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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

G.R. No. 181475

Appellee,
Present:

QUISUMBING, Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
- versus -

TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

LARRY LAURO DOMINGO,

April 7, 2009

Appellant.

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

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


On appeal via Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Court of Appeals
Decision[1] dated September 28, 2007 affirming the Joint Decision [2] dated October
19, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 11 which
convicted Larry Domingo (appellant) of Illegal Recruitment (Large Scale) in Criminal
Case No. 1224-M-2001 and Estafa in Criminal Case Nos. 1243-M-2001 and 1246-M2001, and acquitting him in Criminal Case Nos. 1225-M-2001 to 1242-M-2001 and
1244-M-2001, 1245-M-2001 and 1247-M-2001, also for Estafa.

The Information[3] in Criminal Case No. 1224-M-2001 reads:

The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor accuses Larry Lauro Domingo y Cruz of
the crime of illegal recruitment, defined and penalized under the provisions of
Article 38 in relation to Articles 34 and 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines, as
amended by presidential Decree Nos. 1920 and 2018, committed as follows:

That in or about the month of November 1999 to January 20, 2000, in the
Municipality of Malolos, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being a non-licensee or nonholder of authority from the Department of Labor and Employment to recruit and/or
place workers under local or overseas employment, did then and there willfully and
feloniously, with false pretenses, undertake illegal recruitment, placement or
deployment of Wilson A. Manzo, Florentino M. Ondra, Feliciano S. del Rosario, Leo J.
Cruz, Norberto S. Surio, Genaro B. Rodriguez, Mariano Aguilar, Dionisio Aguilar,
Mario J. Sorel, Marcial Boy A. dela Cruz, Edgardo P. Jumaquio, Midel Clara
Buensuceso, Remigio S. Carreon, Jr., Romeo Manasala, Magno D. Balatbat, Jose
Armen F. Sunga, Rogelio M. Cambay, Junior Balisbis, Ma. Leah Vivas, Simeon S.
Cabigao, Edcil P. Mariano, Juanito C. Bartolome, Angelito R. Acevedo, Godofredo P.
Samson, Eugenio del Rosario y Tolentino, William B. Bautista, Rodolfo M. Marcelino,
Roberto B. Bohol, Felipe H. Cunanan, Carlos P. Dechavez, Carlos J. Cruz, Reynaldo C.
Chico, Renato D. Jumaquio, Narciso F. Sunga, Enrico R. Espiritu, Leonardo C. Sunga,
Jr., and Iglecerio H. Perez. This offense involved economic sabotage, as it was
committed in large scale.
Contrary to law. (Underscoring supplied)

The Informations[4] for 23 counts of Estafa, all of which were similarly worded but
varying with respect to the name of each complainant and the amount which each
purportedly gave to appellant, read:

That in or about the month of November, 1999 to January, 2000, in the municipality
of Malolos, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of deceit, false pretenses
and fraudulent manifestations, and with intent of gain, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud one [Wilson A. Manzo] by then and there falsely
representing that he has the power and capacity to recruit and employ persons in
Saipan and could facilitate the necessary papers in connection therewith if given the
necessary amount, and by means of deceit of similar import, when in truth and in

fact, as the accused knew fully well his representation was false and fraudulent and
designed to inveigle [Wilson A. Manzo] to give, as in fact the latter gave and
delivered the amount of [P14,000.00] to him, which the accused misappropriated to
himself, to the damage and prejudice of Wilson A. Manzo in the said amount of
[P14,000.00].

Contrary to law.

Of the 23 complainants, only five testified, namely: Rogelio Cambay, Florentino


Ondra, Dionisio Aguilar, Ma. Leah Vivas, and Simeon Cabigao. The substance of their
respective testimonies follows:

Rogelio Cambay: Appellant recruited him for a painting job in Marianas Island for
which he paid him the amount of P15,000 in two installments P2,500 during his
medical examination at Newton Clinic in Makati City, and the balance of P12,500
before the scheduled departure on January 25, 2000.

On his scheduled departure, appellant did not show up at their meeting place in
Malolos, Bulacan, hence, the around one hundred people who waited for him
organized a search party to look for him in Zambales. Appellant was arrested on
February 25, 2000 at the Balintawak tollgate.

A verification[5] with the Department of Labor and Employment showed that


appellant was not a licensed recruiter.

Florentino Ondra: He was recruited by appellant for employment as laborer in


Saipan, for which he gave P14,700 representing expenses for passporting, NBI
clearance, and medical examination.

Dionisio Aguilar: In September, 1999, he met appellant thru a friend whereupon he


was interviewed, tested for a hotel job, and scheduled for medical examination. He
gave P30,000 to appellant inside the latters car on November, 1999 after his
medical examination. While he was twice scheduled for departure, it did not
materialize.

Ma. Leah Vivas: After meeting appellant thru Eddie Simbayan on October 19, 1999,
she applied for a job as a domestic helper in Saipan, for which she paid
appellant P10,000, but like the other complainants, she was never deployed.
Simeon Cabigao: He was recruited by appellant in September, 1999 for employment
as carpenter in Saipan with a guaranteed salary of $375 per month. For the
promised employment, he paid appellant P3,000 for medical fee, and an
additional P9,000, supposedly to bribe the examining physician because, per
information of appellant, he (Cabigao) was found to have an ailment. He was
scheduled for departure on February 23, 2000, but the same never took place.

He was among those who looked for appellant in Zambales.

Private complainant Cabigao later recanted this testimony, per his affidavit [6] dated
March 3, 2003. Testifying anew, this time for the defense, he averred that the one
who actually recruited him and his co-complainants and received their money was
Danilo Gimeno (Gimeno), and that they only agreed among themselves to file a
case against appellant because Gimeno was nowhere to be found.

Appellant, denying all the accusations against him, claimed as follows: He was a
driver hired by the real recruiter, Gimeno, whom he met inside the Victory Liner Bus
bound for Manila in September, 2000. It was Gimeno who undertakes recruitment
activities in Dakila, Malolos, Bulacan at the residence of Eddie Simbayan, and that
the other cases for illegal recruitment filed against him before other courts have all
been dismissed.

Appellant likewise presented as witnesses private complainants Enrico Espiritu and


Roberto Castillo who corroborated his claim that it was Gimeno who actually
recruited them, and that the filing of the complaint against appellant was a
desperate attempt on their part to get even because Gimeno could not be located.

By Joint Decision dated October 19, 2004, the trial court found appellant guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Illega
l Recruitment (Large Scale) and of 2 counts of Estafa, viz:

WHEREFORE, in Criminal case No. 1224-M-2001, for Illegal Recruitment (Large


Scale), this Court finds the accused LARRY DOMINGO GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of violation of Article 38(b) of the Labor Code, as amended, in relation to
Article 13 (b) and 34 of the same Code (Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale) and
hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and pay a fine of
P100,000.00.

Accused is further ordered to pay the following complainants the amounts opposite
their names as actual or compensatory damages, to wit:

1.

Rogelio Cambay P15,000.00

2.

Dionisio Aguilar P30,000.00

3.

Florentino Ondra P14,700.00

4.

Ma. Lea Vivas P10,000.00

In Criminal Case No. 1243-M-2001 for Estafa, this Court finds the accused LARRY
DOMINGO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa under Article 315 par. 2(a) of
the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to a prison term ranging from
Two (2) Years, Eleven (11) Months and Eleven (11) Days of prision correcional as
minimum up to Eight (8) Years of prision mayor as maximum.

In Criminal Case No. 1246-M-2001 for Estafa, this Court finds the accused LARRY
DOMINGO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa under Article 315 par. 2(a) of
the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to a prison term ranging from
Two (2) Years, Eleven (11) Months and eleven (11) Days of prision correcional as
minimum up to Nine (9) Years of prision mayor as maximum.

In Criminal Cases Nos. 1225-M-2001 to 1242-M-2001 and 1244-M-2001, 1245-M2001 and 1247-M-2001, accused is hereby ACQUITTED for lack of evidence.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, appellant maintained that the trial court erred in
finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt, no receipts to show that he actually
received money from private complainant having been submitted in evidence. And
he faulted the trial court for failing to give weight to Cabigaos retraction.

The appellate court affirmed the trial courts decision by the challenged Decision
dated September 28, 2007, holding that the straightforward and consistent
testimonies of the complaining witnesses sufficiently supported the trial courts
conclusion that appellant undertook recruitment activities beginning September up
to December 1999 in Dakila, Malolos, Bulacan without the license therefor, and
failed to deploy those he recruited.

Respecting the non-presentation of receipts of payment to appellant in


consideration of the promised jobs, the appellate court affirmed the trial courts
ruling that the same had no bearing on his culpability in light of the categorical
assertions of the complaining witnesses that appellant was the one who recruited
them.

As for Cabigaos recantation, the appellate court found it immaterial as was the
other complainants failure to prosecute their claims. The appellate court held that
the mere retraction by a prosecution witness does not necessarily vitiate his original
testimony and that, in any event, the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable
doubt that at least three were illegally recruited by the accused - Cambay, Ondra,
Aguilar and Ma. Leah.

As for the estafa cases, the appellate court held that the elements constituting the
crime, as penalized under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code,
were sufficiently established, viz: Appellant deceived the complainants by assuring
them of employment abroad provided that they submit certain documents and pay
the required placement fee; complainants paid appellant the amount he asked on
account of appellants representations which turned out to be false; and
complainants suffered damages when appellant failed to return the amounts they
paid and the papers they submitted, despite demand.

Hence, the present appeal, appellant raising the same contentions as those he
raised in the appellate court.

The appeal is bereft of merit.

