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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee,

G.R. No. 180926


Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

- versus -

LOURDES VALENCIANO y

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

DACUBA,
Accused-Appellant.

December 10, 2008

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
VELASCO, JR., J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated July 24, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
01390 which upheld the Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116 in Pasay City in Criminal Case No.
97-9851. The RTC convicted Lourdes Valenciano of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale.
The Facts
In May 1996, Lourdes Valenciano, claiming to be an employee of Middle East International Manpower
Resources, Inc., went with one Susie Caraeg to the house of Agapito De Luna, and told him he could apply for a job
in Taiwan. A week later, De Luna went to Valencianos house, there to be told to undergo a medical examination,
with the assurance that if there were a job order abroad, he would be able to leave. He was also told that the
placement fee for his employment as a factory worker in Taiwan was PhP 70,000.
After passing the medical examination, De Luna paid Valenciano at the latters residence the following
amounts: PhP 20,000 on June 21, 1996; PhP 20,000 on July 12, 1996; and PhP 30,000 on August 21, 1996. The first
and last payments were turned over by Valenciano to Teresita Imperial, who issued the corresponding receipts, and
the second payment was turned over by Valenciano to Rodante Imperial, who also issued a receipt.
Also in May 1996, Valenciano visited the house of Allan De Villa, accompanied by Euziel N. Dela Cuesta,
Eusebio T. Candelaria, and De Luna, to recruit De Villa as a factory worker in Taiwan. De Villa was also asked for
PhP 70,000 as placement fee. He paid Valenciano the following amounts: PhP 20,000 on May 16, 1996 at
Valencianos residence; PhP 20,000 on May 30, 1996 at the Rural Bank of Calaca, Batangas; PhP 20,000 on July 8,
1996 at Valencianos residence; and PhP 10,000 on August 14, 1996, also at her residence. Valenciano turned over
the amounts to either Teresita or Rodante. Teresita issued receipts for the May 16, July 8, and August 14, 1996
payments, while Rodante issued a receipt for the payment made on May 30, 1996.
On May 20, 1996, Valenciano, accompanied by Rodante and Puring Caraeg, went to the house of Dela
Cuesta to recruit her for employment as a factory worker in Taiwan. Dela Cuesta paid Valenciano PhP 20,000 as
initial payment on May 20, 1996. On May 30, 1996, she paid Valenciano another PhP 20,000. On August 12, 1996,
she paid PhP 15,000, and on August 21, 1996, she paid PhP 7,000. Valenciano turned the May 20 and 30, 1996
payments over to Rodante, who issued receipts for these payments. The payments made on August 12 and 21,
1996 were turned over to Teresita, who also issued receipts for them. These payments were to cover the
placement fee and other expenses for the processing of the requirements for the employment of Dela Cuesta in
Taiwan.
On May 1, 1996, Valenciano, with Rodante, Teresita, and Rommel Imperial, went to Lian, Batangas to recruit
workers for employment abroad. Candelaria applied for a job as a factory worker in Taiwan when Valenciano went to
his residence in Lian. Valenciano asked him for an initial payment of PhP 20,000. On May 30, 1996, Candelaria

paid Valenciano PhP 20,000 when she returned to Lian. He then paid PhP 20,000 on June 24, 1996 and PhP 29,000
on July 17, 1996 at Valencianos residence in Manila. These payments were to cover the placement fee and the
expenses for the processing of his passport and other papers connected with his application for employment as a
factory worker in Taiwan. The payments made on May 30 and July 17, 1996 were turned over to Rodante, who
issued a receipt for the said payments. The payment made on June 24, 1996 was turned over by Valenciano to
Teresita.
After the payments were made, Valenciano brought the prospective workers to the office of Middle East
International Manpower Resources, Inc. in Pasay City, where they were made to fill out application forms for their
employment as factory workers in Taiwan. The complainants were introduced to Romeo Marquez, alias Rodante
Imperial, Teresita Marquez, alias Teresita Imperial, and Rommel Marquez, alias Rommel Imperial, whom
Valenciano made to appear as the owners of the employment agency. She assured the prospective workers that
they could leave for Taiwan within one month from the filing of their applications. During the period material, they
have not yet found employment as factory workers in Taiwan.
Valenciano, Rodante, Teresita, and Rommel were charged with the offense of illegal recruitment in large
scale, as defined under Article 13(b) of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 442, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the
Philippines, as amended, in relation to Art. 38(a), and penalized under Art. 39(c) of the Code, as amended by PD
1920 and PD 2018. The Information reads as follows:
That sometime in May, 1996 to August, 1996, or thereabout, in the City of Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, representing to have the capacity,
authority or license to contract, enlist and deploy or transport workers for overseas employment, conspiring,
confederating, and mutually helping each other, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally recruit and
promise to deploy the herein complainants, namely, Agapito R. De Luna, Allan Ilagan De Villa, Euziel N. Dela Cuesta
and Eusebio T. Candelaria, as factory workers in Taiwan, in exchange for placement, processing and other fees
ranging from P62,000.00 to P70,000.00 or a total of P271,000.00, without first obtaining the required license and/or
authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]
Accused-appellant Valenciano pleaded not guilty and waived the pre-trial. The other three accused remained
at large.
The RTC found accused-appellant guilty, the dispositive portion of the decision reading as follows:
WHEREFORE, accused Lourdes Valenciano y Dacuba is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense
of illegal recruitment in large scale as charged in the aforequoted Information; and she is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00.
She is also ordered to indemnify complainants Agapito R. de Luna, Allan Ilagan de Villa, Euziel N. dela
Cuesta and Eusebio T. Candelaria the amounts of P70,000.00, P70,000.00, P62,000.00 and P69,000.00,
respectively, as reparation of the damage caused.
No other civil liability may be adjudged against the accused for lack of any factual or legal basis therefor.
SO ORDERED.[4]
Accused-appellant appealed to this Court, but the case was transferred to the CA through a Resolution dated
September 6, 2004, following People v. Mateo.[5]
The CA, in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01390, affirmed the decision of the trial court finding accused-appellant guilty of the
offense charged.
Hence, we have this appeal.
The Issues
Accused-appellant raises the following assignment of errors: (1) the lower court gravely erred in not
acquitting accused-appellant on reasonable doubt; and (2) the lower court gravely erred in holding that a
conspiracy exists between accused-appellant and her co-accused.

