28 or 29, 1996, she handed to the
appellant the amount of US$300.00 at the McDonalds outlet in North EDSA, Quezon City, and
the latter showed to her a photocopy of her supposed US visa. The appellant likewise got several
pieces of jewelry which she was then selling and assured her that he would sell the same at the
US embassy. However, the appellant did not issue a receipt for the said money and jewelry.
Thereafter, the appellant told her to resign from her work at SM because she was booked with
Northwest Airlines and to leave for Los Angeles, California, USA on February 25, 1996.
The appellant promised to see her and some of his other recruits before their scheduled departure
to hand to them their visas and passports; however, the appellant who was supposed to be with
them in the flight failed to show up. Instead, the appellant called and informed her that he failed
to give the passport and US visa because he had to go to the province because his wife died. She
and her companions were not able to leave for the United States. They went to the supposed
residence of the appellant to verify, but nobody knew him or his whereabouts. They tried to
contact him at the hotel where he temporarily resided, but to no avail. They also inquired from
the US embassy and found out that there was no such person connected with the said office.
Thus, she decided to file a complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Prosecution witness Geraldine Lagman, for her part, testified that she is a registered nurse by
profession. In the morning of January 22, 1996, she went to SM North EDSA, Quezon City to
visit her cousin Imelda Bamba. At that time, Bamba informed her that she was going to meet the
appellant who is an FBI agent and was willing to help nurses find a job abroad. Bamba invited
Lagman to go with her. On the same date at about 2:00 oclock in the afternoon, she and Bamba
met the appellant at the SM Fast-Food Center, Basement, North EDSA, Quezon City. The
appellant convinced them of his ability to send them abroad and told them that he has a sister in
the United States. Lagman told the appellant that she had no working experience in any hospital
but the appellant assured her that it is not necessary to have one. The appellant asked for
US$300.00 as payment to secure an American visa and an additional amount of Three Thousand
Four Hundred Pesos (P3,400.00) as processing fee for other documents.
On January 24, 1996, she and the appellant met again at SM North EDSA, Quezon City wherein
she handed to the latter her passport and transcript of records. The appellant promised to file the
said documents with the US embassy. After one (1) week, they met again at the same place and
the appellant showed to her a photocopy of her US visa. This prompted her to give the amount of
US$300.00 and two (2) bottles of Black Label to the appellant. She gave the said money and
liquor to the appellant without any receipt out of trust and after the appellant promised her that
he would issue the necessary receipt later. The appellant even went to her house, met her mother
and uncle and showed to them a computer printout from Northwest Airlines showing that she
was booked to leave for Los Angeles, California, USA on February 25, 1996.

Four days after their last meeting, Extelcom, a telephone company, called her because her
number was appearing in the appellants cellphone documents. The caller asked if she knew him
because they were trying to locate him, as he was a swindler who failed to pay his telephone bills
in the amount of P100,000.00. She became suspicious and told Bamba about the matter. One (1)
week before her scheduled flight on February 25, 1996, they called up the appellant but he said
he could not meet them because his mother passed away. The appellant never showed up,
prompting her to file a complaint with the NBI for illegal recruitment.
Lastly, witness Alma Singh who is also a registered nurse, declared that she first met the
appellant on February 13, 1996 at SM North EDSA, Quezon City when Imelda Bamba
introduced the latter to her. The appellant told her that he is an undercover agent of the FBI and
he could fix her US visa as he has a contact in the US embassy. The appellant told her that he
could help her and her companions Haidee Raullo, Geraldine Lagman and Imelda Bamba find
jobs in the US as staff nurses in home care centers.
On February 14, 1996 at about 6:30 in the evening, the appellant got her passport and picture.
The following day or on February 15, 1996, she gave the appellant the amount of US$300.00 and
a bottle of cognac as "grease money" to facilitate the processing of her visa. When she asked for
a receipt, the appellant assured her that there is no need for one because she was being directly
hired as a nurse in the United States.
She again met the appellant on February 19, 1996 at the Farmers Plaza and this time, the
appellant required her to submit photocopies of her college diploma, nursing board certificate
and PRC license. To show his sincerity, the appellant insisted on meeting her father. They then
proceeded to the office of her father in Barrio Ugong, Pasig City and she introduced the
appellant. Thereafter, the appellant asked permission from her father to allow her to go with him
to the Northwest Airlines office in Ermita, Manila to reserve airline tickets. The appellant was
able to get a ticket confirmation and told her that they will meet again the following day for her
to give P10,000.00 covering the half price of her plane ticket. Singh did not meet the appellant as
agreed upon. Instead, she went to Bamba to inquire if the latter gave the appellant the same
amount and found out that Bamba has not yet given the said amount. They then paged the
appellant through his beeper and told him that they wanted to see him. However, the appellant
avoided them and reasoned out that he could not meet them as he had many things to do. When
the appellant did not show up, they decided to file a complaint for illegal recruitment with the
NBI.
The prosecution likewise presented the following documentary evidence:
Exh. "A" Certification dated February 23, 1998 issued by Hermogenes C. Mateo, Director II,
Licensing Branch, POEA.
Exh. "B" Affidavit of Alma E. Singh dated February 23, 1996.3
On the other hand, the case for the appellant, as culled from his Brief, is as follows:

Accused JOSEPH JAMILOSA testified on direct examination that he got acquainted with Imelda
Bamba inside an aircon bus bound for Caloocan City when the latter borrowed his cellular phone
to call her office at Shoe Mart (SM), North Edsa, Quezon City. He never told Bamba that he
could get her a job in Los Angeles, California, USA, the truth being that she wanted to leave SM
as company nurse because she was having a problem thereat. Bamba called him up several times,
seeking advice from him if Los Angeles, California is a good place to work as a nurse. He started
courting Bamba and they went out dating until the latter became his girlfriend. He met Geraldine
Lagman and Alma Singh at the Shoe Mart (SM), North Edsa, Quezon City thru Imelda Bamba.
As complainants were all seeking advice on how they could apply for jobs abroad, lest he be
charged as a recruiter, he made Imelda Bamba, Geraldine Lagman and Alma Singh sign separate
certifications on January 17, 1996 (Exh. "2"), January 22, 1996 (Exh. "4"), and February 19,
1996 (Exh. "3"), respectively, all to the effect that he never recruited them and no money was
involved. Bamba filed an Illegal Recruitment case against him because they quarreled and
separated. He came to know for the first time that charges were filed against him in September
1996 when a preliminary investigation was conducted by Fiscal Daosos of the Department of
Justice. (TSN, October 13, 1999, pp. 3-9 and TSN, December 8, 1999, pp. 2-9)4
On November 10, 2000, the RTC rendered judgment finding the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged.5 The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
Illegal Recruitment in large scale; accordingly, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00), plus costs.
Accused is ordered to indemnify each of the complainants, Imelda Bamba, Geraldine Lagman
and Alma Singh the amount of Three Hundred US Dollars ($300.00).
SO ORDERED.6
In rejecting the defenses of the appellant, the trial court declared:
To counter the version of the prosecution, accused claims that he did not recruit the complainants
for work abroad but that it was they who sought his advice relative to their desire to apply for
jobs in Los Angeles, California, USA and thinking that he might be charged as a recruiter, he
made them sign three certifications, Exh. "2," "3" and "4," which in essence state that accused
never recruited them and that there was no money involved.
Accuseds contention simply does not hold water. Admittedly, he executed and submitted a
counter-affidavit during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice, and that he
never mentioned the aforesaid certifications, Exhibits 2, 3 and 4 in said counter-affidavit. These
certifications were allegedly executed before charges were filed against him. Knowing that he
was already being charged for prohibited recruitment, why did he not bring out these
certifications which were definitely favorable to him, if the same were authentic. It is so contrary
to human nature that one would suppress evidence which would belie the charge against him.

Denials of the accused can not stand against the positive and categorical narration of each
complainant as to how they were recruited by accused who had received some amounts from
them for the processing of their papers. Want of receipts is not fatal to the prosecutions case, for
as long as it has been shown, as in this case, that accused had engaged in prohibited recruitment.
(People v. Pabalan, 262 SCRA 574).
That accused is neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment, is
shown in the Certification issued by POEA, Exh. "A."
In fine, the offense committed by the accused is Illegal Recruitment in large scale, it having been
committed against three (3) persons, individually.7
Appellant appealed the decision to this Court on the following assignment of error:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME
OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE
LATTERS GUILT WAS NOT PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT BY THE
PROSECUTION.8
According to appellant, the criminal Information charging him with illegal recruitment
specifically mentioned the phrase "for a fee," and as such, receipts to show proof of payment are
indispensable. He pointed out that the three (3) complaining witnesses did not present even one
receipt to prove the alleged payment of any fee. In its eagerness to cure this "patent flaw," the
prosecution resorted to presenting the oral testimonies of complainants which were "contrary to
the ordinary course of nature and ordinary habits of life [under Section 3(y), Rule 131 of the
Rules on Evidence] and defied credulity." Appellant also pointed out that complainants
testimony that they paid him but no receipts were issued runs counter to the presumption under
Section [3](d), Rule 131 of the Rules on Evidence that persons take ordinary care of their
concern. The fact that complainants were not able to present receipts lends credence to his
allegation that it was they who sought advice regarding their desire to apply for jobs in Los
Angeles, California, USA. Thus, thinking that he might be charged as a recruiter, he made them
sign three (3) certifications stating that he never recruited them and there was no money
involved. On the fact that the trial court disregarded the certifications due to his failure to
mention them during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ), appellant
pointed out that there is no provision in the Rules of Court which bars the presentation of
evidence during the hearing of the case in court. He also pointed out that the counter-affidavit
was prepared while he was in jail "and probably not assisted by a lawyer."9
Appellee, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), countered that the absence of
receipts signed by appellant acknowledging receipt of the money and liquor from the
complaining witnesses cannot defeat the prosecution and conviction for illegal recruitment. The
OSG insisted that the prosecution was able to prove the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable
doubt via the collective testimonies of the complaining witnesses, which the trial court found
credible and deserving of full probative weight. It pointed out that appellant failed to prove any
ill-motive on the part of the complaining witnesses to falsely charge him of illegal recruitment.

On appellants claim that the complaining witness Imelda Bamba was his girlfriend, the OSG
averred:
Appellants self-serving declaration that Imelda is his girlfriend and that she filed a complaint for
illegal recruitment after they quarreled and separated is simply preposterous. No love letters or
other documentary evidence was presented by appellant to substantiate such claim which could
be made with facility. Imelda has no reason to incriminate appellant except to seek justice. The
evidence shows that Alma and Geraldine have no previous quarrel with appellant. Prior to their
being recruited by appellant, Alma and Geraldine have never met appellant. It is against human
nature and experience for private complainants to conspire and accuse a stranger of a most
serious crime just to mollify their hurt feelings. (People v. Coral, 230 SCRA 499, 510 [1994])10
The OSG posited that the appellants reliance on the certifications 11 purportedly signed by the
complaining witnesses is misplaced, considering that the certifications are barren of probative
weight.
On February 23, 2005, the Court resolved to transfer the case to the CA. 12 On June 22, 2005, the
CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC.13
The OSG filed a Supplemental Brief, while the appellant found no need to file one.
The appeal has no merit.
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of the Philippines defines recruitment and placement as follows:
(b) "Recruitment and placement" refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, 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. 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.
Section 6 of R.A. No. 8042 defined when recruitment is illegal:
SEC. 6. Definition. For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and
includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether
for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated
under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor
Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any
manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed
so engaged. x x x
Any recruitment activities to be undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of contracts shall be
deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. 14 Illegal
recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons
individually or as a group.15

To prove illegal recruitment in large scale, the prosecution is burdened to prove three (3)
essential elements, to wit: (1) the person charged undertook a recruitment activity under Article
13(b) or any prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) accused did not have the
license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3)
accused committed the same against three or more persons individually or as a group. 16 As
gleaned from the collective testimonies of the complaining witnesses which the trial court and
the appellate court found to be credible and deserving of full probative weight, the prosecution
mustered the requisite quantum of evidence to prove the guilt of accused beyond reasonable
doubt for the crime charged. Indeed, the findings of the trial court, affirmed on appeal by the CA,
are conclusive on this Court absent evidence that the tribunals ignored, misunderstood, or
misapplied substantial fact or other circumstance.
The failure of the prosecution to adduce in evidence any receipt or document signed by appellant
where he acknowledged to have received money and liquor does not free him from criminal
liability. Even in the absence of money or other valuables given as consideration for the
"services" of appellant, the latter is considered as being engaged in recruitment activities.
It can be gleaned from the language of Article 13(b) of the Labor Code that the act of recruitment
may be for profit or not. It is sufficient that the accused promises or offers for a fee employment
to warrant conviction for illegal recruitment.17 As the Court held in People v. Sagaydo:18
Such is the case before us. The complainants parted with their money upon the prodding and
enticement of accused-appellant on the false pretense that she had the capacity to deploy them
for employment abroad. In the end, complainants were neither able to leave for work abroad nor
get their money back.
The fact that private complainants Rogelio Tibeb and Jessie Bolinao failed to produce receipts as
proof of their payment to accused-appellant does not free the latter from liability. The absence of
receipts cannot defeat a criminal prosecution for illegal recruitment. As long as the witnesses can
positively show through their respective testimonies that the accused is the one involved in
prohibited recruitment, he may be convicted of the offense despite the absence of receipts.19
Appellants reliance on the certifications purportedly signed by the complaining witnesses
Imelda Bamba, Alma Singh and Geraldine Lagman 20 is misplaced. Indeed, the trial court and the
appellate court found the certifications barren of credence and probative weight. We agree with
the following pronouncement of the appellate court:
Anent the claim of the appellant that the trial court erred in not giving weight to the certifications
(Exhs. "2," "3" & "4") allegedly executed by the complainants to the effect that he did not recruit
them and that no money was involved, the same deserves scant consideration.
The appellant testified that he was in possession of the said certifications at the time the same
were executed by the complainants and the same were always in his possession; however, when
he filed his counter-affidavit during the preliminary investigation before the Department of
Justice, he did not mention the said certifications nor attach them to his counteraffidavit.lavvphil.net

We find it unbelievable that the appellant, a college graduate, would not divulge the said
certifications which would prove that, indeed, he is not an illegal recruiter. By failing to present
the said certifications prior to the trial, the appellant risks the adverse inference and legal
presumption that, indeed, such certifications were not genuine. When a party has it in his
possession or power to produce the best evidence of which the case in its nature is susceptible
and withholds it, the fair presumption is that the evidence is withheld for some sinister motive
and that its production would thwart his evil or fraudulent purpose. As aptly pointed out by the
trial court:
"x x x These certifications were allegedly executed before charges were filed against him.
Knowing that he was already being charged for prohibited recruitment, why did he not bring out
these certifications which were definitely favorable to him, if the same were authentic. It is so
contrary to human nature that one would suppress evidence which would belie the charge against
him." (Emphasis Ours)21
At the preliminary investigation, appellant was furnished with copies of the affidavits of the
complaining witnesses and was required to submit his counter-affidavit. The complaining
witnesses identified him as the culprit who "recruited" them. At no time did appellant present the
certifications purportedly signed by the complaining witnesses to belie the complaint against
him. He likewise did not indicate in his counter-affidavit that the complaining witnesses had
executed certifications stating that they were not recruited by him and that he did not receive any
money from any of them. He has not come forward with any valid excuse for his inaction. It was
only when he testified in his defense that he revealed the certifications for the first time. Even
then, appellant lied when he claimed that he did not submit the certifications because the State
Prosecutor did not require him to submit any counter-affidavit, and that he was told that the
criminal complaint would be dismissed on account of the failure of the complaining witnesses to
appear during the preliminary investigation. The prevarications of appellant were exposed by
Public Prosecutor Pedro Catral on cross-examination, thus:
Q Mr. Witness, you said that a preliminary investigation [was] conducted by the Department of
Justice through State Prosecutor Daosos. Right?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Were you requested to file your Counter-Affidavit?
A Yes, Sir. I was required.
Q Did you file your Counter-Affidavit?
A Yes, Sir, but he did not accept it.
Q Why?
A Because he said "never mind" because the witness is not appearing so he dismissed the case.

Q Are you sure that he did not accept your Counter-Affidavit, Mr. Witness?
A I dont know of that, Sir.
Q If I show you that Counter-Affidavit you said you prepared, will you be able to identify the
same, Mr. Witness?
A Yes, Sir.
Q I will show you the Counter-Affidavit dated June 16, 1997 filed by one Joseph J. Jamilosa,
will you please go over this and tell if this is the same Counter-Affidavit you said you prepared
and you are going to file with the investigating state prosecutor?
A Yes, Sir. This the same Counter-Affidavit.
Q There is a signature over the typewritten name Joseph J. Jamilosa, will you please go over this
and tell this Honorable Court if this is your signature, Mr. Witness?
A Yes, Sir. This is my signature.
Q During the direct examination you were asked to identify [the] Certification as Exh. "2" dated
January 17, 1996, allegedly issued by Bamba, one of the complainants in this case, when did you
receive this Certification issued by Imelda Bamba, Mr. Witness?
A That is the date, Sir.
Q You mean the date appearing in the Certification.
A Yes, Sir.
Q Where was this handed to you by Imelda Bamba, Mr. Witness?
A At SM North Edsa, Sir.
Q During the direct examination you were also asked to identify a Certification Exh. "3" for the
defense dated February 19, 1996, allegedly issued by Alma Singh, one of the complainants in
this case, will you please go over this and tell us when did Alma Singh allegedly issue to you this
Certification?
A On February 19, 1996, Sir.
Q And also during the direct examination, you were asked to identify a Certification which was
already marked as Exh. "4" for the defense dated January 22, 1996 allegedly issued by Geraldine
M. Lagman, one of the complainants in this case, will you please tell the court when did
Geraldine Lagman give you this Certification?

A January 22, 1996, Sir.


Q During that time, January 22, 1996, January 17, 1996 and February 19, 1996, you were in
possession of all these Certification. Correct, Mr. Witness?
A Yes, Sir.
Q These were always in your possession. Right?
A Yes, Sir, with my papers.
Q Do you know when did the complainants file cases against you?
A I dont know, Sir.
Q Alright. I will read to you this Counter-Affidavit of yours, and I quote "I, Joseph Jamilosa, of
legal age, married and resident of Manila City Jail, after having duly sworn to in accordance with
law hereby depose and states that: 1) the complainants sworn under oath to the National Bureau
of Investigation that I recruited them and paid me certain sums of money assuming that there is
truth in those allegation of this (sic) complainants. The charge filed by them should be
immediately dismissed for certain lack of merit in their Sworn Statement to the NBI Investigator;
2) likewise, the complainants allegation is not true and I never recruited them to work abroad
and that they did not give me money, they asked me for some help so I [helped] them in assisting
and processing the necessary documents, copies for getting US Visa; 3) the complainant said
under oath that they can show a receipt to prove that they can give me sums or amount of money.
That is a lie. They sworn (sic), under oath, that they can show a receipt that I gave to them to
prove that I got the money from them. I asked the kindness of the state prosecutor to ask the
complainants to show and produce the receipts that I gave to them that was stated in the sworn
statement of the NBI; 4) the allegation of the complainants that the charges filed by them should
be dismissed because I never [received] any amount from them and they can not show any
receipt that I gave them," Manila City Jail, Philippines, June 16, 1997. So, Mr. Witness, June 16,
1997 is the date when you prepared this. Correct?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Now, my question to you, Mr. Witness, you said that you have with you all the time the
Certification issued by [the] three (3) complainants in this case, did you allege in your CounterAffidavit that this Certification you said you claimed they issued to you?
A I did not say that, Sir.
Q So, it is not here in your Counter-Affidavit?
A None, Sir.
Q What is your educational attainment, Mr. Witness?

A I am a graduate of AB Course Associate Arts in 1963 at the University of the East.


Q You said that the State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice did not accept your CounterAffidavit, are you sure of that, Mr. Witness?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Did you receive a copy of the dismissal which you said it was dismissed?
A No, Sir. I did not receive anything.
Q Did you receive a resolution from the Department of Justice?
A No, Sir.
Q Did you go over the said resolution you said you received here?
A I just learned about it now, Sir.
Q Did you read the content of the resolution?
A Not yet, Sir. Its only now that I am going to read.
COURT
Q You said it was dismissed. Correct?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q Did you receive a resolution of this dismissal?
A No, Your Honor.
FISCAL CATRAL
Q What did you receive?
A I did not receive any resolution, Sir. Its just now that I learned about the finding.
Q You said you learned here in court, did you read the resolution filed against you, Mr. Witness?
A I did not read it, Sir.
Q Did you read by yourself the resolution made by State Prosecutor Daosos, Mr. Witness?
A Not yet, Sir.

Q What did you take, if any, when you received the subpoena from this court?
A I was in court already when I asked Atty. Usita to investigate this case.
Q You said a while ago that your Affidavit was not accepted by State Prosecutor Daosos. Is that
correct?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Will you please read to us paragraph four (4), page two (2) of this resolution of State
Prosecutor Daosos.
(witness reading par. 4 of the resolution)
Alright. What did you understand of this paragraph 4, Mr. Witness?
A Probably, guilty to the offense charge.22
It turned out that appellant requested the complaining witnesses to sign the certifications merely
to prove that he was settling the cases:
COURT
Q These complainants, why did you make them sign in the certifications?
A Because one of the complainants told me to sign and they are planning to sue me.
Q You mean they told you that they are filing charges against you and yet you [made] them sign
certifications in your favor, what is the reason why you made them sign?
A To prove that Im settling this case.
Q Despite the fact that they are filing cases against you and yet you were able to make them sign
certifications?
A Only one person, Your Honor, who told me and he is not around.
Q But they all signed these three (3) certifications and yet they filed charges against you and yet
you made them sign certifications in your favor, so what is the reason why you made them sign?
(witness can not answer)23
The Court notes that the trial court ordered appellant to refund US$300.00 to each of the
complaining witnesses. The ruling of the appellate court must be modified. Appellant must pay
only the peso equivalent of US$300.00 to each of the complaining witnesses.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court
of Appeals affirming the conviction of Joseph Jamilosa for large scale illegal recruitment under
Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act No. 8042 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION. The
appellant is hereby ordered to refund to each of the complaining witnesses the peso equivalent of
US$300.00. Costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.

Footnotes
1

Penned by Judge Lydia Querubin Layosa; CA rollo, pp. 51-56.

Records, p. 7.

CA rollo, pp. 130-135.

Id. at 44.

Id. at 51-56.

Id. at 56.

Id. at 55.

Id. at 45.

Id. at 46-48.

10

Id. at 99-100.

11

Exhibits "2," "3" and "4," records, pp. 189-191.

12

CA rollo, p. 127.

13

Id. at 129-141.

14

Labor Code, Art. 38(a).

15

Labor Code, Art. 38(b).

16

People v. Dionisio, 425 Phil. 651, 665 (2002).

17

People v. Dela Piedra, 403 Phil. 31, 51 (2001).

18

395 Phil. 538 (2000).

19

Id. at 549.

20

Exhibits "2," "3" and "4," supra note 11.

21

Rollo, pp. 13-14.

22

TSN, December 8, 1999, pp. 11-15.

23

TSN, March 8, 2000, p. 6.

FIRST DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 171448
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
*
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.
CHARLIE COMILA and Promulgated:
AIDA COMILA,
Accused-Appellants. February 28, 2007
x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
GARCIA, J.:
On April 5, 1999, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, an Information [1] for
Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale by a syndicate, as defined and penalized under
Article 13(6) in relation to Articles 38(b), 34 and 39 of Presidential Decree No. 442, otherwise
known as the New Labor Code, as amended, was filed against Charlie Comila, Aida Comila and
one Indira Ram Singh Lastra, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 7th day of September, 1998, in the City of Baguio,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, conspiring, confederating, and mutually aiding one another, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously offer, recruit, and promise employment
as contract workers in Italy, to the herein complainants, namely: MARLYN ARO
y PADCAYAN, ANNIE FELIX y BAKISAN, ELEONOR DONGGA-AS y
ANGHEL, ESPERANZA BACKIAN y LAD-EY, ZALDY DUMPILES y
MALIKDAN, JOEL EDIONG y CALDERON, RICKY WALDO y NICKEY,
JEROME MONTAEZ y OSBEN, DOVAL DUMPILES y SAP-AY, JONATHAN
NGAOSI y DUMPILES, EDMUND DIEGO y SUBIANGAN and MARLON
PETTOCO y SUGOT, without said accused having first secured the necessary
license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

The Information was docketed in the RTC as Crim. Case No. 16427-R and raffled to
Branch 60 thereof.
On the same date April 5, 1999 and in the same court, twelve (12) separate
Informations[2] for Estafa were filed against the same accused at the instance of the same
complainants. Docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 16428-R to 16439-R and likewise raffled to the
same branch of the court, the twelve (12) Informations for Estafa, varying only as regards the
names of the offended parties and the respective amounts involved, uniformly recite:
That on or about the 10th day of November, 1998, in the City of Baguio,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding one another did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud one ZALDY DUMPILES Y
MALIKDAN by way of false pretenses, which are executed prior to or
simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, as follows, to wit: the accused
knowing fully well that he/she/they is/are not AUTHORIZED job RECRUITERS
for persons intending to secure work abroad convinced said Zaldy Dumpiles y
Malikdan and pretended that he/she/they could secure a job for him/her abroad,
for and in consideration of the sum of P25,000.00 and representing the placement
and medical fees when in truth and in fact could not; the said Zaldy Dumpiles y
Malikdan deceived and convinced by the false pretenses employed by the accused
parted away the total sum of P25,000,00 in favor of the accused, to the damage
and prejudice of the said Zaldy Dumpiles y Malikdan in the aforementioned
amount of TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P25,000.00), Philippine
currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Of the three accused named in all the aforementioned two sets of Informations, only
accused Aida Comila and Charlie Comila were brought under the jurisdiction of the trial court,
the third, Indira Ram Singh Lastra, being then and still is at large.
Arraigned with assistance of counsel, accused Aida Comila and Charlie Comila entered a
plea of NOT GUILTY not only to the Information for Illegal Recruitment (Crim. Case No.
16427-R)but also to the twelve (12) Informations for Estafa (Crim. Case Nos. 16428-R to 16439R).
Thereafter, a joint trial of the cases ensued.
Of the twelve (12) complainants in both the illegal recruitment and estafa charges, the
prosecution was able to present only seven (7) of them, namely: Annie Felix y Bakisan; Ricky
Waldo y Nickey; Jonathan Ngaosi y Dumpiles; Marilyn Aro y Padcayan; Edmund Diego y
Subiangan; Jerome Montaez y Osben; and Eleonor Dongga-as y Anghel. A certain Jose Matias of
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) was supposed to testify for the
prosecution but his testimony was dispensed after the defense agreed that he will merely testify

to the effect that as per POEA records, accused Aida Comila and Charlie Comila were not duly
licensed or authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment.
In a consolidated decision[3] dated October 3, 2000, the trial court found both accused GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale by a
syndicate, as charged in Crim. Case No. 16427-R, and of estafa, as charged in Crim. Case Nos.
16430-R; 16431-R, 16432-R, 16434-R, 16436-R, 16438-R, and 16439-R. The other informations
for estafa in Crim. Case Nos. 16428-R, 16429-R, 16433-R, 16435-R and 16437-R were,
however, dismissed for lack of evidence. We quote the fallo of the trial courts decision:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this court hereby finds the accused, Aida
Comila and Charlie Comila:
1.

In Criminal Case No. 16427-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in
Large Scale Committed by a Syndicate. They are hereby
sentenced to each suffer the penalty of life imprisonment
and a fine of P100,000.00;

2.

In Criminal Case No. 16430-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances and applying the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are
hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as
maximum. They shall also jointly and severally pay the
complainant, Marilyn Aro, the sum of P25,500.00 plus
interest from the date this Information was filed until it is
fully paid;

3.

In Criminal Case No. 16431-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances and applying the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are
hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as
maximum. They shall also jointly and severally pay the
complainant, Annie Felix, the sum of P50,000.00 plus
interest from the date this Information was filed until it is
fully paid;

4.

In Criminal Case No. 16432-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and applying the

provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are


hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as
maximum. They shall also jointly and severally pay the
complainant, Eleanor Dongga-as, the sum of P50,000.00
plus interest from the date this Information was filed until it
is fully paid;
5.

In Criminal Case No. 16434-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances and applying the
provisions of Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are hereby
sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of four
(4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as
minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum.
They shall also jointly and severally pay the complainant,
Edmund Diego, the sum of P25,000.00 plus interest from
the date this Information was filed until it is fully paid;

6.

In Criminal Case No. 16436-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and applying the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are
hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2)months of prision correccional, as
minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum.
They shall also jointly and severally pay the complainant,
Jonathan Ngaosi, the sum of P25,000.00 plus interest from
the date this Information was filed until it is fully paid;

7.

In Criminal Case No. 16438-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and applying the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are
hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor as
maximum. They shall also jointly and severally pay the
complainant, Ricky Waldo, the sum of P25,000.00 plus
interest from the date this Information was filed until it is
fully paid;

8.

In Criminal Case No. 16439-R, GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa. There being no
mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and applying the

provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, they are


hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as
maximum. They shall also jointly and severally pay the
complainant, Jerome Montaez, the sum of P25,000.00 plus
interest from the date this Information was filed; and
9.

Criminal Cases Nos. 16428-R; 16429-R; 16433-R;


16435-R and 16437-R are hereby DISMISSED for lack of
evidence.

In the service of the various prison terms herein imposed upon the accused Aida
Comila and Charlie Comila, the provisions of Article 70 of the Revised Penal
Code shall be observed.
As to the accused, Indira Sighn Lastra, let all these cases be archived in
the meantime until the said accused is arrested.
SO ORDERED.
Pursuant to a Notice of Appeal[4] filed by the two accused, the trial court forwarded the
records of the cases to this Court in view of the penalty of life imprisonment meted in Crim.
Case No. 16427-R (Illegal Recruitment in large scale). In its Resolution [5] of October 3, 2001, the
Court resolved to accept the appeal and the subsequent respective briefs for the appellants [6] and
the appellee[7] as well as the appellants reply brief.[8]
Thereafter, and consistent with its pronouncement in People v. Mateo,[9] the Court, via its
Resolution[10] of September 22, 2004, transferred the cases to the Court of Appeals (CA) for
appropriate action and disposition. In the CA, the cases were assigned one docket number and
thereat docketed as CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 01615.
In a decision[11] promulgated on December 29, 2005, the appellate court affirmed that of
the trial court, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated October 3, 2000
of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 60, in Criminal Cases Nos.
16427-R to 16439-R finding accused-appellants guilty of (1) illegal recruitment
committed in large scale; and (2) seven (7) counts of estafa is hereby AFFIRMED
and UPHELD.
With costs against the accused-appellants.
SO ORDERED.

