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THIRD DIVISION

U-BIX CORPORATION,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 157168


Present:

- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO, and
NACHURA, JJ.
Promulgated:

RICHEL BANDIOLA,
Respondent.
June 26, 2007
x-------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
assailing the Decision,[1] dated 27 June 2002, rendered by the Court of Appeals,
partially affirming the Resolution,[2] promulgated by the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) on 16 August 2000. The Court of Appeals, in its assailed
Decision, sustained the award of actual damages in the amount of P7,742.50, moral
damages in the amount of P25,000.00 and exemplary damages in the amount
of P25,000.00 in favor of respondent Richel Bandiola (Bandiola), in relation to an

injury sustained by the latter in the course of his employment with petitioner UBIX Corporation, (U-BIX)

Sometime in April 1995, Bandiola was employed by U-BIX to install furniture for
its customers. On 13 April 1997, Bandiola and two other U-BIX employees were
involved in a vehicular accident on their way to Baguio, where they were assigned
by

U-BIX

to

install

furniture

for

an

exhibit. As

result

of

the

accident, Bandiolasustained a fracture on his left leg.[3]


Bandiola and

his

co-employees

were

initially

brought

to

the Rosario District Hospital. The next day, 14 April 1997, they were transferred to
the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital (Orthopedic). After his broken leg was
cemented, Bandiola was advised to go back for further medical treatment. U-BIX
paid for the medical expenses incurred in both hospitals.[4]
Bandiola claims that he asked U-BIX for financial assistance but that the latter
refused. As a consequence, he could no longer afford to go back to the Orthopedic
inQuezon City, which

is

of

considerable

distance

from

his

residence

in Paraaque. Instead, he went to Medical Center Paraaque (MCP) where he had his
leg cast in fiberglass.[5] He attached the receipts, issued by MCP and
Dr. Celestino Musngi, for medical expenses with a total amount of P7,742.50.[6] He
also attached a copy of the Roentgenological Report, dated 24 April 1997,
of Amado V. Carandang, a Radiologist in MCP.[7] The said report affirmed
that Bandiolas left leg was still fractured, even after the doctors at the Orthopedic
put a plaster cast on his leg. Bandiola added that he paid for other medical
expenses for which no receipts were issued.

Bandiola maintains that before his leg was cast in fiberglass, he asked Rey Reynes,
U-BIXs Assistant Manager for Project Management, for financial assistance but
was refused. After the medical procedure, he again went to Reynes and presented a
receipt for his medical expenses, but was told to pay for them in the
meantime.Bandiola also avers that while he was waiting for his injuries to heal, he
called the U-BIX office in Makati to ask for a salary advance, but was told by a
secretary, a certain Ms. Clarisse, that this was not possible since he had not worked
after 13 April 1997.[8]
On September 1998, Bandiola filed a Complaint before the Labor Arbiter, where
he alleged underpayment of salary; non-payment of overtime pay; premium pay for
work performed on holidays and rest days; separation pay; service incentive leave
pay; 13th month pay; and the payment of actual, moral and exemplary damages.
[9]

The Labor Arbiter ordered in its Decision, dated 16 September 1998, that[10]:
Accordingly, complainant is entitled to salary differential, service incentive leave
pay and 13th month pay computed as follows:
xxxx
WHEREFORE, respondent is hereby ordered to pay complainant the
following:
Salary Differential P20,424.00
Service incentive leave 825.00
13th Month pay 10,324.15
GRAND TOTAL P31,573.15
All other claims are DISMISSED for lack of merit.

Bandiola asserts that U-BIX failed to extend to him any financial assistance
after he was injured in the performance of his duties, and that as a result, he
suffered physical pain, mental torture, fright, sleepless nights, and serious
anxiety. He claims that this entitles him to moral and exemplary damages.[11]

U-BIX, on the other hand, denies that Bandiola notified it of any medical expenses
he purportedly incurred until the complaint was filed before the Labor Arbiter.[12]
As can be gleaned from above, the Labor Arbiter allowed Bandiolas claim for
salary differential, service incentive leave pay and 13th month pay due to UBIXsfailure to present payrolls or similar documents. Incidentally, the award of
these claims is no longer questioned in the present petition. The other claims,
particularly those for medical expenses that Bandiola allegedly incurred and for
moral and exemplary damages, were dismissed.
Bandiola filed an appeal before the NLRC. In a Resolution dated 16 August
2000, the NLRC amended the Decision rendered by the Labor Arbiter on 16
September 1998. It ruled that U-BIX should reimburse Bandiola the amount
of P12,742.50 for the medical expenses he incurred in connection with his
fractured leg.It further ruled that U-BIX is liable to pay Bandiola P25,000.00 in
moral damages and P25,000.00 in exemplary damages for refusing to
reimburse Bandiola for the medical expenses he incurred after it failed to report to
the Social Security System (SSS) the injuries sustained by Bandiola.[13] The
aforementioned NLRC Resolution decrees that[14]:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, [herein respondent Bandiolas] appeal
is GRANTED. The Labor Arbiters decision in the above-entitled case is hereby
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in addition to the monetary award
granted to [herein respondent Bandiola] by the Labor Arbiter, [herein petitioner
UBIX] is ordered to reimburse [herein respondent Bandiola] the amount
of P12,742.50 for the medical expenses which he incurred in line of duty. [Herein
petitioner UBIX] is likewise ordered to pay [herein respondent Bandiola] the
amount of Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) for moral damages and
Twenty-five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) for exemplary damages.

Thereafter, U-BIX filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied by


the NLRC in another Resolution on 11 October 2000.[15]
On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the NLRC Resolution, dated 16 August
2000. It affirmed Bandiolas entitlement to reimbursement of his medical
expenses, but reduced the amount to P7,742.50, the amount of actual damages he
was able to prove. It also affirmed without modification the award of moral and
exemplary damages, and the monetary award granted by the Labor Arbiter.[16] In
the dispositive portion of its Decision, dated 27 June 2002, the Court of Appeals
ruled that[17]:
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED and the assailed
resolution of the NLRC is accordingly AFFIRMED WITH MODICATION such
that the actual damages in the form of reimbursement for the medical expenses
incurred by [herein respondent Bandiola] is REDUCED to P7,742.50 instead of
the P12,742.50 which was granted by the NLRC.

Hence, the present petition, in which the following issues were raised[18]:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ORDERING
PETITIONER U-BIX TO REIMBURSE RESPONDENT BANDIOLA FOR
ALLEGED MEDICAL EXPENSES OF P7,742.50 WHEN THERE IS NO
EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY RESPONDENT IN SUPPORT THEREOF.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AWARDING MORAL
DAMAGES OF P25,000.00 AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES OF P25,000.00 TO
RESPONDENT BANDIOLA WITHOUT ANY FACTUAL OR LEGAL BASIS
APART FROM THE FACT THAT THE SAME ARE EXORBITANT AND
CLEARLY INTENDED TO ENRICH RESPONDENT.

The petition is without merit.


Contrary

to the arguments

put

forward by

U-BIX, it is

liable to

reimburse Bandiola the amount of P7,742.50 for medical expenses because its
failure to comply with its duty to record and report Bandiolas injury to the SSS
precluded Bandiola from making any claims. Moreover, U-BIX, by its own
admission, reimbursed its other employees who were involved in the same accident
for their medical expenses.[19] Clearly, the reimbursement of medical expenses for
injuries incurred in the course of employment is part of the benefits enjoyed by UBIXs employees. The only justification for its refusal to reimburse Bandiola was
that he intended to defraud the company by presenting spurious receipts amounting
to P7,742.50 that were allegedly issued four months before their presentation.
Articles 205 and 206 of the Labor Code set the reportorial requirements in
cases when an employee falls sick or suffers an injury arising in the course of
employment. An injury is said to arise in the course of employment when it takes
place within the period of employment, at a place where the employee may
reasonably be, and while he is fulfilling his duties or is engaged in doing
something incidental thereto.[20] The aforecited provisions of the Labor Code
provide that:
ART. 205 RECORD OF DEATH OR DISABILITY
(a)

All employers shall keep a logbook to record chronologically the sickness,


injury or death of their employees, setting forth therein their names, dates
and places of the contingency, nature of the contingency and
absences. Entries in the logbook shall be made within five days from notice
or knowledge of the occurrence of contingency.Within five days after entry
in the logbook, the employer shall report to the System only those
contingencies he deems to be work-connected.

(b)

All entries in the employers logbook shall be made by the employer or any
of his authorized official after verification of the contingencies or the
employees absences for a period of a day or more. Upon request by the
System, the employer shall furnish the necessary certificate regarding
information about any contingency appearing in the logbook, citing the
entry number, page number and date. Such logbook shall be made available
for inspection to the duly authorized representatives of the System.

xxxx
ART 206. NOTICE OF SICKNESS, INJURY OR DEATH
Notice of sickness, injury or death shall be given to the employer by the employee
or by his dependents or anybody on his behalf within five days from the occurrence
of the contingency. No notice to the employer shall be required if the contingency is
known to the employer or his agents or representatives.

As a general rule, the injured employee must notify his employer, who is
obligated to enter the notice in a logbook within five days after notification. Within
five days after making the entry, the employer of a private company reports the
work-related sickness or injury to the SSS. The claim is forwarded to the SSS,
which decides on the validity of the claim. When the SSS denies the claim, the
denial may be appealed to the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC)
within 30 days.
However, the law provides an exception to the rule requiring an employee to
notify his or her employer of his injuries. Under Section B of ECC Board
Resolution No. 2127, issued on 5 August 1982, notice of injury, sickness or death
of the employee need not be given to the employer in any of the following
situations:
(1) When the employee suffers the contingency within the employers premises;
(2) When the employee officially files an application for leave of absence by
reason of the contingency from which he suffers;

(3) When the employer provides medical services and/or medical supplies to the
employee who suffers from the contingency; and
(4) When the employer can be reasonably presumed to have had knowledge of the
employees contingency, in view of the following circumstances:
(4.1)

The employee was performing an official function for the employer


when the contingency occurred;

(4.2)

The employees contingency has been publicized through mass media


outlets; or

(4.3)

The specific circumstances of the occurrence of the contingency have


been such that the employer can be reasonably presumed to have readily
known it soon thereafter; or

(4.4)

Any other circumstances that may give rise to a reasonable presumption


that the employer has been aware of the contingency.