The Courts Ruling


The appeal is without merit.
In her defense, accused-appellant claims that she was an ordinary employee of Middle East International
Manpower Resources, Inc., where her other co-accused were the owners and managers. She also denies receiving
payment from the complainants; that had she promised employment in Taiwan, this promise was made in the
performance of her duties as a clerk in the company. She denies too having knowledge of the criminal intent of her
co-accused, adding that she might even be regarded as a victim in the present case, as she was in good faith when
she made the promise.
Art. 13(b) of the Labor Code reads:
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.
Art. 38(a) and (b) of the Labor Code reads as follows:
(a)
Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to
be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable under Article 39
of this Code. x x x
(b)
Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense
involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in accordance with Article 39 hereof.
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.
Art. 39(a) provides that the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of PhP 100,000 shall be imposed if illegal
recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined above.
The claim of accused-appellant that she was a mere employee of her other co-accused does not relieve her of
liability. An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal,
together with his employer, if it is shown that the employee actively and consciously participated in illegal
recruitment.[6] As testified to by the complainants, accused-appellant was among those who met and transacted
with them regarding the job placement offers. In some instances, she made the effort to go to their houses to
recruit them. She even gave assurances that they would be able to find employment abroad and leave for Taiwan
after the filing of their applications. Accused-appellant was clearly engaged in recruitment activities,
notwithstanding her gratuitous protestation that her actions were merely done in the course of her employment as
a clerk.
Accused-appellant cannot claim to be merely following the dictates of her employers and use good faith as a shield
against criminal liability. As held in People v. Gutierrez:
Appellant cannot escape liability by claiming that she was not aware that before working for her employer in the
recruitment agency, she should first be registered with the POEA. Illegal recruitment in large scale is malum
prohibitum, not malum in se. Good faith is not a defense.[7]
The claim of accused-appellant that she received no payment and that the payments were handed directly over to
her co-accused fails in the face of the testimony of the complainants that accused-appellant was the one who
received the money. In spite of the receipts having been issued by her co-accused, the trial court found that
payments were directly made to accused-appellant, and this finding was upheld by the CA. Nothing is more
entrenched than the rule that where, as here, the findings of fact of the trial court are affirmed by the CA, these are
final and conclusive upon this Court.[8] And even if it were true that no money changed hands, money is not
material to a prosecution for illegal recruitment, as the definition of recruitment and placement in the Labor Code
includes the phrase, whether for profit or not. We held in People v. Jamilosa that it was sufficient that the
accused promises or offers for a fee employment to warrant conviction for illegal recruitment.[9] Accusedappellant made representations that complainants would receive employment abroad, and this suffices for her
conviction, even if her name does not appear on the receipts issued to complainants as evidence that payment was
made.

Neither accused-appellant nor her co-accused had authority to recruit workers for overseas employment. The
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), through its employee, Corazon Aquino, issued on July 8,
1997 the following certification to that effect:
This is to certify that per available records of this Office, MIDDLE EAST INTERNATIONAL MANPOWER RESOURCES
INC., with office address at 2119 P. Burgos St., cor. Gil Puyat Ave., Pasay City represented by SAPHIA CALAMATA
ASAAD is a licensed landbased agency whose license expired on October 13, 1996. Per record, said agency has not
filed any application for renewal of license.
Per available records, the names of RODANTE IMPERIAL a.k.a. ROMEO MARQUEZ, TERESITA IMPERIAL a.k.a.
TERESITA MARQUEZ, ROMMEL MARQUEZ a.k.a. ROMMEL IMPERIAL and LOURDES VALENCIANO do not appear on the
list of employees submitted by agency.
This certification is being issued for whatever legal purpose it may serve.[10]
Another certification dated July 9, 1997 stated that accused-appellant in her personal capacity was not licensed or
authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment and that any recruitment activities undertaken by her are
illegal.[11] Accused-appellant could thus point to no authority allowing her to recruit complainants, as she was not
an employee of Middle East International Manpower Resources, Inc. nor was she allowed to do so in her personal
capacity. Furthermore, she undertook recruitment activities outside the premises of the office of a licensed
recruitment agency, which can only be done with the prior approval of the POEA, and neither she nor her coaccused had permission to do so, as testified by Aquino of the POEA.[12]
Accused-appellant was convicted of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale, and there could be no other result. As held
in Jamilosa:
To prove illegal recruitment in large scale, the prosecution is burdened to prove three (3) essential
elements, to wit: (1) the person charged undertook a recruitment activity under Article 13(b) or any prohibited
practice under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) accused did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage
in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) accused committed the same against three or more persons
individually or as a group.[13] x x x
The RTC found accused-appellant to have undertaken recruitment activities, and this was affirmed by the CA. A
POEA certification was submitted stating that accused-appellant was not authorized to recruit applicants for
overseas employment, and she did not contest this certification. In the present case, there are four complainants:
De Luna, De Villa, Dela Cuesta, and Candelaria. The three essential elements for illegal recruitment in large scale
are present. Thus, there can be no other conclusion in this case but to uphold the conviction of accused-appellant
and apply the penalty as imposed by law.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we AFFIRM the appealed CA Decision dated July 24, 2007 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 01390, with no costs.
SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION

BECMEN SERVICE EXPORTER


AND PROMOTION, INC.,
Petitioner,

- versus Chico-Nazario,
Nachura, and
Peralta, JJ.
SPOUSES SIMPLICIO and MILA
CUARESMA (for and in behalf of
their daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma),

G.R. Nos. 182978-79


Present:

Ynares-Santiago, J.(Chairperson),
Carpio Morales,*

WHITE FALCON SERVICES, INC.


and JAIME ORTIZ (President,
White Falcon Services, Inc.),
Respondents.
x ------------------------------------------------------ x
SPOUSES SIMPLICIO and MILA
CUARESMA (for and in behalf of
their daughter, Jasmin G. Cuaresma),
Petitioners,

G.R. Nos. 184298-99

- versus WHITE FALCON SERVICES, INC.