The cases are again with this Court in view of the Notice of Appeal [12] interposed by the
herein accused-appellants from the aforementioned affirmatory CA decision.
Acting thereon, the Court required the parties to simultaneously submit their respective
supplemental briefs, if they so desire.
In their respective manifestations,[13] the parties opted not to file any supplemental brief
and instead merely reiterated what they have said in their earlier appellants and appellee's briefs.
The Office of the Solicitor General, in the brief[14] it filed for appellee People, summarizes
the facts of the case in the following manner:
Annie Felix was introduced by her sister-in-law, Ella Bakisan, to appellant
Aida Comila in August 1998 (pp. 3, 24, tsn, September 14, 1999). Ella Bakisan
told her that appellant Aida Comila could help her find work abroad as she was
recruiting workers for a factory in Palermo, Italy (ibid.). Annie Felix then went to
meet appellant Aida Comila at the Jollibee outlet along Magsaysay Avenue,
Baguio City in August, 1998 to inquire about the supposed work in Italy (pp. 3-4,
tsn, ibid.). There were other applicants, aside from Annie at the Jollibee outlet at
the time, similarly inquiring about the prospective jobs abroad (ibid.).
Annie met appellant again at the St. Theresas College on or about
September 6 or 7, 1998 (p.11, ibid.). there were around fifty (50) to sixty (60)
applicants at that time (ibid.). Appellant introduced them to a certain Erlinda
Ramos, one of the agents of Mrs. Indira Lastra, a representative of the Far East
Trading Corporation (p.4,11, ibid.). Accordingly, Erlinda Ramos would be
responsible for the processing of the applicants visas (ibid.). Erlinda Ramos even
showed them the copy of the job order from Italy (ibid.). Like Ramos, appellant
likewise introduced herself to Annie and the other applicants as an agent of Lastra
(pp. 3-4, ibid.).
Annie submitted all her requirements to appellant, along with the amount
of two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) as processing fee (p.6, tsn, ibid.). She also paid
a total of twenty three thousand (P23,000.00) as partial payment of her placement
fee of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) on or about September 6 or 7, 1998.
Appellant issued a common receipt detailing the amounts she received not only
from Annie Felix (23,000.00) but also for her fellow applicants, Zaldy Dumpiles
(P23,000.00), Joel Ediong (P25,000.00), and Ricky Baldo (P25, 000.00) (p. 8, tsn,
ibid.).
Annie went to Manila several times to complete her medical examination
as required (pp. 14-16, tsn, ibid.). Considering appellant Aida Comilas pregnancy
at that time, her husband Charlie Comila, also an agent of Lastra, accompanied
Annie and the other applicants during their medical check-up (pp. 22-24, ibid.).

On the last week of October, 1998, Annie again paid appellant the total
amount of twenty five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) to complete her placement fee
of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00). Annie was told that her flight to Italy was
scheduled on September 14, 1998 (p. 20, ibid.). Later on, Erlinda Ramos told
Annie that her flight to Italy was re-scheduled to October, 1998 due to a typhoon
(p.20, ibid.).
There were others like Annie Felix who were similarly enticed to apply for
the promised job in Italy (pp. 4-5, tsn, September 22, 1999). Among them were
Ricky Waldo, Edmund Diego, Eleanor Donga-as, Jonathan Ngaosi, Marilyn Aro
and Jerome Montaez (pp. 4-5; 19-28, tsn, September 22, 1999, afternoon session).
In the briefing at St. Theresas College, Navy Road, Pacdal, Baguio City,
(p. 7, tsn, September 22, 1999; pp. 29-30, tsn, September 14, 1999) appellant
briefed Ricky Waldo and the rest of the applicants on their application
requirements (pp. 7-8, tsn, Sept. 22, 1999). The briefing was conducted by
appellants Aida Comila, Charlie Comila, and Erlinda Ramos who alternately
talked about the documents to be submitted for the processing of their
applications and the processing fee of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) they have
to pay (p.8, tsn, September 22, 1999). In the same briefing, they were also told
that Erlinda Ramos was scheduled to go to Italy on September 14, 1998 and that
whoever would pay P25,000.00 first, or half of the P50,000.00 processing fee
would be able to go with her to Italy (p. 8. tsn, September 22, 1999). Per the job
order shown to Jonathan Ngaosi, for instance, male workers were to receive a
salary of two thousand three hundred dollars ($2,300.00) plus an additional eight
dollars ($8.00) for overtime work (p.8, tsn, September 21, 1999, afternoon
session).
After undergoing the required medical examination in Manila, applicants
Ricky Waldo and company paid the following amounts for their respective
processing fees, which were duly receipted by appellant Aida Comila in three
separate documents, thus:
8-23-98, received the amount of P14,000.00 from Ella Bakisan. Signed,
Aida Comila. The second document again is a piece of paper of which the
following is written: 9-7-98. Received the amount of the following: Philip Waldo,
P20,000.00; Doval Dumpiles, P23,000.00 Edmund Diego, P25,000.00; Jerome
Montaez, P25,000.00 Total- P93,000.00. Received by A. Comila. The
3rd document is page of a yellow pad and it reads 9-7-98, received the following
amounts from Zaldy Dumpiles - P23,000.00; Joel Ediong - P25,000.00; Ricky
Waldo- P25,000.00; Annie Felix - P23,000.00; Marlon Tedoco P23,000.00. Total
P119,000.00. Received by Aida Comila; witnesses Ella Bakisan. (p.14, tsn, of
witness Edmund Diego, September 22, 1999, morning session).
Considering the payments they made, Ricky Waldos flight to Italy was
scheduled on September 14, 1999 while those of Marilyn Aro, Edmund Diego,

Jerome Montanez, Jonathan Ngaosi, and Eleanor Donga-as were scheduled on


October 27, 1999 (pp. 8-9, tsn, September 22, 1999; pp. 32-33, tsn, September 14,
1999; pp. 2-4, tsn, September 15, 1999; p. 24, September 21, 1999; p.10, tsn,
September 22, 1999, morning session; p. 27, tsn, September 22, 1999, afternoon
session).
Like Annie Felix, Ricky Waldos flight did not push through as scheduled
on September 14, 1999 (pp. 32-34, tsn, September 14, 1999; pp. 2-4,
tsn, September 15, 1999). Appellant Aida Comila explained that the re-scheduling
was due to typhoon (ibid.). Rickys flight was then re-scheduled to October 7,
1999 but was again moved to October 27, 1999 as, according to appellant Aida
Comila, there were some problems in his papers and that of the other applicants
(pp. 2-3, ibid.).
On October 25, 1998, appellant Aida Comila called the applicants for a
briefing at the St. Therese Building at the Navy Base, Baguio City (p.24,
tsn, September 21, 1999). In the same briefing, Erlinda Ramos, as representative
of the supposed principal, Indira Lastra, explained to the applicants that their
flight on October 27, 1999 was cancelled but will be re-scheduled (ibid.).
Appellant Aida Comila told them that they have to wait for the notice from the
Italian Embassy (ibid.).
On the first week of November, 1998, appellant Charlie Comila told
Marilyn Aro and several other applicants that their visas would be released (p. 25,
September, 21, 1999). Appellant Charlie Comila accompanied them and the others
to the Elco Building at Shaw Boulevard, Pasig City purportedly to see Erlinda
Ramos (p.25, tsn, September 21, 1999). When Erlinda Ramos arrived, she told
Marilyn and the other applicants to wait for the release of their visas, the
following day (p.25, ibid.). Marilyn and the rest came back each day for one
whole week but the promised visas were not released to them (ibid.).
Marilyn and the other applicants complained to appellant Charlie Comila
about the delay and told him of their doubts about their application and the
promised job in Italy (ibid.). At this point, appellant Charlie Comila assured them
that they should not worry and that everything will be alright (ibid). Appellant
Charlie Comila then brought them to Indira Lastra (p.26, ibid.).
Marilyn Aro, Annie Felix, and the rest were all shocked to find out that
Indira Lastra was actually an inmate of Manila (Quiapo) city jail. (p.26, ibid.; p.
13, tsn, September 14, 1999). They felt at once that they were, indeed, victims of
illegal recruitment (ibid.).When they demanded the return of their money from
Indira Lastra, the latter told them to withdraw their money from appellant Aida
Comila (p.26. ibid.).
Upon their return to Baguio, Marilyns group proceeded to appellant Aida
Comilas residence at Km. 6, La Trinidad, Benguet to demand the return of their

money (p. 27, tsn, ibid.). Appellant Aida Comila, however, told them to wait as
Indira Lastra will soon be out of jail and will personally process their papers at the
Italian Embassy (ibid.). Marilyn and the other applicants followed-up several
times with appellant Aida Comila the return of the amounts of money they paid
for their supposed placement fee, but were simply told to wait (ibid.). the last time
complainants visited them, appellants Aida Comila and Charlie Comila were
already in a Bulacan jail (p. 27, ibid.).
In April, 1999, Marilyn Aro, Edmund Diego, Annie Felix, Eleanor Dongaas, Jerome Montanez, Ricky Waldo and Jonathan Ngaosi filed their complaint
against appellants Aida Comila and Charlie Comila before the Criminal
Investigation Group (CIG).
In the same month of April 1999, separate Informations for estafa and
illegal recruitment committed in large scale by a syndicate or violation of Article
13 (b) in relation to Article 38 (b) 34, and 39 of P.D. No. 442, otherwise known as
the Labor Code of the Philippines were filed against appellants Charlie Comila,
Aida Comila and Indira Lastra.
In their appellants brief, accused-appellants would fault the two courts below in (1)
finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal recruitment and estafa; and
(2) totally disregarding the defense of denial honestly advanced by them.
It is not disputed that accused-appellants Charlie Comila and Aida Comila are husbandand-wife. Neither is it disputed that husband and wife knew and are well-acquainted with their
co-accused, Indira Ram Singh Lastra, and one Erlinda Ramos. It is their posture, however, that
from the very beginning, appellant Aida Comila never professed that she had the authority to
recruit and made it clear to the applicants for overseas employment that it was Erlinda Ramos
who had such authority and who issued the job orders from Italy. Upon this premise, this
appellant contends that the subsequent transactions she had with the applicants negate the
presence of deceit, an essential element of estafa under paragraph 2(a) of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code. On the charge of illegal recruitment, this appellant argues that she was
merely trying to help the applicants to process their papers, believing that Indira Ram Sighn
Lastra and Erlinda Ramos would really send the applicants to Italy. With respect to co-appellant
Charlie Comila, the defense submits that the prosecution miserably failed to prove his
participation in the illegal recruitment and estafa.
The appeal must fail.
After a careful and circumspect review of the records, we are fully convinced that both
the trial and appellate courts committed no error in finding both appellants guilty beyond moral
certainty of doubt of the crimes charged against them. Through the respective testimonies of its
witnesses, the prosecution has satisfactorily established that both appellants were then engaged
in unlawful recruitment and placement activities. The combined testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses point to appellant Aida Comila as the one who promised them foreign employment and
assured them of placement overseas through the help of their co-accused Indira Ram Singh

Lastra. For sure, it was Aida herself who informed them of the existence of job orders
from Palermo, Italy, and of the documents needed for the processing of their applications. Aida,
in fact, accompanied the applicants to undergo medical examinations in Manila. And relying
completely on Aidas representations, the applicants-complainants entrusted their money to her
only to discover later that their hopes for an overseas employment were but vain. In the words of
the trial court:
Aida Comila cannot escape culpability by the mere assertion that the
recruitment activities were done by Ella Bakisan, Erlinda Ramos and Indira Lastra
as if she was just a mere observer of the activities going on right under her nose,
especially so that the seven complainants who testified all pointed to her as their
recruiter. She could not adequately explain why: (1) she had to show and explain
the job order and the work and travel requirements to the complainants; (2) she
had to meet the complainants at Jollibee, Magsaysay Ave., Baguio City and in her
residence; (3) she had to be present at the briefings for the applicants; (4) she
received the placement fees even if she claims that she received them from Ella
Bakisan; (5) she had to go down to Manila and accompanied the complainants for
their medical examination; and (6) she had to go out of her way to do all these
things even when she was pregnant and was about to give birth. Certainly, she
was not a social worker or a humanitarian who had all the time in this world to go
out of her way to render free services to other people whom she did not know or
just met. To be sure, Aida Comila had children to attend to and a husband who
was unemployed to be able to conduct such time-consuming charitable activities.
[15]

Running in parallel vein is what the CA wrote in its appealed decision:[16]


As regards appellant Aida Comilas contention that she did not represent
herself as a licensed recruiter, and that she merely helped complainants avail of
the job opportunity on the belief that Indira Lastra and Erlinda Ramos would
really send them to Italy, the same hardly deserves merit. The crime of illegal
recruitment is committed when, among other things, a person who, without being
duly authorized according to law represents or gives the distinct impression that
he or she has the power or the ability to provide work abroad convincing those to
whom the representation is made or to whom the impression is given to thereupon
part with their money in order to be assured of that employment.
In fact, even if there is no consideration involved, appellant will still be
deemed as having engaged in recruitment activities, since it was sufficiently
demonstrated that she promised overseas employment to private complainants. To
be engaged in the practice and placement, it is plain that there must at least be
a promise or offer of an employment from the person posing as a recruiter whether
locally or abroad.

As regards appellant Charlie Comila, it is inconceivable for him to feign ignorance of the
illegal recruitment activities of his wife Aida, and of his lack of participation therein. Again, we
quote with approval what the trial court has said in its decision:[17]
Charlie Comila could not, likewise, feign ignorance of the illegal
transactions. It is contrary to human experience, hence, highly incredible for a
husband not to have known the activities of his wife who was living with him
under the same roof. In fact, he admitted that when Aida gave birth, he had to
accompany the complainants to Manila for their medical examination and again,
on another trip, to bring them to the office of Erlinda Ramos to follow-up their
visas. The fact that he knew the ins and outs of Manila was a desperate excuse or
reason why he accompanied the complainants to Manila considering that, as he
and his wife claimed, they have nothing to do with the recruitment activities.
Furthermore, if he and his wife had nothing to do with the recruitment of the
complainants, why did he have to sign the letter and accommodate the request of
Myra Daluca whom they have not really known. But damning was his statement
that he signed the letter because Aida was not there to sign it. Such a statement
would only show that they were indeed parties to these illegal transactions.
Charlie Comila would even claim that he was just an elementary graduate and so
he did not understand what he was asked to sign. But his booking sheet showed
that he was a high school graduate. He was a conductor of a bus company who
should know and understand how to read and write. Furthermore, he was already
a grown up man in his thirties who knew what was right and wrong and what he
should or should not do.
It is well
established in jurisprudence that
a
person
may
be
charged and convicted for both illegal recruitment and estafa. The reason therefor is not hard to
discern: illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, while estafa is malum in se. In the first, the
criminal intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction. In the second, such an intent is
imperative. Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code, is committed by
any person who defrauds another by using fictitious name, or falsely pretends to possess power,
influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions,
or by means of similar deceits executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of fraud.
[18]
Here, it has been sufficiently proven that both appellants represented themselves to the
complaining witnesses to have the capacity to send them to Italy for employment, even as they
do not have the authority or license for the purpose. Doubtless, it is this misrepresentation that
induced the complainants to part with their hard-earned money for placement and medical fees.
Such act on the part of the appellants clearly constitutes estafa under Article 315, paragraph (2),
of the Revised Penal Code.
Appellants next bewail the alleged total disregard by the two courts below their defense
of denial which, had it been duly considered and appreciated, could have merited their acquittal.
The Court disagrees. The two courts below did consider their defense of denial. However,
given the positive and categorical testimonies of the complainants who were one in pointing to

appellants, in cahoots with their co-accused Indira Ram Singh Lastra, as having recruited and
promised them with overseas employment, appellants defense of denial must inevitably collapse.
All told, we rule and so hold that the two courts below committed no error in adjudging
both appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal recruitment committed by
a syndicate in large scale and of estafa in seven (7) counts. We also rule that the penalties
imposed by the court of origin, as affirmed by the CA, accord with law and jurisprudence.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant appeal is DISMISSED and the appealed decision of
the CA, affirmatory of that the trial court, is AFFIRMED in toto.
Costs against appellants.
SO ORDERED.

On Official Leave.
Rollo, p. 8.
[2]
Id. at 10-32.
[3]
Id. at 44-64.
[4]
Id. at 65.
[5]
Id. at 70.
[6]
Id. at 83-103.
[7]
Id. at 132-181.
[8]
Id. at 185-188.
[9]
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640.
[10]
Rollo, p. 195.
[11]
Penned by Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. with Associate Justices Rebecca de Guia-Salvador and Japar
B. Dimaampao, concurring; Id. at 198-219.
[12]
Supra note 4.
[13]
Id. at 25-27.
[14]
Id. at 142-152.
[15]
Id. at 61.
[16]
Supra note 11.
[17]
Supra note 15.
[18]
People v. Hernandez, G.R. Nos. 141221-36, March 7, 2002, 378 SCRA 593.
[1]

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 129486
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.
GLORIA BARTOLOME, Promulgated:
Accused-Appellant.
July 4, 2008
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
On September 6, 1989, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Naic, Cavite, the Office of the
Provincial Fiscal of Cavite filed eight (8) separate Informations, four (4) for Illegal Recruitment
and four (4) for Estafa, against accused-appellant Gloria Bartolome and Lidelia
Capawan. Docketed as Crim. Case Nos. NC-354 to NC-361, the cases were eventually raffled to
Branch 15 of the court. Except for the names of the offended party and/or the amount involved,
the following informations in Crim. Case No. NC-354 for illegal recruitment and Crim. Case No.
NC-358 for estafa, as hereunder indicated, typified the other informations for the crime of illegal
recruitment and estafa, as the case may be:
For Illegal Recruitment That on or about the period from July to September 1988 or for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Indang, Province of Cavite, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with grave abuse of
trust and confidence reposed on them, with deliberate intent to defraud, by falsely
representing themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist and recruit
workers abroad, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously for a
fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement in Bahrain to one Fe Rollon
without first obtaining the required license and/or authority from the Department
of Labor and Employment, thereby resulting damage and prejudice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
For Estafa
That on or about the period from July to September 1988 or for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Indang, Province of Cavite, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with deliberate intent
to defraud with grave abuse of trust and confidence reposed on them, with false
manifestation and misrepresentation pretending themselves that they possessed
power and influence to recruit workers for employment abroad, obligated
themselves to seek and facilitate employment abroad of Fe Rollon as saleslady in
Bahrain and pursuant to said obligation received from Fe Rollon the total amount
of P16,500.00, given them in Indang, Cavite and Makati, Metro Manila on
different dates but accused upon receipt and possession of the aforementioned
amount of P16,500.00 and far from complying with their obligation, did, then and
there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert
the aforesaid amount of P16,500.00 to their own use and benefits and despite
repeated demands made to make good of their promise and/or return the amount
taken and/or received from the said victim, accused failed and refused to do so,
thereby resulting to the damage and prejudice of said Fe Rollon in the aforesaid
amount of P16,500.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Of the two accused named in the informations, only accused-appellant Bartolome was brought
under the jurisdiction of the RTC, Capawan being then and still is at large. When arraigned,
accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty to all charges. Thereafter, by agreement of the
parties, all eight (8) cases were tried jointly.
The four (4) private complainants, Fe Rollon, Raymundo Dimatulac, Esperanza Buhay, and
Reynaldo Rollon, each charging accused-appellant with one count of illegal recruitment and one
count of estafa, were all from Calumpang Lejos, Indang, Cavite, like accused-appellant. [1] Buhay,
presented as common prosecution witness for all cases, testified seeing accused-appellant, her
husband, and Capawan, sometime in July 1988, walking around Calumpang Lejos making it
appear that they were badly in need of workers for overseas employment. When asked, Buhay
evinced interest to work abroad and, upon being assured by accused-appellant and Capawan of
the genuineness of their offer, later gave the two a sum of money to cover medical, processing,
and passport fees. And very much later, Buhay paid accused-appellant and Capawan,
in Makati City, PhP 13,000 as placement fee for which she was handed a pre-signed receipt.
Buhay was given a photocopied plane ticket purportedly for a flight to Bahrain, but the promised
job abroad never materialized.

Dimatulac, on the other hand, testified that he was given a run around about his departure
for Bahrain. According to him, after signifying, when so asked, his desire to work in Bahrain as
janitor, accused-appellant and Capawan told him to fill out a bio-data form and to pay the usual
processing and placement fees which he did. Dimatulac was not able to leave and failed to get
his money back, prompting him, like Buhay, to file a complaint with the Philippine Overseas
Employment Agency (POEA).
With slight variations, complaining witnesses Fe and Reynaldo gave parallel accounts
about their dealings with the reneging accused-appellant and Capawan, particularly with respect
to personally meeting the latter two who offered overseas job placements in Bahrain, being asked
to pay and paying the processing and placement fees, and being given a photocopy of a plane
ticket.
Accused-appellant denied the accusations against her and disclaimed ever pretending to possess
power and influence to recruit and secure overseas employment for private complainants. She
claimed that the private complainants were only out to blackmail her because the wife of her
brother-in-law is related to Capawan, who actually did the recruiting; and that her husband and
her brother-in-law were themselves victims of Capawans recruitment activities.
In a consolidated decision[2] dated November 10, 1992, the RTC found accused-appellant
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged and sentenced her, thus:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds accused Gloria Bartolome guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of four (4) counts or offenses of illegal recruitment designated in
Criminal Cases Nos. 354, 355, 356 and 357 under Art. 38, para. (b), Labor Code
of the Philippines, as amended, and on each count or offense, sentences her with
an imprisonment of eight (8) years and a fine of P50,000.00
Similarly, this Court finds said accused guilty beyond any shadow of doubt of
four (4) counts or offenses of estafa under Art. 315, 2(A) [of the Revised Penal
Code], and shall, for each count or offense designated in Crim. Case Nos. 358,
359, 360 and 361, suffer an imprisonment of prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period, or six (6) years, eight (8) months
and 21 days to eight (8) years.
Additionally, the said accused shall indemnify:
Fe Rollon, P16,500.00
Esperanza Buhay, P16,500.00
Reynaldo Rollon, P16,500.00
Raymundo Dimatulac, P15,850.00
The services of the foregoing imposed penalties of imprisonment shall be
successive pursuant to Art. 70, Revised Penal Code.
With costs.

SO ORDERED.
In due time, accused-appellant went to the Court of Appeals (CA) whereat her appellate recourse
was docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 14239. On February 19, 1997, the CA rendered a
Decision[3]disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision of November 10, 1992 finding the
accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of four (4) counts or offenses of Illegal
Recruitment and of four (4) counts of Estafa under Art. 315 of the Revised Penal
Code is AFFIRMED subject to the MODIFICATION that appellant is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of Life Imprisonment and ordered to pay
P100,000.00 as fine for the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale.
In view of the penalty of Life Imprisonment imposed on appellant Gloria
Bartolome, the Division Clerk of Court is hereby ORDERED TO REFRAIN
FROM ENTERING JUDGMENT and to forthwith elevate the records of the case
to the Supreme Court for review, pursuant to Sec. 13, Rule 124 of the Rules of
Court.
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis added.)
The appellate court predicated its modificatory action on the following premises:
Appellant was charged and convicted of illegally recruiting four people and her
crime is classified as Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale, and as such it
is considered as involving economic sabotage. Said crime carries with it the
penalty of Life Imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00. x x x

In view of the penalty of life imprisonment imposed in CA-G.R. CR No. 14239, the CA
forwarded the records of the case to the Court which docketed the same as G.R. No. 128881.
In the meantime, accused-appellant moved for reconsideration of the CAs February 19,
1997 Decision, but her motion was denied in a terse CA Resolution [4] of June 5,
1997. Therefrom, accused-appellant interposed a petition for review of said decision and
resolution, docketed as G.R. No. 129486.
Per Resolution[5] dated July 23, 1997, the Court ordered the consolidation of G.R. No.
129486 with G.R. No. 128881. Earlier, owing to the fact that accused-appellant was out on bail,
the Court, inter alia, ordered, pursuant to Section 7 of Administrative Circular No. 12-94, [6] the
bondsman to surrender accused-appellant within 30 days from notice to the court of origin,
failing which her bond shall be forfeited and an order shall then issue for her arrest. The details

of what then followed are not of crucial materiality to these proceedings, but the bottom line is
that the Courtdeclared accused-appellant as having jumped bail and is now at large. [7] Her
withdrawing counsel and the new collaborating counsel are at a loss as to her whereabouts; [8] her
bondsman, having failed to secure her surrender, had paid her bail bond; and both the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) had, after several
attempts, been unable to serve the corresponding warrants and alias warrants for the arrest of
accused-appellant.
By Resolution dated October 22, 1997, the Court dismissed accused-appellants petition
for review in G.R. No. 128881 for, among other grounds, non-compliance with the requirements
on making a deposit to answer for cost. The dismissal became final and executory with the
issuance of the entry of judgment[9] for G.R. No. 128881. For all intents and purposes, the RTCs
decision convicting accused-appellant for estafa is deemed affirmed with finality.
This brings us to G.R. No. 129486, the case certified to the Court in view of the modified
penalty of life imprisonment the CA imposed on, but did not enter against, accused-appellant for
her conviction on the illegal recruitment in the large scale charge. It is over 10 years since
accused-appellant jumped bail. The deferred judicial review of the certified case may now
proceed without awaiting for her arrest.
Accused-appellants underlying position is set forth in her PETITION [10] urging this Court to
acquit her of the crimes of illegal recruitment and estafa. In it, she alleges that the CA erred in
affirming the decision of the lower court finding her guilty beyond reasonable doubt of four (4)
counts of illegal recruitment and four (4) counts of estafa under Article 15 of the Revised Penal
Code.
In fine, accused-appellant assails the credibility of the four (4) private complainants and the
adequacy of the plaintiff-appellees evidence. Even as she denies making representation about
having the authority and capacity to recruit and deploy workers abroad, accused-appellant insists
that Capawan, confederating with a Thai national, was the illegal recruiter.
The Court is not convinced.
Illegal recruitment is committed when two (2) elements concur: First, the offender does not have
the required license or authority to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. Second,
the offender undertook (1) recruitment and placement activity defined under Article 13(b) of the
Labor Code or (2) any prohibited practice under Art. 34 of the same code. Illegal recruitment is
qualified into large scale, when three or more persons, individually or as group, are victimized.[11]
Art. 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement, as follows:
x x x [A]ny act of canvassing, enlisting, 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: 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.
After a circumspect review of the records, the Court is fully convinced as to accused-appellants
guilt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. The first element is present. Accusedappellant had not shown any license to recruit or engage in placement activities. As found by the
trial court, the POEA no less initiated the filing of the complaints against accused-appellant, a
reality which argues against the existence of such license or authority.
The second element also obtains. On separate occasions, accused-appellant approached
and recruited at least four (4) persons at the same place and at about the same time, giving them
the impression that she and Capawan had the capability to send them to Bahrain for employment.
All four testified that accused-appellant promised them employment for a fee. Their testimonies
corroborate each other on material points, such as the amount exacted as placement fee, the
country of destination, and the photocopied plane tickets.
The private complainants were positive and categorical in their testimonies that they personally
met accused-appellant and that she asked for, among others, placement fee in consideration for
the promised employment in Bahrain. They had no motive to testify falsely against accusedappellant. In fact, accused-appellant admitted personally knowing them since childhood,
describing them to be not misbehaving or perjurious people.[12] The absence of evidence as to
improper motive actuating the principal witnesses of the prosecution augurs well for their
credibility. To be sure, the RTC and the CA found their testimonies to be worthy of full faith and
credence. The testimonies of credible witness meet the standard of proof beyond reasonable
doubt.[13]
Accused-appellant cannot plausibly escape liability for her criminal acts by conveniently
pointing to and passing the blame on Capawan as the illegal recruiter. Like the trial court, we
entertain serious doubts on this self-serving and gratuitous version of accused-appellant. What is
more, her denials cannot prevail over the positive declaration of the prosecution witnesses. It is
basic that affirmative testimony of persons who are eyewitnesses of the events or facts asserted
easily overrides negative testimony.[14]
The crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is punishable under Art. 39(a) of the Labor Code,
as amended, with life imprisonment and a fine of PhP 100,000. The CA, accordingly, imposed
the right penalty.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the Decision and
Resolution dated February 19, 1997 and June 5, 1997, respectively, of the CA insofar as it
convicted accused-appellant of illegal recruitment in a large scale and sentenced her to life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of one hundred thousand pesos (PhP 100,000).
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the NBI and the PNP which are hereby
commanded to arrest accused-appellant Gloria Bartolome whose last known address is at Bacao
2, Gen. Trias Cavite and commit her in the Correctional Institution for Women.

Costs against accused-appellant.


SO ORDERED.

[1]

Rollo, p. 38.
Id. at 29-46. Penned by Judge Enrique M. Almario.
[3]
Id. at 48-53. Penned by Associate Justice Maximiano C. Asuncion and concurred in by Associate Justices Artemon
D. Luna and Ramon A. Barcelona.
[4]
Id. at 67.
[5]
Id. at 7.
[6]
No person charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment
when evidence of guilt is strong shall be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution.
[7]
Rollo, pp. 131-134, per Resolution dated February 8, 1999.
[8]
Id. at 162.
[9]
Id. at 166-189.
[10]
Id. at 9-25.
[11]
People v. Dela Piedra, G.R. No. 121777, January 24, 2001, 350 SCRA 163, 183.
[12]
Rollo, p. 34.
[13]
Dela Piedra, supra at 184.
[14]
Id.; citing People v. Santos, G.R. No. 113344, July 28, 1997, 276 SCRA 329.
[2]

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 176733

August 11, 2008

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
FUJITA ZENCHIRO, accused-appellant.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Accused-appellant Fujita Zenchiro (Zenchiro), a Japanese national, and one Eva Regino (Eva)
were, in an Information filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan where
it was docketed as Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001, charged to have conspired in
committing illegal recruitment in large scale as follows:
Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001:
xxxx
That in or about the month of January, 1999, in the municipality of Meycauayan,
province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring and helping each other, non-licensees or non-holders of
authority from the Department of Labor and Employment to recruit and/or place workers
in employment either locally or overseas, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, with false pretenses, undertake illegal recruitment and placement for a fee
of Alberto M. Anatalio, Fredie1 P. Ocampoand Alicia A. Diaz for overseas
employment.2 (Underscoring supplied)
Zenchiro and Eva were, in Informations also filed before the same court where they were
docketed as Criminal Cases No. 3262-M-2001, 3263-M-2001, and 3264-M-2001, likewise
charged to have conspired in committing three counts of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2 (a)
of the Revised Penal Code as follows:

Criminal Case No. 3262-M-2001:


That on or about the 2nd day of February, 1999, in the municipality of Meycauayan,
province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring and helping each other, with intent of gain, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud Alberto M. Anatalio and Fredie P.
Ocampo in the sum of P50,000.00 each, by then and there misrepresenting that they have
the power and qualification to recruit and employ the said Alberto M. Anatalio and Fredie
P. Ocampo as worker[s] or assist them in securing employment abroad, more particularly
in Japan, and could facilitate the processing and approval of the necessary papers in
connection therewith, when in truth and in fact, as they well knew, they did not have such
qualifications, that pursuant to such misrepresentation and defraudation, said accused
demanded and received from Alberto M. Anatalio and Fredie P. Ocampo the sum of
P50,000.00 each; that said accused failed and refused to comply with their
aforementioned undertakings and instead, misappropriated the sum of P50,000.00 each,
for their benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said Alberto M. Anatalio and Fredie
P. Ocampo, in the total amount of P100,000.00.3 (Underscoring supplied)
Criminal Case No. 3263-M-2001:
That on or about the 10th of March, 1999, in the municipality of Meycauayan, province of
Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring and helping each other, with intent of gain, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud one Alicia A. Diaz in the sum of
P10,000.00, by then and there misrepresenting that they have the power and qualification
to recruit and employ the said Alicia A. Diaz as worker or assist her in securing
employment abroad, more particularly in Japan, and could facilitate the processing and
approval of the necessary papers in connection therewith, when in truth and in fact, as
they well knew, they did not have such qualifications; that pursuant to such
misrepresentation and defraudation, said accused demanded and received from Alicia A.
Diaz the sum of P10,000.00; that said accused failed and refused to comply with their
aforementioned undertakings and instead, misappropriated the sum of P10,000.00 for
their benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said Alicia A. Diaz in the said amount of
P10,000.00.4 (Underscoring supplied)
Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001:
That on or about the 12th of March, 1999, in the municipality of Meycauayan, province of
Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring and helping each other, with intent of gain, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously defraud one Alicia A. Diaz in the sum of

P40,000.00, by then and there misrepresenting that they have the power and qualification
to recruit and employ the said Alicia A. Diaz as worker or assist her in securing
employment abroad, more particularly in Japan, and could facilitate the processing and
approval of the necessary papers in connection therewith, when in truth and in fact, as
they well knew they did not have such qualifications, that pursuant to such
misrepresentation and defraudation, said accused demanded and received from Alicia A.
Diaz the sum of P40,000.00; that said accused failed and refused to comply with their
aforementioned undertakings and instead, misappropriated the sum of P40,000.00 for
their benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the said Alicia A. Diaz in the said amount of
P40,000.00.5 (Underscoring supplied)
Zenchiro pleaded not guilty to all the charges on arraignment.6 Eva has remained at large.
From the testimonies of prosecution witnesses-private complainants Alberto Anatalio (Anatalio)
and his cousin Fredie Ocampo (Ocampo), the following version is gathered:7
In January 1999, Eva introduced private complainants to Zenchiro, telling them that Zenchiro
could deploy them to work in Japan. Speaking in "broken" Tagalog, Zenchiro told the two that he
would take care of everything because he knows many persons who could work on their papers,
and that they would receive a monthly salary of 30 lapad, a lapad being equivalent to P3,500.
Eva and Zenchiro charged P250,000 each of the private complainants who each gave
him P50,000 on February 2, 1999 as downpayment for the processing of their papers. Ocampo's
sister, Florinda Cadorna, also a prosecution witness, paid P400,000 representing the total balance
of Anatalio and Ocampo. 8
On June 26, 1999, Anatalio and Ocampo, escorted by Zenchiro, went to Japan where they were
met by Eva who thereupon accompanied them to her aunt's house in Tokyo where they stayed.
Contrary, however, to Eva's promises that they would be hired at her sister's hanger factory,
Anatalio and Ocampo were idle for two months, and whenever they asked her and Zenchiro
(who alternately stayed in Japan for one month and the Philippines for another month) about
why, Zenchiro and Eva would merely converse with each other in Japanese.
In September 1999, Anatalio and Ocampo returned to the Philippines upon which they asked
Zenchiro to refund the amounts they paid him. Zenchiro did promise to refund them, but he
welched thereon, prompting the filing of complaints against him that led to the filing of the
Informations.
Anatalio and Ocampo were later to learn that Zenchiro and Eva are neither licensed nor
authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment.