In the present case, there is no dispute that Bandiolas leg injury was
sustained in the course of his employment with U-BIX. At the time of the
accident, Bandiola was on the way to Baguio, where he was ordered by U-BIX to
install furniture for an exhibit. Moreover, U-BIX was aware that Bandiola, as well
as his other co-employees, were injured during the accident. U-BIX admitted to
providing Bandiola and his co-employees with medical assistance and it even sent
its representative, Rey Reynes, to Rosario District Hospital, where they were
confined, and had them transferred to the Orthopedic. U-BIX was also aware that
the Orthopedic instructed Bandiola to return for further medical treatment. It is
implicit that Bandiola needed further treatment for his broken leg and was, thus,
incapacitated to work.
Given the foregoing circumstances, U-BIX had the legal obligation to record
pertinent information in connection with the injuries sustained by Bandiola in its
logbook within five days after it had known about the injuries; and to report the
same to the SSS within five days after it was recorded in the logbook, in

accordance with Articles 205 and 206 of the Labor Code. Had U-BIX performed
its lawful duties, the SSS, or the ECC on appeal, could have properly considered
whether or not Bandiola was entitled to reimbursement for his medical expenses,
as well as disability benefits while he was unable to work. However, U-BIX did
not present any evidence showing that it had complied with these legal
requirements. It had not even replied to Bandiolas allegations in his Position Paper,
dated 13 April 1998, that its employees were not even members of the SSS.[21]
As early as 1938, this Court emphasized, in the case of Murillo v. Mendoza,
[22]

that labor laws have demonstrated an impetus towards ensuring that employees

are compensated for work-related injuries. The law has since treated such
compensation as a right, which the employees can claim, instead of an act of
charity to be given at the employers discretion.
The intention of the Legislature in enacting the Workmens Compensation
Act was to secure workmen and their dependents against becoming objects of
charity, by making a reasonable compensation for such accidental calamities as are
incidental to the employment. Under such act injuries to workmen and employees
are to be considered no longer as results of fault or negligence, but as the products
of the industry in which the employee is concerned. Compensation for such injuries
is, under the theory of such statute, like any other item in the cost of production or
transportation, and ultimately charged to the consumer. The law substitutes for
liability for negligence an entirely new conception; that is, that if the injury arises
out of and in the course of the employment, under the doctrine of mans humanity to
man, the cost of compensation must be one of the elements to be liquidated and
balanced in the course of consumption. In other words, the theory of law is that, if
the industry produces an injury, the cost of that injury shall be included in the cost
of the product of the industry.

In De Jesus v. Employees Compensation Commission,[23] this Court further


noted that while the present law protects employers from spurious and long
overdue claims, it stresses at the same time that the claims for compensation are to
be promptly and properly addressed. More importantly, employers no longer need

to determine the validity of a claim or to defend themselves from spurious


claims. Their duties are thus limited to paying the monthly premiums and reporting
the sickness, injury or death for which compensation is due.
The new law establishes a state insurance fund built up by the contributions
of employers based on the salaries of their employees. The injured worker does not
have to litigate his right to compensation. No employer opposes his claim. There is
no notice of injury nor requirement of controversion. The sick worker simply files a
claim with a new neutral Employees Compensation Commission which then
determines on the basis of the employees supporting papers and medical evidence
whether or not compensation may be paid. The payment of benefits is more
prompt. The cost of administration is low. The amount of death benefits has also
been doubled.
On the other hand, the employers duty is only to pay the regular monthly
premiums to the scheme. It does not look for insurance companies to meet sudden
demands for compensation payments or set up its own funds to meet these
contingencies. It does not have to defend itself from spuriously documented or long
past claims.
The new law applies the social security principle in the handling of
workmens compensation. The Commission administers and settles claims from a
fund under its exclusive control. The employer does not intervene in the
compensation process and it has no control, as in the past, over payment of benefits.
x x x.
Since there is no employer opposing or fighting a claim for compensation,
the rules on presumption of compensability and controversion cease to have
importance. The lopsided situation of an employer versus one employee, which
called for equalization through the various rules and concepts favoring the claimant,
is now absent.

By failing to report Bandiolas injury to the SSS, U-BIX disregarded the law
and its purpose; that is, to provide a proper and prompt settlement of his
claims.Instead, U-BIX arrogated upon itself the duty of determining which medical
expenses are proper for reimbursement. In doing so, it could unnecessarily delay
and unjustifiably refuse to reimburse Bandiola for medical expenses even if they
were adequately supported by receipts, as was done in this instance. The expense

and delay undergone by Bandiola since 1997 in obtaining reimbursement for his
medical expenses of P7,742.50 very clearly defeat the purpose of the law.
U-BIX does not question its liability to pay for medical expenses incurred in
connection with the 13 April 1997 accident; it admits that it paid for all the medical
expenses of its other employees, who were involved in the accident.[24] It refused,
however, to reimburse Bandiola for further medical expenses on the ground that
the receipts were counterfeit and belatedly presented to U-BIX.
Bandiola presented eight receipts with a total amount of P7,742.50 issued by
MCP and his attending physician, Dr. Celestino Musngi. The amounts indicated
therein range from P200.00 to P2,936.00. The receipts were issued on 24 April
1997 and 6 May 1997, or around the time the accident occurred on 13 April
1997.From the face of the receipts, there is no showing that these documents are
false or falsified. U-BIX could have easily confirmed with MCP or
Dr. Celestino Musngi, who issued said receipts, the authenticity of the
documents. However, it failed to allege that it took any steps to check the
authenticity of the receipts. It also failed to present any evidence that these receipts
are fake. Absent any proof, no weight can be attached to the allegation that the
receipts are spurious.
The party who alleges the fact has the burden of proving it. The burden of
proof is assigned to the defendant of a claim when he or she alleges an affirmative
defense, which is not a denial of an essential ingredient in the complainants cause
of action - the existence of the receipts, in the present case - but is one which, if
established, will be a good defense, i.e., an avoidance of the claim.[25] One who
alleges an affirmative defense that is denied by the complainant - the falsity of the
receipts, in this case - has the burden of proving it. Unless the party asserting the

affirmative of an issue sustains the burden of proof, his or her cause will not
succeed.If he or she fails to establish the facts of which the matter asserted is
predicated, the complainant is entitled to a verdict or decision in his or her
favor. [26] In this case, U-BIXs affirmative defense that the receipts are spurious is
rejected due to utter lack of proof.
U-BIX asserts that no demand was made by the petitioner and that it only came to
know of Bandiolas medical expenses when it received the Summons to attend a
preliminary conference before the Labor Arbiter. For his part, Bandiola insists that
before filing the case with the NLRC, he approached U-BIX three times for
financial assistance in connection with his medical expenses, but he was
refused. Bandiola identified the persons he spoke to as Rey Reynes and a certain
Ms. Clarisse.[27] U-BIX alleges that it sent Rey Reynes to look for Bandiola in the
address recorded in their office files, but that he no longer resided therein.
[28]

Bandiola contested this allegation by stating that he had not changed his

residence.[29] As of 20 September 2006, Bandiola still resided at the same


address, SampalocSite II-B, Barangay B.F. Homes, Paranaque City, as evidenced
by

the

Certificate

of Indigency issued

by Barangay BF

Homes

Chairperson Florencia N. Amurao.[30]


U-BIX maintains that Bandiola kept the company in the dark regarding his
medical expenses because he intended to file a baseless suit aimed at extorting
money from the company. This Court finds it implausible that a worker who
received less than minimum wage[31] would choose to initiate legal proceedings
before even seeking to collect from his employer. To automatically presume
that Bandiola intended to defraud the company despite the absence of supporting
evidence would constitute a hasty and unsubstantiated generalization, which
displays a prejudice against ordinary workers, such as Bandiola.

U-BIXs continued and stubborn refusal to reimburse Bandiolas medical


expenses was made evident during the mandatory conference before the Labor
Arbiter when it refused to recognize the receipts shown to it. If U-BIX had refused
to take cognizance of the receipts presented during a quasi-judicial proceeding
before a public officer, then it would have been more likely that it ignored, if not
flat-out refused, to consider the said receipts when the same were presented by a
lowly employee.
Under the facts of the case, Bandiola is entitled to moral and exemplary
damages. There is no question that moral damages may be awarded in cases when
a wrongful act or omission has caused the complainant mental anguish, fright and
serious anxiety.[32] Articles 2217 and 2219, in connection with Article 21 of the
Civil Code, read:
Art. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright,
serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social
humiliation and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral
damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants
wrongful act for omission.
Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous
cases:
xxxx
(10)Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.
Art. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a
manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate
the latter for the damage.

U-BIX failed to perform its legal obligation to report to the SSS the injuries
suffered by Bandiola, and, thereafter, failed to extend the same financial aid it
extended to other employees who were involved in the same accident. After it was

shown the receipts for the medical expenses Bandiola paid for in connection with
the injuries, U-BIX unreasonably refused to reimburse him for the expenses. It is
not difficult to accept Bandiolas claim that he suffered mental anguish, serious
anxiety and fright when U-BIX left him without any options for financial support
while he was suffering from and rendered incapacitated by work-related
injuries. He was severely distressed by his plight that he felt that he could no
longer continue to work for U-BIX. U-BIXs unjustified and continued refusal to
reimburse Bandiolaafter it failed to report his injury to the SSS, despite the receipts
he presented, demonstrates bad faith. By singling out Bandiola from its other
employees, who were reimbursed for their medical expenses, and forcing him to
litigate for ten years in order to claim the unsubstantial amount of P7,742.50, UBIX was clearly indulging in malicious conduct.
As regards the award of moral damages, this Court has ruled that there is no
hard and fast rule in determining the fair amount for moral damages, since each
case must be governed by its own peculiar circumstances.[33] It should enable the
injured parties to obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to
alleviate the moral sufferings the injured party has undergone by reason of
defendants culpable action. In other words, the award of moral damages is aimed
at a restoration within the limits of the possible, of the spiritual and/or
psychological status quo ante; and therefore it must be proportionate to the
suffering inflicted. Therefore, in light of the sufferings sustained by Bandiola, this
Court sustains the award of P25,000.00 as moral damages.
Article 2229 of the Civil Code provides that exemplary damages may be
imposed by way of example or correction for public good.[34] It reads:
Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of
example or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate,
liquidated or compensatory damages.

Exemplary damages are designed to permit the courts to mould behavior that has
socially deleterious consequences, and their imposition is required by public policy
to suppress the wanton acts of the offender.[35]
The Labor Code provides for the medical expenses, as well as disability benefits of
workers suffering from work-related injuries and recognizes such compensation as
their right. Indeed, a system has been put in place for the prompt collection of the
benefits, which are given by law to injured employees. All that U-BIX was
required to do was to report the injury; it need not have defended itself from what
it perceived to be spurious claims. Instead, it took upon itself the duty of
determining the validity of Bandiolas claims and unjustifiably refused to reimburse
his properly receipted medical expenses. The prolonged litigation of his valid
claims is not the only miserable situation which the present labor laws sought to
prevent, but the pathetic situation wherein a laborer is placed at the mercy of his or
her employer for recompense that is his or hers by right. Exemplary damages are,
thus, rightfully imposed against U-BIX.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is DENIED. This
Court AFFIRMS the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals, promulgated
on 27 June 2002, finding U-BIX liable to Bandiola for P7,742.50 in actual
damages, P25,000.00 for moral damages and P25,000.00 in exemplary damages.
Costs against the petitioner.