Promulgated:
and BECMEN SERVICE EXPORTER
AND PROMOTION, INC.,
Respondents.
April 7, 2009
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
These consolidated petitions assail the Amended Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated May 14, 2008 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 80619 and CA-G.R. SP No. 81030 finding White Falcon Services, Inc. and Becmen Service Exporter and
Promotion, Inc. solidarily liable to indemnify spouses Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma the amount of US$4,686.73 in
actual damages with interest.
On January 6, 1997, Jasmin Cuaresma (Jasmin) was deployed by Becmen Service Exporter and Promotion, Inc.[2]
(Becmen) to serve as assistant nurse in Al-Birk Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), for a contract
duration of three years, with a corresponding salary of US$247.00 per month.
Over a year later, she died allegedly of poisoning.
Jessie Fajardo, a co-worker of Jasmin, narrated that on June 21, 1998, Jasmin was found dead by a female cleaner
lying on the floor inside her dormitory room with her mouth foaming and smelling of poison.[3]
Based on the police report and the medical report of the examining physician of the Al-Birk Hospital, who conducted
an autopsy of Jasmins body, the likely cause of her death was poisoning. Thus:
According to letter No. 199, dated 27.2.1419H, issued by Al-Birk Police Station, for examining the corpse of Jasmin
Cuaresma, 12.20 P.M. 27.2.1419H, Sunday, at Al-Birk Hospital.
1. The Police Report on the Death
2. The Medical Diagnosis
Sex: Female

Age: 25 years Relg: Christian

The said person was brought to the Emergency Room of the hospital; time 12.20 P.M. and she was unconscious,
blue, no pulse, no respiration and the first aid esd undertaken but without success.
3. Diagnosis and Opinion: Halt in blood circulation respiratory system and brain damage due to an apparent
poisoning which is under investigation.[4]
Name: Jasmin Cuaresma
Sex: Female
Marital Status: Single
Religion: Christian
Address: Al-Birk Genrl. Hospital

Nationality: Philipino (sic)


Profession: Nurse
Birth Place: The Philippines

On 27.2.1419H, Dr. Tariq Abdulminnem and Dr. Ashoki Komar, both have examined the dead body of Jasmin
Cuaresma, at 12.20 P.M., Sunday, 22.2.14189H, and the result was:
1. Report of the Police on the death
2. Medical Examination: Blue skin and paleness on the Extrimes (sic), total halt to blood circulation and respiratory
system and brain damage. There were no external injuries. Likely poisoning by taking poisonous substance, yet not
determined. There was a bad smell in the mouth and unknown to us.[5] (Emphasis supplied)
Jasmins body was repatriated to Manila on September 3, 1998. The following day, the City Health Officer of
Cabanatuan City conducted an autopsy and the resulting medical report indicated that Jasmin died under violent
circumstances, and not poisoning as originally found by the KSA examining physician. The City Health Officer found
that Jasmin had abrasions at her inner lip and gums; lacerated wounds and abrasions on her left and right ears;
lacerated wounds and hematoma (contusions) on her elbows; abrasions and hematoma on her thigh and legs;
intra-muscular hemorrhage at the anterior chest; rib fracture; puncture wounds; and abrasions on the labia minora
of the vaginal area.[6]
On March 11, 1999, Jasmins remains were exhumed and examined by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The toxicology report of the NBI, however, tested negative for non-volatile, metallic poison and insecticides.[7]
Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma (the Cuaresmas), Jasmins parents and her surviving heirs, received from the
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) the following amounts: P50,000.00 for death benefits;
P50,000.00 for loss of life; P20,000.00 for funeral expenses; and P10,000.00 for medical reimbursement.
On November 22, 1999, the Cuaresmas filed a complaint against Becmen and its principal in the KSA, Rajab &
Silsilah Company (Rajab), claiming death and insurance benefits, as well as moral and exemplary damages for
Jasmins death.[8]
In their complaint, the Cuaresmas claim that Jasmins death was work-related, having occurred at the employers
premises;[9] that under Jasmins contract with Becmen, she is entitled to iqama insurance coverage; that Jasmin
is entitled to compensatory damages in the amount of US$103,740.00, which is the sum total of her monthly salary
of US$247.00 per month under her employment contract, multiplied by 35 years (or the remaining years of her
productive life had death not supervened at age 25, assuming that she lived and would have retired at age 60).
The Cuaresmas assert that as a result of Jasmins death under mysterious circumstances, they suffered sleepless
nights and mental anguish. The situation, they claim, was aggravated by findings in the autopsy and exhumation
reports which evidently show that a grave injustice has been committed against them and their daughter, for which
those responsible should likewise be made to pay moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
In their position paper, Becmen and Rajab insist that Jasmin committed suicide, citing a prior unsuccessful suicide
attempt sometime in March or April 1998 and relying on the medical report of the examining physician of the AlBirk Hospital. They likewise deny liability because the Cuaresmas already recovered death and other benefits
totaling P130,000.00 from the OWWA. They insist that the Cuaresmas are not entitled to iqama insurance
because this refers to the issuance not insurance of iqama, or residency/work permit required in the KSA. On
the issue of moral and exemplary damages, they claim that the Cuaresmas are not entitled to the same because
they have not acted with fraud, nor have they been in bad faith in handling Jasmins case.
While the case was pending, Becmen filed a manifestation and motion for substitution alleging that Rajab
terminated their agency relationship and had appointed White Falcon Services, Inc. (White Falcon) as its new
recruitment agent in the Philippines. Thus, White Falcon was impleaded as respondent as well, and it adopted and
reiterated Becmens arguments in the position paper it subsequently filed.
On February 28, 2001, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision[10] dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. Giving
weight to the medical report of the Al-Birk Hospital finding that Jasmin died of poisoning, the Labor Arbiter
concluded that Jasmin committed suicide. In any case, Jasmins death was not service-connected, nor was it shown
that it occurred while she was on duty; besides, her parents have received all corresponding benefits they were
entitled to under the law. In regard to damages, the Labor Arbiter found no legal basis to warrant a grant thereof.
On appeal, the National Labor Relations Commission (Commission) reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter.
Relying on the findings of the City Health Officer of Cabanatuan City and the NBI as contained in their autopsy and
toxicology report, respectively, the Commission, via its November 22, 2002 Resolution[11] declared that, based on
substantial evidence adduced, Jasmin was the victim of compensable work-connected criminal aggression. It
disregarded the Al-Birk Hospital attending physicians report as well as the KSA police report, finding the same to be
inconclusive. It declared that Jasmins death was the result of an accident occurring within the employers
premises that is attributable to her employment, or to the conditions under which she lived, and thus arose out of
and in the course of her employment as nurse. Thus, the Cuaresmas are entitled to actual damages in the form of