The term recruitment and placement is defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor
Code of the Philippines as follows:

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


contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers, and
includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not. Provided, That any
person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to
two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.
(Emphasis supplied)

On the other hand, Article 38, paragraph (a) of the Labor Code, as amended, under
which the accused stands charged, provides:

Art. 38. Illegal Recruitment. - (a) Any recruitment activities, including the
prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be
undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed
illegal and punishable under Article 39 of this
Code. The Ministry of Labor and Employment or any law enforcement officer

may initiate complaints under this Article.


(b) Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in
accordance with Article 39 hereof.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of
three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in
carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under
the first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large

scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a


group. (Emphasis supplied)

From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that any recruitment activities to be


undertaken by non-licensee or non-holder of authority shall be deemed illegal and
punishable under Article 39 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. Illegal
recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or
more persons individually or as a group.

To prove illegal recruitment in large scale, the prosecution must prove three
essential elements, to wit: (1) the person charged undertook a recruitment activity
under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2)
he/she did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in
the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) he/she committed the prohibited
practice against three or more persons individually or as a group. [7]

The Court finds that the prosecution ably discharged its onus of proving the guilt
beyond reasonable doubt of appellant of the crimes charged.

That no receipt or document in which appellant acknowledged receipt of money for


the promised jobs was adduced in evidence does not free him of liability. For even if
at the time appellant was promising employment no cash was given to him, he is
still considered as having been engaged in recruitment activities, since Article 13(b)
of the Labor Code states that the act of recruitment may be for profit or
not. It suffices that appellant promised or offered employment for a fee to the
complaining witnesses to warrant his conviction for illegal recruitment.

That one of the original complaining witnesses, Cabigao, later recanted, via an
affidavit and his testimony in open court, does not necessarily cancel an earlier
declaration.Like any other testimony, the same is subject to the test of credibility
and should be received with caution.[8] For a testimony solemnly given in court
should not be set aside lightly, least of all by a mere affidavit executed after the
lapse of considerable time. In the case at bar, the Affidavit of Recantation was
executed three years after the complaint was filed. It is thus not unreasonable to
consider his retraction an afterthought to deny its probative value. [9]

AT ALL EVENTS, and even with Cabigaos recantation, the Court finds that the
prosecution evidence consisting of the testimonies of the four other complainants,
whose credibility has not been impaired, has not been overcome.

As to the conviction of appellant for two counts of estafa, it is well established that a
person may be charged and convicted of both illegal recruitment and estafa. People
v. Comila,[10] enlightens:

x x x The reason therefor is not hard to discern: illegal recruitment is malum


prohibitum, while estafa is malum in se. In the first, the criminal
intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction. In the second, such
an intent is imperative. Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2, of the
Revised Penal Code, is committed by any person who defrauds another by
using fictitious name, or falsely pretends to possess power, influence,
qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary
transactions, or by means of similar deceits executed prior to or
simultaneously with the commission of fraud. x x x (Emphasis supplied)

Appellant, who did not have the authority or license to recruit and deploy,
misrepresented to the complaining witnesses that he had the capacity to send them
abroad for employment. This misrepresentation, which induced the complaining
witnesses to part off with their money for placement and medical fees,
constitutes estafa under Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

ROSITA SY,

G.R. No. 183879

Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus -

VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
PERALTA, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent.

April 14, 2010

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

RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, assailing the Decision[1] dated July 22, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CR No. 30628.

Rosita Sy (Sy) was charged with one count of illegal recruitment in Criminal Case
No. 02-0537 and one count of estafa in Criminal Case No. 02-0536. In a joint
decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Sy was exonerated of the illegal

recruitment charge. However, she was convicted of the crime of estafa. Thus, the
instant appeal involves only Criminal Case No. 02-0536 for the crime of estafa.

The Information[2] for estafa reads:

That sometime in the month of March 1997, in the City of Las Pias, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did, then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud Felicidad Mendoza-Navarro y
Landicho in the following manner, to wit: the said accused by means of false
pretenses and fraudulent representation which she made to the said complainant
that she can deploy her for employment in Taiwan, and complainant convinced by
said representations, gave the amount of P120,000.00 to the said accused for
processing of her papers, the latter well knowing that all her representations and
manifestations were false and were only made for the purpose of obtaining the said
amount, but once in her possession[,] she misappropriated, misapplied and
converted the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of Felicidad Mendoza-Navarro y Landicho in the aforementioned amount
of P120,000.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

On May 27, 2007, Sy was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged.
Joint trial ensued thereafter.

As summarized by the CA, the facts of the case are as follows:

Version of the Prosecution

Sometime in March 1997, appellant, accompanied by Corazon Miranda


(or Corazon), went to the house of Corazons sister, Felicidad Navarro
(or Felicidad), in Talisay, Batangas to convince her (Felicidad) to work
abroad. Appellant assured Felicidad of a good salary and entitlement to a yearly
vacation if she decides to take a job in Taiwan. On top of these perks, she shall

receive compensation in the amount of Php120,000.00. Appellant promised


Felicidad that she will take care of the processing of the necessary documents,
including her passport and visa. Felicidad told appellant that she will think about the
job offer.

Two days later, Felicidad succumbed to appellants overseas job solicitation. With
Corazon in tow, the sisters proceeded to appellants residence in Better Homes,
Moonwalk, Las Pias City.Thereat, Felicidad handed to appellant the amount of
Php60,000.00. In the third week of March 1997, Felicidad returned to appellants
abode and paid to the latter another Php60,000.00. The latter told her to come back
the following day. In both instances, no receipt was issued by appellant to
acknowledge receipt of the total amount of Php120,000.00 paid by Felicidad.

On Felicidads third trip to appellants house, the latter brought her to Uniwide in Sta.
Cruz, Manila, where a male person showed to them the birth certificate that
Felicidad would use in applying for a Taiwanese passport. The birth certificate was
that of a certain Armida Lim, born to Margarita Galvez and Lim Leng on 02 June
1952. Felicidad was instructed on how to write Armida Lims Chinese name.

Subsequently, appellant contacted Felicidad and thereafter met her at the Bureau of
Immigration office. Thereat, Felicidad, posing and affixing her signature as Armida
G. Lim, filled out the application forms for the issuance of Alien Certificate of
Registration (ACR) and Immigrant Certificate of Registration (ICR). She attached to
the application forms her own photo. Felicidad agreed to use the name of Armida
Lim as her own because she already paid to appellant the amount of
Php120,000.00.

In December 1999, appellant sent to Felicidad the birth certificate of Armida Lim,
the Marriage Contract of Armida Lims parents, ACR No. E128390, and ICR No.
317614. These documents were submitted to and eventually rejected by the
Taiwanese authorities, triggering the filing of illegal recruitment and estafa cases
against appellant.

Version of the Defense

Appellant denied offering a job to Felicidad or receiving any money from her. She
asserted that when she first spoke to Felicidad at the latters house, she mentioned
that her husband and children freely entered Taiwan because she was a holder of a
Chinese passport. Felicidad commented that many Filipino workers in Taiwan were
holding Chinese passports.
Three weeks later, Felicidad and Corazon came to her house in Las Pias and asked
her if she knew somebody who could help Felicidad get a Chinese ACR and ICR for a
fee.

Appellant introduced a certain Amelia Lim, who, in consideration of the amount of


Php120,000.00, offered to Felicidad the use of the name of her mentally deficient
sister, Armida Lim.Felicidad agreed. On their second meeting at appellants house,
Felicidad paid Php60,000.00 to Amelia Lim and they agreed to see each other at
Uniwide the following day. That was the last time appellant saw Felicidad and
Amelia Lim.[4]

On January 8, 2007, the RTC rendered a decision, [5] the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered the court finds the accused Rosita Sy NOT GUILTY
of the crime of Illegal Recruitment and she is hereby ACQUITTED of the said offense.
As regards the charge of Estafa, the court finds the accused GUILTY thereof and
hereby sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years of prision
correctional as minimum to 11 years of prision mayor, as maximum. The accused is
ordered to reimburse the amount of sixty-thousand (Php60,000.00) to the private
complainant.
SO ORDERED.[6]

Aggrieved, Sy filed an appeal for her conviction of estafa. On July 22, 2008, the CA
rendered a Decision,[7] affirming with modification the conviction of Sy, viz.:

WHEREFORE, with the MODIFICATION sentencing accused-appellant to suffer the


indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, the
appealed decision is AFFIRMED in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.[8]

Hence, this petition.

The sole issue for resolution is whether Sy should be held liable for estafa, penalized
under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). [9]

Swindling or estafa is punishable under Article 315 of the RPC. There are three ways
of committing estafa, viz.: (1) with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence; (2) by
means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts; or (3) through fraudulent means. The
three ways of committing estafa may be reduced to two, i.e., (1) by means of abuse
of confidence; or (2) by means of deceit.

The elements of estafa in general are the following: (a) that an accused defrauded
another by abuse of confidence, or by means of deceit; and (b) that damage and
prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused the offended party or third
person.

The act complained of in the instant case is penalized under Article 315, paragraph
2(a) of the RPC, wherein estafa is committed by any person who shall defraud
another by false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously
with the commission of the fraud. It is committed by using fictitious name, or by
pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency,
business or imaginary transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.

The elements of estafa by means of deceit are the following, viz.: (a) that there
must be a false pretense or fraudulent representation as to his power, influence,
qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; (b) that

such false pretense or fraudulent representation was made or executed prior to or


simultaneously with the commission of the fraud; (c) that the offended party relied
on the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means and was induced to part
with his money or property; and (d) that, as a result thereof, the offended party
suffered damage.[10]

In the instant case, all the foregoing elements are present. It was proven beyond
reasonable doubt, as found by the RTC and affirmed by the CA, that Sy
misrepresented and falsely pretended that she had the capacity to deploy Felicidad
Navarro (Felicidad) for employment in Taiwan. The misrepresentation was made
prior to Felicidads payment to Sy of One Hundred Twenty Thousand Pesos
(P120,000.00). It was Sys misrepresentation and false pretenses that induced
Felicidad to part with her money. As a result of Sys false pretenses and
misrepresentations, Felicidad suffered damages as the promised employment
abroad never materialized and the money she paid was never recovered.