From the testimony of private complainant Alicia Diaz (Alicia),9 the following version is
gathered:
Zenchiro offered Alicia a job at the hanger factory in Japan of Eva's sister for a P250,000
placement fee, he undertaking to take care of the processing of all her travel documents. Alicia
accepted the offer and thus paid Zenchiro the amount in several installments for which she was
issued receipts.
On January 12, 1999, Alicia, accompanied by Zenchiro, left for Japan where Eva met them. Eva
at once brought her to "Movara" where she stayed with Zenchiro and two Filipinos. After the
lapse of a week, she was transferred to Chiba but she remained jobless. Via overseas telephone
call to Zenchiro who had gone back to the Philippines, she asked him what they were doing to
her, but he gave no answer. Eva even scolded her for calling Zenchiro.
Alicia returned to the Philippines on March 16, 1999 and confronted Eva and Zenchiro who
asked for forgiveness, they promising to deploy her to work. The promise remained unfulfilled,
however, hence, she demanded the refund of her money, but Zenchiro refunded her
only P50,000.10
Anatalio, Ocampo, and Alicia identified Zenchiro in open court.11
In addition to testimonial evidence, the prosecution presented documentary evidence consisting
of private complainants' sworn statements, a certification from the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration12 that the accused are not licensed to recruit workers for
employment overseas, receipts signed by Zenchiro acknowledging receipt of payments for
"replayment fee" to Japan,13receipts for "VISA ASSISTANCE GOING TO JAPAN" signed by
Eva,14 and receipt signed by Alicia, bearing Zenchiro's signature, acknowledging a partial refund
of P50,00015 from Zenchiro.
Upon the other hand, Zenchiro, denying having promised private complainants that he would
deploy them for work in Japan,16 claimed that his involvement in the transactions was limited to
assistance in the processing of their travel documents and escorting them to Japan;17 and that
private complainants in fact landed on jobs in Japan18 in support of which he presented
certificates, worded in Japanese, issued by Yugengaisha P-I and Kabushikigaisha Sekine Kagaku
Kogyo, said to attest that Anatalio and Ocampo worked in Japan in July up to September 1999.19
By Joint Decision20 of July 5, 2005, Branch 11 of the RTC of Malolos convicted Zenchiro in
Criminal Case Nos. 3261-M-2001 (for illegal recruitment), 3263-M-2001 (for Estafa on
complaint of Alicia ), and 3264-M-2001 (for Estafa on complaint of Alicia). It dismissed
Criminal Case No. 3262-M-2001 (for Estafa on complaint of Anatalio and Ocampo) on the
ground of double jeopardy.21

In arriving at its Joint Decision, the trial court noted the following findings:
When the three (3) complainants went to the residence of the Regino's at Sto. Nio,
Meycauayan on different occasions, in the early part of January 1999, and the matter of
their supposed employment in Japan was taken up Zenchiro was personally
present. Regino did much of the talking but as testified to by the complainants she talked
with Zenchiro in Nippongo, every now and then ostensibly to apprise him of what was
being talked about. Foremost was the representation by Regino, which Zenchiro appears
to have acquiesced into, that he was in a position to find work for the complainants in
Japan. On this point, Zenchiro's own admission that he offered his own services to work
for complainants' Japanese visa was a dead giveaway on his part of his active
involvement in the illicit recruitment of the latter to work in Japan. xxx This coupled with
the uncontroverted fact that he even escorted the complainants in going to Japanin the
months of June, 1999 and January 2000 even living under the same house with Anatalio
and Ocampo therein make a strong case against him for the offense charged.
That the complainants were duped into shelling large amounts for fictitious employment
in Japan has been convincingly shown. All three (3) were categorical in their assertion
that the accused demanded, and received, from each of them the amount of P250,000.00
as placement fee, adducing receipts in substantiation of these exactions. In the case of
Anatalio and Ocampo, the two (2) were uncontradicted in their claim that, on February 2,
1999, both gave P50,000.00 each to Regino as initial payment of their supposed
placement fee in the presence of Zenchiro, and on this occasion, the latter told them that
he would take care of their papers. Two (2) days later, before their departure to Japan or
on June 24, 1999, Florinda "Bong" Cadorna handed over to Zenchiro P400,000.00 duly
receipted by the latter who even signed his name in Japanese character[s].
The same situation holds true with Diaz. In her case on March 10, 1999, she gave Regino
the initial amount of P10,000.00 in her place at Sto. Nio, Meycauayan, Bulacan and two
(2) days later or on March 12, 1999, she gave her the additional amount of P40,000.00 as
downpayment for her replacement fee. After her visa was issued, on December 20,
1999 she gave the amount of P100,000.00 in cash and a check worth P100,000.00 to
Zenchiro personally xxx to complete her employment fee. xxx This transaction between
Diaz and the accused is fully substantiated by the receipt dated December 20, 1999
signed by Zenchiro again in Japanese characters. Although Zenchiro made it appear in
said receipt that the payment was for visa assistance, the enormity of the amount does not
warrant belief to such a pretension[.]
Zenchiro's attempt to show that complainants worked in different firms in Japan is futile.
All that he has to show to prove his point are purported certifications from dubious
Japanese firmsattesting to their supposed employment which from the mere fact that

these are written in Japanese characters without any official translation in English hardly
deserve any evidentiary value[.]
With the Certification from the POEA that the accused are not licensed to recruit
workers either for local and foreign employment, both stand liable for qualified illegal
recruitment in large scale under the provisions of the Labor Code, the same having been
committed against three (3) persons.22 (Citations omitted; underscoring supplied)
The trial court thus disposed:
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001, this Court finds the accused Fujita
Zenchiro GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large
Scale defined and penalized under Article 38 (b) in relation to Articles 34 and 39 of the
Labor Code of the Philippines, P.D. No. 442, as amended and hereby sentences him to
suffer the penalty of Life Imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00. Accused is likewise
ordered to pay the private complainants the following amounts as actual damages, to wit:
1. P250,000.00 to Alberto Anatalio;
2. P250,000.00 to Freddie Ocampo; and
3. P250,000.00 to Alicia Diaz.
In Criminal Case No. 3263-M-2001, this Court finds the accused Fujita Zenchiro
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa under Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended and hereby sentences him to a prison term ranging from four (4)
months and Twenty (20) days of Arresto Mayor, as minimum, up to Two (2) years,
Eleven (11) months and Ten (10) days of prision correccional, as maximum and to pay
Alicia Diaz the amount of P10,000.00 as actual damages.
In Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001, this Court finds the accused Fujita Zenchiro
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa under Art. 315 par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended and hereby sentences him to a prision term ranging from Four (4)
Years, Nine (9) months and Eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to
Six (6) years, Eight (8) months, and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum and to pay
Alicia Diaz the amount of P40,000.00 as actual damages.
Criminal Case No. 3262-M-2001 is hereby DISMISSED.
The cases against Eva Regino are hereby ARCHIVED.
SO ORDERED.23 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, Zenchiro assigned to the trial court the following errors:
I
. . . CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME OF LARGE
SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE
PROSECUTION TO PROVE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THAT HIS ACT OF
SECURING COMPLAINANTS' JAPANESE VISAS IS UNDER THE TERM
"RECRUITMENT AND PLACEMENT".
II
. . . FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY FOR THE CRIME OF
ESTAFA DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THERE WAS DECEPTION ON HIS PART.24
The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision,25 hence, Zenchiro's appeal to this
Court.26
Zenchiro maintains that what he promised to private complainants was assistance in securing
their visas, not employment. And he argues that he is not guilty of estafa because there was no
deceit, he not having misrepresented that he could obtain jobs for them in Japan.
As a general rule, the factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the appellate
court as in the cases at bar, are binding and conclusive on the Supreme Court.27 The abovequoted portions of the trial court's factual findings are supported by the evidence. More
particularly, Zenchiro's claim that his involvement in the transaction was limited to mere
assistance in the processing of private complainants' travel documents is negated by documentary
evidence showing that he received "replayment" fees from them.
Zenchiro goes on to reiterate his argument that Eva promised employment to private
complainants without his knowledge, he being a Japanese national and could not understand the
conversation in Tagalog between Eva and the private complainants. The Court of Appeals'
brushing aside such argument is well taken.
In the first place, appellant during his arraignment even assented to the reading of the
information in Filipino because according to his counsel it is a language known and
understood by him. And as testified to by the private complainants, appellant even spoke
to them in broken Tagalog when he was promising them employment in Japan upon
payment of placement fee to him and his co-accused Regino. Private complainant Diaz
also testified that during their conversation regarding the proposed employment in Japan,
while it was Regino who was explaining things to them, Regino would first talk to

appellant in Japanese and hence appellant cannot feign ignorance of the dealings and
undertakings by Regino with private complainants. Appellant knew and cooperated in the
misrepresentations and fraudulent scheme of Regino as they both duped private
complainants into shelling substantial amounts of money for those promised jobs as
factory workers in Japan.28 (Underscoring supplied)
In fine, Zenchiro's disclaimer of the charges fails.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if it is committed against three or more
persons individually or as a group.29 Clearly, Zenchiro committed illegal recruitment against the
three private complainants.
His conviction in Criminal Case Nos. 3261-M-2001, 3263-M-2001 must thus be affirmed.
Section 7 (b) of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 imposes a fine of not
less than P500,000 nor more than P1,000,000 if illegal recruitment for overseas employment
constitutes economic sabotage - illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate or in large scale.
Since Zenchiro's act was committed in large scale, the fine of P100,000 imposed upon him in
Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001 must be increased to P500,000.
Considering that Zenchiro already gave Alicia a partial refund of P50,000, the actual damages
awarded to her in Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001 is reduced to P200,000, and the awards of
actual damages to Alicia in Criminal Cases Nos. 3263-M-2001 and 3264-M-2001 are deleted.
Respecting the penalty imposed in Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001, Article 315 of the Revised
Penal Code provides:
Article 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the
means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:
1st. 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 pesos but does not exceed
22,000 pesos; and if such amounts 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; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not
exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties
which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the
penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal,as the case may be.
(Underscoring supplied)
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum of the penalty should be taken from the
range of the penalty next lower in degree to that prescribed under the Revised Penal Code. In this

case, the penalty next lower in degree is prision correccional in its minimum and medium
periods. This Court imposes a minimum penalty of two years of prision correccional.
With regard to the maximum penalty in Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001, since the amount
involved exceeds P22,000, the imposable penalty shall be taken from the maximum period
of prision correccional maximum period to prision mayor minimum period, which, when
divided into three equal portions following Article 65 of the Revised Penal Code, have the
following periods:
Minimum period - four years, two months, and one day to five years, five months, and
ten days.
Medium period - five years, five months, and 11 days to six years, eight months, and 20
days
Maximum period - six years, eight months and 21 days to eight years.30
Following the above-quoted portion of the provision of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code,
the maximum term of the penalty imposed by the trial court in Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001
should be increased by one year.
Adding one year to the maximum period of the prescribed penalty, which is from six years, eight
months and 21 days to eight years of prision mayor, the maximum penalty may be taken from
seven years, eight months and 21 days to nine years of prision mayor.31 Thus, the maximum
penalty imposed by the trial court in Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001 is increased to seven
years, eight months, and 21 days of prision mayor.
WHEREFORE, the October 23, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the fine in Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001 is P500,000. In Criminal
Case No. 20-M-2001, the minimum term of the imprisonment imposed is two years of prision
correccional and the maximum term of the imprisonment imposed is Seven Years, Eight Months
and 21 Days of prision mayor.
In all other aspects, the appellate court's decision is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Footnotes
*

Additional member in lieu of Justice Dante O. Tinga per Special Order


No. 512 dated July 16, 2008.

Sometimes spelled "Freddie."

Records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), p. 2.

Records (Criminal Case No. 3262-M-2001), p. 3.

Records (Criminal Case No. 3263-M-2001), p. 2.

Records (Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2001), p. 1.

Records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), p. 45.

TSN, April 25, 2002, pp. 3-18; TSN, July 5, 2002, pp. 2-10.

TSN, May 2, 2002, pp. 25-40.

TSN, May 17, 2002. pp. 2-19; TSN, May 24, 2002, pp. 2-19.

10

Exhibit "J," records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), p. 83.

11

TSN, April 25, 2002, p. 12; TSN, July 5, 2002, p. 3; TSN, May 17,
2002, p. 12.
12

Exhibit "B," records, p. 78.

13

Exhibits "C," "C-1," "D," "D-1," "E," "E-1," "F," "F-1," "G," "G-1,"
records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001, pp. 79-80, 84.
14

Exhibits "F," "F-1," "G," "G-1," records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M2001), p. 81.
15

Exhibit "J" and its derivatives; Exhibit "4" and its derivatives, records
(Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001) p. 83.
16

TSN, September 13, 2002, p. 5.

17

Vide TSN, September 13, 2002, pp. 3-10; TSN, December 13, 2002,
pp. 2-8; TSN, February 21, 2003, pp. 3-13.
18

TSN, September 13, 2002, pp. 5-7.

19

Exhibits "10" and "12" and their derivatives, Records (Criminal Case
No. 3261-M-2001), pp. 287-288, 292-293.
20

Records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), pp. 307-312.

21

Vide id. at 311.

22

Records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), pp. 310-311.

23

Records (Criminal Case No. 3261-M-2001), pp. 311-312.

24

CA rollo, pp. 54-55.

25

Decision of October 23, 2006, penned by Court of Appeals Associate


Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. with the concurrence of Associate
Justices Lucas P. Bersamin and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa; id at 104135.
26

Id. at 146-147.

27

Vide Manliclic v. Calaunan, G.R. No. 150157, January 25, 2007, 512
SCRA 642, 660. Citations omitted.
28

CA rollo, p. 132.

29

Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act No.
8042), Section 6 (m).
30

Bonifacio v. People, G.R. No. 153198, July 11, 2006, 494 SCRA 527,
533.
31

Vide People v. Cabais, G.R. No. 129070, March 16, 2001, 354 SCRA
553, 564.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 179934


Appellee,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
-versus- CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
ERLINDA ABORDO and Promulgated:
VINA CABANLONG,
Appellants. May 21, 2009
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

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, V0769, 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 of P14,000 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 to P45,000. 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, V-0770
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 guilt 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. V-0654, 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,
transporting, 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 Abordo P14,000.

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 in 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 11days 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, 5months 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 following MODIFICATIONS:

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.

[1]

Rollo, pp. 3-19. Penned by Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok with Associate Justices Mariano C.
Del Castillo and Romeo F. Barza, concurring.
[2]
CA rollo, pp. 54-74. Penned by Judge Rosario C. Cruz.
[3]
Id. at 32.
[4]
Id. at 33.
[5]
Id. at 34.
[6]
Id. at 35.
[7]
Id. at 36.
[8]
Id. at 37.
[9]
Id. at 38.
[10]
Id. at 39.
[11]
Rollo, p. 8.
[12]
Id.
[13]
CA rollo, pp. 163-164.
[14]
Id. at 164-165.
[15]
Id. at 166.
[16]
Id. at 73-74.
[17]
Rollo, pp. 17-19.
[18]
People v. Hu, G.R. No. 182232, 6 October 2008.

[19]

Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of the Philippines; Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers
and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
[20]
Rollo, p. 16. See People v. Dela Piedra, 403 Phil. 31 (2001); People v. Ordoo, 390 Phil. 649 (2000).
[21]
Id.
[22]
Id.
[23]
Section 7(a) of RA 8042 provides:
Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six
(6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred
thousand pesos (P200,000) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000).
[24]
People v. Ortiz-Miyake, 344 Phil. 598, 614 (1997).
[25]
People v. Billaber, 465 Phil. 726, 744 (2004).
[26]
Id. at 745.
[27]
Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code. See In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Lagran, 415 Phil.
506, 510 (2001) citing Reyes, Revised Penal Code Book I, 13th ed. (1993), p. 748.
[28]
In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Lagran, supra citing Gordon V. Wolfe, 6 Phil. 76 (1906).

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

CARMEN RITUALO y RAMOS,


Petitioner,

G. R. No. 178337
Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

PERALTA, and

Respondent.

BERSAMIN,* JJ.

Promulgated:

June 25, 2009


x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

For review is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 23 April 2007 in
CA-G.R. CR. No. 29393 entitled, People of the Philippines v. Carmen Ritualo y Ramos,
affirming with modification, the Decision[2] dated 1 December 2004 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 199, Las Pias City, in Criminal Cases No. 01-0076 and No. 01-0077.

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court,
petitioner Carmen Ritualo y Ramos (petitioner Ritualo) prays for the reversal of the appellate

courts decision affirming with modification the decision of the trial court finding her guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of [committing] the crimes of x x x Simple Illegal Recruitment [defined
and punished] under Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant
Workers Act of 1995,[3] and Estafa.[4]
This case originated from two Informations, both dated 2 January 2001, which charged
Ritualo with the crimes of Illegal Recruitment defined and penalized by Republic Act No. 8042;
and Estafa under Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, respectively. The accusatory
portion of the first Information reads as follows:
That on or about the 1st day of May, 2000, in the City of Las Pias, 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 Felix Biacora without first securing the required license or authority
from the Department of Labor and Employment.[5]
The one for Estafa states, viz:
That during the periods (sic) from May 1, 2000 to June 1, 2000, in the City
of Las Pias, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above named accused, with intent of gain, by means of false pretenses or
fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the
fraud, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
the Complainant Felix Biacora amounting toP80,000.00 committed in the
following manner to wit: that the Accused represented to the Complainant that
she was authorized or licensed by the Department of Labor and Employment to
recruit workers for overseas employment and that she could send Complainant to
work abroad (Australia) as farm worker as soon as possible, knowing very well
that such representation is false and was intended only to get money from the
Complainant and the Complainant after relying from the said representations
made by the accused, handed to the accused the said amount and the accused,
once in possession of the money, misappropriated, misapplied and converted the
same for her personal use and benefit, and not withstanding repeated demands
failed and refused to pay the said amount of P80,000.00 to the damage and
prejudice of the Complainant in the aforementioned amount of P80,000.00.[6]
The foregoing were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 01-0076 and No. 0077 and raffled to Branch
275 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pias City.
Upon arraignment on 24 May 2001, petitioner Ritualo, duly assisted by counsel de
oficio, pleaded Not Guilty to the crimes charged.[7]
On 26 May 2003, during the joint trial of the cases, petitioner Ritualo orally manifested
in open court that earnest efforts were being undertaken to settle the civil aspect thereof. Thus,

with the conformity of the accused, herein petitioner Ritualo, coupled with the latters express
waiver apropos the attachment of double jeopardy, the RTC ordered [8] the provisional dismissal
of the two cases.
On 13 October 2003, however, the RTC ordered [9] the revival of the cases upon the
motion of the prosecution, on the ground that Ritualo reneged on her undertaking as embodied in
a handwritten note entitled, Kasunduan viz:
May 26, 2003
Kasunduan
Ako si Carmen
Ritualo, ay sa araw na ito May
26,
2003, nagbabayad kay Felix
Biacora ng
halagang
Sampunglibong
Piso (P10,000.00) at ang natirang Twenty One Thousand Pesos ay babayaran ko
sa loob ng Tatlong Buwan magmula ngayon.
(Sgd.)
Carmen Ritualo
Akusado
Sumang-ayon:
(Sgd.)
Felix Biacora
Complainant[10]
In the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses, namely, Felix Biacora, the
victim;[11] and Belen Blones, employee of the Licensing Branch of the Philippines Overseas
Employment Agency (POEA). Taken altogether, the evidence of the prosecution established the
following facts:
In 1993, Felix Biacora went to Saudi Arabia for overseas employment that was facilitated
by one Cynthia Libutan (Libutan) who worked for a recruitment agency. [12] Several years after
his return to the country, Biacora accidentally met Libutan in Baclaran Church sometime in
2000. After they exchanged pleasantries, the former signified to the latter his desire to seek
another overseas employment. Libutan then gave Biacora the name, address and contact number
of her friend, one Carmen Ritualo, the petitioner herein, who was able to help Libutans sister
find work in Australia.Biacora thereafter called petitioner Ritualo to set up a meeting.
On 1 May 2000, accompanied by his wife, Biacora went to the house of petitioner
Ritualo and inquired from her whether she could help him secure overseas employment
in Australia.Petitioner Ritualo answered in the affirmative, and to be convincing, brought out
travel documents of several people she was able to help, who were then supposedly scheduled to
leave for abroad pretty soon.[13] Biacora was then assured that:

[He could] leave for Australia [in a months time] if [he] will give [petitioner
Ritualo] a total amount of P160,000.00, and [his] salary would be US$700.00 per
month as a farm worker.[14]
On the above-quoted representation on the same date, Biacora paid petitioner Ritualo the
amount of P40,000.00 as downpayment, with the balance to be completed before he left
for Australia.Upon receipt of the money, petitioner Ritualo issued Biacora a Cash Voucher[15] as
evidence of said payment. To complete their transaction, Biacora left her a copy of his Bio-data.
[16]

On 4 May 2000, Biacora again gave petitioner Ritualo P20,000.00 as additional payment,
making the total amount received by the latter P60,000.00. Again, petitioner Ritualo issued
a CashVoucher.[17]
Subsequently, Biacora was informed by petitioner Ritualo that all he needed in securing
an employment in Australia was his Passport and an endorsement from the Representative of his
district. Accompanied by petitioner Ritualo and one Anita Seraspe, the assistant [18] of the former,
Biacora went to the Batasan Pambansa to secure the necessary endorsement. Thereafter, all three
went to the Australian Embassy to apply for Biacoras working visa.
On 1 June 2000, Biacora went to see petitioner Ritualo to follow up the date of his
departure. Petitioner Ritualo asked from Biacora another P20,000.00 and told the latter to be
patient. As with the other amounts given, proof of payment[19] was similarly issued to
acknowledge receipt thereof.
Several dates were set for Biacoras departure, but none pushed through. To top it all, his
Australian Visa application was denied by the Australian Embassy. Consequently, on 9
September 2000, Biacora demanded from petitioner Ritualo the return of the P80,000.00. The
latter promised to pay back the money on the 13th of September 2000. None came.
Thereafter, Biacora filed the subject criminal complaints against petitioner Ritualo.
In two Certifications dated 23 October 2000[20] and 5 November 2003,[21] respectively,
both identified by Belen Blones of the Licensing Division of the POEA, it was confirmed that
per available records of [its] Office, CARMEN RITUALO, in her personal capacity is not
licensed by this Administration to recruit workers for overseas employment [22]; and that [a]ny
recruitment activity undertaken by [her] is deemed illegal.[23]
To rebut the foregoing evidence presented by the prosecution, the defense presented a
diametrically opposed version of the facts of the present case through the sole testimony of
Ritualo.
In her testimony, Ritualo narrated that it was Libutan and Biacora who asked her to
introduce them to a certain Anita Seraspe, the person responsible for sending petitioner Ritualos
own sister to Australia;[24] that she had no agreement with Biacora respecting the latters

employment in Australia; that any talk of money was made among Libutan, Biacora and Seraspe
only; that she received a total of P80,000.00 from Biacora, but that the same was merely
entrusted to her because Libutan and Biacora had just met Seraspe, [25] and that she turned over all
the payments to Seraspe who acknowledged receipt of the same by writing on pieces of paper
said acceptance; that she accompanied Biacora to Batasan Pambansa at his request; that she did
not earn any money out of her referral and introduction of Libutan and Biacora to Seraspe; that
even if she did not earn any money out of the subject transaction, she returned P10,000.00
and P31,000.00, or a total of P41,000.00, to Biacora out of fear that the latter would file charges
against her; that she tried to find Seraspe, but the latter could not be found at her last known
address; and that she gave Biacora an additionalP6,000.000 to obviate any more scandal
befalling her family.[26]
On 1 December 2004, after trial, the RTC found the evidence presented by the
prosecution to be more credible and logical than that presented by the defense and thus,
convicted Ritualo for the crimes of Simple Illegal Recruitment and Estafa, defined and penalized
under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 and the Revised Penal Code,
respectively. The dispositive portion of the trial courts judgment stated:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds accused
CARMEN RITUALO y RAMOS, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crimes of:

1. Simple Illegal Recruitment (Criminal Case Number 01-0076) under


Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the
Migrant Workers Act of 1995, and sentences her to suffer an
Indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of Six (6) years and ONE
(1) day, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) years, as maximum, and to pay
a fine of P200,000.00.

2. In Criminal Case Number 01-0077 for Estafa, herein accused is hereby


sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of prison term of six
(6) months and One (1) day of Prission (sic) Correctional (sic), as
minimum, to seven (7) years, eleven (11) months and eleven (11)
days of Prision Mayor, as maximum and is ORDERED to
indemnify Felix Biacora actual damages in the amount
of P66,000.00 which is minus the amount of P14,000.00 which the
private complainant admitted to have been refunded to him.

Cost de oficio.[27]

Ritualos Motion for Reconsideration of the trial courts decision was subsequently denied
in an Order[28] dated 21 January 2005.

In an Order[29] dated 1 March 2005, the RTC granted and approved the Notice of
Appeal[30] filed by Ritualo.

The Court of Appeals, in its Decision promulgated on 23 April 2007, affirmed the
judgment of the RTC insofar as the conviction of Ritualo was concerned. As reasoned by the
Court of Appeals, [a]s against the positive and categorical testimony of the [Biacora], [Ritualos]
denials cannot prevail.[31] Particularly, the appellate court held that Ritualos acts of promising and
assuring employment overseas to [Biacora] [fell] squarely within the ambit of recruitment and
placement as defined by [The Migrant Workers Act or Republic Act No. 8042]. [32] With respect to
the charge of Estafa under the Revised Penal Code, the appellate court likewise found that all the
elements of said crime existed in the case at bar, i.e., [Ritualo] misrepresented herself to the
[Biacora] as the person who could send him to Australia for employment, and by reason of
misrepresentations, false assurances and deceit, [Biacora] was induced to part with his money in
payment of placement fees, thereby causing him damage and prejudice.[33]

The penalties imposed on Ritualo by the trial court, however, were modified by the Court
of Appeals on the ground that the latter erred in imposing in the Illegal Recruitment case, an
indeterminate sentence ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8)
years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P200,000.00,[34] in view of the penalty prescribed under
Sec. 7 of Republic Act No. 8042; and, in the Estafa case, another indeterminate sentence ranging
from six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correcional, as minimum, to seven (7) years,
eleven (11) months and eleven (11) days of prision mayor, as maximum, contrary to the
wordings of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

The fallo of the Court of Appeals decision is restated:

UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THESE CASES, THUS, the appealed


decision finding the accused-appellant Carmen Ritualo y Ramos guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of Simple Illegal Recruitment and Estafa is AFFIRMED, with
the following MODIFICATIONS
1. In Criminal Case No. 01-0076 (Simple Illegal Recruitment), the
accused-appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of twelve (12) years and to pay a fine
of P500,000.00.

2. In Criminal Case No. 01-0077 (Estafa), the accused-appellant is


sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two
(2) months of prision correctional (sic), as minimum, to twelve
(12) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify the
private complainant Felix Biacora the sum of P66,000.00 with the
interest thereon at the legal rate from September 21, 2000 until the
same is fully paid.

Costs shall also be taxed against the accused-appellant.[35]

Hence, Ritualo filed the instant petition for review.

In this petition, Ritualo prayed for the reversal of the decision of the RTC, as affirmed
with modification by the Court of Appeals, on the basis of the following assignment of errors:

I.

WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


AFFIRMING WITH MODIFICATION THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD
COULD NOT SUPPORT A CONVICTION; and

II.

ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE PETITIONER IS CULPABLE, THE


HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN MODIFYING THE
DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT AS REGARDS THE TERM
OF SENTENCE IN THE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT CASE.[36]

Essentially, she argues that there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that x x x [she]
gave Biacora a distinct impression that she had the power or ability to send him abroad for work
such that the latter was convinced to part with his money.[37] Petitioner Ritualo maintains that
Biacora transacted with Seraspe and not with her. Assuming for the sake of argument that she
and Biacora had any agreement with each other, petitioner Ritualo insisted that it was merely to
facilitate the latters application for an Australian Visa. Particularly, she pointed out that the
prosecution failed to present other witnesses who could have corroborated the claim of Biacora
that she (Ritualo) promised him employment abroad. Anent the penalty imposed by the courts,
petitioner disputed the appellate courts reasoning and claimed that the same was improper in
view of the ruling of this Court in People v. Gallardo,[38] in which therein respondent was also
convicted of Simple Illegal Recruitment.
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the People of the Philippines, on the other hand,
asserted that the findings of the Court of Appeals were supported by the records of the case, i.e.,
Biacora was consistent in his testimony that it was petitioner who illegally recruited him for
work as a farmhand in Australia. Thus, [a]s against the positive and categorical testimony of the
private complainant (Biacora), petitioners denial cannot prevail.

We find no merit in the petition.

Having weighed the evidence for the contending parties, there is no cogent reason to
reverse the findings and conclusion of the RTC as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

The crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment is defined and penalized under Sec. 6 of
Republic Act. No. 8042, which reads:

SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall


mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring,
or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by
a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f)
of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code
of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in
any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more
persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts,
whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or
holder of authority:

(a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than that
specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor
and Employment, or to make a worker pay any amount greater than that actually
received
by
him
as
a
loan
or
advance;
(b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in
relation
to
recruitment
or
employment;
(c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or
commit any act of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or
authority under the Labor Code;

(d) To induce or attempt to induce a worker already employed to quit his


employment in order to offer him another unless the transfer is designed to
liberate a worker from oppressive terms and conditions of employment;
(e) To influence or attempt to influence any person or entity not to employ any
worker who has not applied for employment through his agency;
(f) To engage in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public
health or morality or to the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines;
(g) To obstruct or attempt to obstruct inspection by the Secretary of Labor and
Employment or by his duly authorized representative;
(h) To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies,
remittance of foreign exchange earnings, separation from jobs, departures and

such other matters or information as may be required by the Secretary of Labor


and Employment;
(i) To substitute or alter to the prejudice of the worker, employment contracts
approved and verified by the Department of Labor and Employment from the time
of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the
expiration of the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and
Employment;

(j) For an officer or agent of a recruitment or placement agency to become an


officer or member of the Board of any corporation engaged in travel agency or to
be engaged directly or indirectly in the management of a travel agency;

(k) To withhold or deny travel documents from applicant workers before


departure for monetary or financial considerations other than those authorized
under the Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations;
(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the
Department of Labor and Employment ; and

(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his
documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the
deployment does not actually take place without the worker's fault. Illegal
recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered
an offense involving economic sabotage.

Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a


group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another.
It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more
persons individually or as a group.

The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals,
accomplices and accessories. In case of juridical persons, the officers having
control, management or direction of their business shall be liable.

Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, enumerates one of the modes of
committing estafa, thus:

xxxx

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.

Illegal recruitment is committed when two essential elements concur:

(1) that the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to
enable him to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers, and

(2) that the offender undertakes any activity within the meaning of
recruitment and placement defined under Article 13(b), or any prohibited
practices enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code.[39]

Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as:

Any act of canvassing, enlisting, 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: 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. (Emphasis supplied.)

In this case, the first element is, indeed, present. The prosecution established, through
Belen Blones of the Licensing Branch of the POEA, who identified and confirmed the two
Certifications issued by the POEA Licensing Branch, that per available records of [its]
Office, CARMEN RITUALO, in her personal capacity is not licensed by this Administration to
recruit workers for overseas employment.[40]

As to the second element, it must be shown that the accused gave the private complainant
the distinct impression that he/she had the power or ability to send the private complainant
abroad for work, such that the latter was convinced to part with his/her money in order to be
employed.[41] Thus, to be engaged in illegal recruitment, it is plain that there must at least be a
promise or an offer of employment from the person posing as a recruiter whether locally or
abroad.[42] In the case at bar, the second element is similarly present. As testified to by Biacora,
petitioner Ritualo professed to have the ability to send him overseas to be employed as a farm
worker in Australia with a monthly salary of US$700.00. [43] To further wet Biacoras appetite,
petitioner Ritualo even showed him purported travel documents of other people about to depart,
whose overseas employment she supposedly facilitated. That petitioner Ritualo personally
assisted Biacora in the completion of the alleged requirements, i.e., securing a Letter of Request
and Guarantee from the Representative of his Congressional District in Batangas to ensure the
approval of Biacoras application for an Australian Visa, even accompanying Biacora to the
Australian Embassy, all clearly point to her efforts to convince Biacora that she (petitioner
Ritualo) had, indeed, the ability and influence to make Biacoras dream of overseas employment
come true.

The claim of petitioner Ritualo that it was Anita Seraspe who was really the recruiter and
the one who profited from the subject illegal transaction holds no water. Petitioner Ritualos act of
receiving payment from Biacora and issuing personal receipts therefor; of personally assisting
Biacora to complete the necessary documents; of failing to present evidence to corroborate her
testimony despite several opportunities given her by the trial court; of petitioner Ritualo having
been positively identified as the person who transacted with Biacora and promised the latter an

overseas employment and who personally received money from Biacora, all unhesitatingly point
to petitioner Ritualo as the culprit.

The following oral and documentary evidence are worth reproducing:

COURT:

Q: How many times did you receive money from private complainant?

WITNESS:

Three (3) times, Your Honor.

Q: The first time?

A: My first time is Php40,000.00, Your Honor.

Q: The second time?

A: Php20,000.00, Your Honor.

Q: Third time?

A: Php20,000.00, Your Honor.

Q: When you received these amounts of money, who issued the private
complainant a receipt?

A: I was the one, Your Honor.[44]

The first Cash Voucher issued by petitioner Ritualo declares:

CASH VOUCHER

5-1-2000

Payment for document Australia fourty (sic) thousand (sic) pesos (sic)
only (P40,000.00)

RECEIVED from Felix Evangelista Biacora the amount


of PESOS fourty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) in full
payment of amount described above.

By: (Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo[45]

The second, on 4 May 2000, states:

CASH VOUCHER

5-4-2000

Payment for document Australia twenty (sic) thousand (sic) pesos (sic)
only (P20,000.00)

RECEIVED
from Felix
Biacora the
amount
of PESOS twenty thousand (P20,000.00) in full payment of
amount described above.

By: (Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo[46]

And the third receipt reads:

RECEIPT

No. _____________ Date: 6-1-2000

RECEIVED
from Felix Biacora
the
thousand (P20,000.00) as payment for for Visa.

sum

of

Pesos Twenty

Partial _______ Cash __________


Balance ______ Check No. _______
(Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo
Authorized Signature[47]

Petitioner Ritualo next tried to impress upon this Court that she received nary a centavo
from the subject illegal transaction; therefore, she should not be held liable.

We reject this outright. In the first place, it has been abundantly shown that she really
received the monies from Biacora. Secondly, even without consideration for her services, she
still engaged in recruitment activities, since it was satisfactorily shown that she promised
overseas employment to Biacora. And, more importantly, Sec. 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 does
not require that the illegal recruitment be done for profit.

Petitioner Ritualo boldly but vainly tried to inject reasonable doubt by complaining that
the RTC and the Court of Appeals affirmed her conviction despite failure of the prosecution to
present other vital witness, i.e., Biacoras wife, who accompanied her husband to the house of
petitioner Ritualo and, hence, witnessed what happened on the first meeting between the latter
and Biacora.Non-presentation of said witness, according to petitioner Ritualo, raises the
presumption that her testimony, if presented, would be adverse to the prosecution.

The prosecution is entitled to conduct its own case and to decide what witnesses to call to
support its charges.[48] The defense posture that the non-presentation of the wife of Biacora
constitutes suppression of evidence favorable to petitioner Ritualo is fallacious. In fact, the same
line of reasoning can be used against petitioner Ritualo. If the defense felt that the testimony
of Biacoras wife would support her defense, what she could and should have done was to call her
(Biacoras wife) to the stand as her own witness. One of the constitutional rights of the accused is
"to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of
evidence in his behalf." And, in the same vein, since petitioner Ritualo is setting the cloak of
liability on Seraspes shoulder, she (petitioner Ritualo) could and should have had the former
subpoenaed as well.

As held by this Court, the adverse presumption of suppression of evidence does not,
moreover, apply where the evidence suppressed is merely corroborative or cumulative in nature.
[49]
If presented, Biacoras wife would merely corroborate Biacoras account which, by itself,
already detailed what occurred on the day of the parties first meeting at the house of petitioner
Ritualo. Hence, the prosecution committed no fatal error in dispensing with the testimony of
Biacoras wife.
Finally, Biacora, the private complainant in this case, did not harbor any ill motive to
testify falsely against petitioner Ritualo. The latter failed to show any animosity or ill feeling on
the part of Biacora that could have motivated him to falsely accuse her of the crimes charged. It
would be against human nature and experience for strangers to conspire and accuse another
stranger of a most serious crime just to mollify their hurt feelings.[50]

The totality of the evidence in the case at bar, when scrutinized and taken together, leads
to no other conclusion than that petitioner Ritualo engaged in recruiting and promising overseas
employment to Felix Biacora under the above-quoted Sec. 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 vis-vis Article 13(b) of the Labor Code. Hence, she cannot now feign ignorance of the consequences
of her unlawful acts.

As to the sentence imposed upon petitioner Ritualo for the crime of simple illegal
recruitment, this Court clarifies that the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals a sentence of
12 years imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 - is partly incorrect, as petitioner Ritualo is a
non-licensee.[51] Under Sec. 7(a) of Republic Act No. 8042, simple illegal recruitment is
punishable by imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than
twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) nor
more than Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00). Applying the provisions of Section 1 of
the Indeterminate Sentence law, however, the correct penalty that should have been imposed

upon petitioner Ritualo is imprisonment for the period of eight (8) years and one (1) day, as
minimum, to twelve (12) years, as maximum.[52] The imposition of a fine of P500,000.00 is also
in order.

With respect to the criminal charge of estafa, this Court likewise affirms the conviction of
petitioner Ritualo for said crime. The same evidence proving petitioner Ritualos criminal liability
for illegal recruitment also established her liability for estafa. It is settled that a person may be
charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under Republic Act No. 8042 in relation
to the Labor Code, and estafa under Art. 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. As this
Court held in People v. Yabut[53]:

In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal


recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under
the Labor Code and estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
The offense of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal intent
of the accused is not necessary for conviction, while estafa is malum in se where
the criminal intent of the accused is crucial for conviction. Conviction for offenses
under the Labor Code does not bar conviction for offenses punishable by other
laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised
Penal Code does not bar a conviction for illegal recruitment under the Labor
Code. It follows that ones acquittal of the crime of estafa will not necessarily
result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, and vice
versa.

The prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner Ritualo was similarly
guilty of estafa under Art. 315 (2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code committed --

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.

Both elements of the crime were established in this case, namely, (a) petitioner Ritualo
defrauded complainant by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit; and (b) complainant
Biacora suffered damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation as a result.[54] Biacora
parted with his money upon the prodding and enticement of petitioner Ritualo on the false
pretense that she had the capacity to deploy him for employment in Australia. In the end, Biacora
was neither able to leave for work overseas nor did he get his money back, thus causing him
damage and prejudice.Hence, the conviction of petitioner Ritualo of the crime of estafa should be
upheld.

While this Court affirms the conviction of the petitioner Ritualo for estafa, we find,
however, that both the trial court and the appellate court erroneously computed the penalty of the
crime.The amount of which the private complainant, Biacora, was defrauded was Eighty
Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00) and not merely Sixty Six Thousand Pesos (P66,000.00).

Under the Revised Penal Code, an accused found guilty of estafa shall be sentenced to:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any
of the means mentioned herein below shall be punished by:

1st. 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 pesos 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; but the total penalty which may
be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with
the accessory penalties which may be imposed under the provisions of this Code,

the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may
be.

2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium


periods, if the amount of the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000
pesos;

3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision


correccional in its minimum period if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not
exceed 6,000 pesos; and

4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not
exceed 200 pesos, x x x.

Computing the penalty for the crime of Estafa based on the above-quoted provision, the
proper penalty to be imposed upon petitioner Ritualo is the maximum term
of prision correccionalmaximum to prision mayor minimum as mandated by Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code. But considering that the amount defrauded exceeded Twenty-Two
Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00), per the same provision, the prescribed penalty is not only imposed
in its maximum period, but there is imposed an incremental penalty of one (1) year imprisonment
for every Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) in excess of the cap of Twenty-Two Thousand Pesos
(P22,000.00).[55] As this Court held in People v. Gabres,[56] [t]he fact that the amounts involved in
the instant case exceedP22,000.00 should not be considered in the initial determination of the
indeterminate penalty; instead, the matter should be so taken as analogous to modifying
circumstances in the imposition of the maximum term of the full indeterminate sentence. [57] And
with respect to the computation of the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence, in this case,
given that the penalty prescribed by law for the estafa charge against petitioner Ritualo is prision
correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next lower would then be prision
correccional minimum to medium per Art. 64 in relation to Art. 65, both of the Revised Penal
Code.

Preceding from the above discussion, thus, the prison term to be imposed upon petitioner
Ritualo vis--vis the crime of Estafa is as follows: the minimum term should be anywhere within
six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional;
while the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence should be within the range of six (6)
years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days to eight (8) years of prision mayor considering
that the amount involved exceeds P22,000.00, plus an added five (5) years, as there are five (5)
increments ofP10,000.00 over the cap of P22,000.00.[58]

Lastly, regarding the award of indemnity due from petitioner Ritualo, both the RTC and
Court of Appeals ordered her to pay Biacora the amount of Sixty-Six Thousand Pesos
(P66,000.00), instead of the original amount defrauded, which is Eighty Thousand Pesos
(P80,000.00), in view of petitioner Ritualos payment of Fourteen Thousand Pesos
(P14,000.00). A thorough scrutiny of the record of the case, however, yields the finding that as of
the date of revival of the case before the RTC, or on 13 October 2003, only the amount of
Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00) remains unpaid. The Motion to Revive Case dated 2
October 2003 filed by the prosecution attached the letter-request of private complainant Biacora,
elucidating thus:

I, MR. FELIX BIACORA, complainant against MRS. CARMEN


RITUALO with Case No. 01-0076-77. This case is temporary (sic) dismissed
on May 26, 2003 in Branch 1999 (sic).

On May 26, 2003 MRS. CARMEN RITUALO made written promise that
she will pay the balance amounting P21,000.00 Twenty Thousand Pesos after 3
months but she failed.

Due that (sic) her promise did not materialized (sic), I personally request
the Hon. Court to REVIVE this case.

Respectfully yours,

(Sgd.) MR. FELIX BIACORA

With the foregoing submission of Biacora, out of the amount of Eighty Thousand Pesos
(P80,000.00), only Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00) remains unpaid. Accordingly, the
civil liability of petitioner Ritualo is now merely Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00).

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 29393 promulgated on 23 April 2007 is AFFIRMED with the
followingMODIFICATIONS:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 01-0076, petitioner Carmen Ritualo is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment, and is sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day as minimum, to twelve (12) years, as
maximum, and to pay a fine of P500,000.00; and

(2) In Criminal Case No. 01-0077, petitioner Carmen Ritualo is also


found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa and sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as
minimum, to eleven (11) years and eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision
mayor, as maximum.

Petitioner Carmen R. Ritualo is similarly ORDERED to indemnify Felix E. Biacora the


amount of P21,000.00. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin was designated to sit as additional member replacing Associate Justice
Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura per Raffle dated 22 June 2009.
[1]
Penned by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Renato C. Dacudao with Associate Justices Noel G. Tijam and
Sesinando E. Villon, concurring; rollo, pp. 95-115.
[2]
Penned by Hon. Joselito J. Vibandor, Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 199, Las Pias City; id. at 58-70.
[3]
Records, p. 269.
[4]
Id.
[5]
Id. at 1.
[6]
Id. at 3.
[7]
Id. at 83.
[8]
Id. at 130.
[9]
Id. at 134.
[10]
Id. at 170.
[11]
TSN, 10 March 2003; TSN, 5 May 2003.
[12]
Id. at 4-5.
[13]
Records, p. 8.
[14]
Id.
[15]
Id. at 164.
[16]
TSN, 10 March 2003; TSN, 5 May 2003.
[17]
Records, p. 164.
[18]
TSN, 5 May 2003, p. 20.
[19]
Denominated as Receipt; records, p. 165.
[20]
Certification issued by Hermogenes C. Mateo, Director II, Licensing Branch, POEA; Exhibit E; records, p. 168.
[21]
Felicitas Q. Bay, Director II, Licensing Branch, POEA; Exhibit F-1; records, p. 169.
[22]
Id. at 168.
[23]
Id. at 169.
[24]
TSN, 16 February 2004, pp. 55-56.
[25]
Id. at 56.
[26]
TSN, 14 April 2004, pp. 85-86.
[27]
Rollo, p. 70.
[28]
Records, p. 289.
[29]
Id. at 304.
[30]
Id. at 300-301.
[31]
Rollo, p. 111.
[32]
Id. at 112.
[33]
Id. at 113.
[34]
Id. at 112.
[35]
Id. at 114.
[36]
Id. at 24-25.
[37]
Id. at 27.
[38]
436 Phil. 698 (2002).
[39]
People v. Navarra, Sr., 404 Phil. 693, 701 (2001).
[40]
Records, pp. 168-169.
[41]
People v. Angeles, 430 Phil. 333, 346 (2002).
[42]
Id.
[43]
Complaint-affidavit which was admitted in evidence and its contents confirmed on the witness stand by Biacora.
[44]
TSN, 16 February 2004, pp. 18-19.
[45]
Exhibit "B-1; records, p. 164.
[46]
Exhibit B-3; id. at 164.

[47]

Exhibit C; id. at 165.


People v. Armentano, G. R. No. 90803, 3 July 1992, 211 SCRA 82, 87.
[49]
Tarapen v. People, G.R. No. 173824, 28 August 2008, 563 SCRA 577, 593, citing People v. De Jesus, G.R. No.
93852, January 24, 1992, 205 SCRA 383, 391.
[50]
People v. Reichl, 428 Phil. 643, 664 (2002).
[51]
Sec. 7, Republic Act. No. 8042.
SEC. 7. Penalties.
(a) Any persons found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six (6)
years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine or not less that Two hundred thousand
pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00);
(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos ( P500,000.00) nor
more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic
sabotage as defined herein.
[52]
People v. Hu, G.R. No. 182232, 6 October 2008, 567 SCRA 696, 713-714.
[53]
374 Phil. 575, 586 (1999).
[54]
People v. Temporada, G.R. No. 173473, 17 December 2008.
[55]
Provided that the total penalty that may be imposed shall not exceed 20 years.
[56]
335 Phil. 242 (1997).
[57]
Id. at 257.
[58]
The additional five (5) years is in view of the five (5) increments of Ten Thousand Pesos ( P10,000.00)
representing the difference of the amount defrauded by petitioner Ritualo, which is Eighty Thousand Pesos
(P80,000.00), or Fifty Eight Thousand Pesos (P58,000.00) more than the cap of Twenty-Two Thousand
Pesos (P22,000.00) provided by law.
[48]

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Appellee,

G.R. No. 158627


Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

- versus -

MARITESS MARTINEZ y DULAY,


Promulgated:
Appellant.
March 5, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
No less than the Constitution ordains that labor local and overseas, organized and unorganized shall be
given full protection. Further it mandates the promotion of full employment and equality of employment
opportunities. Thus, if an individual illegally recruits another for employment abroad, he shall be meted
the penalty of life imprisonment and fined. The same individual could also be held liable for the crime of
Estafa.[1]
This appeal assails the December 11, 2002 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
24144 which affirmed with modifications the October 12, 1999 Decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Manila, Branch 3, finding appellant guilty of the crimes of Illegal Recruitment in large scale and
four counts of Estafa.
Factual Antecedents
On June 21, 1995, herein appellant Maritess Martinez and her daughter, Jenilyn Martinez, were
charged with seven counts of Estafa before the RTC of Manila. The cases were docketed as Criminal
Case Nos. 95-143311,[4] 95-143312,[5] 95-143313,[6] 95-143314,[7] 95-143315,[8] 95-143316,[9] and 95143317.[10]
Except for the dates of commission of the crimes, the amounts defrauded, and the names of the
complainants, the Informations for Estafa were similarly worded as follows:

That in or about and during the period comprised between __________,


inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and
confederating and helping with one Julius Martinez who was previously charged [with]
the same offense before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch ___, docketed under
Criminal Case No[s]. 94-139797 to 139803 did then and there willfully and feloniously
defraud __________[12] in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of
false manifestations and fraudulent representations which she/he/they made to said
__________[13] to the effect that he had the power and capacity to recruit and employ as
factory worker in Korea and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent papers if
given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of other
similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said __________ [14] to give and
deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the amount of
__________[15] on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused
well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as
in fact she/he/they did obtain the amount of __________[16] which amount once in
her/his/their possession, with intent to defraud, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her/his/their own personal use and benefit,
to the damage and prejudice of said __________ [17] in the aforesaid amount of
__________[18] Philippine Currency.
[11]

Contrary to law.
On even date, appellant together with her children Jenilyn Martinez and Julius Martinez, were
also charged with the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale which was docketed as Criminal Case
No. 95-143318.[19] The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That in or about and during the period comprised between February 1993 and
July, 1994, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and
confederating together and helping one another, representing themselves to have the
capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did
then and there willfully and unlawfully for a fee recruit and promise employment/job
placement abroad to the following persons, to wit:NELSON LAPLANO, CRIZALDO
FERNANDEZ Y MARTINEZ, WALTER ISUAN Y ORTIZ, NECITO
SERQUINA[20] Y TUVERA, DOMINADOR ILASIN[21], ARNULFO SUYAT Y
LOYOLA, and VIVENCIO[22]MARTINEZ Y CORNELIO without first having secured
the necessary license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment
(POEA).
Contrary to law.[23]
The cases were raffled to Branch 3 of the RTC of Manila. Thereafter, warrants of arrest[24] were
issued against the three accused. However, the same were served only against appellant[25] and Julius
Martinez[26] whereas accused Jenilyn Martinez remains at large.

During his arraignment on August 18, 1995, Julius Martinez pleaded not guilty to the charge of
Illegal Recruitment.[27] Meanwhile, appellant was arraigned on September 6, 1995 where she entered a
plea of not guilty to the charges of Estafa and Illegal Recruitment in large scale.[28]
The cases were consolidated upon motion of the prosecution.[29] Trial on the merits thereafter
ensued.
The following complainants were presented by the prosecution as witnesses, to wit: Dominador
Ilacin, Necito Serquia, Vivencio Martinez, and Arnulfo Suyat. However, complainants Walter Isuan,
Nelson Laplano, and Crizaldo Fernandez failed to testify despite being given several opportunities.
[30]
Thus, on February 14, 1996, the trial court issued an Order viz:
For failure of the complaining witnesses, Nelson Laplano y Malapit, Crizaldo
Fernandez y Martinez, and Walter Isuan y Ortiz, to appear at todays trial, despite personal
service of notice of this setting, as prayed for by the accused counsel and without
objection from the public prosecutor, insofar as Crim. Case No. 95-143312, 95-143314,
and 95-143316 are concerned, the same are hereby PROVISIONALLY DISMISSED,
with the express consent of accused Maritess Martinez y Dulay only. With costs de
oficio.
SO ORDERED.[31]
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On October 12, 1999, the trial court issued its Decision acquitting Julius
Martinez of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale while finding appellant guilty of Illegal
Recruitment and four counts of Estafa.
The trial court found that appellant was not a holder of a license or authority to deploy workers
abroad; that appellant falsely represented herself to have the capacity to send complainants as factory
workers in South Korea; that she asked from complainants various amounts allegedly as placement and
processing fees; that based on said false representations, complainants parted with their money and gave
the same to appellant; that appellant appropriated for herself the amounts given her to the damage and
prejudice of the complainants; and that she failed to deploy complainants for work abroad.
The trial court did not lend credence to appellants allegation that she merely assisted
complainants in their applications with JH Imperial Organization Placement Corp. Instead, it held that
complainants directly applied with the appellant, viz:
x x x Maritess was not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment by
the POEA. She is directly accountable to complainants as the recipient of the
money. Besides, no one from Imperial Agency was even presented to show that it was
the entity handling the recruitment. They relied on her representations that she could send
them abroad to work. x x x[32]

The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision reads:


WHEREFORE, accused Julius Martinez is acquitted while accused Maritess
Martinez is FOUND GUILTY of estafa on 4 counts and illegal recruitment. She is
hereby sentenced to an imprisonment of from 10 years, 8 months and 21 days to 11
years, 11 months and 10 days of prision mayor for 4 counts of estafa. Further, she shall
suffer an imprisonment of from 5 years, 5 months and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months and
20 days of prision correccional for illegal recruitment.
Accused shall also indemnify private complainants for actual damages, as
follows: P40,000.00 to Dominador Ilacin, P40,000.00 to Necito Serquia, P55,000.00 to
Vivencio Martinez, and P45,000.00 to Arnulfo Suyat; and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.[33]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Appellant appealed to the CA arguing that no evidence was presented to show that she falsely
represented herself as having the capacity to send complainants as factory workers in South Korea.[34] She
alleged that there was no proof that she personally undertook to deploy them for work abroad. [35] She
maintained that she merely assisted complainants in their applications with JH Imperial Organization
Placement Corp. and that she was merely an agent of the latter.[36] She claimed that there is no truth to the
claim of the complainants that she was holding office in her residence considering its very limited space
and that the same is occupied by her six family members.[37]
On December 11, 2002, the CA rendered its assailed Decision denying the appeal for lack of
merit. It found appellant guilty of Illegal Recruitment in large scale for having committed acts of
recruitment such as making promises of profitable overseas employment to complainants[38] and of
collecting from the complainants payment for their passports, placement fees and other sundry expenses.
[39]
It likewise found that appellant did not have the authority to recruit workers for overseas employment.
[40]
The appellate court disregarded appellants argument that she merely assisted complainants in their
applications with JH Imperial Organization Placement Corp. The CA likewise affirmed appellants
conviction for four counts of Estafa.
The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:
Accordingly, the Court modifies the penalties imposed by the trial court, viz:
In Criminal Case No. 95-143311, the amount involved is P30,000.00 ([appellant]
having returned to complainant Dominador Ilacin the amount of P10,000.00). The
minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional and the maximum term should be eight (8) years of prision
mayor.
In Criminal Case No. 95-143313, the amount involved is P40,000.00. The
minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be four (4) years and two (2) months

of prision correccional and the maximum term should at least be eight (8) years
of prision mayor plus a period of one (1) year [one (1) year for each
additional P10,000.00] or a total maximum period of nine (9) years of prision mayor.
In Criminal Case No. 95-143315, the amount involved is P39,000.00
([appellant] having returned to complainant Vivencio Martinez the amount
of P16,000.00). The minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be four (4)
years and two (2) months of prision correccional and the maximum term should be at
least eight (8) years of prision mayor plus a period of one (1) year [one (1) year for each
additional P10,000.00] for a total maximum period of nine (9) years of prision mayor.
In Criminal Case No. 95-143317, the amount involved is P29,000.00
([appellant] having returned to complainant Arnulfo Suyat the amount of P16,000.00).
The minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be four (4) years and two (2)
months of prision correccional and the maximum term should be eight (8) [years]
of prision mayor.
In Criminal Case No. 95-143318, large scale illegal recruitment is punishable
with life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (Article 39, Labor
Code).
The amount of actual damages awarded to the three complainants is modified
there being partial payments made by the appellant, viz:
1) Dominador Ilacin - P30,000.00
2) Vivencio Martinez - P39,000.00
3) Arnulfo Suyat - P29,000.00
WHEREFORE, considering that the imposable penalty in Criminal Case No. 95143318 (Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale) is life imprisonment consistent with Section
13, paragraph (b), Rule 124 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, the Court
hereby certifies this case and elevates the entire records to the Honorable Supreme Court
for the mandated review.
SO ORDERED.[41]
Hence, this appeal filed by appellant raising the following assignment of errors:
Issues
I.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED PALPABLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING
[THAT] THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE IS INSUFFICIENT TO PROVE THE
GUILT OF THE [APPELLANT].
II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED [THE CASE] IN A WAY PROBABLY NOT


IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS
HONORABLE COURT.[42]
Appellants Arguments
As regards the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale, appellant maintains that she could not
be convicted of the same because she merely assisted complainants in their applications with the
recruitment agency. She likewise insists that she turned over the amounts she received from the
complainants to JH Imperial Organization Placement Corp.[43]
Appellant insists that the courts below erred in finding her guilty of the crime of Estafa because
there is no proof that she falsely represented to have the capacity to send complainants as factory workers
inSouth Korea. She also avers that there is no evidence presented to show that she personally undertook
to deploy complainants for work abroad.[44]
Appellees Arguments
Appellee argues that the trial court and the CA correctly convicted
appellant of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale. There is proof beyond reasonable doubt that
she impressed upon the complainants that she had the authority to deploy them for employment
abroad. She even received money from the complainants and issued corresponding receipts. There was
also proof that she was not a licensee or holder of authority to deploy workers abroad. In fact, her
admission that she merely referred the complainants to JH Imperial Organization Placement Corp. was
already an act of recruitment under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code. Appellee also argues that all the
elements of Estafa were satisfactorily proven by the prosecution.
Our Ruling
The appeal lacks merit.
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement viz:
(b) Recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, 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: 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.
In this case, all the four complainants unanimously declared that appellant offered and promised them
employment abroad. They also testified that they gave various amounts to appellant as payment for
placement and processing fees. Notwithstanding said promises and payments, they were not able to leave
for abroad to work. These testimonies, as well as the documentary evidence they submitted consisting of

the receipts issued them by the appellant, all prove that the latter was engaged in recruitment and
placement activities.
Even conceding that appellant merely referred the complainants to JH Imperial Organization Placement
Corp., the same still constituted an act of recruitment. As explicitly enumerated in Article 13(b) of the
Labor Code, recruitment and placement includes the act of making referrals, whether for profit or
not. Thus, the CA correctly held that:
x x x Even if [appellant] did no more that suggest to complainants where they
could apply for overseas employment, her act constituted referral within the meaning of
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code (People v. Ong, 322 SCRA 38). Referral is the act of
passing along or forwarding of an applicant for employment after an initial interview of a
selected applicant for employment to a selected employer, placement officer or bureau.
(People v. Goce, 247 SCRA 780).[45]
Having already established that appellant was engaged in recruitment and placement, the issue that must
be resolved next is whether such activities may be considered illegal and whether the acts were
committed in large scale.
Article 38 of the Labor Code defines illegal recruitment as:
ART. 38. ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT. (a) Any recruitment activities, including the
prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by nonlicensees or non-holders of authority[46] 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.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three
(3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any
unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph
hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three
(3) or more persons individually or as a group.
In the instant case, the prosecution satisfactorily established that appellant was not a licensee or
holder of authority to deploy workers abroad. By this fact alone, she is deemed to have engaged in illegal
recruitment and the same was committed in large scale because it was carried out against the four
complainants.
The fact that JH Imperial Organization Placement Corp. was a holder of a valid license to deploy
workers abroad did not serve to benefit herein appellant. There was no evidence at all that said
recruitment agency authorized herein appellant to act as its agent. As aptly noted by the appellate court:
From the testimonies of the complainants, it is clearly shown that [appellant] did
more than just make referrals. It was [appellant] whom they approached regarding their

plans of working overseas. It was [appellant] who collected the fees and receipts
[therefor] were issued in her name. It was x x x [appellant] from whom they learned what
papers or documents to submit. Despite the denial, [appellant], nevertheless, failed to
explain why recruitment activities were done in her residence. Likewise, she failed to
present Milagros Lopez, one of the staff of Imperial, to whom she allegedly turned over
the money she collected from the complainants or any officer from the recruitment
agency to prove that she was merely a conduit thereof. x x x[47]
The three elements of the crime of illegal recruitment, to wit: a) the offender has no valid license or
authority required by law to enable him to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; b)
the offender undertakes any of the activities within the meaning of recruitment and placement under
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the
said Code (now Section 6 of RA 8042); and c) the offender committed the same against three or more
persons, individually or as a group,[48] are present in the instant case. Consequently, we rule that the trial
court and the CA correctly found appellant guilty of Illegal Recruitment in large scale.
In the instant case, the applicable law at the time of the commission of the crime of Illegal
Recruitment in large scale was Article 39 of the Labor Code. Under said law, the imposable penalty is life
imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00. The CA therefore correctly imposed upon herein appellant the
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 95-143318.
We also affirm the findings of the trial court and the CA that appellant is guilty of four counts of
Estafa, the elements of which are: a) the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means
of deceit; and b) the offended party suffered damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation. [49] In
the instant case, we agree with the observations of the CA that:
In this case, [appellant] misrepresented herself to the complainants as one who
can make arrangements for job placements in South Korea as factory workers. By
reason of her misrepresentations, false assurances, and deceit, complainants were induced
to part with their money. The recruits waited for at least a year, only to realize that they
were hoodwinked, as no jobs were waiting for them abroad.
Criminal liability for estafa already committed is not affected by the fact that
[appellant] returned a portion of their money. Compromise or novation of contract
pertains and affects only the civil aspect of the case. Estafa is a public offense that must
be prosecuted and punished by the Court in its motion even though complete reparation
should have been made of the damage suffered by the offended party. x x x [50]
Anent the penalties for the four counts of Estafa, we held in People v. Temporada[51] that:
The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315, par. 2(d) of the RPC, when
the amount defrauded exceeds P22,000.00, is prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor minimum. The minimum term is taken from the penalty next lower or anywhere
within prision correccional minimum and medium (i.e., from 6 months and 1 day to 4
years and 2 months). Consequently, the RTC correctly fixed the minimum term for the
five estafa cases at 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional since this is within the
range of prision correccional minimum and medium.