THIRD DIVISION

JEFFREY O. TORREDA, G.R. No. 165960


Petitioner,
Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
TOSHIBA INFORMATION
EQUIPMENT (PHILS.), INC., Promulgated:
and GERARDO C. CRISTOBAL,
JR.,
Respondents. February 8, 2007
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court questioning the Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 76289 and the Resolution [2] denying the motion for
reconsideration thereof. The appellate court affirmed the November 15,
2002 Resolution[3] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in
NLRC RAB IV Case No. 3-10931-99-L (CA No. 023462-2000).
The Antecedents

Jeffrey O. Torreda was employed by Toshiba Information Equipment


(Phils.), Inc. as a finance assistant [4] (on a probationary basis) on July 1,
1997. He was mainly responsible for payroll processing and management,
and for the bookkeeping of T&P Properties, Inc. [5] Effective January 1,
1998, he was employed on a regular basis as finance accountant [6] under
the Finance and Accounting Department headed by Kazuo Kobayashi,
Vice-President, and Teresita Sepulveda, Finance Manager.[7] He was
tasked to do the following:
(i) processing of the payrolls of the employees of the Company, (ii)
maintenance of reports on year-to-date earnings and taxes withheld, monetary
benefits, and government contributions, (iii) preparation of vouchers related to
payroll accounts of the employees, (iv) preparation and reconciliation of payment
of taxes withheld and file tax returns, and (v) preparation of reportorial
requirements of government agencies and regulatory bodies.[8]

On May 22, 1998, Torreda and his four co-employees in the Finance and
Accounting Department reported to Senior Vice-President Hisao Tanaka
that, before and after the reorganization, Finance Manager Teresita
Sepulveda had ordered them to prepare petty cash vouchers in their
names and that the sums covered by the vouchers were received by
Sepulveda for her own personal use. [9] Tanaka told them that he would
bring the matter to Gerardo Cristobal, Jr., the Manager of the Human
Resources Department.[10] Consequently, Sepulveda was barred from
approving petty cash vouchers with an amount beyond P1,000.00. She was
also required to make monthly reports of petty cash vouchers to the Senior
Vice-President. Thus, restrictions were imposed on Sepulvedas authority to
approve petty cash vouchers.[11]

On July 22, 1998, Sepulveda opened Torredas personal computer and read
his Lotus Notes mail and other personal files, specifically the report he had
sent to Tanaka about her. She reprimanded Torreda and told him that he
should not send mails to Tanaka without her approval. [12] Upset over
Sepulvedas actuations, Torreda reported the incident via electronic mail (email) to Tanaka[13] on the same day. He complained that Sepulveda had no

right to open the computer because it was his, and it contained his personal
files. He told Tanaka that Sepulveda used to open the employees
computers; hence, she could no longer be trusted. [14]
Sepulveda filed a complaint against Torreda with the Human Resources
Department (HRD) for repeated tardiness during the period of April to July
1998.
On August 27, 1998, Sepulveda ordered Torreda to make a summary
of payroll overpayments from October 1996 to June 1998. [15] Torreda
refused and informed Sepulveda that all countermeasures for immediate
and long-term solutions had been identified, and that what was needed was
a strict implementation of countermeasures.[16] He further questioned the
propriety of his being ordered to prepare financial summaries starting
October 1996, when he was employed only onJuly 1, 1997. [17]
From September 1 to 3, 1998, Sepulveda received complaints from
separated employees regarding full salary claims, and from incumbent
employees on maternity and other benefits. Torreda failed to process the
claims before taking a leave of absence on September 3, 1998. In order to
retrieve the claimants payrolls and Social Security Services (SSS) files,
which Torreda kept in his drawer, Sepulveda, with prior approval from
Kobayashi, had the drawer forcibly opened by Ruben delosSantos, a staff
member of the General Administration Section. The drawer was opened in
the presence of Oscar Eusebio, Noralyn Florencio and Flor Berdin of the
Finance Department. The claims of the employees were later processed
and released.[18] As shown by official records, Torreda went to his office
on September 5, 1998, a Saturday, and stayed thereat for several hours.
On September 7, 1998, Sepulveda requested Torreda to submit his
key for duplication to prevent similar incidents. [19] Torreda refused.
Sepulveda sent a formal request via e-mail directing him to turn over his
drawer key to the General Administrator of the company for duplication and

to explain in writing why he refused to surrender his key. [20] Torreda replied
via e-mail to Sepulveda, to wit:
I WILL ONLY GIVE YOU THE DUPLICATE COPY (sic) IF YOU CAN PROVIDE
ME WITH OR (SIC) AN EXPLANATION OF THE FOLLOWING:
1.) TIP policy on Key duplication to be submitted to your possession (sic).
2.) Why is is (sic) that my Php 200.00 pesos (sic) in my drawer is missing (or
STOLEN, by WHO ELSE____)?? Because you are the only one who FORCIBLY
open (sic) my drawer without my knowledge. This is a plain and simple robbery
on your part[21]

Torreda furnished copies of this e-mail to Cristobal, Kobayashi, Tanaka


and N. Florencio, the Senior Manager of the HRD, Manager of General
Administration, Vice-President for Finance, Senior Vice-President and
Financial Analyst of the company, respectively.
Torreda then accomplished the company complaint form against
Sepulveda declaring that at 8:00 a.m. on September 7, 1998, he
discovered that two P100.00 bills he kept in his drawer were missing. He
noted that his drawer had been forcibly opened before by Ruben
delos Santos on Sepulvedas orders.[22]
On the same day, Sepulveda sent to the HRD a complaint/request for
investigation (via e-mail) regarding Torredas accusation and his abusive
and rude behavior.[23] The complaint reads:
This is to formally file a complaint against one of my staff, Mr. Jeffrey
Torreda. In this statement below, he blatantly accused me of robbery for
the P200.00 missing in his drawer. This is a fabrication of a story and I felt very
much humiliated by his words.
Would like to request for an investigation to be conducted to clear my
name of this incident. I cannot be silent and accept this as simple error when my
name and career are at stake. This is a clear case of misrepresentation. In my
position as the Finance Manager of TIP, integrity is the most important virtue that
I have to project and protect. Mr. Torreda, thru his misrepresentation particularly
to top management, caused damage to my image.
I pray for justice. Lest this act of Mr. Jeffrey Torreda will happen again.[24]

On September 7, 1998, a conference was held in the office of


Kobayashi between Torreda, Cristobal and Sepulveda. Torreda claimed
that Sepulveda never informed him that his drawer needed to be opened.
He pointed out that some employees of the Finance and Accounting
Section knew his contact numbers. Sepulveda, for her part, claimed that
she did not have the contact numbers of Torreda, hence, was unable to
contact him before his drawer was opened. Kobayashi told Sepulveda that
she should have the contact numbers of those in the Finance and
Accounting Section.
Maximo Dones of the General Administration Section conducted an
investigation of the complaint against Sepulveda. On September 8, 1998,
he submitted a Report where he declared that there was no factual basis
for Torredas robbery charge against Sepulveda.
In a separate development, the HRD issued a written warning on
September 10, 1998 to Torreda, in reference to his tardiness from April to
July 1998 (the matter Sepulveda had earlier complained of). [25]

The next day, September 11, 1998, Sepulveda and Kobayashi


directed Torreda to explain, in writing, within 48 hours why no disciplinary
action should be taken against him for the following violation against the
company:[26]
Offenses against the Company: Insubordination Refusal or neglecting to obey
the order of the supervisor or superior x x x. in reference to the Sept. 10 incident.
[27]

He was warned that failure to submit the Employees Written


Explanation Form within the given period would be considered as an
admission of the offense.[28]

Torreda, for his part, sent an e-mail message to Hisao Tanaka


on September 11, 1998, where he complained against Sepulveda for the
following offenses/violations:
A.) ABUSE OF POSITION IN THE COMPANY TO GAIN PROFIT OR
ADVANTAGE FROM THE EMPLOYEE
UNDER HER SUPERVISION. 1st Offense DISMISSAL
B.) UNAUTHORIZED OPENING OF ANOTHERS LOCKER, DRAWER
OR OFFICE 1st Offense DISMISSAL
C.) FALSIFYING COMPANY RECORDS AND OR DOCUMENTS
1ST Offense DISMISSAL
D.) FALSE REPORTING 1ST Offense DISMISSAL
E.) OTHER CASE OF DISHONESTY AND MISREPRESENTATION
1st OFFENSE DISMISSAL
F.) COERCING,
SUSPENSION

INTIMIDATING

AND

THREATENING

1st Offense

G.) CARELESSNESS OR NEGLIGENT SUBMISSION OF ANY ITEM OF


EXPENSE. 1st Offense DISMISSAL[29]

Meanwhile, Sepulveda approved Torredas paternity leave from


September 12 to September 21, 1998.[30] Torreda received the directive of
Sepulveda and Kobayashi on September 13, 1998, but failed to submit his
written explanation on the charges against him.
Torreda then applied for leave for the period beginning September 22,
1998 up to October 2, 1998, but Sepulveda disapproved the same. [31]
On October 2, 1998, the General Administration (GA) Department
recommended that Torreda be dismissed conformably with its findings that
he committed grave slander under the companys Employee Handbook.
Torreda submitted his written explanation [32] to Sepulvedas complaint
for grave slander only on October 6, 1998. He alleged that he had the right

to accuse Sepulveda of stealing because she was the one who ordered his
drawer forcibly opened. His charge of robbery against her was the normal
reaction of one who finds out that something he owns is missing due to an
unlawful act. He pointed out that he had been a victim of Sepulvedas
unauthorized acts on prior occasions. She repeatedly opened his computer
and his drawer on September 10 and 11, 1998 while he was on leave. Had
Sepulveda acted rightly, he (Torreda) would not have committed grave
slander against her.[33] He also pointed out that since his contact numbers
were known to his officemates, Sepulveda should have called him up
before ordering the opening of his drawer on September 3, 1998.[34]
In a letter[35] addressed to Hisao Tanaka dated October 7, 1998,
Torreda, Finance Supervisor Visitacion Agustin, and Finance Assistant
Rowena Alinas demanded that appropriate action be taken against
Sepulveda for various offenses or violations. They alleged that Sepulveda
had degraded and humiliated them (specifically Torreda); that she looked
into their personal computer files without authority; that she mishandled
and appropriated for herself the companys petty cash; that she forcibly
opened the drawer of Torreda resulting in the loss of documents and
money; that there were cases of negligent payment of SSS contribution
and under-declaration of withholding tax due to Sepulvedas fault; that
Torreda was warned for tardiness without due process; that Sepulveda
unjustifiably disapproved Torredas leave application; that Torreda was
stripped of his duties and responsibilities and given new ones alien to him;
that she intimidated Torreda by ordering the removal of his Lotus Notes
Software from his computer without any explanation; that she deliberately
caused the payments of allowances to employees who were not entitled
thereto and the deduction of performance bonuses from employees so
entitled; and that overpayments of salaries to several employees occurred
due to Sepulvedas negligence in checking the payroll.
On October 14, 1998, Torreda received a letter [36] from Gerardo
Cristobal, Jr. informing him that his employment had been terminated
effective at the end of official working hours on that day, for grave slander,

which under the Employee Handbook is punishable by dismissal. [37] The


letter of termination reads:

After a thorough review and evaluation of the Grave Slander charge by your
superior and your reply/explanation, the following points become relevant; (sic)

1. While we have a policy prohibiting unauthorized opening of Employee


lockers/drawers, your superior, Ms. Teresita Sepulveda sought the approval of
your Department Head/Vice President. This approval made the action of opening
your drawer authorized and official.
2. Your Department Head/Vice President authorized the opening of your drawer to
locate and retrieve vital documents needed last September which was (sic) under
your custody.
3. Several employees witnessed the opening and the retrieval of the said vital
documents from your drawer by your superior and testified they did not see any
money inside the drawer nor any taken by your superior.
4. Your claim that there was (sic) Pesos 200 in your drawer is not substantiated.
5. You reported the alleged loss to GA on Monday, September 7, 1998 yet you
spent several hours at the office the previous Saturday, September 5, 1998 per our
official records. Mr. Maximino Dones of General Affairs did not receive any
report of loss then. It would seem natural for an Employee to report immediately
the loss of his money upon discovering that his drawer was opened.
6. Prudence and common sense dictate that personal properties including money
should not be left behind (sic) in drawers and lockers which are Company
properties.

Based on the Investigation Report submitted by Mr. Maximino Dones


on September 8, 1998 of General Affairs on your alleged theft complaint and the
above considerations, we find your complaint against Ms. Sepulveda without
basis and merit. Consequently, there is basis in the charge of Grave Slander
against you by Ms. T. Sepulveda when you called her a robber in your e-mail
dated September 7, 1998 addressed to her.

Your false accusation has caused her undue embarrassment and has cast aspersion
on her character as Manager of TIP. This is strengthened by the fact that you
furnished a copy of the said e-mail to other parties, e.g., K. Kobayashi, R. Suarez,
N. Florencio and H. Tanaka.

As a subordinate, you (sic) action shows an utter disrespect and disregard to her
as a person of authority and the Company considers this a grave and serious
violation of our existing policies on Offenses Related to Conduct and Behavior.
And as stated in our Employee Handbook, the penalty for Grave Slander is
Dismissal for the first offense.

In view hereof, you are hereby formally informed that your employment with
Toshiba Information Equipment (Phils.), is terminated effective at the end of
official working hours today October 14, 1998.

Please comply with the relevant post-employment requirement of the Company


by surrendering your accountabilities to HRA through Ms. Candice Cipriano to
enable us to process your last salary.

(Sgd.) GERARDO C. CRISTOBAL, JR.


Senior Manager, HRA[38]

On March 23, 1999, Torreda filed a complaint [39] for illegal dismissal against
Cristobal and Toshiba. The case was docketed as NLRC RAB IV Case No.
3-10931-99-L.
On February 15, 2000, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision,
[40]
declaring that Torredas dismissal from employment was unjustified. The
series of events indicated that Torreda was harassed by Sepulveda
because of his expos of irregularities she had committed. The opening of
his drawer formed part of her harassment tactics. [41] Thus, Torreda had all

the right to demand an explanation for the forcible opening of his computer
files and drawer which resulted in the loss of some amount of money.[42]
The Labor Arbiter also ruled that respondent Toshiba did not observe
the rudiments of due process in terminating Torredas employment. The
result of the investigation on the charges against him came out on October
2, 1998, or four days before Torreda submitted his written explanation to
the charges.[43] The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, respondent company is found
guilty of illegal dismissal and is hereby ordered to reinstate the complainant to
his former position without loss of seniority rights and to pay him backwages in
the amount of P238,745.00 [(P14,692.00 x 15 months = P220,380.00) + (13th
month pay P220,380.00/12 = P18,365.00)] computed from the time of dismissal
up to the date of this decision. In the event that reinstatement is no longer
possible, respondent company is hereby ordered to pay complainant separation
pay in the amount of P44,076.00 (P14,692.00 x 3 years) plus backwages.
SO ORDERED.[44]

Aggrieved by the decision, respondents appealed the case to the NLRC.


[45]
They maintained that the sending of an e-mail message containing
insulting and offensive words, and false and malicious statements against
his immediate superior (Sepulveda), clearly intended to cause dishonor, is
not only destructive of the morale of his co-employees and violative of
company rules and regulations; it also constitutes serious misconduct that
would justify dismissal from employment.[46] The requirement of due
process was further met, since the termination of the complainant was
made on October 14, 1998, or eight (8) days after the company received
his explanation to the charges against him. [47]
On November 15, 2002, the NLRC reversed the decision of the Labor
Arbiter.[48] The NLRC ratiocinated that the complainant committed the
infraction of accusing his immediate superior of stealing P200.00 and
calling her a robber (through an e-mail message), without any evidence at
all, and forwarding copies to the other officers of the company. The NLRC
declared that this infraction constitutes serious misconduct, a just cause for
dismissal under Article 282(a) of the Labor Code, as amended.

The NLRC declared that considering the urgency of the situation, it


was necessary to open the drawer of Torreda: there had been numerous
follow-ups from separated employees regarding their pending final salary
payments, and from incumbent employees claiming maternity and sickness
benefits under the SSS, and processing these applications was part of
complainants responsibilities. Moreover, the opening of the drawer was
conducted in the presence of Oscar Eusebio, Noralyn Florencio and Flor
Berdin, who were employees of the Finance Section, with prior notice to
Kobayashi, Vice-President for Finance.[49]
The NLRC further held that disrespect to company officials and staff
members constitutes serious misconduct which means a transgression of
some
established
rule
of
action,
a
forbidden
act,
a
dereliction. Consequently, pursuant to Article 279 of the Labor Code of
the Philippines, as amended, the complainant is not entitled to
reinstatement to his former position without loss of seniority rights and
privileges, or to payment of any separation pay, in lieu of reinstatement, or
payment of any backwages and other benefits. [50] The NLRC cited the ruling
of this Court in Gutierrez v. Baron.[51] The dispositive portion of the decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Appeal is hereby GRANTED.
Accordingly, the Decision appealed from is VACATED and a new one ENTERED
dismissing the instant case for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.[52]

When his motion for reconsideration [53] was denied by the NLRC in
its January
27,
2003 Resolution,[54] Torreda
filed
a
petition
for certiorari[55] before the CA onApril 1, 2003. He alleged that the NLRC
committed grave and patent abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in setting aside the Labor Arbiters decision and in
finding that his dismissal was justified.[56]
Unpersuaded, the CA rendered judgment dismissing the petition
on February 27, 2004.[57] It affirmed the NLRC ruling dismissing petitioners

complaint. However, the appellate court found that petitioner committed


grave slander when he concocted the charge of theft against Sepulveda,
the penalty for which, under the Employees Handbook, is dismissal. [58]
Petitioner timely filed his motion for reconsideration [59] which the appellate
court denied in its May 13, 2004 resolution.[60]
Petitioner, thus, filed the instant petition insisting that the Court of
Appeals seriously erred in holding that the dismissal of the petitioner was
legal.[61]
Petitioner contends that the ground for his termination does not fall among
the just causes stated in Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended. [62] The
alleged grave slander was in response to Sepulvedas September 7,
1998 e-mail requesting him to submit the key of his drawer for duplication.
[63]
He reacted in that manner because Sepulveda had previously harassed
him.[64] In fact, he wrote Tanaka, on September 11, 1998, requesting for
assistance on the offenses committed by his direct superior. Instead of
penalizing Sepulveda, however, respondent Toshiba dismissed him from
the service for alleged grave slander.[65]
In their Comment,[66] respondents Toshiba and HR Manager
Cristobal assert that the issues raised by petitioner involve questions of fact
and not of law, which are improper in an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45.
[67]
The factual findings and conclusion of the NLRC, which were affirmed by
the CA, should be accorded with respect and finality.[68]
The petition is denied for lack of merit.

It bears stressing that what petitioner filed before the CA was one
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Thus, he was burdened
to prove that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to

excess or lack of jurisdiction when it dismissed his petition. The Court has
invariably defined grave abuse of discretion, thus:
x x x By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, and it must
be
shown
that
the
discretion
was
exercised
arbitrarily
or
despotically. For certiorari to lie, there must be a capricious, arbitrary and
whimsical exercise of power, the very antithesis of the judicial prerogative in
accordance with centuries of both civil law and common law traditions.[69]

Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. [70] The only question involved
is jurisdiction, either the lack or excess thereof, and abuse of discretion
warrants the issuance of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari only when
the same is grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or
despotic manner by reason of passion, prejudice or personal hostility. A writ
of certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction
and not errors of judgment. [71] An error of judgment is one which the court
may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction, which error is reversible only
by an appeal.[72] In Cosep v. NLRC,[73] this Court held that decisions of
administrative agencies which are declared final by law are not exempt
from judicial review for want of substantial basis in fact and in law.
A careful review of the decisions of the NLRC and the CA reveal that
they differ on their bases for the dismissal of petitioners complaint. The
NLRC declared that the charge of robbery which was fabricated by
petitioner against his immediate superior, Sepulveda, constitutes serious
misconduct punishable by dismissal under Article 282(a) of the Labor
Code; in contrast, the CA ruled that petitioner committed grave slander - an
act punishable by dismissal under the Employees Handbook.
We hold that the CA correctly affirmed the NLRC Resolution ordering
the Labor Arbiter to dismiss petitioners complaint. However, the appellate
court erred in ruling that petitioner committed grave slander against
Sepulveda and in applying the Employees Handbook as basis for his
dismissal.