The fact that Felicidad actively participated in the processing of the illegal travel
documents will not exculpate Sy from liability. Felicidad was a hapless victim of
circumstances and of fraud committed by Sy. She was forced to take part in the
processing of the falsified travel documents because she had already
paid P120,000.00. Sy committed deceit by representing that she could secure
Felicidad with employment in Taiwan, the primary consideration that induced the
latter to part with her money. Felicidad was led to believe by Sy that she possessed
the power and qualifications to provide Felicidad with employment abroad, when, in
fact, she was not licensed or authorized to do so. Deceived, Felicidad parted with
her money and delivered the same to petitioner. Plainly, Sy is guilty of estafa.

Illegal recruitment and estafa cases may be filed simultaneously or separately. The
filing of charges for illegal recruitment does not bar the filing of estafa, and vice
versa. Sys acquittal in the illegal recruitment case does not prove that she is not
guilty of estafa. Illegal recruitment and estafa are entirely different offenses and
neither one necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the other. A person
who is convicted of illegal recruitment may, in addition, be convicted
of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the RPC. [11] In the same manner, a
person acquitted of illegal recruitment may be held liable for estafa. Double
jeopardy will not set in because illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, in which
there is no necessity to prove criminal intent, whereas estafa is malum in se, in the
prosecution of which, proof of criminal intent is necessary. [12]

The penalty prescribed for estafa under Article 315 of the RPC is prision
correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the
amount defrauded is over Twelve Thousand Pesos (P12,000.00) but does not
exceed Twenty-two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00), and if such amount exceeds the
latter sum, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for
each additional Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00); but the total penalty that may be
imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the
accessory penalties that may be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the
penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.

The addition of one year imprisonment for each additional P10,000.00, in excess
of P22,000.00, is the incremental penalty. The incremental penalty rule is a
mathematical formula for computing the penalty to be actually imposed using the
prescribed penalty as the starting point. This special rule is applicable in estafa and
in theft.[13]

In estafa, the incremental penalty is added to the maximum period of the penalty
prescribed, at the discretion of the court, in order to arrive at the penalty to be
actually imposed, which is the maximum term within the context of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISL). [14] Under the ISL, attending circumstances in a
case are applied in conjunction with certain rules of the Code in order to determine
the penalty to be actually imposed based on the penalty prescribed by the Code for
the offense. The circumstance is that the amount defrauded
exceeds P22,000.00, and the incremental penalty rule is utilized to fix the penalty
actually imposed.[15]

To compute the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be subtracted


by P22,000.00, and the difference shall be divided by P10,000.00, and any fraction
of P10,000.00 shall be discarded.[16]

In the instant case, prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in
its minimum period is the imposable penalty. The duration of prision correccional in
its maximum period is from four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day to six (6)
years; while prision mayor in its minimum period is from six (6) years and one (1)
day to eight (8) years. The incremental penalty for the amount defrauded would
be an additional nine years imprisonment, to be added to the maximum imposable
penalty of eight years. Thus, the CA committed no reversible error in sentencing Sy
to an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision

correccional, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as


maximum.
As to the amount that should be returned or restituted by Sy, the sum that Felicidad
gave to Sy, i.e., P120,000.00, should be returned in full. The fact that Felicidad was
not able to produce receipts is not fatal to the case of the prosecution since she was
able to prove by her positive testimony that Sy was the one who received the
money ostensibly in consideration of an overseas employment in Taiwan.[17]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals


dated July 22, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR No. 30628, sentencing petitioner Rosita Sy to an
indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as
maximum, is hereby AFFIRMED. We, however, MODIFY the CA Decision as to the
amount of civil indemnity, in that Sy is ordered to reimburse the amount of One
Hundred Twenty Thousand Pesos (P120,000.00) to private complainant Felicidad
Navarro.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Plaintiff-Appellee,
G. R. No. 90017-18

March 1, 1994
-versusELENA VERANO y ABANES,
Accused-Appellant.

DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:

Elena Verano y Abanes was convicted [1] of the crimes of illegal recruitment in
large scale [2] and estafa [3] in two [2] separate Informations [4] filed before the
Regional Trial Court of Manila and sentenced thus:

[a] In Crim. Case No. 88-61017, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale as defined under
par. [b] of Art. 38 in relation to Art. 39 of the New Labor Code of the Philippines; and
this Court hereby sentences the said accused to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00; and to pay to the offended parties,
Arturo Espiel and Alfonso Abanes, the sums of P10,000.00, and P7,150.00
respectively, plus interest thereon at the legal rate of 12% per annum from the date
of filing of the Information on February 22, 1988. The damages due to the third
offended party, Jose Daep, is taken care of in the estafa case, Crim. Case No.8861018.
[b] In Crim. Case No. 88-6108, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa; and this Court hereby sentences the accused to suffer
an indeterminate sentence of six [6] years of prision correccional, maximum period,
as minimum penalty, to nine [9] years of prision mayor in its medium period, as
maximum penalty, and to pay to Jose Daep, the sole complaining offended party in
this case, the sum of P15,000.00 as actual damages plus interest thereon at the
legal rate of P12% per annum from the date of filing of the Information on February
22, 1988.
As found by the trial court, sometime in October 1987, accused-appellant Elena
Verano y Abanes persuaded the three [3] private complainants, Jose Daep, Arturo
Espiel and Alfonso Abanes, to accept overseas employment as salesmen in Bahrain.
In consideration thereof, Alfonso, Arturo and Jose were required to pay P10,000.00
each to cover the expenses for the processing of their travel papers, i.e., passports,
visas and the cost of their plane tickets, medical examination and recruitment fees.
Jose paid the total amount of P15,000.00, while Arturo and Alfonso paid P10,000.00
and P7,150.00, respectively. They were issued separate receipts by accusedappellant. [5] To further convince them of her capacity to send them abroad,
accused-appellant even signed a contract of employment with her as employer and
Arturo as employee. [6]
Assured that they could depart for Bahrain on 27 December 1987, Alfonso, Jose and
Arturo went to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and waited for accusedappellant who was supposed to meet them there to deliver their passports, visas
and plane tickets. When she failed to show up, the three [3] recruits proceeded to
her residence and there waited for her until she returned four [4] days later. By way
of explanation, they were told that their passports and visas were still being
processed but were promised they were promised they could leave for their
overseas jobs on 15 January 1988.cralaw
Again, the three [3] hopefuls proceeded to the NAIA but, like before, accusedappellant failed to show up. This time they were told that they could definitely leave
on 13 February 1988. However, on the appointed date and time, accused-appellant

failed to show up for the third time. Jose, Arturo and Alfonso then went to the
Western Police District Headquarters to lodge their complaint. Accused- appellant
was arrested on the same day and charged with illegal recruitment committed in
large scale, and estafa, with Jose Daep as the lone complainant in the latter case.
After trial, Elena Verano y Abanes was found guilty in both cases.cralaw
In her brief filed by the Public Attorney's Office, [7] accused-appellant contends that
the trial court gravely erred when it imposed the penalty of life imprisonment for
the large scale illegal recruitment for the reason that it was too harsh in the light of
her good faith in just wanting to help the private complainants secure employment
abroad. However, in her Supplemental Brief and Reply [8] filed by her counsel de
parte, Atty. Mariano R. de Joya, Jr., accused-appellant changed her
position. [9] Instead of pursuing her attack on the "harshness" of the penalty
imposed, she now disputes the findings of fact. Thus she argues that, contrary to
the trial court's findings, she never represented herself as having the capacity to
contract workers for overseas employment; that she merely introduced private
complainants, Jose, Arturo and Alfonso, to a certain Juliet Majestrado who was the
one who claimed to have such capacity; and, with respect to her conviction for
estafa, she argues that although she herself issued the receipts marked Exhs. "C,"
"E," "E-1," "E-2" and "H," she never profited from the money paid as it was all given
to and personally received by Juliet Majestrado.cralaw
Appellant's argument is obviously without merit in the light of the well-settled
doctrine that findings of fact made by the trial court are final and conclusive and
cannot be reviewed on appeal. [10] Except for a few recognized instances,
[11] which do not apply in the case at bench, such findings are binding and will not
be reviewed by Us for this Court is not a trier of facts. The issues raised by appellant
are purely and undisputably factual, as she herself admits. [12] Considering that
none of the exceptions apply, as aforesaid, We would not be justified in reversing
the judgment of conviction. Hence, the appeal must fail.cralaw
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court a quo convicting accused-appellant Elena
Verano y Abanes of the crimes of illegal recruitment committed in large scale [Crim.
Case No. 88-61017] and estafa [Crim. Case No. 88-61018] is affirmed in toto. Costs
against accused-appellant.cralaw

G.R. No. 113917 July 17, 1995


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FELICIA CABACANG Y MAZAMBIQUE, accused-appellant.