On the other hand, the maximum term is taken from the prescribed penalty
of prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum in its maximum period,
adding 1 year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess ofP22,000,00, provided
that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years. However, the maximum period of the
prescribed penalty of prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum is
not prision mayor minimum as apparently assumed by the RTC. To compute the
maximum period of the prescribed penalty, prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor minimum should be divided into three equal portions of time each of which
portion shall be deemed to form one period in accordance with Article 65 of the
RPC. Following this procedure, the maximum period of prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum is from 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years. The
incremental penalty, when proper, shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8
months and 21 days to 8 years, at the discretion of the court.
In computing the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be subtracted
by P22,000.00, and the difference shall be divided by P10,000.00. Any fraction of a year
shall be discarded as was done starting with the case ofPeople v. Pabalan in consonance
with the settled rule that penal laws shall be construed liberally in favor of the accused. x
x x[52]
Following the aforementioned procedure, we find that the penalties imposed by the appellate court are
proper.
WHEREFORE, the December 11, 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
24144 which affirmed with modifications the October 12, 1999 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 3, finding appellant Maritess Martinez guilty of the crimes of Illegal Recruitment in large
scale and four counts of Estafa is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

[1]

People v. Africa, G.R. No. 176638, December 2, 2009. (Unsigned Resolution)


CA rollo, pp. 101-113; penned by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices
Bernardo P. Abesamis and Edgardo F. Sundiam.
[3]
Records, pp. 378-381; penned by Judge Antonio I. De Castro.
[4]
Id. at 2-3.
[5]
Id. at 8-9.
[6]
Id. at 14-15.
[7]
Id. at 18-19.
[8]
Id. at 45-46.
[9]
Id. at 50-51.
[10]
Id. at 57-58.
[11]
February 9, 1993 and February 24, 1993 for Criminal Case No. 95-143311, id. at 2; February 5, 1993 for
Criminal Case No. 95-143312, id. at 8; November 29, 1993 and February 8, 1994 for Criminal Case No. 95143313, id. at 14; October 26, 1993 for Criminal Case No. 95-143314, id. at 18; February 4, 1993 and August
14, 1994 for Criminal Case No. 95-143315, id. at 45; February 8, 1993 for Criminal Case No. 95-143316, id. at
50; and November 1993 and July 1994 for Criminal Case No. 95-143317, id. at 57.
[2]

[12]

Dominador Ilacin y Pascua for Criminal Case No. 95-143311, id. at 2; Nelson Laplano y Malapit for Criminal
Case No. 95-143312, id. at 8; Necito Serquina y Tuvera for Criminal Case No. 95-143313, id. at 14; Crizaldo
Fernandez y Martinezfor Criminal Case No. 95-143314, id. at 18; Vevencio Martinez y Cornelio for Criminal
Case No. 95-143315, id. at 45; Walter Isuan y Ortiz for Criminal Case No. 95-143316, id. at 50; and Arnulfo
Suyat y Loyola for Criminal Case No. 95-143317, id. at 57.
[13]
Id.
[14]
Id.
[15]
P40,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 95-143311, id. at 2; P25,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 95-143312, id. at
8; P40,000.00 95-143313, id. at 14; P40,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 95-143314, id. at 18; P55,000.00 in
Criminal Case No. 95-143315, id. at 45; P23,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 95-143316, id. at 50; and P45,000.00
in Criminal Case No. 95-143317, id. at 57.
[16]
Id.
[17]
Supra note 12.
[18]
Supra note 15.
[19]
Records, pp. 61-62.
[20]
Sometimes spelled as Serquia in the records.
[21]
Sometimes spelled as Ilacin in the records.
[22]
Sometimes spelled as Vevencio in the records.
[23]
Records, p. 61.
[24]
Id. at 78-79.
[25]
Id. at 89.
[26]
Id. at 92.
[27]
Id. at 110.
[28]
Id. at 124.
[29]
Id. at 1.
[30]
Id. at 182, 186, 191, 195.
[31]
Id. at 203; penned by Judge Antonio I. De Castro.
[32]
Id. at 380.
[33]
Id. at 381. Underscoring in the original text.
[34]
CA rollo, p. 54.
[35]
Id.
[36]
Id.
[37]
Id. at 55.
[38]
Id. at 110.
[39]
Id.
[40]
Id.
[41]
Id. at 112-113.
[42]
Rollo, p. 14.
[43]
Id. at 16.
[44]
Id. at 15.
[45]
CA rollo, p. 110.
[46]
This has been amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of
1995, which considers as illegal recruiter even a licensee or holder of authority who commits acts prohibited
under Article 34 of the Labor Code. Moreover, the failure to deploy recruits is also considered as illegal
recruitment under Section 6 of RA 8042.
[47]
CA rollo, p. 110.
[48]
See People v. Temporada, G.R. No. 173473, December 17, 2008, 574 SCRA 258, 279.
[49]
Id. at 282-283.
[50]
CA rollo, p. 111.
[51]
Supra note 48.
[52]
Id. at 283-284.

FIRST DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Appellee,

G.R. No. 184058


Present:

- versus -

MELISSA CHUA,
Appellant.

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO MORALES,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
March 10, 2010

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DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Melissa Chua (appellant) was indicted for Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale) and was
convicted thereof by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. She was also indicted for five
counts of Estafa but was convicted only for three. The Court of Appeals, by Decision[1] dated
February 27, 2008, affirmed appellants conviction.
The Information[2] charging appellant, together with one Josie Campos (Josie), with
Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale), docketed as Criminal Case No. 04-222596, reads:
The undersigned accuses JOSIE CAMPOS and MELISSA CHUA of
violation of Article 38 (a) PD 1413, amending certain provisions of Book I, PD
442, otherwise known as the New Labor Code of the Philippines, in relation to
Art. 13 (b) and (c ) of said Code, as further amended by PD Nos. 1693, 1920 and
2019 and as further amended by Sec. 6 (a), (1) and (m) of RA 8042 committed in
a [sic] large scale as follows:
That sometime during the month of September, 2002, in the City of
Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and
mutually helping each other, representing themselves to have the capacity to
contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly for a fee, recruit and promise
employment/job placement abroad to ERIK DE GUIA TAN, MARILYN O.
MACARANAS, NAPOLEON H. YU, JR., HARRY JAMES P. KING and
ROBERTO C. ANGELES for overseas employment abroad without first having
secured the required license from the Department of Labor and Employment as
required by law, and charge or accept directly from:

ERIK DE GUIA TAN - P73,000.00


MARILYN D. MACARANAS - 83,000.00
NAPOLEON H. YU, JR. - 23,000.00
HARRY JAMES P. KING - 23,000.00
ROBERTO C. ANGELES - 23,000.00
For purposes of their deployment, which amounts are in excess of or greater than
that specified in the schedule of allowable fees as prescribed by the POEA, and
without valid reasons and without the fault of said complainants, failed to actually
deploy them and failed to reimburse expenses incurred in connection with their
documentation and processing for purposes of their deployment.
xxxx
The five Informations[3] charging appellant and Josie with Estafa, docketed as Criminal
Case Nos. 04-222597-601, were similarly worded and varied only with respect to the names of
the five complainants and the amount that each purportedly gave to the accused. Thus each of the
Information reads:
xxxx
That on or about . . . in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused,
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud xxx in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused by means of false manifestations which they
made to the said . . . to the effect that they had the power and capacity to recruit
the latter as factory worker to work in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing
of the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements
thereof, and by means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing
said xxx to give and deliver, as in fact he gave and delivered to the said accused
the amount of . . . on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said
accused well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made
solely to obtain, as in fact they did obtain the amount of . . . which amount once in
their possession, with intent to defraud, they willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
misappropriated, misapplied and converted to their own personal use and benefit,
to the damage of said . . . in the aforesaid amount of . . ., Philippine Currency.
xxxx
Appellant pleaded not guilty on arraignment. Her co-accused Josie remained at large. The cases
were consolidated, hence, trial proceeded only with respect to appellant.
Of the five complainants, only three testified, namely, Marilyn D. Macaranas (Marilyn),
Erik de Guia Tan (Tan) and Harry James King (King). The substance of their respective
testimonies follows:

Marilyns testimony:
After she was introduced in June 2002 by Josie to appellant as capacitated to deploy
factory workers to Taiwan, she paid appellant P80,000 as placement fee and P3,750 as medical
expenses fee, a receipt[4] for the first amount of which was issued by appellant.
Appellant had told her that she could leave for Taiwan in the last week of September
2002 but she did not, and despite appellants assurance that she would leave in the first or second
week of October, just the same she did not.
She thus asked for the refund of the amount she paid but appellant claimed that she was
not in possession thereof but promised anyway to raise the amount to pay her, but she never did.
She later learned in June 2003 that appellant was not a licensed recruiter, prompting her
to file the complaint against appellant and Josie.
Tans testimony:
After he was introduced by Josie to appellant at the Golden Gate, Inc., (Golden Gate) an
agency situated in Paragon Tower Hotel in Ermita, Manila, he underwent medical examination
upon appellants assurance that he could work in Taiwan as a factory worker with a guaranteed
monthly salary of 15,800 in Taiwan currency.
He thus paid appellant, on September 6, 2002, P70,000[5] representing placement fees for
which she issued a receipt. Appellant welched on her promise to deploy him to Taiwan, however,
hence, he demanded the refund of his money but appellant failed to. He later learned that Golden
Gate was not licensed to deploy workers to Taiwan, hence, he filed the complaint against
appellant and Josie.
Kings testimony:
His friend and a fellow complainant Napoleon Yu introduced him to Josie who in turn
introduced appellant as one who could deploy him to Taiwan.
On September 24, 2002,[6] he paid appellant P20,000 representing partial payment for
placement fees amounting to P80,000, but when he later inquired when he would be deployed,
Golden Gates office was already closed. He later learned that Golden Gates license had already
expired, prompting him to file the complaint.
Appellant denied the charges. Claiming having worked as a temporary cashier from January to
October, 2002 at the office of Golden Gate, owned by one Marilyn Calueng, [7] she maintained
that Golden Gate was a licensed recruitment agency and that Josie, who is her godmother, was an
agent.
Admitting having received P80,000 each from Marilyn and Tan, receipt of which she
issued but denying receiving any amount from King, she claimed that she turned over the money

to the documentation officer, one Arlene Vega, who in turn remitted the money to Marilyn
Calueng whose present whereabouts she did not know.
By Decision of April 5, 2006, Branch 36 of the Manila RTC convicted appellant of Illegal
Recruitment (Large Scale) and three counts of Estafa, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of accused Melissa
Chua beyond reasonable doubt, judgment is hereby rendered convicting the
accused as principal of a large scale illegal recruitment and estafa three (3) counts
and she is sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) for illegal recruitment.
The accused is likewise convicted of estafa committed against Harry James P.
King and she is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years
and Two (2) months of prision correctional as minimum, to Six (6) years and One
(1) day of prision mayor as maximum; in Criminal Case No. 04-22598; in
Criminal Case No. 04-222600 committed against Marilyn Macaranas, accused is
sentence [sic] to suffer the indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years and Two (2)
months of prision correctional as minimum, to Twelve (12) years and one (1) day
of reclusion temporal as maximum; and in Criminal Case No. 04-222601
committed against Erik de Guia Tan, she is likewise sentence [sic] to suffer
an indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years and Two (2) months of prision
correctional as minimum, to Eleven (11) years and One (1) day of prision mayor
as maximum.
Accused Melissa Chua is also ordered to return the amounts of P20,000.00
to Harry James P. King, P83,750.00 to Marilyn D. Macaranas, and P70,000.00 to
Erik de Guia Tan.
As regards Criminal Cases Nos. 04-222597 and 04-222599, both are
dismissed for lack of interest of complainants Roberto Angeles and Napoleon Yu,
Jr.
In the service of her sentence, the accused is credited with the full period of
preventive imprisonment if she agrees in writing to abide by the disciplinary rules
imposed, otherwise only 4/5 shall be credited.
SO ORDERED.
The Court of Appeals, as stated early on, affirmed the trial courts decision by the challenged
Decision of February 27, 2008, it holding that appellants defense that, as temporary cashier of
Golden Gate, she received the money which was ultimately remitted to Marilyn Calueng is
immaterial, she having failed to prove the existence of an employment relationship between her
and Marilyn, as well as the legitimacy of the operations of Golden Gate and the extent of her
involvement therein.

Citing People v. Sagayaga,[8] the appellate court ruled that an employee of a company
engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal together with his employer if it is
shown that he, as in the case of appellant, actively and consciously participated therein.
Respecting the cases for Estafa, the appellate court, noting that a person convicted of illegal
recruitment may, in addition, be convicted of Estafa as penalized under Article 315, paragraph
2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, held that the elements thereof were sufficiently
established, viz: that appellant deceived the complainants by assuring them of employment in
Taiwan provided they pay the required placement fee; that relying on such representation, the
complainants paid appellant the amount demanded; that her representation turned out to be false
because she failed to deploy them as promised; and that the complainants suffered damages
when they failed to be reimbursed the amounts they paid.
Hence, the present appeal, appellant reiterating the same arguments she raised in the
appellate court.
The appeal is bereft of merit.
The term recruitment and placement is defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of
the Philippines as follows:
(b) Recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting,
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. 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 inrecruitment and placement.
(emphasis supplied)
On the other hand, Article 38, paragraph (a) of the Labor Code, as amended, under which
appellant was charged, provides:
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. The Ministry of Labor
and Employment or any law enforcement officer may initiate complaints under
this Article.
(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.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a
group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one

another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme


defined under the first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed
committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons
individually or as a group. (emphasis supplied)

From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that any recruitment activities to be undertaken by nonlicensee or non-holder of contracts, or as in the present case, an agency with
an expired license, shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39 of the Labor Code of
the Philippines. And illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against
three or more persons individually or as a group.
Thus for illegal recruitment in large scale to prosper, the prosecution has to prove three essential
elements, to wit: (1) the accused undertook a recruitment activity under Article 13(b) or any
prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) the accused did not have the license
or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the
accused committed such illegal activity against three or more persons individually or as a group.
[9]

In the present case, Golden Gate, of which appellant admitted being a cashier from
January to October 2002, was initially authorized to recruit workers for deployment abroad. Per
the certification from the POEA, Golden Gates license only expired on February 23, 2002 and it
was delisted from the roster of licensed agencies on April 2, 2002.
Appellant was positively pointed to as one of the persons who enticed the complainants
to part with their money upon the fraudulent representation that they would be able to secure for
them employment abroad. In the absence of any evidence that the complainants were motivated
by improper motives, the trial courts assessment of their credibility shall not be interfered with
by the Court.[10]

Even if appellant were a mere temporary cashier of Golden Gate, that did not make her
any less an employee to be held liable for illegal recruitment as principal by direct participation,
together with the employer, as it was shown that she actively and consciously participated in the
recruitment process. [11]
Assuming arguendo that appellant was unaware of the illegal nature of the recruitment
business of Golden Gate, that does not free her of liability either. Illegal Recruitment in Large
Scalepenalized under Republic Act No. 8042, or The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos
Act of 1995, is a special law, a violation of which is malum prohibitum, not malum in se. Intent
is thus immaterial. And that explains why appellant was, aside from Estafa, convicted of such
offense.

[I]llegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, while estafa is malum in


se. In the first, the criminal intent of the accused is not necessary for
conviction. In the second, such an intent is imperative.Estafa under Article
315, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code, is committed by any person
who defrauds another by using fictitious name, or falsely pretends to possess
power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or
imaginary transactions, or by means of similar deceits executed prior to or
simultaneously with the commission of fraud.[12] (emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Rosalinda
Asuncion-Vicente and Enrico A. Lanzanas; rollo, pp. 2-15.
[2]
Records, pp. 2-3.
[3]
Id. at 61-76.
[4]
Vide Cash Voucher dated September 6, 2002, id. at 13.
[5]
Vide Cash Voucher dated September 6, 2002, id. at 10.
[6]
Vide Cash Voucher receipt, id. at 19.
[7]
Spelled as GOLDEN GATE INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION and as MARILEN L. CALLUENG per
certification dated June 23, 2003 of Atty. Felicitas Q. Bay, Director II, Licensing Branch of the POEA, id. at 8.
[8]
G.R. No. 143726, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 468.
[9]
People v. Jamilosa, G.R. No. 169076, January 23, 2007, 512 SCRA 340, 352.
[10]
People v. Saulo, G.R. No. 125903, November 15, 2000, 344 SCRA 605, 614.
[11]
People v. Nogra, G.R. No. 170834, August 29, 2008, 563 SCRA 723, 724.
[12]
People v. Comila, G.R. No. 171448, February 28, 2007, 517 SCRA 153, 167.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

G.R. No. 173198

Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
VELASCO, JR.,
- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
PERALTA,* and
PEREZ, JJ.

Promulgated:
DOLORES OCDEN,
Accused-Appellant.

June 1, 2011

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

For Our consideration is an appeal from the Decision [1] dated April 21, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00044, which affirmed with modification the
Decision[2] dated July 2, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Baguio City, Branch 60, in
Criminal Case No. 16315-R. The RTC found accused-appellant Dolores Ocden (Ocden) guilty of
illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined and penalized under Article 13(b), in relation to
Articles 38(b), 34, and 39 of Presidential Decree No. 442, otherwise known as the New Labor
Code of the Philippines, as amended, in Criminal Case No. 16315-R; and of the crime of estafa
under paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R,
16318-R, and 16964-R.[3] The Court of Appeals affirmed Ocdens conviction in all four cases, but
modified the penalties imposed in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R,

The Amended Information[4] for illegal recruitment in large scale in Criminal Case No. 16315-R
reads:

That during the period from May to December, 1998, in the City of Baguio,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously for a fee, recruit
and promise employment as factory workers in Italy to more than three (3)
persons including, but not limited to the following: JEFFRIES C. GOLIDAN,
HOWARD C. GOLIDAN, KAREN M. SIMEON, JEAN S. MAXIMO, NORMA
PEDRO, MARYLYN MANA-A, RIZALINA FERRER, and MILAN DARING
without said accused having first secured the necessary license or authority from
the Department of Labor and Employment.

Ocden was originally charged with six counts of estafa in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R,
16318-R, 16350-R, 16369-R, 16964-R, and 16966-R.

The Information in Criminal Case No. 16316-R states:

That sometime during the period from October to December, 1998 in the
City of Baguio, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
defraud JEFFRIES C. GOLIDAN, by way of false pretenses, which are executed
prior to or simultaneous with the commission of the fraud, as follows, to wit: the
accused knowing fully well that she is not (sic) authorized job recruiter for
persons intending to secure work abroad convinced said Jeffries C. Golidan and
pretended that she could secure a job for him/her abroad, for and in consideration
of the sum of P70,000.00 when in truth and in fact they could not; the said Jeffries
C. Golidan deceived and convinced by the false pretenses employed by the
accused parted away the total sum of P70,000.00, in favor of the accused, to the
damage and prejudice of the said Jeffries C. Golidan in the aforementioned
amount of SEVENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P70,000,00), Philippine Currency.[5]

The Informations in the five other cases for estafa contain substantially the same
allegations as the one above-quoted, except for the private complainants names, the date of
commission of the offense, and the amounts defrauded, to wit:

Case No. Name of the Date of Amount Private Complainant Commission of Defrauded
the Offense
16318-R Howard C. Golidan Sometime during the P70,000.00
period from October
to December 1998

16350-R Norma Pedro Sometime in May, 1998 P65,000.00

16369-R Milan O. Daring Sometime during the P70.000.00


period from November
13, 1998 to December
10, 1998

16964-R Rizalina Ferrer Sometime in September P70,000.00

16966-R Marilyn Mana-a Sometime in September P70,000.00[6]


1998

All seven cases against Ocden were consolidated on July 31, 2000 and were tried jointly after
Ocden pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution presented three witnesses namely: Marilyn Mana-a (Mana-a) and Rizalina
Ferrer (Ferrer), complainants; and Julia Golidan (Golidan), mother of complainants Jeffries and
Howard Golidan.

Mana-a testified that sometime in the second week of August 1998, she and Isabel Dao-as (Daoas) went to Ocdens house in Baguio City to apply for work as factory workers in Italy with
monthly salaries of US$1,200.00. They were required by Ocden to submit their bio-data and
passports, pay the placement fee of P70,000.00, and to undergo medical examination.

Upon submitting her bio-data and passport, Mana-a paid Ocden P500.00 for her certificate of
employment and P20,000.00 as down payment for her placement fee. On September 8, 1998,
Ocden accompanied Mana-a and 20 other applicants to Zamora Medical Clinic in Manila for
their medical examinations, for which each of the applicants paid P3,000.00. Mana-a also paid to
OcdenP22,000.00 as the second installment on her placement fee. When Josephine Lawanag
(Lawanag), Mana-as sister, withdrew her application, Lawanags P15,000.00 placement fee,
already paid to Ocden, was credited to Mana-a.[7]

Mana-a failed to complete her testimony, but the RTC considered the same as no motion
to strike the said testimony was filed.

Ferrer narrated that she and her daughter Jennilyn were interested to work overseas. About the
second week of September 1998, they approached Ocden through Fely Alipio (Alipio). Ocden
showed Ferrer and Jennilyn a copy of a job order from Italy for factory workers who could earn
as much as $90,000.00 to $100,000.00.[8] In the first week of October 1998, Ferrer and Jennilyn
decided to apply for work, so they submitted their passports and pictures to Ocden. Ferrer also
went to Manila for medical examination, for which she spent P3,500.00. Ferrer paid to Ocden on
November 20, 1998 the initial amount of P20,000.00, and on December 8, 1998 the balance of
her and Jennilyns placement fees. All in all, Ferrer paid Ocden P140,000.00, as evidenced by the
receipts issued by Ocden.[9]

Ferrer, Jennilyn, and Alipio were supposed to be included in the first batch of workers to be sent
to Italy. Their flight was scheduled on December 10, 1998. In preparation for their flight to Italy,
the three proceeded to Manila. In Manila, they were introduced by Ocden to Erlinda Ramos
(Ramos). Ocden and Ramos then accompanied Ferrer, Jennilyn, and Alipio to the airport where
they took a flight to Zamboanga. Ocden explained to Ferrer, Jennilyn, and Alipio that they would
be transported to Malaysia where their visa application for Italy would be processed.

Sensing that they were being fooled, Ferrer and Jennilyn decided to get a refund of their money,
but Ocden was nowhere to be found. Ferrer would later learn from the Baguio office of the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) that Ocden was not a licensed
recruiter.

Expecting a job overseas, Ferrer took a leave of absence from her work. Thus, she lost income
amounting to P17,700.00, equivalent to her salary for one and a half months. She also
spent P30,000.00 for transportation and food expenses.[10]

According to Golidan, the prosecutions third witness, sometime in October 1998, she inquired
from Ocden about the latters overseas recruitment. Ocden informed Golidan that the placement
fee wasP70,000.00 for each applicant, that the accepted applicants would be sent by batches
overseas, and that priority would be given to those who paid their placement fees early. On
October 30, 1998, Golidan brought her sons, Jeffries and Howard, to Ocden. On the same date,
Jeffries and Howard handed over to Ocden their passports and P40,000.00 as down payment on
their placement fees. On December 10, 1998, Jeffries and Howard paid the balance of their
placement fees amounting to P100,000.00. Ocden issued receipts for these two payments.
[11]
Ocden then informed Golidan that the first batch of accepted applicants had already left, and
that Jeffries would be included in the second batch for deployment, while Howard in the third
batch.

In anticipation of their deployment to Italy, Jeffries and Howard left for Manila on December 12,
1998 and December 18, 1998, respectively. Through a telephone call, Jeffries informed Golidan
that his flight to Italy was scheduled on December 16, 1998. However, Golidan was surprised to
again receive a telephone call from Jeffries saying that his flight to Italy was delayed due to
insufficiency of funds, and that Ocden went back to Baguio City to look for additional
funds. When Golidan went to see Ocden, Ocden was about to leave for Manila so she could be
there in time for the scheduled flights of Jeffries and Howard.

On December 19, 1998, Golidan received another telephone call from Jeffries who was in
Zamboanga with the other applicants. Jeffries informed Golidan that he was stranded in
Zamboanga because Ramos did not give him his passport. Ramos was the one who briefed the
overseas job applicants in Baguio City sometime in November 1998. Jeffries instructed Golidan
to ask Ocdens help in looking for Ramos. Golidan, however, could not find Ocden in Baguio
City.

On December 21, 1998, Golidan, with the other applicants, Mana-a and Dao-as, went to Manila
to meet Ocden. When Golidan asked why Jeffries was in Zamboanga, Ocden replied that it

would be easier for Jeffries and the other applicants to acquire their visas to Italy in
Zamboanga. Ocden was also able to contact Ramos, who assured Golidan that Jeffries would be
able to get his passport.When Golidan went back home to Baguio City, she learned through a
telephone call from Jeffries that Howard was now likewise stranded in Zamboanga.

By January 1999, Jeffries and Howard were still in Zamboanga. Jeffries refused to accede to
Golidans prodding for him and Howard to go home, saying that the recruiters were already
working out the release of the funds for the applicants to get to Italy. Golidan went to Ocden, and
the latter told her not to worry as her sons would already be flying to Italy because the same
factory owner in Italy, looking for workers, undertook to shoulder the applicants travel
expenses. Yet, Jeffries called Golidan once more telling her that he and the other applicants were
still in Zamboanga.

Golidan went to Ocdens residence. This time, Ocdens husband gave Golidan P23,000.00
which the latter could use to fetch the applicants, including Jeffries and Howard, who were
stranded in Zamboanga. Golidan traveled again to Manila with Mana-a and Dao-as. When they
saw each other, Golidan informed Ocden regarding the P23,000.00 which the latters husband
gave to her. Ocden begged Golidan to give her the money because she needed it badly. Of
the P23,000.00, Golidan retained P10,000.00, Dao-as received P3,000.00, and Ocden got the
rest. Jeffries was able to return to Manila on January 16, 1999. Howard and five other applicants,
accompanied by Ocden, also arrived in Manila five days later.

Thereafter, Golidan and her sons went to Ocdens residence to ask for a refund of the money they
had paid to Ocden. Ocden was able to return only P50,000.00. Thus, out of the total amount
ofP140,000.00 Golidan and her sons paid to Ocden, they were only able to get back the sum
of P60,000.00. After all that had happened, Golidan and her sons went to the Baguio office of the
POEA, where they discovered that Ocden was not a licensed recruiter.[12]

The defense presented the testimony of Ocden herself.

Ocden denied recruiting private complainants and claimed that she was also an applicant for an
overseas job in Italy, just like them. Ocden identified Ramos as the recruiter.

Ocden recounted that she met Ramos at a seminar held in St. Theresas Compound, Navy Base,
Baguio City, sometime in June 1998. The seminar was arranged by Aida Comila (Comila),
Ramoss sub-agent. The seminar was attended by about 60 applicants, including Golidan. Ramos
explained how one could apply as worker in a stuff toys factory in Italy. After the seminar,
Comila introduced Ocden to Ramos. Ocden decided to apply for the overseas job, so she gave
her passport and pictures to Ramos. Ocden also underwent medical examination at Zamora
Medical Clinic in Manila, and completely submitted the required documents to Ramos in
September 1998.

After the seminar, many people went to Ocdens house to inquire about the jobs available in
Italy. Since most of these people did not attend the seminar, Ocden asked Ramos to conduct a
seminar at Ocdens house. Two seminars were held at Ocdens house, one in September and
another in December 1998. After said seminars, Ramos designated Ocden as leader of the
applicants. As such, Ocden received her co-applicants applications and documents; accompanied
her co-applicants to Manila for medical examination because she knew the location of Zamora
Medical Clinic; and accepted placement fees in the amount of P70,000.00 each from Mana-a and
Ferrer and from Golidan, the amount of P140,000.00 (for Jeffries and Howard).

Ramos instructed Ocden that the applicants should each pay P250,000.00 and if the
applicants could not pay the full amount, they would have to pay the balance through salary
deductions once they start working in Italy. Ocden herself paid Ramos P50,000.00 as placement
fee and executed a promissory note in Ramoss favor for the balance, just like any other applicant
who failed to pay the full amount. Ocden went to Malaysia with Ramoss male friend but she
failed to get her visa for Italy.

Ocden denied deceiving Mana-a and Ferrer. Ocden alleged that she turned over to Ramos the
money Mana-a and Ferrer gave her, although she did not indicate in the receipts she issued that
she received the money for and on behalf of Ramos.

Ocden pointed out that she and some of her co-applicants already filed a complaint against
Ramos before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) offices in Zamboanga City and
Manila.[13]

On July 2, 2001, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Ocden guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crimes of illegal recruitment in large scale (Criminal Case No. 16315-R) and three counts of
estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R). The dispositive portion of said
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as


follows:

1.
In Criminal Case No. 16315-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal
Recruitment committed in large scale as defined and penalized under Article 13(b)
in relation to Article 38(b), 34 and 39 of the Labor Code as amended by P.D. Nos.
1693, 1920, 2018 and R.A. 8042. She is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of
life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00;

2.
In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa
and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2) years,
eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to
nine (9) years and nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to
indemnify the complainant Jeffries Golidan the amount of P40,000.00;

3.
In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa
and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2) years,
eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to
nine (9) years and nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to
indemnify Howard Golidan the amount ofP40,000.00;

4.
In Criminal Case No. 16350-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of estafa for lack of evidence
and a verdict of acquittal is entered in her favor;

5.
In Criminal Case No. 16369-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of estafa for lack of evidence
and a verdict of acquittal is hereby entered in her favor;

6.
In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa
and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years and Two (2)
months of prision correccional, as minimum, up to Twelve (12) years and Nine (9)
months of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the
amount of P70,000.00; and

7.
In Criminal Case No. 16966-R, the Court finds the accused,
DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of estafa for insufficiency of
evidence and a verdict of acquittal is hereby entered in her favor.

In the service of her sentence, the provisions of Article 70 of the Penal


Code shall be observed.[14]

Aggrieved by the above decision, Ocden filed with the RTC a Notice of Appeal on
August 15, 2001.[15] The RTC erroneously sent the records of the cases to the Court of Appeals,
which, in turn, correctly forwarded the said records to us.
In our Resolution[16] dated May 6, 2002, we accepted the appeal and required the parties to file
their respective briefs. In the same resolution, we directed the Superintendent of the Correctional
Institute for Women to confirm Ocdens detention thereat.

Ocden filed her Appellant's Brief on August 15, 2003, [17] while the People, through the
Office of the Solicitor General, filed its Appellee's Brief on January 5, 2004.[18]

Pursuant to our ruling in People v. Mateo,[19] we transferred Ocdens appeal to the Court of
Appeals. On April 21, 2006, the appellate court promulgated its Decision, affirming Ocdens
conviction but modifying the penalties imposed upon her for the three counts of estafa, viz:

[T]he trial court erred in the imposition of accused-appellants penalty.

Pursuant to Article 315 of the RPC, the penalty for estafa is prision
correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period. If
the amount of the fraud exceeds P22,000.00, the penalty provided shall be
imposed in its maximum period (6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years),
adding 1 year for each additional P10,000.00; but the total penalty which may be
imposed shall not exceed 20 years.

Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R involve the amount


of P40,000.00 each. Considering that P18,000.00 is the excess amount, only 1
year should be added to the penalty in its maximum period or 9 years. Also, in
Criminal Case No. 16964-R, the amount involved is P70,000.00. Thus, the excess
amount is P48,000.00 and only 4 years should be added to the penalty in its
maximum period.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed


Decision, dated 02 July 2001, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City,
Branch 60 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:

1.

In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 2


years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional, as minimum to
9 years of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Jeffries
Golidan the amount of P40,000.00;

2.

In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 2


years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional, as minimum to
9 years of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Howard
Golidan the amount of P40,000.00; and

3.

In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 4


years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum to 12 years
of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the
amount of P70,000.00.[20]

Hence, this appeal, in which Ocden raised the following assignment of errors:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF


ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT COMMITTED IN LARGE SCALE ALTHOUGH
THE CRIME WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF


ESTAFA IN CRIMINAL CASES NOS. 16316-R, 16318-R AND 16[9]64-R.[21]

After a thorough review of the records of the case, we find nothing on record that would
justify a reversal of Ocdens conviction.