The rule in labor cases is that the burden is on the employer to prove
that the dismissal of an employee is for a just or valid cause. Evidence
must be clear, convincing and free from any inference that the prerogative
to dismiss an employee was abused and unjustly used by the employer to
further any vindictive end.[74]In this case, respondent Toshiba adequately
proved that petitioner was dismissed for just cause.
The NLRC did not err much less commit grave abuse of its discretion
when it based its ruling on Article 282(a) of the Labor Code on its finding
that petitioner committed serious misconduct for falsely accusing his
immediate superior of robbery. As the Court held in Villanueva v. People:[75]
Slander is libel committed by oral (spoken) means, instead of in writing.
The term oral defamation or slander as now understood, has been defined as the
speaking of base and defamatory words which tend to prejudice another in his
reputation, office, trade, business or means of livelihood.
There is grave slander when it is of a serious and insulting nature. The
gravity of the oral defamation depends not only (1) upon the expressions used,
but also (2) on the personal relations of the accused and the offended party, and
(3) the circumstances surrounding the case. Indeed, it is a doctrine of ancient
respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending
not only upon their sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary
meaning judging them separately, but also upon the special circumstances of the
case, antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender,
which might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.[76]

The false attribution by the petitioner of robbery (theft) against


Sepulveda was made in writing; patently then, petitioner committed libel,
not grave slander against Sepulveda. The malicious and public imputation
in writing by one of a crime on another is libel under Article 353, in relation
to Article 355, of the Revised Penal Code which reads:
Art. 353. Definition of libel. A libel is a public and malicious imputation of a
crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition,
status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a
natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

xxx
Art. 355. Libel by means of writings or similar means. A libel committed by
means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting,
theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be
punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine
ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may
be brought by the offended party.

Indeed, an employee may be dismissed from employment for acts


punishable by dismissal under Article 282(a) of the Labor Code, which
reads:
Article 282. Termination by employer. An
employment for any of the following causes:

employer

may

terminate

an

(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful


orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work; x x x

In Fujitsu Computer Products Corporation of the Philippines v. Court of


Appeals,[77] the Court explained the nature of serious misconduct as a
ground for dismissal from employment:
Misconduct has been defined as improper or wrong conduct. It is the
transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a
dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere
error of judgment. The misconduct to be serious must be of such grave and
aggravated character and not merely trivial and unimportant. Such misconduct,
however, serious, must nevertheless be in connection with the employees work
to constitute just cause for his separation. Thus, for misconduct or improper
behavior to be a just cause for dismissal, (a) it must be serious; (b) must relate to
the performance of the employees duties; and (c) must show that the employee
has become unfit to continue working for the employer. Indeed, an employer may
not be compelled to continue to employ such person whose continuance in the
service would be patently inimical to his employers interest.[78]

There is abundant evidence on record showing that petitioner committed


libel against his immediate superior, Sepulveda, an act constituting serious
misconduct which warrants the dismissal from employment.

Petitioner maliciously and publicly imputed on Sepulveda the crime of


robbery of P200.00. As gleaned from his Complaint dated September 7,
1999 which he filed with the General Administration, he knew that it was
Delos Santos who opened his drawer and not Sepulveda. Thus, by his own
admission, petitioner was well aware that the robbery charge against
Sepulveda was a concoction, a mere fabrication with the sole purpose of
retaliating against Sepulvedas previous acts.
The records show that Sepulveda was impelled to forcibly open petitioners
drawer. She needed to retrieve the benefits applications of retirees and
incumbent employees of respondent-corporation, which petitioner had
failed to process for payment before his leave. The claimants sought to
have their claims approved and released with dispatch. Before opening
petitioners drawer, Sepulveda saw to it that she had Kobayashis approval.
Delos Santos opened the drawer of petitioner in the presence of his coemployees in the Financial Section. Thereafter, the claims were processed
and payments were effected. Thus, Sepulveda acted in good faith. [79]
Petitioner admitted that his charge of robbery/theft against Sepulveda was
baseless, but claimed that he fabricated the charge because of his
exasperation and anger at Sepulvedas repeated acts of opening his drawer
without prior permission while he was on leave, not only on September 7,
1998 but also on September 10 and 11, 1998; he also pointed out that
Sepulveda looked into his personal files in his computer. In fine, by falsely
ascribing a crime to Sepulveda, petitioner was merely retaliating against
perceived misdeeds she had committed against him. However, the manner
resorted to by petitioner of redressing the wrong committed by Sepulveda
is a criminal act. As the adage goes, the end cannot justify the means used
by petitioner.
In St. Michaels Institute v. Santos,[80] this Court held that the employers right
to conduct the affairs of his business, according to its own discretion and
judgment, is well-recognized. An employer has a free reign and enjoys wide
latitude of discretion to regulate all aspects of employment, including the

prerogative to instill discipline in its employees and to impose penalties,


including dismissal, upon erring employees. This is a management
prerogative, where the free will of management to conduct its own affairs to
achieve its purpose takes form. [81] The law, in protecting the rights of
workers, authorizes neither oppression nor self-destruction of the employer.
[82]

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The


Decision of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 76289 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Associate Justice

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,

G.R. No. 173792

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:

- versus -

ROSARIO ROSE OCHOA,


Accused-Appellant.

August 31, 2011


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
For Our consideration is an appeal from the Decision [1] dated March 2,
2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00888, which
affirmed with modification the Decision[2] dated April 17, 2000 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Quezon City, Branch 104, in Criminal Case
Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303. The RTC found accused-appellant Rosario
Rose Ochoa (Ochoa) guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined
and penalized under Article II, Section 6 in relation to Section 7(b) of
Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the "Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," in Criminal Case No. 98-77300; and of the
crime of estafa, as defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of
the Revised Penal Code, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and
98-77303.
The Information filed before the RTC and docketed as Criminal Case No.
98-77300, charged Ochoa with illegal recruitment in large scale, allegedly
committed as follows:

That on or about the period covering the months of February 1997 up to April 1998 or immediately
before or subsequent thereto in Quezon City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above name accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Robert Gubat, Junior
Agustin, Cesar Aquino, Richard Luciano, Fernando Rivera, Mariano R. Mislang, Helen B. Palogo,
Joebert Decolongon, Corazon S. Austria, Cristopher A. Bermejo, Letecia D. Londonio, Alma Borromeo,
Francisco Pascual, Raymundo A. Bermejo and Rosemarie A. Bermejo for a consideration ranging
from P2,000.00 to P32,000.00 or a total amount of P124,000.00as placement fee which the complainants paid
to herein accused without the accused having secured the necessary license from the Department of Labor and
Employment.[3](Emphases supplied.)

Three other Informations were filed before the RTC and docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and 98-77303, this time charging
Ochoa with three counts of estafa, committed separately upon three private
complainants Robert Gubat (Gubat), Cesar Aquino (Cesar), and Junior
Agustin (Agustin), respectively.The Information in Criminal Case No. 9877301 accuses Ochoa of the following acts constituting estafa:
That on or about March 3, 1998 in Quezon City, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above name accused did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit and promise employment in Taiwan to
one ROBERT GUBAT for a consideration of P18,800.00 as placement fee,
knowing that she has no power, capacity or lawful authority whatsoever and with
no intention to fulfill her said promise, but merely as pretext, scheme or excuse to
get and exact money from said complainant, as she did in fact collect and
received the amount of P18,800.00 from said Robert Gubat, to his damage and
prejudice.[4] (Emphases supplied.)

The two other Informations for estafa were similarly worded as the
aforequoted Information, except as to the name of the private complainants
and the amount purportedly collected by Ochoa from them, particularly:
Docket No.

Private Complainant

Amount Collected

Criminal Case No. 98-77302[5]

Cesar Aquino

P19.000.00

Criminal Case No. 98-77303[6]

Junior Agustin

P32,000.00

As prayed for by the State Prosecutor, all four criminal cases against
Ochoa before the RTC were consolidated. When arraigned, Ochoa pleaded
not guilty.Thereafter, joint trial of the four criminal cases ensued.

The prosecution presented as witnesses Cory Aquino (Cory) of the


Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and private complainants
Gubat, Agustin, Francisco Pascual (Pascual), Rosemarie Bermejo
(Rosemarie), Cesar, Christopher Bermejo (Christopher), Joebert
Decolongon (Decolongon), and Fernando Rivera (Rivera).
According to private complainants, they were recruited by Ochoa from
January to March 1998 for various jobs in either Taiwan or Saudi Arabia,
under the following circumstances:
1. In the second week of February 1998, Ochoa was introduced to Robert
Gubat, a licensed electrical engineer and a resident of Pulang Lupa, Las
Pias, through a certain Nila, Gubats neighbor, who had a pending
application for work abroad with Ochoa. Ochoa talked to Gubat on the
telephone, and during their conversation, Ochoa told Gubat that one of her
applicants was already leaving for Taiwan. Per Ochoas instruction, Gubat
met with Francisco Pascual, who accompanied him to Ochoas house in
San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City, and personally introduced Gubat
to Ochoa. Gubat submitted his rsum to Ochoa, which Ochoa would bring to
Axil International Agency where Ochoa was working as a recruiter. Right
after browsing through Gubats rsum, Ochoa informed Gubat that as an
engineer, Gubat was qualified to work as a factory supervisor and could
leave for Taiwan in two weeks or in March 1998. Ochoa also told Gubat
that the total application expenses would amount to 100,000.00, and the
downpayment was 50,000.00. Gubat was able to actually pay Ochoa
18,800.00 as reservation fee at the agency; processing fee for Gubats
papers at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Malacaang, and
Embassy of Taiwan; and medical examination fee. Ochoa, however, only
issued to Gubat three receipts, dated March 3, March 31, and April 6, all in
the

year

1998,

in

the

amount

of P5,000.00

each

or

total

of P15,000.00. Gubat started to worry when he was not able to leave for

abroad as Ochoa promised and when she failed to show up at their


arranged meetings. When Gubat was finally able to talk to Ochoa, Ochoa
again promised him that he would be leaving for abroad soon. Despite
Ochoas renewed promise, Gubat was still not able to leave the
country. Gubat then demanded that Ochoa return his documents and
money. When Ochoa failed to comply with his demand, Gubat filed a report
against Ochoa at Barangay (Brgy.) San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon
City. On May 21, 1998, he met the other private complainants [7] who had
similar complaints against Ochoa. When nothing came out of the
confrontation with Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Gubat and the other
private complainants filed a joint complaint against Ochoa before the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).[8]
2. The paths of Junior Agustin and Ochoa crossed on February 2,
1998. Agustin, a farmer, was staying at the home of Pascual, his cousin, at
No. 4 Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City. When Ochoa arrived at Pascuals
home, Pascual introduced Ochoa to Agustin as a recruiter for overseas
workers in Taiwan. Interested in working abroad, Agustin submitted his biodata to Ochoa at the latters residence at Phase 1, Lot 3, San Bartolome,
Novaliches, Quezon City. Ochoa promised Agustin that he would be fielded
as a factory worker in Taiwan for three years, earning a monthly salary
of P18,000.00. Ochoa then informed Agustin that the total placement fee
for Taiwan is P80,000.00. Agustin initially paid Ochoa the sum
of P28,000.00 as processing fee. Ochoa then promised that Agustin could
leave for Taiwan in two months. However, the two months passed, but
there was still no overseas employment for Agustin. Agustin was compelled
to file a complaint against Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome,
Novaliches, Quezon City. Agustin met the other private complainants
during the barangay hearing on May 21, 1998. Ochoa was also present at
said hearing. Given the unsuccessful barangay hearing, Agustin and the
other private complainants lodged a complaint against Ochoa before the
NBI.[9]