PUNO, J.:
An Illegal Recruitment case was filed against appellant FELICIA MAZAMBIQUE
CABACANG for allegedly committing the following act:
That in or about and during the period comprised from March 22, 1990 to April 27,
1990, both dates inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused,
representing herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino
workers for employment abroad, did then and there willfully and unlawfully, for a
fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement abroad to the following
persons: Romeo Eguia, Ronnie Reyes, Armando Castro and Dante Eguia, without
first having secured the required license or authority from the Department of Labor
and Employment. 1
The case was raffled off to Branch 5 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, 2 and
docketed as Criminal Case No. 91-93606. A not guilty plea was entered upon her
arraignment on July 17, 1991.
The records reveal that the four private complainants are related. DANTE 3 and
ROMEO EGUIA are brothers, and RONNIE REYES 4 and ARMANDO CASTRO are their
brothers-in-law. RAMON EGUIA and prosecution witness WILMA GREGORIO 5 are
Dante's and Romeo's siblings.
The prosecution evidence show that appellant who is not a recruiter licensed by the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), 6 handled the processing of
the papers of cousins Ramon Eguia and Edgardo Santos. In June, 1988, the two were
deployed to Abu Dhabi for employment as janitors. 7 Private complainants were
encouraged by their employment, and decided to apply for overseas janitorial work
as well. 8
According to private complainant Ronnie Reyes, he was approached in Lipa by
appellant who represented herself as the Assistant Manager of the Lakas Agency
Management Corporation located near Robinson's Department Store in Ermita,
Manila. Appellant informed him that there would be a second batch of overseas
workers to be deployed to Abu Dhabi. Ronnie relayed the information to Wilma, who
made further inquiries and verifications from appellant about the job
opportunity. 9 Wilma then directly worked out with appellant, the overseas job
applications of private complainants.
Private complainants filed their applications and appellant assured them that they
would be able to leave for Abu Dhabi after the processing of their paper. 10 She
instructed them to pay their processing fees 11 directly to her. During the period
from March 3, 1990 to April 27, 1990, inclusive, private complainants through Wilma
paid appellant a total of THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS
(P32,500.00). 12

Appellant assured private complainants they could leave for Abu Dhabi on May 10,
1990, at 8:00 p.m. 13 The date of departure came without private complainants
leaving Philippine soil. Thereafter, appellant told them to stay put and wait for the
arrival in the Philippines of their prospective Middle Eastern employer. However, no
employer arrived, and the four complainants failed to be deployed by appellant
overseas. 14
Private complainants and Wilma returned to the Lakas Agency to look for appellant.
They did not find her. It was then that they found out from the agency's Manager,
MR. NARCISO DELA FUENTE, that appellant was merely renting a table in the office
and was not, employed with Lakas. 15 The revelation moved private complainants to
file a complaint against appellant with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 16
The NBI was able to work out a settlement between the parties. Appellant agreed in
writing to pay back the processing fees of private complainants. 17 Nonetheless,
appellant did not fully fulfill her obligation under the agreement. She only refunded
a total of SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS (P6,700.00) to private
complainants. 18
For her part, appellant admits that she received from private complainants, through
Wilma Gregorio, the sum of THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS
(P32,500.00). 19 She, however, denied that she was merely renting a table at the
office of the Lakas Agency Management Corporation. She insisted that she was an
employee of that recruitment office owned and managed by Mr. Narciso dela
Fuente, 20 and that she acted as its liaison officer and messenger. As liaison officer,
she assisted applicants in the processing of their documents in the POEA. She also
signed documents and receipts in behalf of the recruitment agency. 21
According to appellant, it is the Lakas Agency's policy that each applicant be
charged FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) as processing fee, and that the airline
fare of FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00) in cases of deployment to Abu
Dhabi be shouldered by the applicant. 22 The agency adopted the policy as a result
of its alleged unfortunate experience with Ramon Eguia and Edgardo Santos. The
two, she claimed, refused to pay back the cost of their tickets (THIRTY THOUSAND
PESOS [P30,000.00]) which was advanced by the agency. 23
Appellant blamed private complainants for their failure to leave for Abu Dhabi as
they were unable to produce the money for their air fare. 24 Allegedly, Wilma
insisted that the SIXTY THOUSAND PESOS (60,000.00) for private complainants'
tickets be advanced by Lakas Agency and be repaid by the four once they start
working in Abu Dhabi. Her proposal did not sit well with the recruitment agency,
resulting in the shelving of private complainants' deployment abroad. 25
Appellant further testified that private complainant Ronnie Reyes later withdrew his
application and demanded the refund of his processing fees, plus SEVEN HUNDRED
PESOS (P700.00) to cover miscellaneous expenses. 26Since private complainants'

papers had already been processed in the POEA, Ronnie was informed that the
agency was not obliged to make the refund to him. He was, however, insistent, so
appellant took it upon herself to pay him back. 27 As guarantee for her promise to
make the refund, Ronnie allegedly took her Sony stereo worth FOUR THOUSAND
SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS (P4,700.00), which he never returned to her even after she
had given him SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS (P6,700.00). 28
Appellant also alleged that no similar refunds were made to the three other private
complainants. Their processing fees were merely off-set against the existing
obligation of Romeo Eguia and Edgardo Santos with the Lakas Agency. 29
At trial's end, appellant was found guilty of illegal recruitment and sentenced as
follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding the
accused Felicia Cabacang y Mosambique (sic) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
illegal recruitment and hereby sentences her to suffer the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and a fine of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) Pesos. 30
Appellant now assails the trial court's Decision with the following arguments:
1. The court a quo erred by failing to appreciate the facts (1) that (appellant) never
represented herself as licensed by the Department of Labor and Employment
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration as labor recruiter, (2) that what she
represented to the applicants is that her employer LAKAS MANAGEMENT AGENCY is
a duly licensed recruitment agency with principals-employers abroad, and (3) that
the accused told applicants that she can help them get employed with the same
employer of their relatives who are now working there through her help.
2. The court a quo erred in finding (appellant) at fault and liable for the failure or
negligence of her employer LAKAS MANAGEMENT AGENCY to register her name as
its employee at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
3. The court a quo erred in finding (appellant) at fault or liable for the
decision/policy of her employer, LAKAS MANAGEMENT AGENCY, or requiring the four
(4) complaining witnesses to pay the cost of their plane tickets from Manila to the
jobsite (Abu Dhabi, UAE);
4. The court a quo erred in finding (appellant) guilty of illegal recruitment based on
(appellant's) receipt of the P32,000.00 from Wilma Eguia Gregorio intended as
placement fees of the four (4) complaining witnesses.
We affirm appellant's conviction with modifications.
The centerpiece of appellant's defense is two-fold: (1) that she cannot be held liable
for illegal recruitment since she never represented herself to private complainants
as a POEA-licensed recruiter; and (2) that she was not the one responsible for the

recruitment of private complainants nor for their


non-deployment for work abroad, since she was merely an employee of the POEAlicensed Lakas Agency Management Corporation. We reject these contentions.
Firstly, it is incorrect to maintain that to be liable for illegal recruitment, one must
represent himself/herself to the victims as a duly-licensed recruiter. Illegal
recruitment is defined in Article 38 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended, as "(a)ny
recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article
34 of this Code, to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority."
Article 13 (b) of the same Code defines "recruitment and placement" as referring to:
(A)ny act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or
procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided,
That any person or entity which in any manner, offers or promises for a fee
employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and
placement.
Clearly, to prove illegal recruitment, only two elements need to be shown, viz.: (1)
the person charged with the crime must have undertaken recruitment activities (or
any of the activities enumerated in Article 34 of the Labor Code, as amended); and
(2) said person does not have a license 31 or authority 32 to do so. It is not required
that it be shown that such person wrongfully represented himself as a licensed
recruiter.
Secondly, appellant cannot successfully contend she merely performed her duties
as an employee of a licensed recruitment agency. Apart from her uncorroborated
testimony on the matter, she failed to present credible evidence to buttress her
claim of employment. Thus, she failed to follow the immutable rule on burden of
proof that "each party must prove his own affirmative allegations by the amount of
evidence required by law. 33
On the other hand, the documentary evidence of the prosecution show that
appellant received private complainants' processing fees from Wilma Gregorio in her
own behalf. The wordings of Exhibits "C" to "G", inclusive, are strongly persuasive
on this factual issue.
They read, as follows:
Exh. "C": "Received from Wilma Gregorio the amount of 5,000 only";
Exh. "D": "Received from Romeo Eguia amount 5,000";
Exh. "E": "Received from Wilma the amount of 5,000 Wilma only"
Exh. "F": "Received from Wilma Gregorio amount 7,500 pesos only"; and

Exh. "G": "Received the amount of 10,000 pesos from Wilma Gregorio as Deposit, 4
applicants."
These receipts which are not written on Lakas agency stationary show no
indication that the payments were accepted by appellant in behalf of the
Lakas Agency Management Corporation. Exh. "J", which is the
Commitment/Agreement executed and signed by appellant before the NBI further
proves that she was acting in her own behalf in receiving Wilma's payment. For, why
else would she personally "promise to return to Wilma Gregorio . . . the amount of
P32,500.00" if said sum was for the benefit of the Lakas Agency?
More importantly, the prosecution demonstrated reasonable doubt that appellant
performed recruitment activities without any license to do so. She informed private
complainant Ronnie Reyes that there would be a second batch of janitors to be
deployed to Abu Dhabi. After she accepted private complainants' job applications,
she assured them that they would be able to fly to that Middle Eastern nation after
their papers are processed by the POEA. She told them, through Wilma, to pay their
processing fees directly to her, and later personally received the same, in the total
amount of THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P32,000.00). She issued and signed the
receipts evidencing payment to her of such fees. She processed private
complainants' papers at the POEA, and she assured them that they were to fly to
Abu Dhabi on May 10, 1990, at 8:00 p.m. Throughout the entire transaction, private
complainants and Wilma Gregorio dealt with appellant, and with appellant alone.
The only time they talked to the manager of the Lakas Agency was after their
aborted flight to Abu Dhabi, when they were trying to locate the whereabouts of
appellant.
Clearly, it was appellant who directly recruited private complainants within the
meaning of Article 38 (a) and (b) the Labor Code. Since it is undisputed that
appellant is not a holder of a license or authority to recruit from the Department of
Labor, through the POEA, her acts constitute illegal recruitment.
Illegal recruitment carries with it the penalty of life imprisonment, and a fine which
varies by degrees in accordance with the enumeration made in
Article 39 of the Labor Code, as amended. In the case at bench, since appellant was
charged with and convicted of illegally recruiting four (4) people, her crime is
classified as having been committed in large scale. 34 As such, it is considered as
involving economic sabotage, and carries with it a fine of ONE HUNDRED
THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00). 35 In addition to these penalties, appellant must
also be ordered to indemnify private complainants the unrefunded portion of their
processing fees.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision, dated January 25, 1994, of the Regional Trial Court
of Manila, Branch 5, in Criminal Case No. 91-93606 is AFFIRMED, subject to the
modification that, in addition to being sentenced to suffer LIFE IMPRISONMENT and

pay a fine of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00), appellant Felicia