Illegal recruitment in large scale

Ocden contends that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she is guilty of
the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. Other than the bare allegations of the prosecution
witnesses, no evidence was adduced to prove that she was a non-licensee or non-holder of

authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. No certification


attesting to this fact was formally offered in evidence by the prosecution.

Ocdens aforementioned contentions are without merit.

Article 13, paragraph (b) of the Labor Code defines and enumerates the acts which
constitute recruitment and placement:

(b) Recruitment and placement refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting,


contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers, and includes
referrals, contract services, promising for 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 inrecruitment and placement.

The amendments to the Labor Code introduced by Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise
known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, broadened the concept
of illegal recruitment and provided stiffer penalties, especially for those that constitute economic
sabotage, i.e., illegal recruitment in large scale and illegal recruitment committed by
a syndicate. Pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 8042 are reproduced below:

SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall


mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring,
or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by
a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of
Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of
the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any
manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons
shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts,
whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder,
licensee or holder of authority:

(a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than that
specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor

and Employment, or to make a worker pay any amount greater than that actually
received by him as a loan or advance;

(b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in relation


to recruitment or employment;

(c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or commit any
act of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or authority under
the Labor Code;

(d) To induce or attempt to induce a worker already employed to quit his


employment in order to offer him another unless the transfer is designed to
liberate a worker from oppressive terms and conditions of employment;

(e) To influence or attempt to influence any person or entity not to employ any
worker who has not applied for employment through his agency;

(f) To engage in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public


health or morality or to the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines;

(g) To obstruct or attempt to obstruct inspection by the Secretary of Labor and


Employment or by his duly authorized representative;

(h) To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies,


remittance of foreign exchange earnings, separation from jobs, departures and
such other matters or information as may be required by the Secretary of Labor
and Employment;

(i) To substitute or alter to the prejudice of the worker, employment contracts


approved and verified by the Department of Labor and Employment from the time
of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the
expiration of the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and
Employment;

(j) For an officer or agent of a recruitment or placement agency to become an


officer or member of the Board of any corporation engaged in travel agency or to
be engaged directly or indirectly in the management of a travel agency;

(k) To withhold or deny travel documents from applicant workers before


departure for monetary or financial considerations other than those authorized
under the Labor Code and its implementing rules and regulations;

(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the


Department of Labor and Employment; and

(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with


his documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where
the deployment does not actually take place without the worker's fault.
Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group
of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is
deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons
individually or as a group.

xxxx

Sec. 7. Penalties.

(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than
twelve (12) years and a fine of Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor
more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).

(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred
thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00)
shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined
herein.

Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the


person illegally recruited is less than eighteen (18) years of age or committed by a
non-licensee or non-holder of authority. (Emphasis ours.)

It is well-settled that to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that appellant gave
complainants the distinct impression that he had the power or ability to send complainants
abroad for work such that the latter were convinced to part with their money in order to be
employed.[22] As testified to by Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidan, Ocden gave such an impression
through the following acts: (1) Ocden informed Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidan about the job
opportunity in Italy and the list of necessary requirements for application; (2) Ocden required
Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, to attend the seminar conducted by
Ramos at Ocdens house in Baguio City; (3) Ocden received the job applications, pictures, biodata, passports, and the certificates of previous employment (which was also issued by Ocden
upon payment of P500.00), of Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard; (4)
Ocden personally accompanied Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, for their
medical examinations in Manila; (5) Ocden received money paid as placement fees by Mana-a,
Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, and even issued receipts for the same; and (6)
Ocden assured Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, that they would be
deployed to Italy.

It is not necessary for the prosecution to present a certification that Ocden is a nonlicensee or non-holder of authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of
workers. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 enumerates particular acts which would constitute
illegal recruitment whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder,
licensee or holder of authority. Among such acts, under Section 6(m) of Republic Act No.
8042, is the [f]ailure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his
documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does
not actually take place without the workers fault.

Since illegal recruitment under Section 6(m) can be committed by any person, even by a
licensed recruiter, a certification on whether Ocden had a license to recruit or not, is
inconsequential.Ocden committed illegal recruitment as described in said provision by receiving
placement fees from Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans two sons, Jeffries and Howard, evidenced by
receipts Ocden herself issued; and failing to reimburse/refund to Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans
two sons the amounts they had paid when they were not able to leave for Italy, through no fault
of their own.

Ocden questions why it was Golidan who testified for private complainants Jeffries and
Howard. Golidan had no personal knowledge of the circumstances proving illegal recruitment
and could not have testified on the same. Also, Jeffries and Howard already executed an affidavit
of desistance. All Golidan wants was a reimbursement of the placement fees paid.

Contrary to Ocdens claims, Golidan had personal knowledge of Ocdens illegal


recruitment activities, which she could competently testify to. Golidan herself had personal
dealings with Ocden as Golidan assisted her sons, Jeffries and Howard, in completing the
requirements for their overseas job applications, and later on, in getting back home from
Zamboanga where Jeffries and Howard were stranded, and in demanding a refund from Ocden of
the placement fees paid. That Golidan is seeking a reimbursement of the placement fees paid for
the failed deployment of her sons Jeffries and Howard strengthens, rather than weakens, the
prosecutions case. Going back to illegal recruitment under Section 6(m) of Republic Act No.
8042, failure to reimburse the expenses incurred by the worker when deployment does not
actually take place, without the workers fault, is illegal recruitment.
The affidavit of desistance purportedly executed by Jeffries and Howard does not
exonerate Ocden from criminal liability when the prosecution had successfully proved her guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. In People v. Romero,[23] we held that:

The fact that complainants Bernardo Salazar and Richard Quillope


executed a Joint Affidavit of Desistance does not serve to exculpate accusedappellant from criminal liability insofar as the case for illegal recruitment is
concerned since the Court looks with disfavor the dropping of criminal
complaints upon mere affidavit of desistance of the complainant, particularly
where the commission of the offense, as is in this case, is duly supported by
documentary evidence.

Generally, the Court attaches no persuasive value to affidavits of


desistance, especially when it is executed as an afterthought. It would be a
dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before the courts of
justice simply because the witnesses who had given them, later on, changed their
mind for one reason or another, for such rule would make solemn trial a mockery
and place the investigation of truth at the mercy of unscrupulous witness.

Complainants Bernardo Salazar and Richard Quillope may have a change


of heart insofar as the offense wrought on their person is concerned when they
executed their joint affidavit of desistance but this will not affect the public
prosecution of the offense itself. It is relevant to note that the right of prosecution
and punishment for a crime is one of the attributes that by a natural law belongs to
the sovereign power instinctly charged by the common will of the members of
society to look after, guard and defend the interests of the community, the
individual and social rights and the liberties of every citizen and the guaranty of
the exercise of his rights. This cardinal principle which states that to the State
belongs the power to prosecute and punish crimes should not be overlooked since
a criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign State.[24]

In her bid to exculpate herself, Ocden asserts that she was also just an applicant for
overseas employment; and that she was receiving her co-applicants job applications and other
requirements, and accepting her co-applicants payments of placement fees, because she was
designated as the applicants leader by Ramos, the real recruiter.

Ocdens testimony is self-serving and uncorroborated. Ocdens denial of any illegal


recruitment activity cannot stand against the prosecution witnesses positive identification of her
in court as the person who induced them to part with their money upon the misrepresentation and
false promise of deployment to Italy as factory workers. Besides, despite several opportunities
given to Ocden by the RTC, she failed to present Ramos, who Ocden alleged to be the real
recruiter and to whom she turned over the placement fees paid by her co-applicants.

Between the categorical statements of the prosecution witnesses, on the one hand, and the
bare denial of Ocden, on the other, the former must perforce prevail. An affirmative testimony is
far stronger than a negative testimony especially when the former comes from the mouth of a
credible witness. Denial, same as an alibi, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence,
is negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. It is considered with
suspicion and always received with caution, not only because it is inherently weak and unreliable
but also because it is easily fabricated and concocted.[25]

Moreover, in the absence of any evidence that the prosecution witnesses were motivated
by improper motives, the trial courts assessment of the credibility of the witnesses shall not be
interfered with by this Court.[26] It is a settled rule that factual findings of the trial courts,
including their assessment of the witnesses credibility, are entitled to great weight and respect by
the Supreme Court, particularly when the Court of Appeals affirmed such findings. After all, the
trial court is in the best position to determine the value and weight of the testimonies of
witnesses. The absence of any showing that the trial court plainly overlooked certain facts of
substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case, or that its assessment
was arbitrary, impels the Court to defer to the trial courts determination according credibility to
the prosecution evidence.[27]

Ocden further argues that the prosecution did not sufficiently establish that she illegally
recruited at least three persons, to constitute illegal recruitment on a large scale. Out of the
victims named in the Information, only Mana-a and Ferrer testified in court. Mana-a did not
complete her testimony, depriving Ocden of the opportunity to cross-examine her; and even if
Mana-as testimony was not expunged from the record, it was insufficient to prove illegal
recruitment by Ocden. Although Ferrer testified that she and Mana-a filed a complaint for illegal
recruitment against Ocden, Ferrers testimony is competent only as to the illegal recruitment
activities committed by Ocden against her, and not against Mana-a. Ocden again objects to
Golidans testimony as hearsay, not being based on Golidans personal knowledge.

Under the last paragraph of Section 6, Republic Act No. 8042, illegal recruitment shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage if committed in a large scale, that is,
committed against three or more persons individually or as a group.

In People v. Hu,[28] we held that a conviction for large scale illegal recruitment must be
based on a finding in each case of illegal recruitment of three or more persons, whether
individually or as a group. While it is true that the law does not require that at least three victims
testify at the trial, nevertheless, it is necessary that there is sufficient evidence proving that the
offense was committed against three or more persons. In this case, there is conclusive evidence
that Ocden recruited Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, for purported
employment as factory workers in Italy. As aptly observed by the Court of Appeals:

Mana-as testimony, although not completed, sufficiently established that


accused-appellant promised Mana-a a job placement in a factory in Italy for a fee
with accused-appellant even accompanying her for the required medical
examination. Likewise, Julia Golidans testimony adequately proves that accusedappellant recruited Jeffries and Howard Golidan for a job in Italy, also for a
fee. Contrary to the accused-appellants contention, Julia had personal knowledge
of the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges for illegal recruitment and
estafa filed by her sons. Julia was not only privy to her sons recruitment but also
directly transacted with accused-appellant, submitting her sons requirements and
paying the placement fees as evidenced by a receipt issued in her name. Even
after the placement did not materialize, Julia acted with her sons to secure the
partial reimbursement of the placement fees.[29]

And even though only Ferrer and Golidan testified as to Ocdens failure to reimburse the
placements fees paid when the deployment did not take place, their testimonies already
established the fact of non-reimbursement as to three persons, namely, Ferrer and Golidans two
sons, Jeffries and Howard.

Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 prescribes a penalty of life imprisonment and a
fine of not less than P500,000.00 nor more than P1,000,000.00 if the illegal recruitment
constitutes economic sabotage. The RTC, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, imposed upon
Ocden the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of only P100,000.00. Since the fine
of P100,000 is below the minimum set by law, we are increasing the same to P500,000.00.

Estafa

We are likewise affirming the conviction of Ocden for the crime of estafa. The very same
evidence proving Ocdens liability for illegal recruitment also established her liability for estafa.

It is settled that a person may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment
under Republic Act No. 8042 in relation to the Labor Code, and estafa under Article 315,
paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. We explicated in People v. Yabut[30] that:

In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal


recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under
the Labor Code and estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal
Code. The offense of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal
intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction, while estafa is malum in
se where the criminal intent of the accused is crucial for conviction. Conviction
for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar conviction for offenses punishable
by other laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the
Revised Penal Code does not bar a conviction for illegal recruitment under the
Labor Code. It follows that ones acquittal of the crime of estafa will not
necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale,
and vice versa.[31]

Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code defines estafa as:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the
means mentioned hereinbelow x x x:

xxxx
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 elements of estafa are: (a) that the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence
or by means of deceit, and (b) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is
caused to the offended party or third person.[32]

Both these elements are present in the instant case. Ocden represented to Ferrer, Golidan,
and Golidans two sons, Jeffries and Howard, that she could provide them with overseas
jobs.Convinced by Ocden, Ferrer, Golidan, and Golidans sons paid substantial amounts as
placement fees to her. Ferrer and Golidans sons were never able to leave for Italy, instead, they
ended up in Zamboanga, where, Ocden claimed, it would be easier to have their visas to Italy
processed. Despite the fact that Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, were stranded in
Zamboanga for almost a month, Ocden still assured them and their mother that they would be
able to leave for Italy. There is definitely deceit on the part of Ocden and damage on the part of
Ferrer and Golidans sons, thus, justifying Ocdens conviction for estafa in Criminal Case Nos.
16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R.

The penalty for estafa depends on the amount of defraudation. According to Article 315
of the Revised Penal Code:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any
of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

1st. 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 pesos 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; but the total penalty which may
be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with
the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other
provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion
temporal, as the case may be.

The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, when the
amount of fraud is over P22,000.00, is prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor minimum, adding one year to the maximum period for each additional P10,000.00,
provided that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years.

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, we take the minimum term from the penalty
next lower than the minimum prescribed by law, or anywhere within prision
correccional minimum and medium (i.e., from 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months).
[33]
Consequently, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals correctly fixed the minimum term in
Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R at 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision
correccional; and in Criminal Case No. 16964-R at 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional,
since these are within the range of prision correccional minimum and medium.

As for the maximum term under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, we take the maximum
period of the prescribed penalty, adding 1 year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess
ofP22,000.00, provided that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years. To compute the
maximum period of the prescribed penalty, the time included in prision correccional maximum
to prision mayorminimum shall be divided into three equal portions, with each portion forming a
period. Following this computation, the maximum period for prision correccional maximum
to prision mayorminimum is from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years. The incremental
penalty, when proper, shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8
years, at the discretion of the court.[34]

In computing the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be substracted


by P22,000.00, and the difference shall be divided by P10,000.00. Any fraction of a year shall be
discarded as was done starting with People v. Pabalan.[35]

In Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R, brothers Jeffries and Howard Golidan were
each defrauded of the amount of P40,000.00, for which the Court of Appeals sentenced Ocden to
an indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional as minimum,
to 9 years of prision mayor as maximum. Upon review, however, we modify the maximum term
of the indeterminate penalty imposed on Ocden in said criminal cases. Since the amount
defrauded exceeds P22,000.00 by P18,000.00, 1 year shall be added to the maximum period of
the prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years). There
being no aggravating circumstance, we apply the lowest of the maximum period, which is 6
years, 8 months, and 21 days. Adding the one year incremental penalty, the maximum term of
Ocdens indeterminate sentence in these two cases is only 7 years, 8 months, and 21 days
of prision mayor.

In Criminal Cases No. 19694-R, Ferrer was defrauded of the amount of P70,000.00, for
which the Court of Appeals sentenced Ocden to an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2
months ofprision correccional, as minimum, to 12 years of prision mayor, as maximum. Upon
recomputation, we also have to modify the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence
imposed upon Ocden in Criminal Case No. 19694-R. Given that the amount defrauded
exceeds P22,000.00 by P48,000.00, 4 years shall be added to the maximum period of the
prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years). There likewise

being no aggravating circumstance in this case, we add the 4 years of incremental penalty to the
lowest of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days. The maximum term,
therefor, of Ocdens indeterminate sentence in Criminal Case No. 19694-R is only 10 years, 8
months, and 21 days of prision mayor.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal of accused-appellant Dolores Ocden is DENIED. The


Decision dated April 21, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
00044 isAFFIRMED with MODIFICATION to read as follows:

1.
In Criminal Case No. 16315-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores
Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment committed in
large scale as defined and penalized under Article 13(b) in relation to Articles 38(b), 34 and 39 of
the Labor Code, as amended. She is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment
and to pay a fine ofP500,000.00;
2. In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores
Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an
indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional, as minimum,
to 7 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify Jeffries
Golidan the amount of P40,000.00;

3. In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores
Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an
indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional, as minimum,
to 7 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify Howard
Golidan the amount of P40,000.00; and
4. In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores
Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an
indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years,
8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the
amount of P70,000.00.
SO ORDERED.
*

Per Special Order No. 994 dated May 27, 2011.


Rollo, pp. 3-20; penned by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam with Associate Justices Elvi John S. Asuncion and
Arcangelita Romilla-Lontok, concurring.
[2]
Records (Crim. Case No. 16964-R), pp. 253-262; penned by Judge Edilberto T. Claravall.
[3]
Originally, Ocden was indicted for six counts of Estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, 16350-R, 16369R, 16964-R and 16966-R).
[4]
Records (Crim. Case No. 16315-R), p. 1.
[5]
Records (Crim. Case No. 16316-R), p. 1.
[6]
Rollo, p. 4.
[7]
TSN, October 10, 2000, pp. 1-6.
[1]

[8]

TSN, January 8, 2001, p. 4.


Records (Crim. Case No. 16964-R), p. 179; Exhibits A, A-1 and A-2.
[10]
TSN, January 8, 2001, pp. 1-15.
[11]
Records (Crim. Case No. 16318-R), pp. 54-55, Exhibits A-1 and A-2.
[9]

[12]

TSN, November 14, 2000, pp. 1-9; November 20, 2000, pp. 1-15.
TSN, February 27, 2001, pp. 1-15; March 6, 2001, pp. 1-6.
[14]
Records (Crim. Case No. 16964-R), pp. 261-262.
[15]
Id. at 263.
[16]
CA rollo, p. 38.
[17]
Id. at 67-85.
[18]
Id. at 111-134.
[19]
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640.
[20]
Rollo, pp. 18-19.
[21]
CA rollo, p. 69.
[22]
People v. Gasacao, 511 Phil. 435, 445 (2005).
[13]

[23]

G.R. Nos. 103385-88, July 26, 1993, 224 SCRA 749.


Id. at 757.
[25]
People v. Bulfango, 438 Phil. 651, 657 (2002).
[26]
People v. Saulo, 398 Phil. 544, 554 (2000).
[27]
People v. Nogra, G.R. No. 170834, August 29, 2008, 563 SCRA 723, 735.
[28]
G.R. No. 182232, October 6, 2008, 567 SCRA 696, 705.
[29]
Rollo, p. 16.
[30]
374 Phil. 575 (1999).
[31]
Id. at 586.
[32]
People v. Ballesteros, 435 Phil. 205, 228 (2002).
[33]
People v. Temporada, G.R. No. 173473, December 17, 2008, 574 SCRA 258, 299.
[34]
Id.
[35]
331 Phil. 64, 85 (1996).
[24]

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

G.R. No. 186132

Appellee,
Present:

CARPIO, J.,

Chairperson,
- versus -

BRION,
ABAD,*
PEREZ, and
SERENO, JJ.

Promulgated:
NESTOR TUGUINAY,
Appellant.

February 27, 2012

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

RESOLUTION

BRION, J.:

We resolve the appeal, filed by accused Nestor Tuguinay (appellant), from the July 21,
2008 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. H.C. CR- No. 02206.[1]

The RTC Ruling

In its October 29, 2003 decision,[2] the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch 60,
convicted the appellant of illegal recruitment in large scale [3] and four counts of estafa.[4] It gave
full credence to the straightforward testimonies of complainants Ferdinand Aguilar y Pontino,
Sakio Balicdang, Lim U. Tany and Jordan B. Bangcawayan,pointing to the appellant and his coaccused, Nida Bermudez,[5] as the persons who recruited and promised them overseas
employment in exchange for sums of money. It found that the appellant was not licensed to
recruit workers for overseas employment, per the June 6, 2001 Certification of the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration. It noted that the appellant defrauded Aguilar, Balicdang,

Tany and Bangcawayan in the amounts of P63,500.00, P75,000.00, P70,000.00 and P70,000.00,
respectively. It rejected the appellants bare and uncorroborated denial.

For the crime of illegal recruitment in Criminal Case No. 19287-R, the RTC sentenced
the appellant to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and ordered him to pay aP100,000.00
fine. For each count of estafa committed against Aguilar, Tany and Bangcawayan in Criminal
Case Nos. 19288-R, 19290-R and 19291-R, it sentenced the appellant to suffer an indeterminate
penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 12 years of prision
mayor, as maximum. For the crime of estafa committed against Balicdang in Criminal Case No.
19289-R, the RTC sentenced the appellant to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2
months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 13 years of reclusion temporal, as maximum. It
did not impose any civil liability on the appellant, noting that he had already settled his civil
obligations to the complainants.

The CA Ruling

On intermediate appellate review,[6] the CA affirmed the RTC's decision, giving full
respect to the RTC's assessment of the testimonies and credibility of the complainants.

We now rule on the final review of the case.

Our Ruling

We deny the appeal, but modify the penalties imposed.

The three elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, to wit: a) the
offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable him to lawfully engage in
recruitment and placement of workers; b) the offender undertakes any of the activities within the
meaning of "recruitment and placement" under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, or any of the
prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the said Code (now Section 6 of Republic
Act No. 8042); and c) the offender committed the same against three or more persons,
individually or as a group, are present in this case.

The prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant enlisted the
four complainants for overseas employment without any license to do so. The four complainants
adequately testified on the demand for placement fees made by the appellant, and the payments
they made. No motive affecting their credibility was ever imputed against them. We, therefore,
rule that the lower courts correctly found the appellant guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale.

Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 prescribes a penalty of life imprisonment and a
fine of not less than P500,000.00 nor more than P1,000,000.00 if the illegal recruitment
constitutes economic sabotage, i.e., illegal recruitment in large scale and illegal recruitment
committed by a syndicate. The RTC, as affirmed by the CA, imposed upon the appellant the
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of only P100,000.00. Since the fine of P100,000.00 is
below the minimum set by law, we increase the same toP500,000.00.

We likewise affirm the appellants conviction for the crime of estafa. The two elements of
estafa (a) that the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit, and
(b) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or

third person are also present in this case. The prosecution evidence duly proved that due to the
appellants false representations of overseas jobs, the complainants paid placement fees to the
appellant who failed to secure the promised overseas jobs.

Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code prescribes the penalty for estafa, when the amount
of fraud is over P22,000.00, of prision correccional maximum to prision mayorminimum,
adding one year to the maximum period for each additional P10,000.00, provided that the total
penalty shall not exceed 20 years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISL), we take the
minimum term from the penalty next lower than the minimum prescribed by law, or anywhere
within prision correccional minimum and medium (i.e., from 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and
2 months). Thus, the lower courts correctly imposed the minimum term in the 4 counts of estafa
at 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, since this is within the range of prision
correccional minimum and medium.

For the maximum term under the ISL, we take the maximum period of the prescribed
penalty, adding one year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess ofP22,000.00, provided
that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years. To compute the maximum period of the
prescribed penalty, the time included in prision correccionalmaximum to prision
mayor minimum shall be divided into three equal portions, with each portion forming a period.
Following this computation, the maximum period for prision correccional maximum to prision
mayor minimum is from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years. The incremental penalty,
when proper, shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years, at
the discretion of the court. In computing the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be
subtracted by P22,000.00, the difference shall be divided by P10,000.00, and any fraction of a
year is discarded.[7]

Upon review, we modify the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence imposed on
the appellant in Criminal Case Nos. 19288-R to 19291-R.

In
Criminal
Case
No.
19288-R,
since
the
amount
defrauded
of P63,500.00 exceeds P22,000.00 by P41,500.00, 4 years shall be added to the maximum period
of the prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years). In the
absence of any aggravating circumstance, we add the 4 years of incremental penalty to the lowest
of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8 months and 21 days. The maximum term, therefore,
of the appellant's indeterminate sentence in Criminal Case No. 19288-R is only 10 years, 8
months and 21 days of prision mayor.

In
Criminal
Case
No.
19289-R,
since
the
amount
defrauded
of P75,000.00 exceeds P22,000.00 by P53,000.00, 5 years shall be added to the maximum period

of the prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years). In the
absence of any aggravating circumstance, we add the 5 years of incremental penalty to the lowest
of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8 months and 21 days. The maximum term, therefore,
of the appellant's indeterminate sentence in Criminal Case No. 19289-R is only 11 years, 8
months and 21 days of prision mayor.

In Criminal Case Nos. 19290-R and 19291-R, since each of the amounts defrauded
of P70,000.00 exceeds P22,000.00 by P48,000.00, 4 years shall be added to the maximum period
of the prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years) in each
case. In the absence of any aggravating circumstance in these cases, we add the 4 years of
incremental penalty to the lowest of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8 months and 21
days. The maximum term, therefore, of the appellant's indeterminate sentence in Criminal Case
Nos. 19290-R and 19291-R is only 10 years, 8 months and 21 days of prision mayor.

WHEREFORE, the July 21, 2008 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. H.C. CR
No. 02206 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellant Nestor Tuguinay is found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale in Criminal Case No. 19287R and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.
He is likewise found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of four counts of estafa and sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years,
8 months and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, in Criminal Case Nos. 19288-R, 19290-R
and 19291-R; and an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as
minimum, to 11 years, 8 months and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, in Criminal Case
No. 19289-R.
SO ORDERED.

Additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, per Raffle dated February 8, 2012.
Penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes (now a member of this Court), and concurred in by Associate
Justices Vicente Q. Roxas and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.; rollo, pp. 4-19.
[2]
Docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 19287-R to 19291-R; CA rollo, pp. 31-43.
[3]
See LABOR CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Article 13(b), in relation to Articles 34, 38(b) and 39, as amended by
Presidential Decree Nos. 1693, 1920 and 2018 and Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as The Migrant
Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
[4]
See REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 315, paragraph 2(a).
[5]
Remains at large.
[6]
The RTC forwarded the records of the case to the Court for automatic review. However, pursuant to People v.
Mateo (G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640), we referred the case to the CA for intermediate
appellate review; CArollo, pp. 62-63.
[7]
People of the Philippines v. Rosario "Rose" Ochoa, G.R. No. 173792, August 31, 2011; People of the Philippines
v. Dolores Ocden, G.R. No. 173198, June 1, 2011; and People v. Temporada, G.R. No. 173473, December 17, 2008,
574 SCRA 258, 299.
[1]

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 197049

June 10, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
MARIA JENNY REA y GUEVARRA and ESTRELLITA TENDENILLA, AccusedAppellants.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
On appeal is the Decision1 dated 10 January 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC
No. 03178 affirming the judgment or conviction of appellants Maria Jenny Rea y Guevarra (Rea)
and Estrellita Tendenilla (Tendenilla) for the crime of illegal recruitment rendered by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 214, in Criminal Case No. MC-0059493-11.
In the Information before the RTC, appellants and Ginette Azul (Azul) were charged with illegal
recruitment committed as follows:
That in the period from June 2005 to August 23, 2005, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines,
a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
confederating together with a certain "Edith", whose true name and present where about is still
unknown and mutually helping one another, representing themselves to have the capacity of
contracting, enlisting and transporting Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, recruit and promise employment/job placement
abroad specifically in London, United Kingdom as caregivers and general services for a fee in
the following amount of P100,000.00 from Michael Nio Soriano y Torres, P150,000.00 from
Maricel Tumamao y Coloma, P250,000.00 from Dandy Mendoza Paller, P150,000.00 from
Rebecca Villaluna y Bernardo, P200,000.00 from Nyann Pasquito y Saiasa, P120,000.00 from
Alvaro Trinidad y Pili and P132,000.00 from Cyrus Chavez y Fallaria, without first securing the
required license and authority from the Department of Labor and Employment, and without any
capacity and means to deploy workers abroad despite receipt of the aforestated fees, accused
failed to deploy them as workers, which acts were committed and carried out by a group of more
than three (3) persons conspiring and confederating with one another and the same was
committed against more than three (3) persons, hence, the offense is considered committed by a
syndicate or in large scale, in violation of the aforementioned law.2 (Underscoring not supplied).
Appellants were arrested while Azul remained at large.

Appellants pleaded not guilty on arraignment. At the pre-trial, the parties stipulated on the
following facts:
1. Identity of the accused as the same person charged in the information;
2. The jurisdiction of this Honorable Court;
3. That accused was arrested by the operatives of Anti-Illegal Recruitment Task Force
upon information given by the private complainants;
4. The existence of the following documents: referral letter addressed to the Office of the
City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City, joint affidavit of arrest executed by the arresting
officers; sworn statement of the private complainants and booking and information sheet;
5. That accused has no knowledge of the fact that private complainants [were] repatriated
upon arrival in Thailand;
6. That accused was arrested without warrant of arrest by the elements of Anti-Illegal
Recruitment Task Force.3
Trial ensued.
The six (6) private complainants, Alvaro Trinidad (Alvaro), Michael Soriano (Michael), Rebecca
Villaluna (Rebecca), Maricel Tumamao (Maricel), Nyann Pasquito (Nyann), and Cyrus Chavez
(Cyrus), testified for the prosecution.
Azul owns Von Welt Travel Agency located in Quezon City, while Tendenilla owns Charles Visa
Consultancy in Intramuros, Manila. Rea is Tendenillas employee and babysitter.
Alvaro first came to Von Welt Travel Agency, upon recommendation of a friend, to apply for
employment in the United States. When said employment did not materialize, Azul introduced
him to Tendenilla on 25 June 2005. Tendenilla represented that she can send Alvaro to work in
London. Alvaro gave P114,000.00 to Azul.4
Responding to a newspaper advertisement, Michael went to Von Welt Travel Agency to inquire
about a job offer in the United States. Michael was first unable to come up with the placement
fee. He returned one year later and was introduced by Azul to Tendenilla to discuss the process
of employment in London. He initially gaveP70,000.00 to Azul, who handed it to Tendenilla.
Before he left, he paid another P30,000.00.5
Alvaro and Michael left for Thailand on 3 July 2005. They were accompanied by Rea to
Malaysia in obtaining a non-immigrant visa. Upon returning to Thailand, they were transferred
into a barrack where they were eventually arrested and deported last 12 August 2005.6
Rebecca met Azul, Tendenilla, and Rea at a training center in Roces Avenue, Quezon City where
they had a briefing for applicants for employment to London sometime on 27 or 28 June 2005.