3. Francisco Pascual, presently jobless and a resident of Gulod,


Novaliches, Quezon City, learned from a neighbor of one Mrs. Bermejo that
her son was being helped by Ochoa, a recruiter, to find a job
abroad. Pascual went to Mrs. Bermejos house in January 1998, and met
Ochoa for the first time. Ochoa invited Pascual to apply for a job abroad,
saying that the latter could leave within two weeks. During Pascuals visit at
Ochoas house at Blk. 1, Lot 1, San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City,
Ochoa promised Pascual employment as a driver salesman in Saudi
Arabia, with a monthly salary of P18,000.00. Ochoa told Pascual that the
placement fee would be P7,000.00 and that Pascual should already have
his medical examination so that the position in Saudi Arabia could be
reserved for him. Since his visa had not yet arrived, Pascual did not pay
any placement fee to Ochoa. Pascual did undergo medical examination at
St. Peter Medical Clinic in Ermita, Manila, for which he paid P2,600.00 to
Ochoa. Pascual though did not receive the results of his medical
examination because according to Ochoa, the same was withheld by the
clinic. Despite Ochoas promises, Pascual was not able to leave for Saudi
Arabia. At that time, Pascual was still employed as a Field Coordinator with
Selecta, but because of his frequent absences, spent following-up on his
application for work abroad, he was fired. Pascual filed a complaint against
Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. As nothing
happened during the confrontation with Ochoa at the barangay hearing
on May 21, 1998, Pascual and the other private complainants filed a
complaint before the NBI.[10]
4. Rosemarie Bermejo came to know of Ochoa through Rivera, a friend of
Rosemaries mother. Rosemarie first met Ochoa at the latters home
in Quezon Citysometime in January 1998. Rosemarie was promised by
Ochoa employment for three years in Saudi Arabia as clerk/typist, earning
US$400.00. Rosemarie was also instructed by Ochoa to have a medical
examination and secure a passport and NBI clearance. Rosemarie and her
brothers, who also applied for jobs abroad, were accompanied by Ochoa to
the St. Peter Medical Clinic in Malate, Manila for their medical examination
on February 27, 1998. Rosemarie and her brother each handed over to
Ochoa P2,600.00 for their medical examinations, and it was Ochoa who
gave the payment to the clinic. Rosemarie and her brothers then
spent P55.00 each to secure NBI clearances for travel abroad. In addition,
Rosemarie gave Ochoa P5,500.00 on April 17, 1998; and although not
secured by a receipt, said payment was witnessed by Rosemaries mother
and Imelda Panuga, the landlord of Rosemaries mother, who lent

Rosemarie the P5,500.00. During their initial meeting in January 1998,


Ochoa said that Rosemarie could already leave for abroad in two
weeks. Since Rosemarie was not able to complete the requirements, her
departure for Saudi Arabia was moved to April 19, 1998. On April 19, 1998,
Ochoa requested Rosemarie to go to the office of Al Arab Agency located
at Jalandoni Building, Ermita, Manila, to which Ochoa was purportedly
connected. Rosemarie waited at the Al Arab Agency until noon, but no one
came to pick her up. Later, at the same day, Ochoa invited Rosemarie to
her house for the birthday celebration of her father. There, Ochoa explained
that Rosemarie was unable to leave for Saudi Arabia because the Al Arab
Agency has yet to secure Rosemaries Overseas Employment Certificate
(OEC). Ochoa advised Rosemarie to stay at the rented apartment of
Rosemaries mother because it was close to Ochoas house and would be
more convenient as Rosemarie could leave for abroad any day soon. When
none of Ochoas promises came to fruition, Rosemarie, together with the
other private complainants, first sought redress from Brgy. San Bartolome,
Novaliches, Quezon City, and then from the NBI.[11]
5. It was Pascual who introduced Cesar Aquino, a resident of Cubao, to
Ochoa at the latters residence in San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City,
sometime in February 1998. When Cesar directly asked Ochoa if she was
a recruiter, the latter answered in the affirmative. Cesar applied to work as
a factory worker in Taiwan.Ochoa told Cesar that as a factory worker, he
could earn at least P15,000.00 a month. On March 13, 1998, Cesar handed
over P17,000.00 to Ochoa to cover his processing fee and medical
examination. On the same day, Cesar had his medical examination at St.
Peter Medical Clinic. Ochoa then promised that Cesar could leave two
weeks thereafter. When two weeks had passed and he was not able to
leave for Taiwan, Cesar demanded that Ochoa return his money. Ochoa
failed to comply with Cesars demand, and Cesar instituted a complaint
against Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. At the
hearing attended by Ochoa, Cesar, and the other private complainants
before the Barangay Lupon, Ochoa signed a Kasunduan, agreeing to
return the money to private complainants. Again, Ochoa failed to fulfill her
promise to return the money paid by Cesar, thus, the latter, together with
the other complainants, filed a complaint with the NBI. [12]
6. Christopher Bermejo met Ochoa at the house of his mother in
Novaliches, Quezon City in January 1998. Also present at the house were
Fernando Bermejo, Christophers brother, and Richard Luciano. Ochoa
promised that after a week, Christopher would already be deployed

to Saudi Arabia as an accountant, earning 250-350 Saudi Riyals. As a


result, Christopher immediately resigned from his job at the Development
Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Christophers mother paid Ochoa P5,000.00
as processing fee for Christophers application. A week passed and Ochoa
failed to send Christopher to Saudi Arabia for work. When Rosemarie and
Raymundo Bermejo (Raymundo), Christophers sister and brother,
respectively, also failed to leave for work abroad as promised by Ochoa,
Christopher, Rosemarie, and their mother went to see Ochoa at an office at
the Jalandoni Building, Ermita, Manila. Ochoa explained that Christopher
and his siblings could not leave yet because there are other documents
that still need to be accomplished. Ochoa said that she would just notify
Christopher and his siblings of their scheduled departure.When they still did
not receive any notification from Ochoa, Rosemarie, Raymundo, and their
mother returned to the office at the Jalandoni Building and found out that
their placement fees were not given to said office. Christopher joined the
other private complainants in filing a complaint against Ochoa before the
NBI.[13]
7. Joebert Decolongon is a resident of Sta. Maxima, Gulod,
Novaliches, Quezon City, and works as a bus conductor. Decolongon was
introduced to Ochoa by Rivera, Decolongons friend, at Riveras house
on Villareal Street, Gulod, Novaliches. Ochoa informed Decolongon that
there was a vacancy for the position of janitor in Saudi Arabia, with a
monthly salary of 800 Saudi Riyals. Decolongon submitted his application,
birth certificate, and passport to Ochoa. Ochoa also went to Decolongons
house and collected from Decolongons wife the initial amount of P2,000.00
as placement fee. The rest of Decolongons placement fees would be paid
by one-month salary deduction. Trusting Ochoa, neither Decolongon nor
his wife demanded a receipt. When Ochoa failed to deploy Decolongon for
employment abroad, Decolongon too filed a complaint against Ochoa
before Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. Without a successful
resolution at the barangay level, Decolongon joined the private
complainants in filing a complaint against Ochoa before the NBI. [14]
8. Sometime in January 1998, Ochoa was accompanied by a certain Amy
to Fernando Riveras residence at 27 Villareal Street, Novaliches, Quezon
City. Ochoa first talked to Riveras mother who had previously worked
abroad. Ochoa then also offered work to Rivera, either as tea boy or janitor
in the army in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Rivera chose to work as a tea boy, with
a salary of 800 to 1,000 Saudi Riyals. Ochoa said that Rivera would be

deployed in the first week of February 1998. Ochoa required Rivera to


submit NBI clearance, passport, and pictures, but Rivera submitted only his
NBI clearance. In January 1998, Rivera paid Ochoa P2,000.00 as she
would be the one to secure Riveras passport. In March 1998, Rivera
handed over his ring and necklace, worth of P10,000.00, to Ochoa to cover
his processing and medical examination fees. Rivera did not require a
receipt from Ochoa because he trusted Ochoa, who was his mothers
friend. When Rivera failed to leave in February 1998, Ochoa explained that
Riveras departure was postponed until March 1998 due to Ramadan. After
the period of Ramadan, Rivera was still not able to leave for Saudi
Arabia. Rivera then filed a complaint against Ochoa before Brgy. San
Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. Ochoa promised to return to Rivera
his jewelries and P2,000.00, but Ochoa did not appear at
the barangay hearing set on April 30, 1998. Thus, Rivera and the other
private complainants proceeded to file a complaint against Ochoa before
the NBI.[15]
Cory C. Aquino of the POEA authenticated the Certification dated June 3,
1998, issued by Hermogenes C. Mateo (Mateo), Director, Licensing Branch
of the POEA, that Ochoa, in her personal capacity, is neither licensed nor
authorized by the POEA to recruit workers for overseas employment. Cory
identified Director Mateos signature on the Certification, being familiar with
the same. The Certification was issued after a check of the POEA records
pursuant to a request for certification from the NBI. Cory, however, admitted
that she did not participate in the preparation of the Certification, as the
NBIs request for certification was through a counter transaction, and
another person was in charge of verification of counter transactions. [16]
Ochoa testified on her own behalf.
Ochoa stated under oath that she was employed by AXIL International
Services and Consultant (AXIL) as recruiter on December 20, 1997. AXIL
had a temporary license to recruit Filipino workers for overseas
employment. Ochoa worked at AXIL from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and was
paid on a commission basis. She admitted recruiting private complainants
and receiving from them the following amounts as placement and medical
fees:
Private Complainant
Robert Gubat

Amounts Collected
P18,000.00 for placement and medical fees[17]

Junior Agustin
Francisco Pascual
Rosemarie Bermejo
Cesar Aquino
Christopher Bermejo
Joebert Decolongon
Fernando Rivera

P22,000.00 for placement and medical fees[18]


P 2,000.00 for medical fee[19]
P 2,600.00 for medical fee[20]
P 19,000.00 for placement and medical fees[21]
P 2,600.00 for medical fee[22]
P 6,000.00 for medical fee[23]
P 2,000.00 for medical fee[24]

Ochoa claimed though that she remitted private complainants money to a


person named Mercy, the manager of AXIL, but AXIL failed to issue
receipts because the private complainants did not pay in full. [25]
On April 17, 2000, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Ochoa guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal recruitment in large scale
(Criminal Case No. 98-77300) and three counts of estafa (Criminal Case
Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, 98-77303). The dispositive portion of said
Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 98-77300, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO ROSE OCHOA, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt as principal of ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE, defined and penalized in
Section 6 in relation to Section 7 (b) of Republic Act No. 8042, and sentences her to life imprisonment and a
fine of One Million Pesos.
2. In Criminal Case No. 98-77301, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO ROSE OCHOA, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph
2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty
(20) days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Robert Gubat in the amount of Eighteen
Thousand Eight Hundred (P18,800.00) Pesos.