Mazambique Cabacang is likewise ordered to indemnify private complainants in the
amount of TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED PESOS (P25,800.00). Costs
against appellant.
DELIA D. ROMERO,

G.R. No. 171644

Petitioner,
Present:

VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,


- versus -

PERALTA,
ABAD,
PEREZ,* and
MENDOZA, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


ROMULO PADLAN and ARTURO
SIAPNO,
Respondents.

Promulgated:

November 23, 2011


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

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This is to resolve the Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] dated March 25, 2006 of
petitioner Delia D. Romero assailing the Decision [2] dated July 18, 2005
and Resolution[3]dated February 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA), affirming the
Decision[4] dated February 24, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 44,
Dagupan City, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of

Illegal Recruitment as defined in paragraph (a) of Article 38 of Presidential Decree


(P.D.) No. 2018.
The records contain the following antecedent facts:

Private respondent Romulo Padlan (Romulo) was a former classmate of petitioner in


college. Sometime in September 2000 Romulo went to petitioner's stall (wedding
gown rentals) at W. A. Jones St., Calasiao, Pangasinan to inquire about securing a
job in Israel. Convinced by petitioner's words of encouragement and inspired by the
potential salary of US$700.00 to US$1,200.00 a month, Romulo asked petitioner the
amount of money required in order for him to be able to go to Israel. Petitioner
informed him that as soon as he could give her US$3,600.00, his papers would be
immediately processed. To raise the amount, Romulo secured a loan from a bank
and borrowed some more from his friends.When he was able to raise the amount,
Romulo went back to petitioner and handed her the money. Petitioner contacted
Jonney Erez Mokra who instructed Romulo to attend a briefing at his (Jonney's)
house in Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Romulo was able to leave for Israel on October
26, 2000 and was able to secure a job with a monthly salary of
US$650.00. Unfortunately, after two and a half months, he was caught by Israel's
immigration police and detained for 25 days. He was subsequently deported
because he did not possess a working visa. On his return, Romulo demanded from
petitioner the return of his money, but the latter refused and failed to do so.

On the other hand, private respondent Arturo Siapno is petitioner's


nephew. Sometime in August 2000, he went to petitioner's stall. He was convinced
by the petitioner that if he could give her US$3,600.00 for the processing of his
papers, he could leave the country within 1 to 2 weeks for a job placement in
Israel. Arturo contacted a relative in the U.S. to ask the latter to cover the expenses
for the former's overseas job placement. The relative sent the US$3,000.00 to
Teresita D. Visperas, petitioner's sister in Israel. Petitioner processed Arturo's papers
and contacted Jonney Erez Mokra. Jonney instructed Arturo to attend a briefing in
Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Afterwards, Arturo left for Israel sometime in
September 2000. He was able to work and receive US$800.00 salary per
month. After three months of stay in Israel, he was caught by the immigration
officials, incarcerated for ten days and was eventually deported. After arriving in the
country, Arturo immediately sought the petitioner. Petitioner promised him that she
would send him back to Israel, which did not happen.

Arturo, after learning that Romulo suffered the same fate, checked with the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Dagupan District Office whether

petitioner, Teresita D. Visperas and Jonney Erez Mokra had any license or authority
to recruit employees for overseas employment. Finding that petitioner and the
others were not authorized to recruit for overseas employment, Arturo and Romulo
filed a complaint against petitioner, Teresita and Jonney before the National Bureau
of Investigation (NBI).

Consequently, an Information dated June 18, 2001 was filed against petitioner and
Jonney Erez Mokra for the crime of Illegal Recruitment which reads as follows:

That sometime in the month of August and September 2000 in the Municipality of
Calasiao, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being licensee or holder of
authority, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and
there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously undertake and perform recruitment
activity by recruiting ARTURO SIAPNO and ROMULO PADLAN to a supposed job
abroad particularly in Israel, for a fee, without first securing the necessary license
and permit to do the same.

CONTRARY to Art. 38 (a) of P.D. 442, as amended by P.D. 2018.

Upon arraignment on August 20, 2001, petitioner, with the assistance of her counsel
pleaded not guilty, whereas accused Jonney Erez Mokra was and is still atlarge. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.

To establish the facts earlier mentioned, the prosecution presented the testimonies
of Romulo Padlan and Arturo Siapno. Petitioner, on the other hand, offered her own
testimony, as well as Satchi Co Pontaces to prove that petitioner did not recruit the
private respondents. According to petitioner, private respondents went to her to
inquire about the working status of her sister in Israel. She told them that her sister
was doing well. When private respondents asked her how her sister was able to go
to Israel, petitioner told them that she does not know and that she will have to ask
her sister about that matter. Petitioner then called her sister and told her that the
private respondents wanted to ask for her help in going to Israel. It was petitioner's
sister and the private respondents who communicated with each other, and the

petitioner had no knowledge as to the content of the former's conversations and


agreements.

The RTC found petitioner guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of its decision
reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Delia Romero guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of Illegal Recruitment as defined in paragraph (a) of Article 38 of
Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 2018, and
pursuant to law hereby sentences accused Delia Romero to suffer the penalty of
Eight (8) Years and a fine of P100,000.00 plus costs.

Accused Delia Romero is directed to return the amount of $3,600.00 or its


equivalent to complainant Romulo Padlan and the amount of $3,600.00 or its
equivalent to Arturo Siapno.

The case as against Jonney Mokra aka Erez, is hereby ordered archived subject to
reinstatement upon his arrest.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC, the fallo of which states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

Hence, the present petition after petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied
by the CA. Petitioner enumerates the following assignment of errors:

First Assignment of Error

The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused of the offense
charged (Illegal Recruitment) for said finding is contrary to law and evidence in
record.

Second Assignment of Error

The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused in interpreting
the gesture of good faith of the petitioner as referral in the guise of illegal
recruitment.

Third Assignment of Error

The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused based merely
on a certification from the DOLE-Dagupan District Office without said certification
being properly identified and testified thereto.

Fourth Assignment of Error

The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of accused based on


speculations and probabilities and not on the evidence on record.

Fifth Assignment of Error

The Court of Appeals erred in not acquitting the accused on the ground of
reasonable doubt.

Illegal recruitment is defined in Article 38 of the Labor Code, as amended, as


follows:

ART. 38. Illegal Recruitment. - (a) Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited
practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by nonlicensees or non-holders of authority, shall be deemed illegal and punishable under
Article 39 of this Code. The [Department] of Labor and Employment or any law
enforcement officer may initiate complaints under this Article.
(b) Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in
accordance with Article 39 hereof.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of
three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in
carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under
the first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if
committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.

Article 13 (b) of the same Code defines, recruitment and placement as: any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring
workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, that any person
or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee, employment to two or
more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.

The crime of illegal recruitment is committed when two elements concur, namely:
(1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to
lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; and (2) he undertakes
either any activity within the meaning of "recruitment and placement" defined
under Article 13 (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the
Labor Code.[5]

In disputing the absence of the first element, petitioner offers her opinion that the
CA erred in affirming the trial court's reliance on a mere certification from the DOLE
Dagupan District Office that she does not have the necessary licence to recruit
workers for abroad. She claims that the prosecution committed a procedural lapse
in not procuring a certification from the agency primarily involved, the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The said argument, however, is
flawed.

Under the first element, a non-licensee or non-holder of authority is any person,


corporation or entity which has not been issued a valid license or authority to
engage in recruitment and placement by the Secretary of Labor, or whose license or
authority has been suspended, revoked or cancelled by the POEA or the Secretary.
[6]
Clearly, the creation of the POEA did not divest the Secretary of Labor of his/her
jurisdiction over recruitment and placement of activities. The governing rule is still
Article 35[7] of the Labor Code. This is further discussed in this Court's ruling in Trans
Action Overseas Corp. v. Secretary of Labor,[8] wherein it was ruled that:

In the case of Eastern Assurance and Surety Corp. v. Secretary of Labor, we held
that:

The penalties of suspension and cancellation of license or authority are prescribed


for violations of the above-quoted provisions, among others. And the Secretary of
Labor has the power under Section 35 of the law to apply these sanctions, as well as
the authority, conferred by Section 36, not only to restrict and regulate the
recruitment and placement activities of all agencies, but also to promulgate rules
and regulations to carry out the objectives and implement the provisions governing
said activities. Pursuant to this rule-making power thus granted, the Secretary of
Labor gave the POEA, on its own initiative or upon a filing of a complaint or report or
upon request for investigation by any aggrieved person, xxx (authority to) conduct
the necessary proceedings for the suspension or cancellation of the license or
authority of any agency or entity for certain enumerated offenses including -

1) the imposition or acceptance, directly or indirectly, of any amount of money,


goods or services, or any fee or bond in excess of what is prescribed by the
Administration, and

2) any other violation of pertinent provisions of the Labor Code and other relevant
laws, rules and regulations.