Jasmins lost earnings, including future earnings, in the total amount of US$113,000.00. The Commission, however,
dismissed all other claims in the complaint.
Becmen, Rajab and White Falcon moved for reconsideration, whereupon the Commission issued its October 9, 2003
Resolution[12] reducing the award of US$113,000.00 as actual damages to US$80,000.00.[13] The NLRC likewise
declared Becmen and White Falcon as solidarily liable for payment of the award.
Becmen and White Falcon brought separate petitions for certiorari to the Court of Appeals.[14] On June 28, 2006,
the appellate court rendered its Decision,[15] the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows:
WHEREFORE, the subject petitions are DENIED but in the execution of the decision, it should first be enforced
against White Falcon Services and then against Becmen Services when it is already impossible, impractical and
futile to go against it (White Falcon).
SO ORDERED.[16]
The appellate court affirmed the NLRCs findings that Jasmins death was compensable, the same having occurred
at the dormitory, which was contractually provided by the employer. Thus her death should be considered to have
occurred within the employers premises, arising out of and in the course of her employment.
Becmen and White Falcon moved for reconsideration. On May 14, 2008, the appellate court rendered the assailed
Amended Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows:
WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are GRANTED. Accordingly, the award of US$80,000.00 in actual
damages is hereby reduced to US$4,686.73 plus interest at the legal rate computed from the time it became due
until fully paid. Petitioners are hereby adjudged jointly and solidarily liable with the employer for the monetary
awards with Becmen Service Exporter and Promotions, Inc. having a right of reimbursement from White Falcon
Services, Inc.
SO ORDERED.[17]
In the Amended Decision, the Court of Appeals found that although Jasmins death was compensable, however,
there is no evidentiary basis to support an award of actual damages in the amount of US$80,000.00. Nor may lost
earnings be collected, because the same may be charged only against the perpetrator of the crime or quasi-delict.
Instead, the appellate court held that Jasmins beneficiaries should be entitled only to the sum equivalent of the
remainder of her 36-month employment contract, or her monthly salary of US$247.00 multiplied by nineteen (19)
months, with legal interest.
Becmen filed the instant petition for review on certiorari (G.R. Nos. 182978-79). The Cuaresmas, on the other hand,
moved for a reconsideration of the amended decision, but it was denied. They are now before us via G.R. Nos.
184298-99.
On October 6, 2008, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. Nos. 184298-99 with G.R. Nos. 182978-79.
In G.R. Nos. 182978-79, Becmen raises the following issues for our resolution:
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT GAVE MORE CREDENCE AND WEIGHT TO THE AUTOPSY REPORT
CONDUCTED BY THE CABANATUAN CITY HEALTH OFFICE THAN THE MEDICAL AND POLICE REPORTS ISSUED BY THE
MINISTRY OF HEALTH OF KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA AND AL-BIRK HOSPITAL.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN ON THE BASIS OF THE POSITION PAPERS AND ANNEXES THERETO
INCLUDING THE AUTOPSY REPORT, IT CONCLUDED THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA WAS CAUSED BY
CRIMINAL AGGRESSION.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA WAS
COMPENSABLE PURSUANT TO THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN TALLER VS. YNCHAUSTI, G.R. NO. 35741,
DECEMBER 20, 1932, WHICH IT FOUND TO BE STILL GOOD LAW.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF JASMIN CUARESMA
NOTWITHSTANDING ITS ADMISSIONS THAT IQAMA INSURANCE WAS A TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR SINCE IQAMA IS
NOT AN INSURANCE.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT CONCLUDED THAT THE DEATH OF JASMIN WAS WORK RELATED.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE TO JASMINS BENEFICIARIES FOR THE
REMAINDER OF HER 36-MONTH CONTRACT COMPUTED IN THIS MANNER: MONTHLY SALARY OF US$246.67

MULTIPLIED BY 19 MONTHS, THE REMAINDER OF THE TERM OF JASMINS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT, IS EQUAL TO
US$4,686.73.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN LIABLE TO PAY INTEREST AT THE LEGAL RATE
FROM THE TIME IT WAS DUE UNTIL FULLY PAID.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD BECMEN AND WHITE FALCON JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY
LIABLE WITH THE EMPLOYER NOTWITHSTANDING THE ASSUMPTION OF LIABILITY EXECUTED BY WHITE FALCON IN
FAVOR OF BECMEN.
On the other hand, in G.R. Nos. 184298-99, the Cuaresmas raise the following issues:
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF THE CIVIL CODE CONSIDERED
GENERAL LAW DESPITE THE CASE BEING COVERED BY E.O. 247, R.A. 8042 AND LABOR CODE CONSIDERED AS
SPECIAL LAWS.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE DECEASEDS FUTURE EARNINGS WHICH IS (AN)
INHERENT FACTOR IN THE COMPUTATION OF DEATH BENEFITS OF OVERSEAS FILIPINO CONTRACT WORKERS.
(THE COURT OF APPEALS) GRAVELY ERRED IN REDUCING THE DEATH BENEFITS AWARDED BY NLRC CONSIDERED
FINDINGS OF FACT THAT CANNOT BE DISTURBED THROUGH CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT.
The issue for resolution is whether the Cuaresmas are entitled to monetary claims, by way of benefits and
damages, for the death of their daughter Jasmin.
The terms and conditions of Jasmins 1996 Employment Agreement which she and her employer Rajab freely
entered into constitute the law between them. As a rule, stipulations in an employment contract not contrary to
statutes, public policy, public order or morals have the force of law between the contracting parties.[18] An
examination of said employment agreement shows that it provides for no other monetary or other
benefits/privileges than the following:
1.

1,300 rials (or US$247.00) monthly salary;

2.
Free air tickets to KSA at the start of her contract and to the Philippines at the end thereof, as well as
for her vacation at the end of each twenty four-month service;
3.

Transportation to and from work;

4.

Free living accommodations;

5.
Free medical treatment, except for optical and dental operations, plastic surgery charges and lenses,
and medical treatment obtained outside of KSA;
6.
Entry visa fees will be shared equally between her and her employer, but the exit/re-entry visa fees,
fees for Iqama issuance, renewal, replacement, passport renewal, sponsorship transfer and other liabilities shall be
borne by her;
7.
Thirty days paid vacation leave with round trip tickets to Manila after twenty four-months of
continuous service;
8.

Eight days public holidays per year;

9.

The indemnity benefit due her at the end of her service will be calculated as per labor laws of KSA.