3. In Criminal Case No. 98-77302, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO ROSE OCHOA, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph
2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty
(20) days of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Cesar Aquino in the amount of
Seventeen Thousand (P17,000.00) Pesos.

4. In Criminal Case No. 98-77303, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO ROSE OCHOA, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph
2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and twentyone (21) days of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Junior Agustin in the amount of
Twenty-Eight Thousand (P28,000.00) Pesos.[26]

Ochoa filed a Notice of Appeal[27] in which she stated her intention to


appeal the RTC judgment of conviction and prayed that the records of her
case be forwarded to the Court of Appeals. Ochoas appeal was docketed
as CA-G.R. CR. No. 24147 before the Court of Appeals.
In a Resolution[28] dated August 8, 2000, the Court of Appeals granted
Ochoas First Motion for Extension of Time to file her brief.
Ochoa filed her Appellants Brief on September 4, 2000[29] while the
People, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its
Appellees Brief on March 1, 2001.[30]
The Special Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals promulgated
its Decision[31] dated June 17, 2002 affirming the appealed RTC decision
dated April 17, 2000. Ochoa filed a Motion for Reconsideration,[32] which the
People opposed for being bereft of merit. [33]
In its Resolution[34] dated August 6, 2003, the Court of Appeals
declared that it had no jurisdiction over Ochoas appeal, ratiocinating thus:
We affirmed this judgment on 17 June 2002. While neither the accused-appellant nor the Office of the
Solicitor General representing the people ever raised the issue of jurisdiction, our second look at the suit proved
worthwhile because we came to realize that we mistakenly assumed jurisdiction over this case where it does
not obtain.
It was error to consider accused-appellants appeal from a trial court judgment imposing life
imprisonment in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77300 for illegal recruitment in a large scale. Consequently, the
judgment we rendered dated 17 June 2002 is null and void. No less than Article VIII, 5(2)(d) of the Constitution
proscribes us from taking jurisdiction
SECTION 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxxx
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or Rules of
Court may provide, final judgments and orders of the lower court in:
xxxx
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher
17(1) of the Judiciary Act of 1948 reiterates
SECTION 17. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify or
affirm on appeal, as the law or rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of
inferior courts as herein provided, in
(1)
All criminal cases involving offenses for which the penalty imposed is
life imprisonment; and those involving offenses which, although not so punished, arose out
of the same occurrences or which may have been committed by the accused on the same
occasion as that giving rise to the more serious offense, regardless of whether the accused
are charged as principals, accomplices, or accessories, or whether they have been tried
jointly or separately; x x x.

3 of Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure likewise declares


SEC. 3. How appeal taken.
(c) The appeal to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional
Trial Court is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, or where a lesser penalty is imposed
but for offenses committed on the same occasion or which arose out of the same
occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of
death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is impose[d], shall be by filing a notice of
appeal in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.
Even if only in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77300 was the penalty of life imprisonment meted out, we still
cannot consider the appeal of the verdict in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 to 98-77303 for as the Supreme
Court clearly clarified
An appeal of a single decision cannot be split between two courts. The splitting of
appeals is not conclusive to the orderly administration of justice and invites possible conflict
of dispositions between the reviewing courts. Specifically, the Court of Appeals has no
jurisdiction to review an appeal of a judgment imposing an indeterminate sentence, if the
same ruling also imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment and death for crimes
arising out of the same facts. In other words, the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction
over appeals of criminal cases in which the penalty imposed below is reclusion perpetua,
life imprisonment or death, even if the same decision orders, in addition, a lesser penalty or
penalties for crimes arising out of the same occurrence or facts.
It will be seen that Robert Gubat, private complainant in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77301, Cesar
Aquino, private complainant in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77302 and Junior Agustin, private complainant in
Criminal Case No. Q-98-77303 were also the private complainant in the illegal recruitment in a large scale suit,
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-98-77300. As gleaned from the charges, the estafa cases were intimately
related to or arose from the facts and occurrences of the alleged illegal recruitment. Clearly, we have no
recourse but to refuse cognizance over the estafa cases as well.[35]

Despite its lack of jurisdiction over Ochoas appeal, the Court of Appeals did
not dismiss the same and merely ordered its transfer to us:
While the Supreme Court Circular No. 2-90 directs the dismissal of appeals filed before the wrong
court, the Supreme Court has in practice allowed the transfer of records from this Court to the highest court. In
which case, we shall subscribe to this practice in the interest of substantial justice.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, our decision is declared NULL and VOID. We order
the TRANSFER of the records of Criminal Cases Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303 to the Supreme Court for proper
[36]
action.

In the Resolution[37] dated September 17, 2003, we accepted Ochoas


appeal and informed both Ochoa and the OSG to file their respective
additional briefs.Ochoas appeal was then docketed as G.R. No. 159252.
On August 17, 2004, Ochoas counsel filed an explanation stating that
he had nothing more to add since he had already written and filed all
necessary pleadings, complete with all the necessary research and
arguments.[38]
In the meantime, People v. Mateo[39] was promulgated on July 7,
2004, where we held that an appeal from the decisions of the RTC,
sentencing the accused to life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua, should
be made to the Court of Appeals. Thus, in our Resolution[40] dated March

11, 2005, the Court ordered the transfer of the records of G.R. No. 159252
to the Court of Appeals for a decision on the merit. We likewise directed the
Court of Appeals to raffle the said case to any of its regular divisions.
When Ochoas appeal was before the Court of Appeals a second
time, it was docketed as CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00888. The Court of
Appeals, in a Decision dated March 2, 2006, affirmed with modification the
RTC Decision dated April 17, 2000. The appellate court essentially affirmed
the findings of fact and law of the RTC, but reduced the award of damages
in Criminal Case No. 98-77301 and increased the prison sentence in
Criminal Case No. 98-77303. The decretal portion of said Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
l. The judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No. 98-77300 finding appellant Rosario Ochoa
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 and sentencing her to life imprisonment and a fine of
One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) is AFFIRMED.
ll. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77301, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
estafa is MODIFIED. Appellant is, hereby, ordered to indemnify Robert Gubat in the amount of P15,000.00 only
as and by way of actual damages.
lll. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77302, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
estafa is AFFIRMED.
IV. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77303, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
estafa is MODIFIED. Appellant is, hereby, sentenced to 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.[41]

Ochoas appeal is anchored on the following assignment of errors:


The lower court erred:
a.
In admitting Exhibit A the POEA Certification when it was
already excluded during the bail hearing
b.
In shifting the burden of the accused to prove that there was no
illegal recruitment

c.

In finding that there was estafa

d.

By not limiting liability of the accused to civil liability only[42]

We find no reversible error in the assailed Court of Appeals decision.

Illegal recruitment in large scale


Ochoa was charged with violation of Section 6 of Republic Act No.
8042. Said provision broadens the concept of illegal recruitment under the
Labor Code[43] and provides stiffer penalties, especially for those that
constitute economic sabotage, i.e., illegal recruitment in large scale and
illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate.
Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 defines illegal recruitment as follows:
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:
xxxx
(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.

It is well-settled that to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that


appellant gave complainants the distinct impression that she 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. [44] All eight
private complainants herein consistently declared that Ochoa offered and
promised

them

employment

overseas. Ochoa

required

private

complainants to submit their bio-data, birth certificates, and passports,


which private complainants did. Private complainants also gave various
amounts to Ochoa as payment for placement and medical fees as
evidenced by the receipts Ochoa issued to Gubat, [45] Cesar,[46] and Agustin.
[47]

Despite private complainants compliance with all the requirements

Ochoa specified, they were not able to leave for work abroad. Private
complainants pleaded that Ochoa return their hard-earned money, but
Ochoa failed to do so.
Ochoa contends that Exhibit A, the POEA certification which states
that Ochoa, in her personal capacity, is neither licensed nor authorized to
recruit workers for overseas employment was already rejected by the RTC
during the hearings on bail for being hearsay, and should not have been
admitted by the RTC after the trial on the merits of the criminal
cases. Inadmissible evidence during bail hearings do not become
admissible evidence after formal offer. Without the POEA certification, the
prosecution had no proof that Ochoa is unlicensed to recruit and, thus, she
should be acquitted.
Ochoas contention is without merit.
We refer to the following ruling in Fullero v. People,[48] wherein we
rejected a similar argument raised by petitioner therein against a

certification

issued

by an

officer

of

the

Professional

Regulation

Commission:
Regarding the third issue, petitioner contended that the prosecution's
documentary evidence, consisting of Exhibits A, C, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P,
Q and R and their sub-markings, are inadmissible in evidence based on the
following reasons:
(1) Exhibit A, which is the Certification of the PRC dated 17 January 1998,
confirming that petitioner's name does not appear in the registry books of
licensed civil engineers, was not properly identified during the trial. The proper
person to identify the certification should have been the signatory therein which
was PRC Director II Jose A. Arriola, or in his absence, a person who actually
witnessed the execution of the certification. Prosecution witness Atayza, who was
not present when the certification was executed, had identified the certification
during the trial. Thus, the contents of the certification are mere hearsay; x x x.
xxxx
Section 36, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, states that a
witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of or comes from his
personal knowledge, that is, which are derived from his perception. A witness,
therefore, may not testify as to what he merely learned from others either
because he was told, or he read or heard the same. Such testimony is
considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has
learned. This is known as the hearsay rule.
The law, however, provides for specific exceptions to the hearsay
rule. One of the exceptions is the entries in official records made in the
performance of duty by a public officer. In other words, official entries are
admissible in evidence regardless of whether the officer or person who made
them was presented and testified in court, since these entries are
considered prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. Other recognized
reasons for this exception are necessity and trustworthiness. The necessity
consists in the inconvenience and difficulty of requiring the official's attendance
as a witness to testify to innumerable transactions in the course of his duty. This
will also unduly hamper public business. The trustworthiness consists in the
presumption of regularity of performance of official duty by a public officer.
Exhibit A, or the Certification of the PRC dated 17 January 1998, was
signed by Arriola, Director II of the PRC, Manila. Although Arriola was not
presented in court or did not testify during the trial to verify the said certification,
such certification is considered as prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein
and is therefore presumed to be truthful, because petitioner did not present any
plausible proof to rebut its truthfulness. Exhibit A is therefore admissible in
evidence.[49]