The Administrator was also given the power to order the dismissal of the case or the
suspension of the license or authority of the respondent agency or contractor or
recommend to the Minister the cancellation thereof.

This power conferred upon the Secretary of Labor and Employment was echoed
in People v. Diaz, viz.:

A non-licensee or non-holder of authority means any person, corporation or entity


which has not been issued a valid license or authority to engage in recruitment and
placement by the Secretary of Labor, or whose license or authority has been
suspended, revoked or cancelled by the POEA or the Secretary. [9]

Thus, the trial court did not err in considering the certification from the DOLEDagupan District Office stating that petitioner has not been issued any license by
the POEA nor is a holder of an authority to engage in recruitment and placement
activities. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its Comment [10] dated October
9, 2006, also gives a valid observation as to the admissibility of the certification as
evidence for the prosecution, thus:

x x x Notably, there is nothing on record to show that petitioner objected to the


admissibility of the certification for the purpose for which it was offered. Thus,
petitioner's argument that the certification was inadmissible because it was not
properly identified by the issuing officer should be rejected. It is well-settled that
[e]very objections to the admissibility of evidence shall be made at the time such
evidence is offered or as soon thereafter as the ground for objection shall have
become apparent, otherwise the objection shall be considered waived. Accordingly,
the certification has been accepted as admissible by the trial court and properly
considered as evidence for the party who submitted it. [11]

Anent the second element, petitioner insists that the CA was wrong in affirming the
factual findings of the trial court. According to her, the accommodation extended by
the petitioner to the private respondents is far from the referral as contemplated in
Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code.

It is a settled rule that factual findings of the trial courts, including their assessment
of the witnesses' credibility, are entitled to great weight and respect by the
Supreme Court, particularly when the CA affirmed such findings. [12] After all, the trial
court is in the best position to determine the value and weight of the testimonies of
witnesses.[13]

Nevertheless, the testimonies of the private respondents clearly establish the fact
that petitioner's conduct falls within the term recruitment as defined by law. As
testified by Romulo Padlan, petitioner convinced him and Arturo Siapno to give her
US$3,600.00 for the processing of their papers, thus:

Q: In September 2000, did you see the accused?


A: There was, sir.

Q: Where did you see each other?


A: At her stall, sir.

xxxx

Q: What was your purpose in going to her stall?


A: My purpose is to inquire about my application to Israel, sir.

Q: What happened when you inquired from her about your application in going to
Israel?
A: I inquired from her and she responded with me with sweet words, sir.

Q: What did you ask her when you first met her in her stall [in] September 2000?
A: I asked her about the possible placement and the condition about the job in
Israel.

Q: And what was her response?


A: Her response was positive and very encouraging, sir.

Q: What was the very good and very encouraging response of the accused?
A: Regarding the salary amounting to $700.00 to $1,000.00 dollars a month, sir.

Q: When you were informed that the salary is quite good in Israel, what did you do,
if any?
A: I planned to produce money so that I can apply for Israel, sir.

Q: And what transpired next after that?


A: She told me that, If you can produce $3,600.00 dollars then I will begin to process
your papers.

Q: After telling you that, what did you do, if any?


A: So I planned to have a loan [from] Rural Bank of Central Pangasinan and borrow
some money [from] my other friends, sir.

xxxx

Q: After producing that money, what did you do?

xxxx

A: I [went] to her stall [in] September 26 around 10:00 P.M. and handed the money
to Mrs. Delia Romero, sir.

xxxx

Q: How much money did you give to the accused [in] September 2000?
A: [In] September 2000, I gave her $1,500.00 US dollars, sir. [14]

Arturo Siapno also testified as to how petitioner convinced him to apply for a job in
Israel and offered her services for a fee, thus:

Q: [I]n August 2000, where were you?


A: I was residing in Puelay-Carangalaan. Dagupan City.

Q: On the same month, did you have any transaction with the accused?
A: Yes sir[.] I met the accused at the appliance store which is located at Puelay and
she offered me a job in Israel.

Q: [When] she offered you a job in Israel, what did you do?
A: I went to their stall which is located [in] Calasiao, and in the same place I also
met several applicants.

Q: When did you go to the stall of the accused?


A: The following day, sir.

xxxx

Q: And what did you do at the stall of the accused in Calasiao, Pangasinan?
A: When I went to the stall of the accused, since I saw other applicants, I was
convinced to apply and I called up my aunt and asked for help.

Q: Since you were at the stall of the accused in Calasiao, what transpired next?
A: When I talked to her, she told me if I have a money of P3,600.00 I could easily
depart within one (1) week or two (2) weeks. [15]

From the above testimonies, it is apparent that petitioner was able to convince the
private respondents to apply for work in Israel after parting with their money in
exchange for the services she would render. The said act of the petitioner, without a
doubt, falls within the meaning of recruitment and placement as defined in Article
13 (b) of the Labor Code.

As to petitioner's contention that the testimony of Arturo Siapno that the latter paid
a certain amount of money to the former must not be given any credence due to
the absence of any receipt or any other documentary evidence proving such, the
same is without any merit. In People v. Alvarez,[16] this Court ruled that in illegal
recruitment cases, the failure to present receipts for money that was paid in
connection with the recruitment process will not affect the strength of the evidence
presented by the prosecution as long as the payment can be proved through clear
and convincing testimonies of credible witnesses. It was discussed that:

In illegal recruitment, mere failure of the complainant to present written receipts for
money paid for acts constituting recruitment activities is not fatal to the
prosecution, provided the payment can be proved by clear and convincing
testimonies of credible witnesses.

xxxx

x x x The Court has already ruled that the absence of receipts in a case
for illegal recruitment is not fatal, as long as the prosecution is able to establish
through credible testimonial evidence that accused-appellant has engaged
in illegal recruitment. Such case is made, not by the issuance or the signing of

receipts for placement fees, but by engagement in recruitment activities without


the necessary license or authority.

In People v. Pabalan, the Court held that the absence of receipts for some of the
amounts delivered to the accused did not mean that the appellant did not accept or
receive such payments. Neither in the Statute of Frauds nor in the rules of evidence
is the presentation of receipts required in order to prove the existence of a
recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal recruitment cases.
Such proof may come from the testimonies of witnesses. [17]
With regard to the penalty imposed by the RTC and affirmed by the CA, this Court
finds it to be inappropriate. The trial court imposed the penalty of eight (8) years
imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 plus cost and ordered petitioner to return
the amount of US$3,600.00 or its equivalent to Romulo Padlan and the amount of
US$3,600.00 or its equivalent to Arturo Siapno. Under Article 39 (c) of the Labor
Code, which prescribes the penalty for illegal recruitment, any person who is neither
a licensee nor a holder of authority under the law and found violating any provision
thereof or its implementing rules and regulations shall, upon conviction thereof,
suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than four (4) years but not more than
eight (8) years or a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor more than P100,000.00 or
both such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the court. Clearly, the trial
court, by imposing a straight penalty, disregarded the application of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law.[18] In Argoncillo v. Court of Appeals,[19] this Court ruled
that the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is mandatory to both the
Revised Penal Code and the special laws, and in the same ruling, this Court
summarized the application and non-application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
to wit:

x x x It is basic law that x x x the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is


mandatory where imprisonment exceeds one (1) year, except only in the following
cases:

a. Offenses punished by death or life imprisonment.

b. Those convicted of treason (Art. 114) conspiracy or proposal to commit treason


(Art. 115).

c. Those convicted of misprision of treason (Art. 116), rebellion (Art. 134), sedition
(Art. 139) or espionage (Art. 117).

d. Those convicted of piracy (Art. 122).

e. Habitual delinquents (Art. 62, par. 5).

Recidivists are entitled to an Indeterminate sentence. (People v. Jaramilla, L-28547,


February 22, 1974) Offender is not disqualified to avail of the benefits of the law
even if the crime is committed while he is on parole. (People v. Calreon, CA 78 O. G.
6701, November 19, 1982).

f. Those who escaped from confinement or those who evaded sentence.

g. Those granted conditional pardon and who violated the terms of the same.
(People v. Corral, 74 Phil. 359).

h. Those whose maximum period of imprisonment does not exceed one (1) year.

Where the penalty actually imposed does not exceed one (1) year, the accused
cannot avail himself of the benefits of the law, the application of which is based
upon the penalty actually imposed in accordance with law and not upon that which
may be imposed in the discretion of the court. (People v. Hidalgo, [CA] G.R. No.
00452-CR, January 22, 1962).

i. Those who are already serving final judgment upon the approval of the
Indeterminate Sentence Law.