Thus, the agreement does not include provisions for insurance, or for accident, death or other benefits that the
Cuaresmas seek to recover, and which the labor tribunals and appellate court granted variably in the guise of
compensatory damages.
However, the absence of provisions for social security and other benefits does not make Jasmins employment
contract infirm. Under KSA law, her foreign employer is not obliged to provide her these benefits; and neither is
Jasmin entitled to minimum wage unless of course the KSA labor laws have been amended to the opposite effect,
or that a bilateral wage agreement has been entered into.
Our next inquiry is, should Jasmins death be considered as work-connected and thus compensable? The evidence
indicates that it is not. At the time of her death, she was not on duty, or else evidence to the contrary would have
been adduced. Neither was she within hospital premises at the time. Instead, she was at her dormitory room on
personal time when she died. Neither has it been shown, nor does the evidence suggest, that at the time she died,

Jasmin was performing an act reasonably necessary or incidental to her employment as nurse, because she was at
her dormitory room. It is reasonable to suppose that all her work is performed at the Al-birk Hospital, and not at
her dormitory room.
We cannot expect that the foreign employer should ensure her safety even while she is not on duty. It is not fair to
require employers to answer even for their employees personal time away from work, which the latter are free to
spend of their own choosing. Whether they choose to spend their free time in the pursuit of safe or perilous
undertakings, in the company of friends or strangers, lovers or enemies, this is not one area which their employers
should be made accountable for. While we have emphasized the need to observe official work time strictly,[19]
what an employee does on free time is beyond the employers sphere of inquiry.
While the employers premises may be defined very broadly not only to include premises owned by it, but also
premises it leases, hires, supplies or uses,[20] we are not prepared to rule that the dormitory wherein Jasmin stayed
should constitute employers premises as would allow a finding that death or injury therein is considered to have
been incurred or sustained in the course of or arose out of her employment. There are certainly exceptions,[21] but
they do not appear to apply here. Moreover, a complete determination would have to depend on the unique
circumstances obtaining and the overall factual environment of the case, which are here lacking.
But, did Jasmin commit suicide? Rajab, Becmen and White Falcon vehemently insist that she did; thus, her heirs
may not claim benefits or damages based on criminal aggression. On the other hand, the Cuaresmas do not
believe so.
The Court cannot subscribe to the idea that Jasmin committed suicide while halfway into her employment contract.
It is beyond human comprehension that a 25-year old Filipina, in the prime of her life and working abroad with a
chance at making a decent living with a high-paying job which she could not find in her own country, would simply
commit suicide for no compelling reason.
The Saudi police and autopsy reports which state that Jasmin is a likely/or apparent victim of poisoning are
patently inconclusive. They are thus unreliable as evidence.
On the contrary, the autopsy report of the Cabanatuan City Health Officer and the exhumation report of the NBI
categorically and unqualifiedly show that Jasmin sustained external and internal injuries, specifically abrasions at
her inner lip and gums; lacerated wounds and abrasions on her left and right ears; lacerated wounds and
hematoma (contusions) on her elbows; abrasions and hematoma on her thigh and legs; intra-muscular hemorrhage
at the anterior chest; a fractured rib; puncture wounds; and abrasions on the labia minora of the vaginal area. The
NBI toxicology report came up negative on the presence of poison.
All these show that Jasmin was manhandled and possibly raped prior to her death.
Even if we were to agree with the Saudi police and autopsy reports that indicate Jasmin was poisoned to death, we
do not believe that it was self-induced. If ever Jasmin was poisoned, the assailants who beat her up and possibly
raped her are certainly responsible therefor.
We are not exactly ignorant of what goes on with our OFWs. Nor is the rest of the world blind to the realities of life
being suffered by migrant workers in the hands of some foreign employers. It is inconceivable that our Filipina
women would seek employment abroad and face uncertainty in a foreign land, only to commit suicide for
unexplained reasons. Deciding to leave their family, loved ones, and the comfort and safety of home, to work in a
strange land requires unrivaled strength and courage. Indeed, many of our women OFWs who are unfortunate to
end up with undesirable employers have been there more times than they care to, beaten up and broken in body
yet they have remained strong in mind, refusing to give up the will to live. Raped, burned with cigarettes, kicked in
the chest with sharp high-heeled shoes, starved for days or even weeks, stabbed, slaved with incessant work,
locked in their rooms, forced to serve their masters naked, grossly debased, dehumanized and insulted, their spirits
fought on and they lived for the day that they would once again be reunited with their families and loved ones.
Their bodies surrendered, but their will to survive remained strong.
It is surprising, therefore, that Rajab, Becmen and White Falcon should insist on suicide, without even lifting a finger
to help solve the mystery of Jasmins death. Being in the business of sending OFWs to work abroad, Becmen and
White Falcon should know what happens to some of our OFWs. It is impossible for them to be completely unaware
that cruelties and inhumanities are inflicted on OFWs who are unfortunate to be employed by vicious employers, or
upon those who work in communities or environments where they are liable to become victims of crime. By now
they should know that our women OFWs do not readily succumb to the temptation of killing themselves even when
assaulted, abused, starved, debased and, worst, raped.
Indeed, what we have seen is Rajab and Becmens revolting scheme of conveniently avoiding responsibility by
clinging to the absurd theory that Jasmin took her own life. Abandoning their legal, moral and social obligation (as
employer and recruiter) to assist Jasmins family in obtaining justice for her death, they immediately gave up on
Jasmins case, which has remained under investigation as the autopsy and police reports themselves indicate.