She went to Azuls house to pay P150,000.00 with her understanding that it would be given to
Tendenilla. She was advised by Azul to wait for the plane ticket coming from Tendenilla.7
Maricel went to Von Welt Travel Agency to apply for employment as mushroom picker in
London. When the supposed employment did not push through, Azul accompanied her to
Tendenillas travel agency in Intramuros. Tendenilla told her that she was an ex-consul in Vienna
and that she could deploy people to the United States, London and Thailand. Maricel returned the
following day and handed P100,000.00 to Azul, who in turn, counted it and eventually handed it
over to Tendenilla.8
Maricel and Rebecca left for Thailand on 5 July 2005, accompanied by Tendenilla and Rea.
Upon arriving in Thailand, they were instructed by Tendenilla to go to Malaysia to obtain a nonimmigrant Thailand visa. They went to Penang, Malaysia to have her passport stamped. They
returned to Bangkok the following day, and a week later, they were arrested by the immigration
police and deported on 10 August 2005.9
Nyann and Cyrus met Azul, who promised them employment as caregivers in London, through
Cyrus mother on 15 July 2005 at the training center owned by Tendenilla. They were told by
Azul that they have to go to Thailand while waiting for their working papers to be processed.
Azul asked Nyan to prepare P200,000.00 as placement fee.10 On 18 July 2005, Nyann and Cyrus
left for Thailand. They met Tendenilla upon arriving at a hotel in Thailand. Nyann handed her
US$1,800.0011 while Cyrus gave her P100,000.00,12 both amounts allegedly represent partial
payments for the processing of their visas. Tendenilla and a certain Sir Rey then brought them to
a bus station bound for Hadyai, Thailand and told them to meet Mr. Chom who would bring
them to Penang, Malaysia. After a 12-hour bus ride, they arrived in Hadyai and met Mr. Chom
and other Filipino applicants. They rode in Mr. Choms van going to Penang, Malaysia. Upon
reaching Penang, they were asked to sign a fictitious employment contract to expedite the
processing of their non-immigrant Thailand visas. After acquiring their visas, they went back to
Bangkok, Thailand. They stayed in Patanakan, Thailand for seven (7) days together with other
Filipino applicants, before they were arrested by Thailand immigration officers. They were
detained for two (2) weeks and repatriated on 10 August 2005. Unaware of their plights, the
father of Nyann even went to the training center in Quezon City and gave the remaining balance
of the processing fee in the amount of P99,200.00 to Azul. Upon arriving in the Philippines, they
went to the training center and met with Rea, who refused to divulge the whereabouts of
Tendenilla.13
Tendenilla denied having recruited private complainants for work abroad. She claimed that she
was a tour guide in Bangkok, Thailand. She organized tour groups, issued plane tickets and
prepared vouchers and transportation in Thailand. She met Azul through Buenas Diaz Travel
Agency and Azul was inquiring about the tour itinerary in travelling to ASEAN countries. She
remembered seeing the private complainants once while they were in Hadyai, Thailand. She was
arrested by an agent from Task Force Hunter and was charged with illegal recruitment. She
believed that she was wrongfully charged because she was being made to pay for the actions of
Azul, whom they could not locate.14

Rea served as the babysitter of Tendenilla. She first met Michael and Alvaro when they all got
their non-immigrant visa in Malaysia, while she knew the other private complainants through
Azul, who asked her to meet them at the airport in Manila to deliver hotel vouchers. She came
back to the Philippines on 19 July 2005. On 15 August 2005, she was taken by agents of Task
Force Hunter, the Anti-Illegal Recruitment group under the Philippine National Police, and was
informed of the charges against her.15
After trial, the RTC rendered judgment convicting appellants of the crime of illegal recruitment
in large scale. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused MARIA JENNY REA y
GUEVARRA and ESTRELLITA TENDENILLA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal
Recruitment in large scale, and accordingly, they are each sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) plus costs.
Accused are further ordered to indemnify each of the complainants, Michael Nio
Soriano P100,000.00, Maricel Tumamao P150,000.00, Dandy Mendoza P250,000.00, Rebecca
Villaluna P150,000.00, Nyann PasquitoP200,000.00, Alvaro Trinidad P120,000.00 and Cyrus
Chavez P132,000.00.
Meanwhile, let the case against accused Ginette Azul be placed in the archives to be revived
upon her arrest and let alias warrant of arrest be issued against her.16
The trial court found that all elements of illegal recruitment in large scale were established
through the testimonies of the private complainants and that appellants conspired to commit the
crime.
On 10 January 2011, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.
Appellants filed a notice of appeal upon receipt of the unfavorable decision. On 5 September
2011, this Court directed the parties to simultaneously submit their respective supplemental
briefs. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation stating that it would no
longer file any supplemental brief and would instead adopt its appellee's brief. Appellants
meanwhile filed their Supplemental Brief and maintained that there was no sufficient evidence to
prove that appellants offered jobs to the private complainants.
Appellants essentially argue that the prosecution has failed to establish their guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. Appellants claim that their supposed criminal liability is attributed to their
mere presence in Thailand at the time when the private complainants were also there. They assert
that it was Azul, based on the testimonies of the private complainants, who promised
employment abroad and who received payment from them. Rea avers that delivering a voucher,
meeting people at the airport and sleeping in the house of Tendenilla can hardly qualify as
recruitment activities.
The OSG defends the trial courts evaluation of the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. The
OSG posits that the testimonies of private complainants clearly establish that Tendenilla made

representations that she could provide employment abroad. The OSG also implicates Rea as a
coconspirator by her presence when private complainants paid their placement fees and at the
training center during the orientation of private complainants; and by accompanying private
complainants to Thailand.
The crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is committed upon concurrence of these (3)
elements, namely: (1) the offenders undertake any activity within the meaning of recruitment and
placement defined in Article 13(b) or any prohibited practices enumerated in Article 34 of the
Labor Code; (2) the offenders have no valid license or authority required by law to enable them
to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the offenders commit
the acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group.17
Recruitment and placement is defined in Article 13(b) of the Labor Code as "any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring worker; and
includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad,
whether for profit or not."
Simply put, illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority from the
government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad for
employment purposes.18
That Tendenilla made misrepresentations concerning her purported power to recruit for overseas
employment; and personally, or through Azul but on her behalf, collected placement fees from
private complainants were clearly established from the testimonies of private complainants
themselves, to wit:
Testimony of Alvaro Trinidad:
Q: Then you follow it up to her and again on June 2005 you went back also and she asked you to
give her what amount?
A: Php114,000, your Honor.
Q: This is for what?
A: For another placement of another work in London, your Honor.
Q: Where you able to deliver the Php114,000?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: Where did you get this money?
A: I withdraw from the bank, your Honor.

Q: In other words the Php114,000 you gave to Ginette, how did you give to Ginette the
Php114,000?
A: It was deposited in the bank, your Honor.
xxxx
Q: So you went back in the month of May and Ginette Azul told you that she has another
employer?
A: Yes, Ma'am.
Q: And this one is for London?
A: Yes, Ma'am.
Q: And that you were asked again to pay another amount of placement fee?
A: Yes, Ma'am.
Q: Which you said Php114,000?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q: Mr. Witness, what job would that be?
A: General services, Maam.
Q: Janitor also?
A: Yes Ma'am.
Q: What happened after that talked with Ginette Azul when she told you that she has another
employer and you paid Php114,000?
A: Ginette Azul asked me to pay that amount, Ma'am.
Q: After you paid that Php114,000 to whom did you give it to?
A: Ginette Azul, Ma'am.
Q: When?
A: June 30, 2005, Ma'am.
Q: Do you have receipt to show that Ginette Azul received that amount?

A: (Witness handling the receipt to the public prosecutor)


xxxx
Q: After you paid that amount to Ginette Azul what happened?
A: Ginette Azul and Estrellita Tendenilla told me that I can leave already, Ma'am.
Q: Earlier you were just seeing with Ginette Azul on December 2004 until May of 2005 and in
fact you were asked to pay again Php114,000?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q: Because she has another employer in London?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: How come you are now transacting with Ginette Azul and Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: It was Estrellita Tendenilla who knows a recruiter friend in Thailand, Ma'am.
Q: When for the first time did you meet Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: June 25, 2005, Ma'am.
Q: Where did you meet her?
A: Von Welt Office, Ma'am.
Q: The same Von Welt Office where you first met Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, Ma'am.
Q: Who introduced you to Tendenilla?
A: Ginette Azul, Ma'am.
Q: That was on June 25, 2005?
A: Yes, Ma'am.
Q: When you were introduced to Tendenilla by Ginette Azul, I mean
I am referring to you and Tendenilla, did you talk?
A: Yes, Ma'am.

Q: What did you talk about?


A: Tendenilla make sure that we could reach London, Ma'am.
Q: Under what circumstances why did Tendenilla assured you that you can go to London?
A: Tendenilla told me that she has an employer, Ma'am.
Q: What kind of employer?
A: British employer, Ma'am.
Q: Did you also apply for job with Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: When?
A: June 30, when I paid, Maam.
Q: Not on June 25 when you met her?
A: Sorry, June 25, Maam.
Q: Exactly, if you can recall what did Tendenilla tell you?
A: She assured that we could reach London, Maam.
Q: What was the assurance?
A: Tendenilla has an employer a British in London, Maam.
Q: Did she tell you the name of the employer?
A: Robert Lease, I can not recall, Maam.
Q: What else did Tendenilla tell you, if any?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla told me that Robert Lease is the adviser of the Prime Minister of
Thailand, Maam.
Q: She told you that?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: What else did she tell you?

A: She also told me that he has a lot of plastic factory in Thailand, Maam.
Q: What else did she tell you?
A: Thats what I remember, Maam.
Q: You would be working as janitor?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: How much?
A: 1,000 to 1,200 U.S. dollar, Maam.
Q: Who said that you would be receiving 1,000 to 1,200 U.S. dollar?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla, Maam.
Q: When did she tell you that?
A: June 25 when we applied for work, Maam.
COURT:
Q: Did you not say that it was Ginette Azul whom you gave money?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: How did this Tendenilla come into the picture?
A: The money I paid to Ginette Azul is for London, your Honor.
Q: So because it was for London how did this Tendenilla come into the picture?
A: She has the one with employer for London, your Honor.
Q: Where was Tendenilla when Ginette Azul received the money?
A: She was also in the office of Ginette Azul, your Honor.
Q: Was she present?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: Who were person present when Tendenilla received the money?

A: Ginette Azul and Estrellita Tendenilla, your Honor.19


Testimony of Rebecca Villaluna:
xxxx
Q: You mentioned a while ago that you saw Maria Jenny Rea and Estrellita Tendenilla in the
house of Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, Maam, together with Estrellita Tendenilla when we had our briefing.
Q: What was the briefing all about?
A: According to Estrellita Tendenilla, we will go to London and while waiting for the processing
of our papers for London we will work at Singapore or Hongkong our salary is 50,000.00 a
month,
Sir.
Q: Who was giving the briefing?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla in front of Ginette Azul, Maam.
xxxx
Q: Then, Madam Witness, after that briefing what happened next?
A: After the briefing I went to the house of Ginette Azul to pay Php150,000.00, Ma'am.
Q: What was that Php150,000.00?
A: For the processing of papers going to London, Ma'am.
Q: Whom did you give the Php150,000.00?
A: Ginette Azul to be given to Estrellita Tendenilla, Ma'am.
Q: Are you saying to this Honorable Court that the Php150,000.00 was received by Ginette
Azul?
A: Yes, ma'am.
Q: When was that?
A: That was June 2, 2005, Ma'am.

Q: And after you paid Php150,000.00 to Ginette Azul what happened next?
A: She told me to wait for the ticket to be given by Estrellita Tendenilla, Ma'am.
Q: Who gave you that advice?
A: Ginette Azul, Ma'am.
Q: When did she give that advice?
A: When I paid Php150,000.00, July 2, Ma'am.
Q: In what place?
A: In her house in Mandaluyong, Maam.20
Testimony of Michael Soriano:
Q: Under what circumstances did you meet Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: With Ginette Azul discussing the processing of employment to London in their office in
Intramuros, Maam.
xxxx
Q: During your meeting did you discuss anything to her?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: What?
A: She discussed the process of employment in going to London, your Honor.
Q: Was there any proposal made to you by Tendenilla?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: What was the proposal?
A: They will send us to Hongkong temporarily, your Honor.
Q: Did you accept the proposal?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: When you accepted their proposal what happened?

A: I went to the office of Ginette Azul to give the placement fee, your Honor.
xxxx
Q: When did you go to the office of Ginette Azul?
A: My first payment was on June 23, 2005, Maam.
Q: How much did you pay?
A: In my first placement fee I paid Php70,000, Maam.
Q: To whom did you give the Php70,000?
A: In that office Ginette Azul and Estrellita Tendenilla, Maam.
Q: Why?
A: Because Ginette Azul told us that in a few days we will be leaving for Hongkong, Maam.
Q: You said that you gave Php70,000.00 to Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: But Estrellita Tendenilla was also present?
A: Yes, Maam.
xxxx
Q: So you paid Php70,000 to Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, Maam.
COURT:
Q: What was that Php70,000 for?
A: The whole placement fee is Php120,000.00.
Q: What was that Php70,000 for?
A: The down payment for the Php150,000 placement.
PROS. DIMAGUILA

Q: How do you know that the placement fee for a job in London is Php120,000?
A: Ginette Azul told us, Maam.
Q: After you gave the Php70,000 to Ginette Azul what happened next?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla was present and I saw that she gave the whole money to Estrellita
Tendenilla.
Q: Who gave the whole money?
A: Ginette Azul, Maam.
Q: Referring to Php70,000?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: What happened next?
A: After the other lady also an applicant paid the placement fee Estrellita Tendenilla left, Maam.
xxxx
Q: What happened after that information from Ginette Azul?
A: On June 27, I returned to the office, Maam.
Q: Whose office?
A: Office of Ginette Azul, Maam.
Q: In Mandaluyong?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: Why did you return?
A: To deposit another Php30,000, Maam.
Q: Aside from the Php70,000 you also gave Php30,000 on June 27?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: Who received your Php30,000?
A: Ginette Azul, Maam.

Q: Do you have any document to prove that Ginette Azul received the Php30,000?
A: She didnt issue any receipt, Maam.
Q: Then what happened after you gave Php30,000?
A: I went home and through phone she informed me that there is a tentative flight in July 1 for
Bangkok, Maam.
Q: You were applying for a job in London?
A: Yes, Maam.
xxxx
Q: Were you able to fly for Bangkok?
A: Yes, Maam, July 3, 2005.
Q: Who provided you with your ticket in Bangkok?
A: During that day Ginette Azul handed me my ticket, passport and papers.
Q: Then what happened after you were given ticket and passport?
A: We flew to Bangkok and stayed in a hotel, first class hotel, Maam.
Q: You said we, who were with you?
A: With other 9 applicants, Maam.
Q: Who else?
A: With Ginette Azul and other applicants, Maam.
Q: So you were 9 applicants, yourself and Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: What happened when you were in Bangkok?
A: In a few days they arrived, Maam.
Q: Who arrived?
A: Ginette Azul and Estrellita Tendenilla, Maam.

xxxx
Q: But Jenny Rea how was she introduced to you by Ginette Azul?
A: During our travel going to Malaysia, Estrellita Tendenilla told us that Jenny Rea will assist us
to claim our visa in Penang, Malaysia, Maam.
Q: In other words you went to Malaysia?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: Who accompanied you to Malaysia?
A: Jenny Rea y Guevarra.
Q: What happened when you went to Malaysia?
A: We claimed for a non-immigrant visa and stayed in a hotel in one day.
Q: Do you have any proof to that effect that you were given a nonimmigrant visa?
A: Xerox copy of the visa and my passport, Maam.
xxxx
Q: What happened after that?
A: We stayed there until we were brought by the immigration police.
Q: Why were you arrested?
A: They told us, when we were presented to the press, that we have a false visa, Thailand visa.
Q: Were you detained?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: For how long?
A: July 27 to August 12.21
Testimony of Maricel Tumamao:
Q: When you went to Charles Visa Consultancy you were about to meet Mrs. Estrellita
Tendenilla?

A: Yes, maam.
Q: And that you did not meet her in the office because it was already late?
A: No, maam.
Q: So what happened next, Madam Witness?
A: So we proceeded to the hotel, maam.
Q: What hotel?
A: Cherry Blossom Hotel, maam.
Q: Where is it located?
A: In Malate, maam.
Q: With whom Madam Witness?
A: With Ginette Azul, maam.
Q: So what happened at Cherry Blossom Hotel?
A: Mrs. Tendenilla was there, maam.
Q: So you met with Mrs. Tendenilla?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: So what happened next?
A: So she told us what will happen and what we are going to do, maam.
Q: Who said "kung ano ang gagawin namin at ano ang mangyayari?"
A: Mrs. Tendenilla, maam.
Q: What did she tell you?
A: She told that she is an ex-consul in Vienna and that she could deploy people and she was able
to deploy people in U.S., London and Bangkok, maam.
Q: What else did she tell you?

A: And the complete placement fee is three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) and she told
us we should prepare first the P150,000.00 and if they are able to go in London then the
remaining P150,000.00 will be salary deduction, maam.
xxxx
Q: In what job are you applying for United Kingdom?
A: Caregiver, maam.
Q: During your first meeting with Mrs. Tendenilla aside from the placement fee and job offer
what else did she tell you if there was any?
A: She told that while we are waiting for our working permit to London she will give us a job in
Bangkok, maam.
Q: What did you do after that meeting with Mrs. Tendenilla?
A: I think it over and decided it was alright, maam.
Q: So what did you do next?
A: I prepared the placement fee which is P150,000.00, maam.
Q: After you prepared the amount of P150,000.00 for placement fee what else did you do?
A: Then I went back to Ginette Azul, maam.
Q: When?
A: In Charles Visa Consultancy, maam.
Q: When?
A: Last June 23, 2005, maam.
Q: Why did you go back to Charles Visa?
A: I am going to pay, maam.
Q: You are going to pay?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: And what is it that your (sic) are going to pay?

A: The placement fee according to Mrs. Tendenilla, maam.


Q: What job you are applying?
A: As caregiver in London, maam.
Q: Whom did you meet at Charles Visa Consultancy?
A: Ginette Azul was there and also Mrs. Tendenilla and also Jenny Rea, maam.
Q: What happened when you were there at Charles Visa Consultancy?
A: I handed to G[i]nette Azul the money, maam.
Q: How much?
A: Amounting to P100,000.00, maam.
Q: And did she receive it?
A: Yes, maam.22
Testimony of Nyanne Pasquitto:
xxxx
Q: Under what circumstances did you come to know Ginette Azul?
A: Ginette Azul promised Elma Chavez that we will be employed abroad as caregivers, ma'am.
Q: That was on July 15, 2005?
A: Yes, ma'am.
xxxx
Q: What else happened while you were at the training center?
A: Ginette Azul promised us that we will be employed as caregiver in United Kingdom, ma'am.
xxxx
Q: In relation to that what documents, if any, did Ginette Azul require from you?
A: Our resume, record from school including diploma and NBI, ma'am.

Q: What job are you applying for?


A: Caregiver, ma'am.
Q: What else were asked from you?
A: Placement fee or processing fee for visa, ma'am.
Q: How much?
A: P200,000.00 ma'am, for London visa.
Q: Who asked you to prepare P200,000.00?
A: Ginette Azul, ma'am.
xxxx
Q: Then what else happened?
A: My parents make made an arrangement to Ginette Azul that we are going to give the money at
the time of our departure, ma'am.
Q: How much?
A: $1,800.00 U.S. dollars, ma'am.
Q: When did you give that?
A: July 18, 2005, ma'am.
Q: To whom did you give that amount?
A: To Ginette Azul, ma'am.
Q: What happened after you gave $1,800.00 U.S. dollars?
A: She gave me a receipt, ma'am, then she handed me the money, ma'am.
Q: What money?
A: That $1,800.00 U.S. dollars, ma'am and according to her upon arrival in Thailand I will be
meeting with Estrellita Tendenilla at First House Hotel, that I will give the money to Estrellita
Tendenilla because Estrellita Tendenilla knows already about that because that will be for the
processing fee of our papers, ma'am.23

Testimony of Cyrus Chavez:


Q: How did you come to know Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: For my local Philippine employer named Ginette Azul, maam. She actually called my Mom
and offered the job for me, she was actually looking for me when I was at home so she just told
my Mom about the offer for employment, maam.
Q: Who is that she is referring to when she offered job employment?
A: It was Ginette Azul but the main employer is Estrellita Tendenilla, maam.
xxxx
Q: When did you meet Estrellita Tendenilla for the first time?
A: July 18, maam.
Q: What year?
A: 2005, maam.
Q: Where at?
A: In Thailand, maam.
Q: You made mention of a Philippine local employer a certain Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, maam. She was actually the one who told me about the job offered me in United
Kingdom. She also told me that I have to give a placement of P100,000.00 initial payment,
maam.
Q: When was that made, Mr. Witness?
A: In July 16, 2005, maam.
Q: Where?
A: In Roces Avenue in Pantranco, maam.
Q: What happened during that meeting?
A: She gave me a brief introduction of the job, maam. She told me about the placement fee
of P100,000.00 but the total placement fee is P350,000.00, maam. I could just give the initial
amount of P100,000.00 and she also said that the main employer is Estrellita Tendenilla but
informed me that Estrellita Tendenilla is in Thailand, maam.

Q: What else were told you by Ginette Azul?


A: She told me about a job in United Kingdom as a caregiver and I would have a salary
of P150,000.00, maam.
Q: What happened after that meeting?
A: I was interested and later on told my Mom about it and she decided already that if I could
continue and then after that we decided to meet Ginette Azul that the day after, the day before,
maam.
xxxx
Q: So you gave initial payment of P100,000.00?
A: No it was not actually me, maam.
Q: Who gave the initial payment of P!00,000.00?
A: Its my Mom who met her in Ermita, maam.
Q: Youre referring to Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: How did you know that she was giving P100,000.00.
A: My Mom just told me that she already met Ginette Azul and gave the money of P100,000.00,
maam.
Q: Do you have proof to show that P100,000.00 was given to Ginette Azul?
A: Yes, maam I have a receipt, maam.
xxxx
Q: This happened after your mother gave the P100,000.00?
A: Yes, that same day, Your Honor.
Q: In the afternoon?
A: In the afternoon I met Ginette Azul personally, also with my Mom and my girlfriend and gave
us the ticket, Your Honor.
Q: Ticket bound for Thailand?

A: Yes, maam.
Q: Were you able to go to Thailand?
A: Yes, maam. Ive been in Thailand in July 18, 2005, maam?
Q: Who were with you?
A: I was with my girlfriend also, maam.
Q: What happened when you arrive in Thailand?
A: When I was in Thailand I was met by Thailander tourist guide named Mickey and he brought
us to First House Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. There was also an applicant there named Susan
and said that we just have to wait because Estrellita Tendenilla is coming to pick us up, maam.
Q: Were you able to meet Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: When I met her in Bangkok I already gave the placement fee to her because Ginette Azul told
us to give the placement fee personally to her, maam.
COURT:
Q: To?
A: To Estrellita Tendenilla, Your Honor.
Q: How many days you stayed there?
A: For just thirty (30) minutes, Your Honor.
xxxx
Q: Where?
A: First House Hotel, Your Honor, in July 18, 2005.
Q: Where in the Hotel lobby?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: Thats where you gave the balance?
A: The initial P100,000.00, Your Honor.
Q: All in all you already gave P200,000.00?

A: No, Your Honor. When I was bound to go to Thailand when I was about to board the plane,
Ginette have told us to personally give the money to Estrellita Tendenilla, Your Honor.
Q: So the money which your mother gave to her was returned back to you?
A: Yes, Your Honor, because I will be the one to personally give it to Estrellita Tendenilla, Your
Honor.
PROS. DIMAGUILA:
Q: So it was received by Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: Do you have receipt that it was received by Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: She did not give any receipt, maam.24
As culled from the testimonies of the private complainants, it was established that first, they all
met Tendenilla through Azul; second, Tendenilla personally, or through Azul, assured them that
she has the power and capacity to deploy workers to London; third, they also paid Tendenilla,
directly or through Azul, placement fees in the amounts ranging from P100,000.00
to P200,000.00 each; fourth, they were sent first to Thailand while waiting for the processing of
their working visas to London; fifth, they travelled to Penang, Malaysia to obtain a nonimmigrant Thailand visa to validate their stay in Thailand; and sixth, they were arrested and
deported back to the Philippines by the Thailand immigration office.
To prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that appellant gave complainants the distinct
impression that he had the power or ability to send complainants abroad for work such that the
latter were convinced to part with their money in order to be employed.25
The first element of large scale illegal recruitment was proven by the testimonies of the private
complainants which the trial court found to be credible and convincing. We find that they were
given in a clear, positive and straightforward manner. Between the positive and categorical
testimonies of private complainants and the unsubstantiated denials of appellants, we give more
weight to the former.
The certification issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration that Tendenilla
is not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment constitutes the second element of the
crime of illegal recruitment.
The third element is likewise satisfied when at least six (6) individuals filed the case, claimed
and in fact, were found to have been defrauded by appellants.
As for Reas participation as a principal, it was likewise established by the testimonies of the
following witnesses, to wit:

Testimony of Alvaro Trinidad:


PROS. DIMAGUILA:
Q: Who assisted you while in Thailand?
A: Ginette Azul, JR and Tendenilla, Maam.
Q: Who is JR?
A: Ma Jenny Rea Guevarra, Maam.
Q: When for the first time did you meet Ma Jenny y Guevarra?
A: In Bangkok, Maam.
Q: When?
A: July 3, Maam.
Q: Where did you meet Jenny Rea?
A: Hotel in Bangkok, Maam.
xxxx
Q: After July 6 what happened?
A: They brought me at the border, your Honor.
Q: Border of what?
A: Thailand and Malaysia, your Honor.
PROS. DIMAGUILA:
Q: Who were with you?
A: JR, maam.
Q: You are referring to Jenny Rea?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: Who else?

A: Estrellita Tendennilla, Maam.


Q: Who else?
A: Ginette Azul, Maam.
Q: Who else?
A: My other companions 8 of them, Maam.
Q: What happened?
A: JR took our visa at Thailand Embassy, Maam.26
Testimony of Michael Soriano:
Q: How about Jenny Rea who introduced to you Jenny Rea?
A: Ginette Azul, Sir.
Q: And what is the participation of Jenny Rea?
A: She was one of the person who sent us in the airport, Sir.
Q: She brought you to the airport?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: Thats all?
A: And also in Malaysia, Sir.
Q: In other words Ginette Azul was the one who promised employment to you?
A: No, Sir, Estrellita Tendenilla.
Q: Was she not the one who processed your visa?
A: No, Sir.
Q: Who processed your visa?
A: Jenny Rea, Sir.
Q: Did you give your name to Jenny Rea to process your visa?

A: No, Sir.
Q: How did she process your visa?
A: She assisted us in going to Penang, Sir.
Q: So Jenny Rea was the one who assisted you in processing your visa?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: You mentioned that she assisted you in?
A: Applying for non-immigrant visa, Sir.27
Testimony of Rebecca Villaluna:
Q: Who promised you employment for London?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla, Sir.
Q: How about Ginette Azul?
A: She was just listening, Sir.
Q: Whom did you give money?
A: Ginette Azul.
Q: But the one who promised you employment abroad was?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla.
Q: So, the only participation of Jenny Rea was to assist you in giving you allowance when you
were in Bangkok?
A: Yes, Sir.
xxxx
Q: And another participation of Jenny Rea was she asked you to sign a form?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: For what was that form?
A: For Korea and Singapore, Sir.

xxxx
Q: Does this Jenny Rea when you were in Bangkok helping you?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: Jenny Rea did not deceive you?
A: No, she was the one who helped us, she is the companion of Estrellita Tendenilla.
ATTY. ENCINAS:
No further question.
COURT:
She is presently detained?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: She is detained because you filed a case against her?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: Including your companion?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: My question to you now is based on your earlier answer when it was propounded to you by
the defense counsel that this accused did not deceived you and in fact she was the one helping
what is now your position insofar as this case is concerned?
A: She was one of the companions of Estrellita Tendenilla that Estrellita Tendenilla (sic) was the
one who find ways to get money, your Honor.
Q: So, this accused is one of the companions of Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: Yes, your Honor.
Q: So you are not absolving her from any liability thats what you mean?
A: I was not absolving her because she was the companion of Estrellita Tendenilla.28
Testimony of Maricel Tumamao:
Q: You said you were able to leave for Thailand?

A: Yes, maam.
Q: Where you accompanied by some other persons?
A: Yes, maam.
Q: Who were with you?
A: Mrs. Tendenilla and Jenny Rea accompanied us in Thailand, maam.
xxxx
Q: What happened upon your arrival at Bangkok?
A: Jenny Rea and Mrs. Tendenilla brought us to the hotel, maam.29
Testimony of Nyann Pasquito:
COURT:
So when for the first time did you meet Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: July 18, 2005, Your Honor.
Q: Where?
A: First House Hotel in Thailand, Your Honor.
Q: What about Maria Jenny Rea?
A: August 13, 2005, Your Honor.
Q: That was before your departure to Thailand?
A: Pardon, Your Honor.
Q: That was before or after your departure to Thailand?
A: After, Your Honor.
Q: So after you were repatriated already thats the first time you met Maria Jenny Rea?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: So during the whole dealings regarding your employment for abroad these two (2) accused,
you never met these two (2) accused?

A: Yes, Your Honor.


Q: While you were dealing regarding your supposed employment abroad accused Jenny Rea and
Estrellita Tendenilla were not part of this?
A: They were part, Your Honor.
Q: In what way were they part of the dealing?
A: Estrellita Tendenilla promised me for employment abroad, Your Honor.
Q: Where did she promise you?
A: In Bangkok, Thailand, Your Honor.
COURT:
That is why my question to you is, during the transaction here in the Philippines before you were
deployed abroad, before you left for any country while you were still here in the Philippines
while you were still processing your papers, the supposed employment abroad, did you meet
Maria Jenny Rea and Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: No, Your Honor, because they were in Thailand according to Ginette Azul, Your Honor.
Ginette Azul told us that once we arrived in Thailand we will meet personally Estrellita
Tendenilla, Your Honor.
Q: In the Philippines there was no occasion for you to meet Estrellita Tendenilla and Maria Jenny
Rea?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: But when you reached Thailand you only met Estrellita Tendenilla?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: And it is in Thailand where you met Estrellita Tendenilla regarding your possible employment
in London?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: As?
A: Caregiver, Your Honor.
Q: But this did not materialize because you were repatriated to our country?

A: Yes, Your Honor.


Q: Back to the Philippines that is when you meet for the first time Maria Jenny Rea?
A: Yes, Your Honor, when we went back to the training center according to Maria Jenny Rea that
she will not tell us what province did this Estrellita Tendenilla was at that time and according to
her also Estrellita Tendenilla was with an employer recruiting teachers and nurses, Your Honor.
COURT:
So thats the first time you met Maria Jenny Rea only?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: Based on all your answers there was no transaction, there was no promise or any job
employment coming from Jenny Rea?
A: She also promised me, Your Honor.30
Testimony of Cyrus Chavez:
Q: What happened when you went to Roces Avenue?
A: I went there with my girlfriend, maam, we met Jenny Rea one of the accused, maam.
Q: What happened during your meeting with Jenny Rea?
A: She said, "you just have to wait we are already processing your paper and if you want to
reimburse your money you have just to wait because were already recruiting some of the
applicants and the money that the applicants will be giving are the ones will (sic) be giving back
to you." Maam.
Q: It was Jenny Rea who told you that?
A: Yes, maam and they actually using some other peoples money to pay us back. Then after
that she also said that, "hinding-hindi namin ilalabas si Estrellita Tendenilla sa inyo, hindi
naming siya isusuko at hindi naming siya ipakikita."
Q: It was Jenny Rea who told you that?
A: Yes, maam, because they thought were all very angry, maam. "Hindi namin siya ilalabas,
kailangan maghintay kayo nandiyan na ang papers ninyo, gumastos na kami ng pera diyan,
maghintay kayo."31
Reas complicity was proven by her participation during the recruitment at the training center;
the fact that she accompanied Rebecca and Maricel on their flight to Thailand; her presence in

the hotel in Thailand; the accommodation she provided while in Thailand; that she accompanied
complainants to Malaysia to obtain a non-immigrant visas; and when she offered to re-deploy the
disgruntled complainants, this time, to Korea.
Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated; or
from the acts of the accused evincing a joint or common purpose and design, concerted action
and community of interest.32
It is equally clear from the narration of private complainants that appellants, together with Azul,
conspired to commit the crime of illegal recruitment. Azul referred all private complainants to
Tendenilla, who made representations that she could deploy them abroad. It was either Azul or
Tendenilla who received the payment of placement fees. And as previously stated, Rea met some
of the complainants at the training center, and accompanied some of them while in Thailand.
Their actions showed unity of purpose and, taken all together, leave no doubt that they are
coconspirators.
We reiterate the findings of the Court of Appeals, to wit:
In the case at bar, it cannot be doubted that both accused-appellants indispensably cooperated
and coordinated in illegally recruiting the private complainants. From the evidence, it can be
seen that the success of the scheme depended on accused-appellants joint efforts. Estrellita
Tendenilla directly dealt with the private complainants, promising them employment, demanding
money from them, conducting dubious trainings, and sending them to Thailand. Maria Jenny
Rea, on the other hand, covered the next phase of the process, that is, travelling with the private
complainants to Thailand, bringing them to the border of Thailand and Malaysia, securing their
fraudulent non-immigrant visas, and accompanying them back to the Philippines.33
Based on the foregoing, appellants were correctly found guilty of large scale illegal recruitment
tantamount to economic sabotage.
Under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042,34 the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not
less thanP500,000.00 nor more than P1,000,000.00 shall be imposed if illegal recruitment
constitutes economic sabotage. Thus, the trial court, as affirmed by the appellate court, is correct
in imposing the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 for each of the
appellants.
WHEREFORE, premises considered; the Decision or the Court or Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC
No. 03178 affirming the trial court's conviction or appellants Maria Jenny Rea y Guevarra and
Estrellita Tendenilla for large scale illegal recruitment is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Footnotes
*

Per Special Order No. 1460 dated 29 May 2013.