In the case at bar, the POEA certification was signed by Dir. Mateo of
the POEA Licensing Branch. Although Dir. Mateo himself did not testify
before the RTC, the prosecution still presented Cory, Dir. Mateos
subordinate at the POEA Licensing Branch, to verify Dir. Mateos signature.
Also worth re-stating is the justification provided by the Court of
Appeals for the admissibility of the POEA certification, viz:
The certificate is admissible. It is true that the trial court, during the bail
hearings, rejected the certification for being hearsay because at that stage of the
proceedings, nobody testified yet on the document. However, as the trial
progressed, an officer of the POEA, specifically in its licensing branch, had
testified on the document. It does not follow, then, as appellant would want this
court to assume, that evidence rejected during bail hearings could not be
admissible during the formal offer of evidence.
This court admits that Ms. Cory Aquino was not the signatory of the
document. Nevertheless, she could testify on the veracity of the document
because she is one of the officers of the licensing branch of the POEA. Being so,
she could testify whether a certain person holds a license or not. It bears
stressing that Ms. Aquino is familiar with the signature of Mr. Mateo because the
latter is her superior. Moreover, as testified to by Ms. Aquino, that as a policy in
her office, before a certification is made, the office checks first whether the name
of the person requested to be verified is a reported personnel of any licensed
agency by checking their index and computer files.
As found in the offices records, appellant, in her personal capacity, is
neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment. It
bears stressing, too, that this is not a case where a certification is rendered
inadmissible because the one who prepared it was not presented during the
trial. To reiterate, an officer of the licensing branch of the POEA, in the person of
Ms. Aquino, testified on the document. Hence, its execution could be properly
determined and the veracity of the statements stated therein could be
ascertained.[50]

More importantly, Ochoa could still be convicted of illegal recruitment


even if we disregard the POEA certification, for regardless of whether or not
Ochoa was a licensee or holder of authority, she could still have committed
illegal recruitment. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 clearly provides that

any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of


authority may be held liable for illegal recruitment for certain acts as
enumerated in paragraphs (a) to (m) thereof.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. Ochoa committed
illegal recruitment as described in the said provision by receiving placement
and medical fees from private complainants, evidenced by the receipts
issued by her, and failing to reimburse the private complainants the
amounts

they

had

paid

when

they

were

not

able

to

leave

for Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, through no fault of their own.


Ochoa further argues in her defense that she should not be found
personally and criminally liable for illegal recruitment because she was a
mere employee of AXIL and that she had turned over the money she
received from private complainants to AXIL.
We are not convinced. Ochoas claim was not supported by any
corroborating evidence. The POEA verification dated September 23, 1998,
also signed by Dir. Mateo, and presented by Ochoa during trial, pertains
only to the status of AXIL as a placement agency with a limited temporary
authority which had already expired. Said verification did not show whether
or not Ochoa was employed by AXIL. Strangely, for an alleged employee of
AXIL, Ochoa was not able to present the most basic evidence of
employment, such as appointment papers, identification card (ID), and/or
payslips. The receipts presented by some of the private complainants were
issued and signed by Ochoa herself, and did not contain any indication that

Ochoa issued and signed the same on behalf of AXIL. Also, Ochoa was not
able to present any proof that private complainants money were actually
turned over to or received by AXIL.
There is no reason for us to disturb the weight and credence
accorded by the RTC to the evidence of the prosecution, over that of the
defense. As is well-settled in this jurisdiction, greater weight is given to the
positive identification of the accused by the prosecution witnesses than the
accuseds denial and explanation concerning the commission of the crime.
[51]

Likewise, 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
[52]

according

credibility

to

the

prosecution

evidence.

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.
[53]

Under the last paragraph of Section 6 of 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. Here, there are eight private

complainants who convincingly testified on Ochoas acts of illegal


recruitment.
In view of the overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution,
we uphold the verdict of the RTC, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, that
Ochoa is guilty of illegal recruitment constituting economic sabotage.
Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 provides that the penalty of life
imprisonment and a fine of not less than P500,000.00 nor more
than P1,000.000.00 shall be imposed when the illegal recruitment
constitutes economic sabotage. Thus:
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.

Since the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P1,000,000.00


imposed on Ochoa by the RTC, and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are
in accord with the law, we similarly sustain the same.
Estafa
We affirm as well the conviction of Ochoa for estafa committed
against three private complainants in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 9877302, and 98-77303.The very same evidence proving Ochoas criminal

liability for illegal recruitment also established her criminal 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. Cortez and Yabut[54] 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.[55]

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.[56] Both elements are present in Criminal Case Nos. 9877301, 98-77302, and 98-77303. Ochoas deceit was evident in her false
representation to private complainants Gubat, Cesar, and Agustin that she
possessed the authority and capability to send said private complainants to
Taiwan/Saudi Arabia for employment as early as one to two weeks from

completion of the requirements, among which were the payment of


placement fees and submission of a medical examination report. Ochoa
promised that there were already existing job vacancies overseas for
private complainants, even quoting the corresponding salaries. Ochoa
carried on the deceit by receiving application documents from the private
complainants, accompanying them to the clinic for medical examination,
and/or making them go to the offices of certain recruitment/placement
agencies to which Ochoa had actually no connection at all.Clearly deceived
by Ochoas words and actions, private complainants Gubat, Cesar, and
Aquino were persuaded to hand over their money to Ochoa to pay for their
placement and medical fees. Sadly, private complainants Gubat, Cesar,
and Aquino were never able to leave for work abroad, nor recover their
money.
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 under the provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the
case may be.

It was established by evidence that in Criminal Case No. 98-77301,


Gubat was defrauded by Ochoa in the amount of P15,000.00; in Criminal
Case No. 77-98302, Cesar paid Ochoa the sum of P17,000.00; and in

Criminal Case No. 77-98303, Agustin handed over to Ochoa a total


of P28,000.00.
The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised
Penal Code, when the amount of the fraud is over P12,000.00 but not
exceeding P22,000.00,

is prision

correccional maximum

to prision

mayor minimum (i.e., from 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 8 years). If the
amount of fraud exceeds P22,000.00, the aforementioned penalty shall be
imposed

in

its

maximum

period,

adding

one

year

for

each

additional P10,000.00, provided that the total penalty shall not exceed 20
years.
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term shall be
within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Revised
Penal Code, or anywhere within prision correccional minimum and medium
(i.e., from 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months). [57] Consequently,
the minimum terms in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 and 98-77302 were
correctly fixed by the RTC and affirmed by the Court of Appeals at 2 years,
11 months, and 11 days of prision correccional. While the minimum term in
Criminal Case No. 98-77303 was increased by the Court of Appeals to 4
years and 2 months of prision correccional, it is still within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by Section 315 of the Revised Penal
Code.
The maximum term under the Indeterminate Sentence Law shall be
that which, in view of attending circumstances, could be properly imposed
under the rules of the Revised Penal Code. To compute the minimum,
medium, and maximum periods of the prescribed penalty for estafa when
the amount of fraud exceeds P12,000.00, the time included in prision

correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum shall be divided into three


equal portions, with each portion forming a period. Following this
computation,

the

minimum

period

for prision

correccional maximum

to prision mayor minimum is from 4 years, 2 months, and 1 day to 5 years,


5 months, and 10 days; the medium period is from 5 years, 5 months, and
11 days to 6 years, 8 months, and 20 days; and the maximum period is
from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years. Any incremental penalty
(i.e., 1 year for every P10,000.00 in excess of P22,000.) shall thus be
added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years, at the
discretion of the court, provided that the total penalty does not exceed 20
years.[58]
In Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 and 98-77302, the amounts of fraud
were more than P12,00.00 but not exceeding P22,000.00, and in the
absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the maximum term
shall be taken from the medium period of the penalty prescribed (i.e., 5
years, 5 months, and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, and 20 days). Thus,
the maximum terms of 6 years, 8 months, and 20 days actually imposed by
the RTC and affirmed by the Court of Appeals in Criminal Case Nos. 9877301 and 98-77302 are proper.
As for determining the maximum term in Criminal Case No. 9877303,

we

take

into

consideration

that

the

amount

of

fraud

was P28,000.00. Since the amount of fraud exceeded P22,000.00, the


maximum term shall be taken from the maximum period of the prescribed
penalty, which is 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years; but since the
amount

of

fraud

exceeded P22,000.00

by

only P6,000.00

(less

than P10,000.00), no incremental penalty shall be imposed. Considering

that the maximum term of 8 years fixed by the Court of Appeals in Criminal
Case No. 98-77303 is within the maximum period of the proscribed penalty,
we see no reason for disturbing the same.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the present appeal for lack of merit
and AFFIRM the Decision dated March 2, 2006 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00888, affirming with modification the Decision
dated April 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 104,
in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303, to read as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 98-77300, accused-appellant Rosario Rose
Ochoa is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in
large scale, constituting economic sabotage, as defined and penalized in
Section 6(l) and (m), in relation to Section 7(b), of Republic Act No. 8042,
and is sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of One Million Pesos
(P1,000.000.00);
2. In Criminal Case No. 98-77301, accused-appellant Rosario Rose
Ochoa is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as
defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal
Code, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years,
eleven (11) months, and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as
minimum, to six (6) years, eight (8) months, and twenty (20) days of prision
mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify private complainant Robert Gubat in
the amount of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) as actual damages;
3. In Criminal Case No. 98-77302, accused-appellant Rosario Rose
Ochoa is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as
defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal
Code, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years,
eleven (11) months, and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as
minimum, to six (6) years, eight (8) months, and twenty (20) days of prision
mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify private complainant Cesar Aquino in
the amount of Seventeen Thousand Pesos (P17,000.00); and

4. In Criminal Case No. 98-77303, accused-appellant Rosario Rose


Ochoa is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as
defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal
Code, and is sentenced to 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, and to indemnify private complainant Junior
Agustin in the amount of Twenty-Eight Thousand Pesos (P28,000.00).