Instead of taking the cudgels for Jasmin, who had no relative or representative in the KSA who would naturally
demand and seek an investigation of her case, Rajab and Becmen chose to take the most convenient route to
avoiding and denying liability, by casting Jasmins fate to oblivion. It appears from the record that to this date, no
follow up of Jasmins case was ever made at all by them, and they seem to have expediently treated Jasmins death
as a closed case. Despite being given the lead via the autopsy and toxicology reports of the Philippine authorities,
they failed and refused to act and pursue justice for Jasmins sake and to restore honor to her name.
Indeed, their nonchalant and uncaring attitude may be seen from how Jasmins remains were repatriated. No
official representative from Rajab or Becmen was kind enough to make personal representations with Jasmins
parents, if only to extend their condolences or sympathies; instead, a mere colleague, nurse Jessie Fajardo, was
designated to accompany Jasmins body home.
Of all lifes tragedies, the death of ones own child must be the most painful for a parent. Not knowing why or how
Jasmins life was snuffed out makes the pain doubly unbearable for Jasmins parents, and further aggravated by
Rajab, Becmen, and White Falcons baseless insistence and accusation that it was a self-inflicted death, a mortal sin
by any religious standard.
Thus we categorically hold, based on the evidence; the actual experiences of our OFWs; and the resilient and
courageous spirit of the Filipina that transcends the vilest desecration of her physical self, that Jasmin did not
commit suicide but a victim of murderous aggression.
Rajab, Becmen, and White Falcons indifference to Jasmins case has caused unfathomable pain and suffering upon
her parents. They have turned away from their moral obligation, as employer and recruiter and as entities laden
with social and civic obligations in society, to pursue justice for and in behalf of Jasmin, her parents and those she
left behind. Possessed with the resources to determine the truth and to pursue justice, they chose to stand idly for
the sake of convenience and in order that they may avoid pecuniary liability, turning a blind eye to the Philippine
authorities autopsy and toxicology reports instead of taking action upon them as leads in pursuing justice for
Jasmins death. They have placed their own financial and corporate interests above their moral and social
obligations, and chose to secure and insulate themselves from the perceived responsibility of having to answer for
and indemnify Jasmins heirs for her death.
Under Republic Act No. 8042 (R.A. 8042), or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,[22] the State
shall, at all times, uphold the dignity of its citizens whether in country or overseas, in general, and Filipino migrant
workers, in particular.[23] The State shall provide adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to
Filipino migrant workers.[24] The rights and interest of distressed[25] overseas Filipinos, in general, and Filipino
migrant workers, in particular, documented or undocumented, are adequately protected and safeguarded.[26]
Becmen and White Falcon, as licensed local recruitment agencies, miserably failed to abide by the provisions of R.A.
8042. Recruitment agencies are expected to extend assistance to their deployed OFWs, especially those in distress.
Instead, they abandoned Jasmins case and allowed it to remain unsolved to further their interests and avoid
anticipated liability which parents or relatives of Jasmin would certainly exact from them. They willfully refused to
protect and tend to the welfare of the deceased Jasmin, treating her case as just one of those unsolved crimes that
is not worth wasting their time and resources on. The evidence does not even show that Becmen and Rajab lifted a
finger to provide legal representation and seek an investigation of Jasmins case. Worst of all, they unnecessarily
trampled upon the person and dignity of Jasmin by standing pat on the argument that Jasmin committed suicide,
which is a grave accusation given its un-Christian nature.
We cannot reasonably expect that Jasmins parents should be the ones to actively pursue a just resolution of her
case in the KSA, unless they are provided with the finances to undertake this herculean task. Sadly, Becmen and
Rajab did not lend any assistance at all in this respect. The most Jasmins parents can do is to coordinate with
Philippine authorities as mandated under R.A. 8042, obtain free legal assistance and secure the aid of the
Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment, the POEA and the OWWA in trying to
solve the case or obtain relief, in accordance with Section 23[27] of R.A. 8042. To our mind, the Cuaresmas did all
that was within their power, short of actually flying to the KSA. Indeed, the Cuaresmas went even further. To the
best of their abilities and capacities, they ventured to investigate Jasmins case on their own: they caused another
autopsy on Jasmins remains as soon as it arrived to inquire into the true cause of her death. Beyond that, they
subjected themselves to the painful and distressful experience of exhuming Jasmins remains in order to obtain
another autopsy for the sole purpose of determining whether or not their daughter was poisoned. Their quest for
the truth and justice is equally to be expected of all loving parents. All this time, Rajab and Becmen instead of
extending their full cooperation to the Cuaresma family merely sat on their laurels in seeming unconcern.
In Interorient Maritime Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRC,[28] a seaman who was being repatriated after his employment
contract expired, failed to make his Bangkok to Manila connecting flight as he began to wander the streets of
Bangkok aimlessly. He was shot to death by Thai police four days after, on account of running amuck with a knife in
hand and threatening to harm anybody within sight. The employer, sued for death and other benefits as well as
damages, interposed as defense the provision in the seafarer agreement which provides that no compensation
shall be payable in respect of any injury, incapacity, disability or death resulting from a willful act on his own life by

the seaman. The Court rejected the defense on the view, among others, that the recruitment agency should have
observed some precautionary measures and should not have allowed the seaman, who was later on found to be
mentally ill, to travel home alone, and its failure to do so rendered it liable for the seamans death. We ruled
therein that
The foreign employer may not have been obligated by its contract to provide a companion for a returning
employee, but it cannot deny that it was expressly tasked by its agreement to assure the safe return of said worker.
The uncaring attitude displayed by petitioners who, knowing fully well that its employee had been suffering from
some mental disorder, nevertheless still allowed him to travel home alone, is appalling to say the least. Such
attitude harks back to another time when the landed gentry practically owned the serfs, and disposed of them
when the latter had grown old, sick or otherwise lost their usefulness.[29] (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, more than just recruiting and deploying OFWs to their foreign principals, recruitment agencies have equally
significant responsibilities. In a foreign land where OFWs are likely to encounter uneven if not discriminatory
treatment from the foreign government, and certainly a delayed access to language interpretation, legal aid, and
the Philippine consulate, the recruitment agencies should be the first to come to the rescue of our distressed OFWs
since they know the employers and the addresses where they are deployed or stationed. Upon them lies the
primary obligation to protect the rights and ensure the welfare of our OFWs, whether distressed or not. Who else is
in a better position, if not these recruitment agencies, to render immediate aid to their deployed OFWs abroad?
Article 19 of the Civil Code provides that every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith. Article 21 of the Code
states that any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good
customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage. And, lastly, Article 24 requires that in all
contractual, property or other relations, when one of the parties is at a disadvantage on account of his moral
dependence, ignorance, indigence, mental weakness, tender age or other handicap, the courts must be vigilant for
his protection.
Clearly, Rajab, Becmen and White Falcons acts and omissions are against public policy because they undermine
and subvert the interest and general welfare of our OFWs abroad, who are entitled to full protection under the law.
They set an awful example of how foreign employers and recruitment agencies should treat and act with respect to
their distressed employees and workers abroad. Their shabby and callous treatment of Jasmins case; their
uncaring attitude; their unjustified failure and refusal to assist in the determination of the true circumstances
surrounding her mysterious death, and instead finding satisfaction in the unreasonable insistence that she
committed suicide just so they can conveniently avoid pecuniary liability; placing their own corporate interests
above of the welfare of their employees all these are contrary to morals, good customs and public policy, and
constitute taking advantage of the poor employee and her familys ignorance, helplessness, indigence and lack of
power and resources to seek the truth and obtain justice for the death of a loved one.
Giving in handily to the idea that Jasmin committed suicide, and adamantly insisting on it just to protect Rajab and
Becmens material interest despite evidence to the contrary is against the moral law and runs contrary to the
good custom of not denouncing ones fellowmen for alleged grave wrongdoings that undermine their good name
and honor.[30]
Whether employed locally or overseas, all Filipino workers enjoy the protective mantle of Philippine labor and social
legislation, contract stipulations to the contrary notwithstanding. This pronouncement is in keeping with the basic
public policy of the State to afford protection to labor, promote full employment, ensure equal work opportunities
regardless of sex, race or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers. This ruling is likewise
rendered imperative by Article 17 of the Civil Code which states that laws which have for their object public order,
public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by
determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.[31]
The relations between capital and labor are so impressed with public interest,[32] and neither shall act oppressively
against the other, or impair the interest or convenience of the public.[33] In case of doubt, all labor legislation and
all labor contracts shall be construed in favor of the safety and decent living for the laborer.[34]
The grant of moral damages to the employee by reason of misconduct on the part of the employer is sanctioned by
Article 2219 (10)[35] of the Civil Code, which allows recovery of such damages in actions referred to in Article 21.
[36]
Thus, in view of the foregoing, the Court holds that the Cuaresmas are entitled to moral damages, which Becmen
and White Falcon are jointly and solidarily liable to pay, together with exemplary damages for wanton and
oppressive behavior, and by way of example for the public good.
Private employment agencies are held jointly and severally liable with the foreign-based employer for any violation
of the recruitment agreement or contract of employment. This joint and solidary liability imposed by law against
recruitment agencies and foreign employers is meant to assure the aggrieved worker of immediate and sufficient