The need for specifying the minimum and maximum periods of the indeterminate
sentence is to prevent the unnecessary and excessive deprivation of liberty and to
enhance the economic usefulness of the accused, since he may be exempted from

serving the entire sentence, depending upon his behavior and his physical, mental,
and moral record. The requirement of imposing an indeterminate sentence in all
criminal offenses whether punishable by the Revised Penal Code or by special laws,
with definite minimum and maximum terms, as the Court deems proper within the
legal range of the penalty specified by the law must, therefore, be deemed
mandatory.[20]

The Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that if, as in this case, the offense is
punished by a law other than the Revised Penal Code, the court shall sentence the
accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not
exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the
minimum term prescribed by the same. The imposable penalty is imprisonment of
not less than four (4) years but not more than eight (8) years; hence, the proper
penalty imposed should be within the range of four (4) years to eight (8)
years. Thus, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the Court can impose the
minimum and maximum terms of the penalty of imprisonment within the range of
four (4) years to eight (8) years.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari dated March 25, 2006 of
petitioner Delia D. Romero is hereby DENIED. Consequently, the Decision dated July
18, 2005 and Resolution dated February 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals, affirming
the Decision dated February 24, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, finding petitioner
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment as defined in
paragraph (a) of Article 38 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 2018, are
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the penalty imposed should be
imprisonment of four (4) years, as minimum, to seven (7) years, as maximum, and a
fine of P100,000.00 plus cost and for petitioner to return the amount of $3,600.00 or
its equivalent to Romulo Padlan and the amount of $3,600.00 or its equivalent to
Arturo Siapno.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

G.R. No. 185277

Plaintiff-Appellee,

Present:

CARPIO, J.,
- versus -

Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

RODOLFO GALLO,

Promulgated:

Accused-Appellant.
March 18, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated 31 January 2008 of the Court of Appeals,
affirming, with modification, the Judgment[2] of conviction for the crimes of illegal
recruitment and estafa rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 34.

Appellant Rodolfo Gallo (Gallo), together with Pilar Manta (Manta) and
Fides Pacardo (Pacardo), was originally charged with illegal recruitment in large
scale and thirty four (34) counts of estafa in thirty five (35)
separate informations[3] filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 34.

When arraigned, all three accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. [4]

In the course of the trial of the cases, some of the private complainants, one after
another, moved for the withdrawal of their respective complaints [5] while others
failed to appear during the scheduled hearings despite due notice. [6] Hence, the
public prosecutor moved for the provisional dismissal [7] of their cases until only
three private complainants remained.

The remaining private complainants, Reynaldo Panlilio (Panlilio), Ian Fernandez


(Fernandez) and Zenaida Filomeno (Filomeno), testified for the prosecution.

Fernandez narrated that at around 9:00 a.m. on 5 June 2001, he was at the MPM
International Recruitment Agency (MPM) with his friend Reynaldo Panlilio applying
for a job overseas.[8] He recounted that he was able to talk first with accused Gallo,
then with the owner of MPM, Mardeolyn Martir (Martir).[9] Gallo informed him that if
he pays P45,000.00, he would be able to leave for Korea in two to three months
time.[10] Thus, he returned the following day with P45,000.00 and gave the amount
to Martir.[11] Gallo issued a receipt covering the amount but this was later on
replaced with a promissory note.[12]

Panlilio narrated that on 5 June 2001, he went to the offices of MPM


in Ermita, Manila, to apply for a job as a factory worker in Korea.[13] He testified that
he talked to Martir who told him to come back the next day with P45,000.00 for the
processing of his application.[14] Upon arriving the following day (6 June 2001), he
was met by accused Gallo and upon the instruction of Martir, Panlilio gave the
money to Gallo.[15] Unable to leave for Korea despite the lapse of several
months, Panlilio demanded the return of his money.[16] The agency, however,
requested a month within which to refund the money [17] and the receipt issued for
the P45,000.00 he paid was replaced with a promissory note. [18]

While in the province, he learned that the agency had closed, so he went back
to Manila to verify this information.[19] He found out that the agency had transferred
its offices to the Prudential Bank Building in Sta. Cruz, Manila.[20] There, he and
about 30 to 40 other victims of the agency arrested the three accused by virtue of a
citizens arrest.[21] The accused were first brought to the Sta. Cruz Police Station,

then to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), where a formal complaint was
filed against them.[22]

Private complainant Filomeno testified that she learned from a friend that MPM is
accepting applicants for work in Korea.[23] She went to the agency sometime in May
2001 and was initially met by accused Manta who instructed her to talk to Martir.
[24]
Inside the latters office, she found Gallo and Martir accepting applicants for
overseas employment.[25] She narrated that she initially paid P15,000.00 as
processing fee to Gallo and Martir who both counted the money in front of her.
[26]
She later on paid another P5,000.00, both of which amounts were covered by a
receipt.[27] Gallo and Martir told her that in September 2001, she would be able to
leave for Korea where she would be working as a factory worker with a monthly
salary of US$500.00 plus overtime pay. [28] Because she failed to leave as promised,
she called the agency on at least four occasions to follow up her application, but she
was unable to talk to either accused Gallo or Martir.[29] When she went to the agency
to personally inquire about the status of her application, she found out that the
accused had been arrested so she proceeded to the NBI to file a complaint. [30]

The prosecution likewise presented documentary evidence consisting of the


promissory notes and official receipts issued by the agency to the private
complainants.[31]Also presented was a certification dated 23 August 2002, issued by
the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, stating that according to its records,
the New Filipino Manpower Development and Services, Inc. had an expired license
and that its application for the re-issuance of a new license was denied. [32] It
appears that MPM had earlier applied for a license but its application was not
granted; hence, it changed its name to New Filipino Manpower Development and
Services, Inc.[33]

For his defense, appellant Gallo alleged that he was not an employee of MPM but
was himself an applicant for overseas work.[34] According to him, someone from their
province informed him that MPM was recruiting applicants to be employed as
factory workers in Korea, so he applied sometime in November 2000. [35] He further
testified that he paid P20,000.00 for the processing of his visa but was not issued a
receipt; his payment was merely recorded in the agencys logbook. [36] When his visa
was issued, the agency asked for an additional payment of P40,000.00 for his plane
fare, but he was unable to produce the amount, so another person was sent abroad
in his stead.[37] He was advised by Martir to wait because the visa issued to him
earlier will be replaced by a trainee visa. [38] As a result, he was often seen at the
office of Martir because he would often go there to follow up his application. [39] He

denied having received money from or having issued any receipt to private
complainants.[40]

Appellant, however, admitted having executed a Kontra Salaysay and a Rejoinder


Affidavit wherein it was stated that he is merely a utility worker of New Filipino
Manpower Development and Services, Inc., and, as such, his only duties therein
consist of repair, janitorial and messengerial jobs. [41] He explained the conflict in his
statements by claiming that the aforesaid documents were prepared by a lawyer
from the NBI and he signed them without reading their contents. [42] He,
nevertheless, disclosed during his testimony that the personal circumstances stated
in the documents were gathered by the NBI from him. [43]

Finding that the evidence for the prosecution sufficiently established the criminal
liability of appellant, the trial court rendered a decision on 10 April 2003 convicting
him of the crimes charged. Accused Manta and Pacardo were acquitted for
insufficiency of the evidence presented against them. [44] The dispositive portion of
the decision, in part, reads:

In Criminal Case No. 02-200788:

Finding Rodolfo Gallo to have participated in illegally recruiting the three


complainants, Ian Fernandez, Reynaldo Panlilio and Zenaida Filomeno, he is hereby
found GUILTY of the crime of Illegal Recruitment without any mitigating nor
aggravating circumstance attendant to its commission and is hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.

In Criminal Case No. 02-200803:

Finding Rodolfo Gallo having conspired and confederated with another person not
charged in this Information in defrauding Ian Fernandez, he is hereby found Guilty of
the crime of Estafa without any mitigating nor aggravating circumstance attendant
to its commission, granting him the benefit of the Indeterminate Sentence Law he is
hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term ranging from four (4) years
two (2) months of prision correccional to ten (10) years of prision mayor. He is
hereby ordered to indemnify Ian Fernandez the sum of P45,000.00 representing the
amount embezzled.

In Criminal Case No. 02-200810:

Finding Rodolfo Gallo having conspired and confederated with another person not
charged in this Information in defrauding Zenaida Filomeno, he is hereby found
Guilty of the crime of Estafawithout any mitigating nor aggravating circumstance
attendant to its commission, granting the accused the benefit of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of
ranging from four (4) years two (2) months of prision correccional to eight (8) years
of prision mayor. He is hereby ordered to indemnify the victim ZenaidaFilomeno the
sum of P20,000.00 representing the amount embezzled.

In Criminal Case No. 02-200812:

Finding Rodolfo Gallo having conspired and confederated with another person not
charged in this Information in defrauding Reynaldo Panlilio he is hereby found Guilty
of the crime of Estafawithout any mitigating nor aggravating circumstance
attendant to its commission, granting him the benefit of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term
ranging from four (4) years two (2) months of prision correccional to ten (10) years
of prision mayor. He is hereby ordered to indemnify Reynaldo Panlilio the sum
of P45,000.00representing the amount of money embezzled. [45]

In view of the penalty imposed, the case was elevated to this Court on automatic
review. In accordance with our ruling in People v. Mateo,[46] the Court resolved to
transfer the cases to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review.

On 31 January 2008, the Court of Appeals rendered the Decision now subject of this
review. The dispositive portion of which provides:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

I.
The judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No. 02-200788 finding
the accused-appellant Rodolfo Gallo guilty of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale and

sentencing him to life imprisonment, as well as to pay a fine of Five Hundred


Thousand Pesos is AFFIRMED.

The judgments in Criminal Cases Nos. 02-200803 and 02-200812 sentencing the
accused-appellant to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years, two (2)
months of prisioncorreccional to ten (10) years of prision mayor is AFFIRMED with
the following MODIFICATION:

In additional to the P45,000.00 each to be paid by the accused-appellant to Ian


Fernandez and Reynaldo Panlilio as actual damages; the accussed-appellant is also
ordered to pay legal interest on the said amount of P45,000.00 from the time of the
filing of the Information until fully paid.

II.
The judgment in Criminal Case No. 02-200810 finding the accusedappellant guilty of estafa is MODIFIED, and the accused-appellant is hereby
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from one (1) year, eight (8) months
and twenty-one (21) days of prision correccional minimum to five (5) years, five (5)
months and [eleven] (11) days of prision correccionalmaximum. The accusedappellant shall pay Zenaida Filomeno P20,000.00 by way of actual damages. In
addition, the accused-appellant shall also pay legal interest on the said amount
of P20,000.00 from the time of filing of the Information until fully paid.