**

Per Special Order No. 1461 dated 29 May 2013.

Penned by Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato, Jr. with Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez,
Jr. and Florito S. Macalino, concurring. Rollo, pp. 2-16.
1

Records, p. 104.

Id. at 84.

TSN, 2 March 2006, pp. 3-11.

TSN, 25 April 2006, pp. 7-13.

Id. at 15-23; TSN, 2 March 2006, pp. 15-19.

TSN, 1 February 2006, pp. 5-7.

TSN, 21 March 2006, p. 7.

Id. at 23-32; TSN, 1 February 2006, pp. 15-21.

10

TSN, 14 February 2006, p. 4.

11

Id. at 12.

12

TSN, 10 May 2006, p. 10.

13

TSN, 14 February 2006, pp. 4-29.

14

TSN, 19 September 2006, pp. 4-11.

15

TSN, 25 January 2007, pp. 4-16.

16

CA rollo, pp. 25-26.

17

People v. Ganigan, G.R. No. 178204, 20 August 2008, 562 SCRA 741, 747.

People v. Gallo, G.R. No. 185277, 18 March 2010, 616 SCRA 162, 176 citing People v.
Ganigan, id. at 748.
18

19

TSN, 2 March 2006, pp. 10-13

20

TSN, 1 February 2006, pp. 5-7.

21

TSN, 25 April 2006, pp. 4-18.

22

TSN, 21 March 2006, pp. 14-19.

23

TSN, 14 February 2006, pp. 4-9.

24

TSN, 10 May 2006, pp. 4-10.

25

People v. Ocden, G.R. No. 173198, 1 June 2011, 650 SCRA 124, 142.

26

TSN, 2 March 2006, pp. 16-17.

27

TSN, 25 April 2006, pp. 29-30.

28

TSN, 1 February 2006, pp. 28-31.

29

TSN, 21 March 2006, pp. 24-26.

30

TSN, 14 February 2006, pp. 34-37

31

TSN, 10 May 2006, pp. 25-26.

32

People v. Pansacala, G.R. No. 194255, 13 June 2012, 672 SCRA 549, 559.

33

Rollo, p. 15.

34

The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 195668

June 25, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
MA. HARLETA VELASCO y BRIONES, MARICAR B. INOVERO, MARISSA DIALA,
and BERNA M. PAULINO,Accused,
MARICAR B. INOVERO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The several accused in illegal recruitment committed in large scale against whom the State
establishes a conspiracy are each equally criminally and civilly liable. It follows, therefore, that
as far as civil liability is concerned each is solidarily liable to the victims of the illegal
recruitment for the reimbursement of the sums collected from them, regardless of the extent of
the participation of the accused in the illegal recruitment.
The Case
Accused-appellant Maricar B. Inovero seeks the review and reversal of the decision promulgated
on August 26, 2010,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed her conviction for illegal
recruitment committed in large scale amounting to economic sabotage under the judgment
rendered on January 14, 2008 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 133, in Makati City.2
Antecedents
On March 17, 2004, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City filed in the RTC two
informations3 charging Inovero, Ma. Harleta Velasco y Briones, Marissa Diala and Berna Paulino
with illegal recruitment as defined and penalized under Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042
(Migrant Workers Act of 1995), and 11 informations 4charging the same accused with estafa as

defined and penalized under Article315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. Only Inovero
was arrested and prosecuted, the other accused having remained at large.
Six cases charging estafa (Criminal Case No. 04-1565, Criminal Case No. 1568, Criminal Case
No. 1570, Criminal Case No. 1571 and Criminal Case No. 1572 and Criminal Case No. 1573)
and one of the two charging illegal recruitment (Criminal Case No. 04-1563) were provisionally
dismissed because of the failure of the complainants to prosecute. 5 The seven cases were later
permanently dismissed after the complainants did not revive them within two years, as provided
in Section 8,6 Rule 117 of the Rules of Court.
Trial on the merits ensued as to the remaining cases (Criminal Case No. 04-1562, for illegal
recruitment; and Criminal Case No. 04-1564; Criminal Case No. 04-1566; Criminal Case No.
04-1567; Criminal Case No. 1569 and Criminal Case No. 04-1574, for estafa).7
The CA recounted the transactions between the complainants and the accused, including Inovero,
in the following manner:
Regarding Criminal Case No. 04-1562, the prosecution presented the five (5) private
complainants as witnesses to prove the crime of Illegal Recruitment, namely: Novesa Baful
("Baful"), Danilo Brizuela ("Brizuela"), Rosanna Aguirre ("Aguirre"), Annaliza Amoyo
("Amoyo"), and Teresa Marbella ("Marbella"), and Mildred Versoza ("Versoza") from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration ("POEA").
Baful testified that on May 20, 2003 she, together with her sister-in-law, went to Harvel
International Talent Management and Promotion ("HARVEL") at Unit 509 Cityland
Condominium, Makati City upon learning that recruitment for caregivers to Japan was on-going
there. On said date, she allegedly met Inovero; Velasco, and Diala, and saw Inovero conducting a
briefing on the applicants. She also testified that Diala, the alleged talent manager, directed her to
submit certain documents, and to pay Two Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P2,500.00) as training
fee, as well as Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as placement and processing fees. Diala also
advised her to undergo physical examination.
On June 6, 2003, after complying with the aforesaid requirements and after paying Diala the
amounts of Eighteen Thousand Pesos (P18,000.00) and Ten Thousand pesos (P10,000.00), Baful
was promised deployment within two (2) to three (3) months. She likewise testified that Inovero
briefed her and her co-applicants on what to wear on the day of their departure. However, she
was never deployed. Finally, she testified that she found out that HARVEL was not licensed to
deploy workers for overseas employment.
Brizuela, another complainant, testified that he went to HARVELs office in Makati on February
7, 2003 to inquire on the requirements and hiring procedure for a caregiver in Japan. There, Diala
told him the amount required as processing fee and the documents to be submitted. And when he
submitted on March 7, 2003 the required documents and payments, it was, this time, Paulino
who received them. He claimed that he underwent training and medical examination; he likewise
attended an orientation conducted by Inovero at which time, he and his batchmates were advised
what clothes to wear on the day of their departure; he was assured of deployment on the first

week of June 2003, however, on the eve of his supposed "pre-departure orientation seminar,"
Paulino texted him that the seminar was cancelled because Inovero, who had the applicants
money, did not show up. He testified that he was not deployed. Neither was his money returned,
as promised.
On cross-examination, Brizuela testified that Inovero was the one who conducted the orientation,
and represented to all the applicants that most of the time, she was in the Japanese Embassy
expediting the applicants visa.
Aguirre, the third complainant to testify, alleged that she went to HARVEL on May 22, 2003, to
apply as caregiver in Japan; there, Diala informed her that Inovero was oneof the owners of
HARVEL and Velasco was its President; she paid Thirty Five Thousand Pesos (P35,000.00), and
submitted her documents, receipt of which was acknowledged by Diala; despite her undergoing
medical examination and several training seminars, she was however not deployed to Japan.
Worse, she found out that HARVEL was not licensed to recruit workers.
Amoyo, the fourth complainant, testified that she went to HARVELs office on May 28, 2003 to
apply as caregiver in Japan, and Diala required her to submit certain documents, to undergo
training and medical examination, and to pay Thirty Five Thousand Pesos (P35,000.00) as
placement and processing fees. However, after complying with said requirements, she was never
deployed as promised.
Marbella was the last complainant to testify. She alleged that she applied for the position of
janitress at HARVEL sometime in December 2002; just like the rest of the complainants, she was
required to submit certain documents and to pay a total amount of Twenty Thousand pesos
(P20,000.00) as processing fee; after paying said fee, Diala and Inovero promised her and the
other applicants that they will be deployed in three (3) months or in June 2003; however, the
promised deployment never materialized; she later found out that HARVEL was not even
licensed to recruit workers.
[Mildred] Versoza, on the other hand, is a Labor and Employment Officer at the POEA Licensing
Branch. She testified that she prepared a Certification certifying that neither HARVEL nor
Inovero was authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment as per records at their office.
In her defense, Inovero denied the allegations hurled against her. As summarized in the assailed
Decision, she claimed that she is the niece of accused Velasco, the owner of HARVEL, but
denied working there. Explaining her presence in HARVEL, she alleged that she worked for her
uncle, Velascos husband, as an office assistant, hence, for at least two or three times a week, she
had to go to HARVEL on alleged errands for her uncle. She also testified that her alleged errands
mainly consisted of serving food and refreshments during orientations at HARVEL. Inovero
likewise denied receiving any money from the complainants, nor issuing receipts therefor.8
Judgment of the RTC
On January 14, 2008, the RTC rendered judgment acquitting Inovero of five counts of estafabut
convicting her in Criminal Case No. 04-1562 of illegal recruitment committed in large scale as

defined and penalized by Section 6 and Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers
and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), disposing thusly:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in the aforestated cases as follows:
In Criminal Case No. 04-1562, accused Maricar Inovero is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale defined and penalized under Sections 6 and 7,
II, of Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos
Act of 1995, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment. She is likewise
ordered to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).
Criminal Case No. 04-1563 also for illegal recruitment in large scale is hereby ordered dismissed
to its finality for failure of complainants Alvin De Leon, Roderick Acuna, Agosto Vale and
Marina Viernes to revive said case despite the lapse of two years from its provisional dismissal.
Criminal Cases No. 04-1564, 1566, 1567, 1569, 1571 and 1574 are hereby ordered DISMISSED
for failure of the prosecution to adduce sufficient evidence to prove all the elements of the said
offense.
Criminal Cases Nos. 1565, 1568, 1570, 1572 and 1573 also for estafa [are] hereby ordered
dismissed to its finality for failure of complainants Agosto Vale, Alvin De Leon, Roselyn
Saruyda, Roderick Acuna and Marina Viernes to revive said cases despite the lapse of two (2)
years from its provisional dismissal.
Considering that the accused is a detention prisoner, she shall be credited in the service of her
sentence with the full time during which she has undergone preventive imprisonment if she
agrees voluntarily to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners,
otherwise, with four-fifths thereof.
Meanwhile, considering that the accused Ma. Harleta B. Velasco, Marissa Diala and Berna
Paulino are still at large, let alias warrants of arrest be issued against them. In the meantime, let
the cases filed against them be archived, which shall be revived upon their apprehension.
SO ORDERED.9
Decision of the CA
Inovero appealed, contending that:
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSEDAPPELLANT GUILTY OF
THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO ESTABLISH
[HER] GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.10
On August 26, 2010, the CA affirmed the conviction, viz:

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The January 14, 2008 Decision of the RTC is
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.11
Issue
In this appeal, Inovero insists that the CA erred in affirming her conviction by the RTC because
she had not been an employee of Harvel at any time; that she could be faulted only for her
association with the supposed illegal recruiters; that in all stages of the complainants recruitment
for overseas employment by Harvel, they had transacted only and directly with Diala; and that
the certification from the POEA to the effect she was not a licensed recruiter was not a positive
proof that she engaged in illegal recruitment.
Ruling of the Court
The appeal lacks merit.
In its assailed decision, the CA affirmed the entire findings of fact of the RTC, stating:
The essential elements of illegal recruitment committed in large scale are: (1) that the accused
engaged in acts of recruitment and placement of workers as defined under Article 13(b) of the
Labor Code, or in any prohibited activities under Article 34 of the same Code; (2) that the
accused had not complied with the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment
with respect to the requirement to secure a license or authority to recruit and deploy workers; and
(3) that the accused committed the unlawful acts against 3 or more persons. In simplest terms,
illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority from the government, give
the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad for employment purposes. In
Our view, despite Inoveros protestations that she did not commit illegal recruitment, the
following circumstances contrarily convince Us that she was into illegal recruitment.
First, private complainants Baful and Brizuela commonly testified that Inovero was the one who
conducted orientations/briefings on them; informed them, among others, on how much their
salary would be as caregivers in Japan; and what to wear when they finally will be deployed.
Second, when Diala introduced her (Inovero) to private complainant Amoyo as one of the
owners of HARVEL, Inovero did not bother to correct said representation. Inoveros silence is
clearly an implied acquiescence to said representation.
Third, Inovero, while conducting orientation on private complainant Brizuela, represented
herself as the one expediting the release of applicants working visa for Japan.
Fourth, in a Certification issued and attested to by POEAs Versoza Inovero had no license nor
authority to recruit for overseas employment.
Based on the foregoing, there is therefore no doubt that the RTC correctly found that Inovero
committed illegal recruitment in large scale by giving private complainants the impression that

she can send them abroad for employment purposes, despite the fact that she had no license or
authority to do so.12
It is basic that the Court, not being a trier of facts, must of necessity rely on the findings of fact
by the trial court which are conclusive and binding once affirmed by the CA on intermediate
review. The bindingness of the trial courts factual findings is by virtue of its direct access to the
evidence. The direct access affords the trial court the unique advantage to observe the witnesses
demeanor while testifying, and the personal opportunity to test the accuracy and reliability of
their recollections of past events, both of which are very decisive in a litigation like this criminal
prosecution for the serious crime of illegal recruitment committed in large scale where the parties
have disagreed on the material facts. The Court leaves its confined precinct of dealing only with
legal issues in order to deal with factual ones only when the appellant persuasively demonstrates
a clear error in the appreciation of the evidence by both the trial and the appellate courts. This
demonstration was not done herein by the appellant. Hence, the Court upholds the CAs
affirmance of the factual findings by the trial court.
All that Inoveros appeal has offered was her denial of complicity in the illegal recruitment of the
complainants. But the complainants credibly described and affirmed her specific acts during the
commission of the crime of illegal recruitment. Their positive assertions were far trustworthier
than her mere denial.
Denial, essentially a negation of a fact, does not prevail over an affirmative assertion of the
fact.1wphi1 Thus, courts both trial and appellate have generally viewed the defense of
denial in criminal cases with considerable caution, if not with outright rejection. Such judicial
attitude comes from the recognition that denial is inherently weak and unreliable by virtue of its
being an excuse too easy and too convenient for the guilty to make. To be worthy of
consideration at all, denial should be substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. The
accused cannot solely rely on her negative and self-serving negations, for denial carries no
weight in law and has no greater evidentiary value than the testimony of credible witnesses who
testify on affirmative matters.13 It is no different here.
We concur with the RTC and the CA that Inovero was criminally liable for the illegal recruitment
charged against her. Strong and positive evidence demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt her
having conspired with her co-accused in the recruitment of the complainants. The decision of the
CA amply recounted her overt part in the conspiracy. Under the law, there is a conspiracy when
two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony, and decide to
commit it.14
The complainants paid varying sums for placement, training and processing fees, respectively as
follows: (a) Baful P28,500.00; (b) Brizuela P38,600.00; (c) Aguirre P38,600.00; (d) Amoyo
P39,000.00; and (e) Marbella P20,250.00. However, the RTC and the CA did not adjudicate
Inoveros personal liability for them in their judgments. Their omission needs to be corrected,
notwithstanding that the complainants did not appeal, for not doing so would be patently unjust
and contrary to law. The Court, being the ultimate reviewing tribunal, has not only the authority
but also the duty to correct at any time a matter of law and justice. It is, indeed, a basic tenet of
our criminal law that every person criminally liable is also civilly liable. 15 Civil liability includes

restitution, reparation of the damage caused, and indemnification for consequential


damages.16 To enforce the civil liability, the Rules of Court has deemed to be instituted with the
criminal action the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged
unless the offended party waives the civil action, or reserves the right to institute the civil action
separately, or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action. 17 Considering that the crime
of illegal recruitment, when it involves the transfer of funds from the victims to the accused, is
inherently in fraud of the former, civil liability should include the return of the amounts paid as
placement, training and processing fees.18 Hence, Inovero and her co-accused were liable to
indemnify the complainants for all the sums paid.
That the civil liability should be made part of the judgment by the RTC and the CA was not
disputable. The Court pointed out in Bacolod v. People 19 that it was "imperative that the courts
prescribe the proper penalties when convicting the accused, and determine the civil liability to be
imposed on the accused, unless there has been a reservation of the action to recover civil liability
or a waiver of its recovery," because:
It is not amiss to stress that both the RTC and the CA disregarded their express mandate under
Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court to have the judgment, if it was of conviction, state: "(1)
the legal qualification of the offense constituted by the acts committed by the accused and the
aggravating or mitigating circumstances which attended its commission; (2) the participation of
the accused in the offense, whether as principal, accomplice, or accessory after the fact; (3) the
penalty imposed upon the accused; and (4) the civil liability or damages caused by his wrongful
act or omission to be recovered from the accused by the offended party, if there is any, unless the
enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action has been reserved or waived." Their
disregard compels us to act as we now do lest the Court be unreasonably seen as tolerant of their
omission. That the Spouses Cogtas did not themselves seek the correction of the omission by an
appeal is no hindrance to this action because the Court, as the final reviewing tribunal, has not
only the authority but also the duty to correct at any time a matter of law and justice.
We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs that the parties
are properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established facts. Their judgments will not
be worthy of the name unless they thereby fully determine the rights and obligations of the
litigants. It cannot be otherwise, for only by a full determination of such rights and obligations
would they be true to the judicial office of administering justice and equity for all. Courts should
then be alert and cautious in their rendition of judgments of conviction in criminal cases. They
should prescribe the legal penalties, which is what the Constitution and the law require and
expect them to do. Their prescription of the wrong penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for
being done without jurisdiction or in manifest grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction. They should also determine and set the civil liability ex delicto of the accused, in
order to do justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them. The Rules of
Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by separate actions has
been reserved or waived.20
What was the extent of Inoveros civil liability?

The nature of the obligation of the co-conspirators in the commission of the crime requires
solidarity, and each debtor may be compelled to pay the entire obligation. 21 As a co-conspirator,
then, Inoveros civil liability was similar to that of a joint tortfeasor under the rules of the civil
law. Joint tortfeasors are those who command, instigate, promote, encourage, advise,
countenance, cooperate in, aid or abet the commission of a tort, or who approve of it after it is
done, if done for their benefit.22 They are also referred to as those who act together in committing
wrong or whose acts, if independent of each other, unite in causing a single injury.23 Under
Article 2194 of the Civil Code, joint tortfeasors are solidarily liable for the resulting damage. In
other words, joint tortfeasors are each liable as principals, to the same extent and in the same
manner as if they had performed the wrongful act themselves. As regards the extent of their
respective liabilities, the Court expressed in Far Eastern Shipping Company v. Court of
Appeals:24
x x x. Where several causes producing an injury are concurrent and each is an efficient cause
without which the injury would not have happened, the injury may be attributed to all or any of
the causes and recovery may be had against any or all of the responsible persons although under
the circumstances of the case, it may appear that one of them was more culpable, and that the
duty owed by them to the injured person was not same. No actors negligence ceases to be a
proximate cause merely because it does not exceed the negligence of other acts. Each wrongdoer
is responsible for the entire result and is liable as though his acts were the sole cause of the
injury.
There is no contribution between joint tort-feasors whose liability is solidary since both of them
are liable for the total damage. Where the concurrent or successive negligent acts or omissions of
two or more persons, although acting independently, are in combination the direct and proximate
cause of a single injury to a third person, it is impossible to determine in what proportion each
contributed to the injury and either of them is responsible for the whole injury. x x x
It would not be an excuse for any of the joint tortfeasors to assert that her individual participation
in the wrong was insignificant as compared to those of the others.25 Joint tortfeasors are not liable
pro rata. The damages cannot be apportioned among them, except by themselves. They cannot
insist upon an apportionment, for the purpose of each paying an aliquot part. They are jointly and
severally liable for the whole amount.26 Hence, Inoveros liability towards the victims of their
illegal recruitment was solidary, regardless of whether she actually received the amounts paid or
not, and notwithstanding that her co-accused, having escaped arrest until now, have remained
untried.
Under Article 2211 of the Civil Code, interest as part of the damages may be adjudicated in
criminal proceedings in the discretion of the court. The Court believes and holds that such
liability for interest attached to Inovero as a measure of fairness to the complainants. Thus,
Inovero should pay interest of 6% per annum on the sums paid by the complainants to be
reckoned from the finality of this judgment until full payment.27
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on August 26, 2010, subject to
the MODIFICATION that appellant Maricar B. Inovero is ordered to pay by way of actual

damages to each of the complainants the amounts paid by them for placement, training and
processing fees, respectively as follows:
(a) Noveza Baful - P28,500.00;
(b) Danilo Brizuela - P38,600.00;
(c) Rosanna Aguirre - P38,600.00;
(d) Annaliza Amoyo - P39,000.00; and
(e) Teresa Marbella - P20,250.00.
plus interest on such amounts at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the finality of this
judgment until fully paid.
Inovero shall further pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
Footnotes
1

Rollo, pp. 2-18.

CA rollo, pp. 40-54.

Id. at 8-11.

Id. at 12-33.

Id. at 48.

Section 8. Provisional dismissal. A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with
the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party.
6

The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six


(6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after
issuance of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses
punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal
shall become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case
having been revived. (n)
7

CA rollo, p. 49.

Id. at 144-148.

Id. at 152-154.

10

Id. at 69.

11

Id. at 156.

12

Id. at 154-156, (the bold underscoring is in the original text).

13

People v. Bensig, G.R. No. 138989, September 17, 2002, 389 SCRA 182, 194.

14

Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code.

E.g., Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code stipulates that every person criminally liable for
a felony is also civilly liable. The provision, although seemingly applicable only to a felony,
governs also a non-felony by virtue of Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code expressly
making the provisions of the Revised Penal Code "supplementary" to special laws unless
such laws provide otherwise.
15

16

Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code.

17

Section 1, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court(2000).

The Civil Code, in its Article 1170, expressly holds to be liable for damages those who in
the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and those who
in any manner contravene the tenor of the obligations; and in its Article 1171, considers the
responsibility arising from fraud to be demandable in all obligations.
18

G.R. No. 206236, July 15, 2013, 701 SCRA 229 (the bold underscoring is part of the
original text of the decision).
19

20

Id. at 239-240.

21

The Civil Code states:


Article 1207. The concurrence of two or more creditors or of two or more debtors in
one and the same obligation does not imply that each one of the former has a right to
demand, or that each one of the latter is bound to render, entire compliance with the
prestation. There is a solidary liability only when the obligation expressly so states, or
when the law or the nature of the obligation requires solidarity. (1137a) See IV
Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines,
1991 (Reprinting 1999), Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Inc., Quezon City, p. 220.

Malvar v. Kraft Food Phils., Inc., G.R. No. 183952, September 9, 2013; Chan, Jr. v. Iglesia
ni Cristo, Inc., G.R. No. 160283, October 14, 2005, 473 SCRA 177, 186.
22

Blacks Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 1979, pp. 752-753, citing Bowen v. Iowa Nat. Mut. Ins.
Co., 270 N.C. 486, 155 S.E. 2d 238, 242.
23

24

G.R. No. 130068, October 1, 1998, 297 SCRA 30, 84.

Lafarge Cement Philippines, Inc. v. Continental Cement Corporation, G.R. No. 155173,
November 23, 2004, 443 SCRA 522, 545.
25

26

Id.

27

Sison v. People, G.R. No. 187229, February 22, 2012, 666 SCRA 645, 667.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Baguio City
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 198012

April 22, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ANGEL MATEO y JACINTO AND VICENTA LAPIZ y MEDINA, Accused-Appellants.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
This is an appeal from the February 17, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CR HC No. 02366, which denied the appeal brought therewith and affirmed the May 31, 2006
Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila Branch 40 in Criminal Cases Nos.
99176598 and 99-176599 to 603. The RTC convicted Angel Mateo y Jacinto (Mateo) and
Vicenta Lapiz y Medina (Lapiz) a.k.a. ''Vicky Mateo" (appellants) of the crime of illegal
recruitment in large scale under Republic Act No. 8042 (RA 8042), otherwise known as the
Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, and of five counts of estafa.

Factual Antecedents
Sometime during the period from January to March 1998, the five private complainants, namely,
Abel E. Balane (Abel), Emilio A. Cariaga (Emilio), Victorio D. Flordeliza (Victorio), Manuel
Oledan (Manuel) and Virgilio N. Concepcion (Virgilio), met appellants on separate occasions at
Plaza Ferguzon, Malate, Manila to apply for overseas employment. Appellant Mateo,
representing himself to have a tie-up with some Japanese firms, promised them employment in
Japan as conversion mechanics, welders, or fitters for a fee. Appellants also promised that they
could facilitate private complainants employment as direct hires and assured their departure
within three weeks. However, after the private complainants paid the required fees ranging
from P18,555.00 toP25,000.00, appellants failed to secure any overseas employment for them.
Appellants likewise failed to return private complainants money. This prompted Manuel to go to
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) where he was issued a
Certification3 stating that appellants are not licensed to recruit applicants for overseas
employment. Thereupon, the private complainants filed their Complaint and executed their
respective affidavits with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The NBI referred the
charges to the Department of Justice which subsequently found probable cause against appellants
for large scale illegal recruitment and estafa 4and accordingly filed the corresponding
Informations5 for the same before the RTC of Manila.
For their defense, appellants proffered denials. Mateo claimed that he is a legitimate car importer
and not a recruiter. Lapiz, on the other hand, denied knowing any of the private complainants
whom she claimed to have met for the first time at the Prosecutors Office.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The RTC disposed of the cases in its Decision 6 rendered on May 31, 2006 as follows:
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 99-176598 for Illegal Recruitment, this Court finds both
accused ANGEL MATEO y JACINTO and VICENTA LAPIZ y MADINA a.k.a. "VICKY
MATEO" GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale and hereby
sentences each of them to life imprisonment and to pay P500,000.00 fine each as well as to
indemnify private complainants (1) Manuel Oledan the sum of P25,000.00, and (2) Emilio A.
Cariaga, (3) Abel E. Balane, (4) Virgilio N. Concepcion and (5) Victorio D. Flordeliza the sum
of P18,555.00 each.
This Court finds both accused also GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Cases Nos.
99-176599,99-176600, 99-176601,99-176602 and 99-176603 for five (5) counts of Estafa and
each accused is hereby sentenced in each case to an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) years
and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years, eight (8) months and
twenty one (21) days of prision mayor, as maximum.

The [Philippine] Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) shall be furnished with
certified copy of this Decision.
SO ORDERED.7
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In their appeal before the CA, appellants essentially claimed that the prosecution failed to prove
the elements of the crimes for which they were charged. They contended that Abel has not shown
any receipt to prove that they received money from him; that there is likewise no proof that
Virgilio borrowed money from a friend of his aunt which money he, in turn, gave to them; that
the testimony of Emilio that appellants were holding office inside the van of Abel cannot be
easily accepted; and that their transactions with Manuel and Victorio were limited to the
processing of their travel documents.
The CA, however, denied appellants appeal in its Decision 8 dated February 17, 2011, viz:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
Accordingly, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, dated May
31, 2006 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.9
Hence, the present appeal.
Per Resolution10 dated September 19, 2011, the Court required both parties to file their respective
supplemental briefs. Appellants filed their Supplemental Brief, 11 while appellee People of the
Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, opted not to file any and just adopted the
appellees brief it filed before the CA.12
The Courts Ruling
The appeal utterly lacks merit.
The offense of illegal recruitment in large scale has the following elements: (1) the person
charged undertook any recruitment activity as defined under Section 6 of RA 8042; (2) accused
did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment of workers; and,
(3) accused committed the same against three or more persons individually or as a group. 13 These
elements are obtaining in this case. First, the RTC found appellants to have undertaken a
recruitment activity when they promised private complainants employment in Japan for a fee.
This factual finding was affirmed by the CA. "The time-tested doctrine is that the matter of
assigning values to declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently performed by
the trial judge."14 And when his findings have been affirmed by the Court of Appeals, these are

generally binding and conclusive upon the Supreme Court.15 Second, the Certification issued by
the POEA unmistakably reveals that appellants neither have a license nor authority to recruit
workers for overseas employment. Notably, appellants never assailed this Certification. Third, it
was established that there were five complainants. Clearly, the existence of the offense of illegal
recruitment in large scale was duly proved by the prosecution.
Appellants argument that there was no proof that they received money from the private
complainants deserves no credence.1wphi1 Suffice it to say that money is not material to a
prosecution for illegal recruitment considering that the definition of "illegal recruitment" under
the law includes the phrase "whether for profit or not." Besides, even if there is no receipt for the
money given by the private complainants to appellants, the formers respective testimonies and
affidavits clearly narrate the latters involvement in the prohibited recruitment.16
Anent the charge for estafa, "[w]ell-settled is the rule that a person convicted for illegal
recruitment under the [law] may, for the same acts, be separately convicted for estafa under
Article 315, par. 2(a) of the [Revised Penal Code]. The elements of estafa are: (1) the accused
defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit; and (2) the offended party or a
third party suffered damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation." 17 All these elements
are likewise present in this case. As aptly held by the CA:
Here, the appellants Mateo and Lapiz committed deceit against the private complainants by
making it appear as though they had the authority and resources to send them to Japan for
employment; that there were available jobs for them in Japan for which they would be hired
although, in truth, there were none; and, that by reason or on the strength of such assurance, the
private complainants parted with their money in payment of the placement fee, documentation
and hotel accommodations. All these representations were actually false and fraudulent and thus,
the apellants must be made liable under par2(a), Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code.18
With this ratiocination, Lapiz's defense of not knowing any of the complainants must necessarily
fail. As noted by the RTC and the CA, she was present in all of the transactions, serving as
runner of Mateo and was even the one keeping the money entrusted by the private complainants
to appellants. She would also often pacify the private complainants' uneasiness about the absence
of receipts for each of the amounts given and repeatedly assure them they would be deployed to
Japan. In short, she was an indispensable participant and effective collaborator of Mateo in the
illegal recruitment of the private complaintants.
In view of the foregoing, the Court sustains the lower courts' conviction of appellants for the
crimes charged.
It must be noted, however, that both the RTC and the CA failed to award interest on the money
judgment in Criminal Case No. 99-176598 for Illegal Recruitment in. Large Scale. Following

prevailing jurisprudence, the Court, therefore, imposes interest at the rate of 6% per annum on
each of the amounts awarded from the date of finality of this Decision until fully paid.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision dated February 17, 2011 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02366 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the
amounts ordered restituted in Criminal Case No. 99-176598 shall each earn an interest of 6% per
annum from the finality of this Decision until fully paid.
SO ORDERED.
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice
Footnotes
1

CA rollo, pp. 262~294; penned by Associate Justice Stephen C. Cruz and concurred in
by Associate Justices Isaias P. Dicdican and Rodil V. Zalameda.
2

Records, pp. 408-469; penned by Judge Placido C. Marquez.

Id. at 20.

Id. at 11-15.

Id. at 1-2, 44-45, 54-55, 64-65, 74-75 and 84-85.

Id. at 408-469.

Id. at 468-469.

CA rollo, pp. 262-294.

Id. at 293.

10

Rollo, pp. 41-42.

11

Id. at 72-76.

12

Id. at 44-48.

13

People v. Temporada, 594 Phil. 680, 710 (2008).

14

People v. Cardenas, G.R. No. 190342, March 21, 2012, 668 SCRA 827, 844.

15

People v. Baraoil, G.R. No. 194608, July 9, 2012, 676 SCRA 24, 32.

16

Romero v. People, G.R. No. 171644, November 23, 2011, 661 SCRA 143, 154-155.

17

People v. Temporada, supra note 13 at 713.

18

CA rollo, p. 292.