payment of what is due him.[37] If the recruitment/placement agency is a juridical being, the corporate officers and
directors and partners as the case may be, shall themselves be jointly and solidarily liable with the corporation or
partnership for the aforesaid claims and damages.[38]
White Falcons assumption of Becmens liability does not automatically result in Becmens freedom or release from
liability. This has been ruled in ABD Overseas Manpower Corporation v. NLRC.[39] Instead, both Becmen and White
Falcon should be held liable solidarily, without prejudice to each having the right to be reimbursed under the
provision of the Civil Code that whoever pays for another may demand from the debtor what he has paid.[40]
WHEREFORE, the Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 14, 2008 in CA-G.R. SP No. 80619 and CAG.R. SP No. 81030 is SET ASIDE. Rajab & Silsilah Company, White Falcon Services, Inc., Becmen Service Exporter
and Promotion, Inc., and their corporate directors and officers are found jointly and solidarily liable and ORDERED to
indemnify the heirs of Jasmin Cuaresma, spouses Simplicio and Mila Cuaresma, the following amounts:
1)

TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P2,500,000.00) as moral damages;

2)

TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P2,500,000.00) as exemplary damages;

3)

Attorneys fees equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the total monetary award; and,

4)

Costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 168651

March 16, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
EDITH RAMOS ABAT, Accused-Appellant.
RESOLUTION
BERSAMIN, J.:
Faced with the real prospect of spending the remainder of her natural life behind bars, the accused appeals the
decision promulgated on April 29, 2005, 1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed her conviction beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of large scale illegal recruitment as defined by Article 13(b) and penalized by Article
39(a), both of the Labor Code, handed down by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 42, in Dagupan City,
sentencing her to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00, and ordering her to reimburse to the
four complainants the respective amounts they had paid to the accused on their recruitment. 2
The accused was arraigned and tried under the information dated March 5, 2001, which alleged:
That sometime in the months of November and December 2000 in the Municipality of Calasiao, Province of
Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused not being a
licensee or holder of authority, did then and there, willfully (sic), unlawfully and feloniously undertake and perform
recruitment activities in large scale by recruiting MARIA CORAZON AGAS GARCIA, JOCELYN GEMINIANO FLORES,
SONNY YABOT y ANTONIO, BALTAZAR ARGEL y VALLEDOR, LETECIA RINONOS MARCELO, PABLITO S. GALUMAN,
TARCILA M. UMAGAT, CAROLINE U. CALIX, PERCY C. FUERTES, to a supposed job abroad, particularly in Taiwan, for a
fee, without first securing the necessary license or permit to do the same.
CONTRARY TO PD 442 as amended by PD 2018.

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 the sums she exacted and received from the complainants represented
only the reimbursement of the expenses incurred during her trips upon the advice of Sister Araceli, a faith healer,
that took her and the complainants to Cebu City, Iligan City, Ozamis City and Cagayan de Oro City, not in
consideration of the employment in Taiwan supposedly offered to the complainants; that for her not to be
reimbursed would be most unfair because she had defrayed the expenses for the trips with the complainants with
her husbands money; 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 States 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.
After having examined the records, however, we reject the accuseds denial of having any part in the recruitment of
the complainants and affirm the decision of the CA. We affirm her conviction,
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, defines "recruitment and placement" as referring:
xxx to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers, and
includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit
or not; Provided, That any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or
more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.
Article 38 of the Labor Code specifically defines what activities or acts constitute illegal recruitment and illegal
recruitment by a syndicate or in large scale, viz:
Article 38. Illegal recruitment. - (a) Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices enumerated under
Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by non-licensees or 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.
(c) The Secretary of Labor and Employment or his duly authorized representatives shall have the power to cause
the arrest and detention of such non-licensee or non-holder of authority if after investigation it is determined that
his activities constitute a danger to national security and public order or will lead to further exploitation of jobseekers. The Secretary shall order the search of the office or premises and seizure of documents, paraphernalia,
properties and other implements used in illegal recruitment activities and the closure of companies, establishments
and entities found to be engaged in the recruitment of workers for overseas employment, without having been
licensed or authorized to do so.
The acts committed by the accused constituted illegal recruitment in large scale, whose essential elements are the
following:
(a) The accused engages in acts of recruitment and placement of workers defined under Article 13(b) of the
Labor Code or in any prohibited activities under Article 43 of the Labor Code;
(b) The accused has not complied with the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment,
particularly with respect to the securing of license or an authority to recruit and deploy workers, either
locally or overseas; and
(c) The accused commits the unlawful acts against three or more persons individually or as a group. 3