In all four cases, the accused-appellant Rodolfo Gallo shall be credited with the full
extent of his preventive imprisonment pursuant to Article 29 of the Revised Penal
Code. Costs against accused-appellant.[47]

Hence, the instant petition.

On 21 January 2009, the Court resolved to require the parties to file their respective
supplemental briefs, if they so desire, within thirty (30) days from notice.
[48]
Appellant filed a Manifestation dated 18 March 2009 stating that he will no
longer file a supplemental brief and is adopting his Appellants Brief as his
Supplemental Brief.[49] The Office of the Solicitor General likewise manifested that it
would no longer file a supplemental brief. [50]

In his Brief, appellant assigns the following as errors committed by the trial court:

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN GIVING MUCH WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE
TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THREE


COUNTS OF ESTAFA NOTWITHSTANDING THE PATENT ABSENCE OF CRIMINAL INTENT
ON THE PART OF THE LATTER.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE


CRIME OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE OF THE
PROSECUTION TO PROVE ALL THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME CHARGED.
[51]

Appellant, in essence, claims that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.

The appeal must fail. We find no valid grounds to reverse the decision of the Court
of Appeals affirming the lower courts judgment of conviction.

Well-settled is the rule that the issue of credibility is the domain of the trial court
which had the opportunity to observe the deportment and manner of the witnesses
as they testified.[52] The findings of facts of a trial court, arrived at only after a
hearing and evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses, certainly deserve respect by
an appellate court.[53] Unless it plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and
value which, if considered, may affect the result of the case, appellate courts will
not disturb the findings of the trial court on the issue of credibility of witnesses, it
being in a better position to decide the question, having heard and observed the
witnesses themselves.[54]

We find no exceptional circumstances in this case that would justify a deviation from
the general rule. The trial courts findings and conclusions are duly supported by the
evidence on record; thus, there is no reason to disturb them.

Moreover, there is no showing that the private complainants were impelled by any
ill motive that could have affected their credibility. Where there is nothing to show
that the witnesses for the prosecution were actuated by improper motive, their
positive and categorical declarations on the witness stand, under the solemnity of
an oath, deserve full faith and credence. [55]

Appellant professes lack of criminal intent to escape liability for estafa. He


maintains that, like the private complainants, he is also an applicant trying his luck
at finding work overseas; that he would usually help out in office work on occasions
that he would visit the agency as an applicant which explains why complainants
could have indeed seen and conversed with him about their applications.

These implausible arguments fail to persuade us.

As with the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals, this Court is likewise
convinced that the prosecution was able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt,
appellants guilt for estafa under Article 315 (2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code, which
provides:

Article 315. Swindling (estafa). x x x

xxxx
1.
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.

Under the above-quoted provision, there are three (3) ways of


committing estafa: (1) by using a fictitious name; (2) by falsely pretending to
possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or
imaginary transactions; and (3) by means of other similar deceits. [56] To convict for
this type of crime, it is essential that the false statement or fraudulent
representation constitutes the very cause or the only motive which induces the
complainant to part with the thing of value. [57]

In the case before us, appellant and Martir led the private complainants to believe
that they possessed the power, qualifications and means to provide work
in Korea. During the trial of these cases, it was clearly shown that, together
with Martir, appellant discussed with private complainants the fact of their being
deployed abroad for a job if they pay the processing fee, and that he actually
received payments from private complainants. Thus, it was proven beyond
reasonable doubt that the three private complainants were deceived into believing
that there were jobs waiting for them in a factory in Korea when in fact there were
none. Because of the assurances of appellant, each of the private complainants
parted with their money and suffered damages as a result of their being unable to
leave for Korea. The elements of estafa deceit and damage are thus indisputably
present, making the conviction for estafa appropriate.

Appellants defense that he is also an applicant is unavailing given the complete


absence of any attempt on his part to seek a refund of the money he allegedly paid
to the agency when the job promised him failed to materialize. He did not complain
at all, at the very least, but, instead, even helped out at the office whenever he
went there to follow up his application. As aptly put by the Court of Appeals,
[s]uch a story is highly improbable, incompatible with human behavior and contrary
to ordinary experience.[58]

Likewise, we find that the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly found
appellant guilty of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale under Republic Act
No. 8042,[59]the pertinent provision of which provides:

Sec. 6. Definition. For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring
workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee
or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree
No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the
Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner,
offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be
deemed so engaged. x x x.

xxxx

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. x x x.

To constitute illegal recruitment in large scale, three elements must concur: (a) the
offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable him to lawfully
engage in recruitment and placement of workers; (b) the offender undertakes any of
the activities within the meaning of recruitment and placement under Article 13(b)
of the Labor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of
the same Code (now Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042); and, (c) the offender
committed the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group. [60]

Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as any act of
canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring
workers; and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not. In the simplest terms,
illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority from the

government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad
for employment purposes.[61]

We are persuaded that all three elements of illegal recruitment in large scale were
proven in this case.

First, appellant had no valid license or authority to engage in the recruitment and
placement of workers. This is established by the Karagdagang Salaysay executed
by Pacardo on 8 March 2002, paragraph 6 of which states that while MPM applied
for a license, it was never issued one, for which reason, it changed its name to New
Filipino Manpower Development and Services, Inc. [62]

Second, despite not having such authority, appellant nevertheless engaged in


recruitment activities, offering and promising jobs to private complainants and
collecting from them various amounts as placement fees. This is substantiated by
the respective testimonies of the three private complainants.

Fernandez narrated that it was appellant who assured him that if he


pays P45,000.00, he would be able to leave for Korea within two to three
months. Both Fernandez and Panlilio affirmed that they gave the money to appellant
who issued a receipt therefore. Filomeno testified that when she went to the office
of Martir, the latter and appellant were in the process of accepting applicants for
work overseas. They told her that as a factory worker in Korea, she would have a
monthly salary of US$500.00 with overtime pay.Relying on their misrepresentations,
she paid the placement fee to appellant and Martir.

Thus, the mere denials of appellant cannot stand against the clear, positive and
straightforward testimonies of private complainants who positively identified
appellant as one of two persons who undertook to recruit them for a supposed
employment in Korea. As already previously mentioned, absent 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.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 31 January 2008 in CAG.R.
CR H.C. No. 01663, affirming with modification the Judgment of the Regional Trial

Court of Manila, Branch 34, finding appellant Rodolfo Gallo guilty of illegal
recruitment in large scale and three (3) counts of estafa is AFFIRMED.
G.R. No. 168651 : March 16, 2011
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. EDITH RAMOS ABAT,
Accused-Appellant.
BERSAMIN, J.:
FACTS:
Accused Abat was convicted by the RTC of illegal recruitment in large scale of nine
individuals, by recruiting them to a supposed job in Taiwan for a fee, without the
proper authority. The CA affirmed her conviction.
In her appeal, the accused denies having any participation in the recruitment of the
nine named complainants for employment in Taiwan, asserting that the CA erred in
thus affirming her conviction despite the totality of evidence pointing to no other
conclusion than her innocence. She urges the review of the CAs ruling on the
credibility of the witnesses in view of the two opposing versions of the facts
involved.
In support of her appeal, she argues that, among others, the sums she exacted and
received from the complainants represented only the reimbursement of the
expenses incurred during her trips; that the failure of the complainants to produce
receipts showing that she had collected money from them in connection with her
assurances of their employment in Taiwan was fatal to the State's case against her;
and that although only four of the nine named complainants had appeared and
testified in court, the Prosecution did not explain why the five other complainants
had desisted from testifying against her.
ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the defense of the accused, that she was merely seeking
reimbursements, is credible
2. Whether or not the absence of a receipt negates a finding of illegal recruitment
HELD:
The petition is denied.
LABOR LAW: Illegal recruitment.

First issue: In accordance with Article 38 of the Labor Code, it is the lack of the
necessary license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or
overseas, that renders the recruitment activity unlawful or criminal.[4]To prove
illegal recruitment, therefore, the State must show that the accused gave the
complainants the distinct impression that she had the power or ability to deploy the
complainants abroad in a manner that they were convinced to part with their money
for that end.
In addition to her admission that she did not have any license or authority from the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to recruit and deploy workers, either
locally or overseas, the explicit certification issued on January 10, 2001 be Atty.
Adonis Peralta, the DOLE District Officer in Dagupan City, attesting that the accused
did not possess any permit to recruit workers for overseas employment in
Pangasinan, including the cities of Dagupan, San Carlos, Urdaneta and Alaminos,
confirmed her lack of the license or authority required by law.
The State competently established that the accused, despite having no license or
authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, had represented
to the complainants that she could secure their employment in Taiwan either as
factory workers or as computer operators at a monthly salary of NT$45,000.00
each; and that the complainants had relied on her representation and given her the
amounts she had demanded in the expectation of their placement. She had also
told the complainants about her being related to the Philippine Ambassador
toTaiwan, as well as to President Ramos and President Estrada.
Second issue: The Court has ruled that the absence of receipts evidencing payment
does not defeat a criminal prosecution for illegal recruitment.According to People v.
Pabalan, the absence of receipts in a criminal case for illegal recruitment does not
warrant the acquittal of the accused and is not fatal to the case of the prosecution.
As long as the witnesses had positively shown through their respective testimonies
that the accused is the one involved in the prohibited recruitment, he may be
convicted of the offense despite the want of receipts. Consequently, as long as the
State established through credible testimonial evidence that the accused had
engaged in illegal recruitment, her conviction was justified, as it is herein.
Petition is DENIED, and the CA decision is AFFIRMED.