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 by 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. 5
Our review shows that 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. We note that in order to make her representation more
convincing, she had also told the complainants about her being related to the Philippine Ambassador to Taiwan, as
well as to President Ramos and President Estrada.
The accused admitted having received various sums of money from the complainants, who had given the sums
either in cash or by depositing in the bank account of her husband, but denied that such sums were in
consideration of their recruitment, claiming instead that the sums were reimbursements for the expenses incurred
during the trips to Cebu City, Iligan City, Ozamis City and Cagayan de Oro City in the company of the
complainants.6 She insisted that the complainants, resenting her demand for reimbursements, then brought the
charge for illegal recruitment against her to get even. The CA disbelieved her denial, however, and pointed out
that:
Although private complainants do not deny that they did not spend a single centavo for all the expenses they have
incurred during such trips, it appears from their combined testimonies that they were led to believe that the
payments they have made were in consideration of their application to work in Taiwan and not for their outings. 7
We uphold the CAs appreciation of the situation. The accuseds allegation about this accusation emanating from
the complainants resentment could only be bereft of substance. For one, the fact that, as the RTC found, two of the
complainants (i.e., Ma. Corazon A. Garcia and Jocelyn Flores) did not even join the trips 8 entirely belied the
allegation. Besides, although the complainants who had joined her in the trips had admittedly spent not a single
centavo for the trips, their testimonies unerringly pointed nonetheless to the singular conclusion that she had led
them to believe that what they were paying for was their promised overseas employment, not the trips. Such
testimonies, which positively and unequivocally described her illegal activities of recruitment, prevailed over her
denial, which was nothing but self-serving negative evidence. 9 Indeed, it was further shown that the accused had
communicated to the complainants the dates of their departure for Taiwan after receiving the various sums she had
demanded, which was further proof of her promise to deploy them in Taiwan.
The urging of the accused that the Court should review her case due to the conflicting versions of the parties is
unwarranted. The determination of which of the different versions was to be believed is fundamentally an issue of
credibility whose resolution belonged to the domain of the trial judge who had observed the deportment and
manner of the witnesses at the time of their testimony. 10 The Court naturally accords great respect to the trial
judges evaluation of the credibility of witnesses, because the trial judge was in the best position to assess the
credibility of witnesses and their testimonies by reason of his unique opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand
and to note their demeanor, conduct, and attitude under grilling examination. 11 With more reason do we hold so
herein, for the CA, as the reviewing tribunal, affirmed the RTC, as the trial court. 12 The accused bore the ensuing
obligation to demonstrate to our satisfaction that the CA had overlooked, misconstrued, or misinterpreted facts and
circumstances of substance that, if considered, would change the outcome. Alas, she did not do so.1wphi1
Nor should we pay heed to the contention of the accused that the version of the State weakened because only four
out of the nine named complainants had actually testified in court against her. That contention ignores that in
judicial adjudications, courts do not count but weigh witnesses; thus, quality of witnesses, not their quantity, is
considered.13
Finally, the failure of the State to present receipts proving that the payments by the complainants was in
consideration of their recruitment to Taiwan does not negate the guilt of the accused. This argument is not novel
and unprecedented, for the Court has already ruled that the absence of receipts evidencing payment does not
defeat a criminal prosecution for illegal recruitment. According to People v. Pabalan:14

xxx 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.
The Statute of Frauds and the rules of evidence do not require the presentation of receipts in order to prove the
existence of recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal recruitment cases. The amounts may
consequently be proved by the testimony of witnesses. 15
Consequently, as long as the State established through credible testimonial evidence that the accused had
engaged in illegal recruitment, her conviction was justified. 16 That is what we find herein.
On the penalty for illegal recruitment in large scale, Article 39 of the Labor Code relevantly states:
Article 39. Penalties. - (a) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein;
xxx
Both lower courts correctly found that the accuseds acts fell squarely under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code due to
the number of her victims being at least four. Hence, the penalty of life imprisonment and fine of P100,000.00 as
prescribed under Article 39 (a) of the Labor Code was proper.
WHEREFORE, the Court affirms the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on April 29, 2005.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 173198

June 1, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
DOLORES OCDEN, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
For Our consideration is an appeal from the Decision 1 dated April 21, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.H.C. No. 00044, which affirmed with modification the Decision 2 dated July 2, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Baguio City, Branch 60, in Criminal Case No. 16315-R. The RTC found accused-appellant Dolores Ocden (Ocden)
guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined and penalized under Article 13(b), in relation to Articles 38(b),
34, and 39 of Presidential Decree No. 442, otherwise known as the New Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended,
in Criminal Case No. 16315-R; and of the crime of estafa under paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code, in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R. 3 The Court of Appeals affirmed Ocdens conviction in
all four cases, but modified the penalties imposed in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R,
The Amended Information4 for illegal recruitment in large scale in Criminal Case No. 16315-R reads:
That during the period from May to December, 1998, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously for a fee,
recruit and promise employment as factory workers in Italy to more than three (3) persons including, but not limited
to the following: JEFFRIES C. GOLIDAN, HOWARD C. GOLIDAN, KAREN M. SIMEON, JEAN S. MAXIMO, NORMA PEDRO,

MARYLYN MANA-A, RIZALINA FERRER, and MILAN DARING without said accused having first secured the necessary
license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.
Ocden was originally charged with six counts of estafa in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, 16350-R, 16369-R,
16964-R, and 16966-R.
The Information in Criminal Case No. 16316-R states:
That sometime during the period from October to December, 1998 in the City of Baguio, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously defraud JEFFRIES C. GOLIDAN, by way of false pretenses, which are executed prior to or simultaneous
with the commission of the fraud, as follows, to wit: the accused knowing fully well that she is not (sic) authorized
job recruiter for persons intending to secure work abroad convinced said Jeffries C. Golidan and pretended that she
could secure a job for him/her abroad, for and in consideration of the sum of P70,000.00 when in truth and in fact
they could not; the said Jeffries C. Golidan deceived and convinced by the false pretenses employed by the accused
parted away the total sum of P70,000.00, in favor of the accused, to the damage and prejudice of the said Jeffries
C. Golidan in the aforementioned amount of SEVENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P70,000,00), Philippine Currency.5
The Informations in the five other cases for estafa contain substantially the same allegations as the one abovequoted, except for the private complainants names, the date of commission of the offense, and the amounts
defrauded, to wit:
Case No.

Name of the Private


Complainant

Date of Commission of the


Offense

Amount
Defrauded

16318-R

Howard C. Golidan

Sometime during the


period
from October to
December 1998

P70,000.00

16350-R

Norma Pedro

Sometime in May, 1998

P65,000.00

16369-R

Milan O. Daring

Sometime during the


period
from November 13, 1998
to
December 10, 1998

P70.000.00

16964-R

Rizalina Ferrer

Sometime in September

P70,000.00

16966-R

Marilyn Mana-a

Sometime in September
1998

P70,000.006

All seven cases against Ocden were consolidated on July 31, 2000 and were tried jointly after Ocden pleaded not
guilty.
The prosecution presented three witnesses namely: Marilyn Mana-a (Mana-a) and Rizalina Ferrer (Ferrer),
complainants; and Julia Golidan (Golidan), mother of complainants Jeffries and Howard Golidan.
Mana-a testified that sometime in the second week of August 1998, she and Isabel Dao-as (Dao-as) went to
Ocdens house in Baguio City to apply for work as factory workers in Italy with monthly salaries of US$1,200.00.
They were required by Ocden to submit their bio-data and passports, pay the placement fee of P70,000.00, and to
undergo medical examination.
Upon submitting her bio-data and passport, Mana-a paid Ocden P500.00 for her certificate of employment and
P20,000.00 as down payment for her placement fee. On September 8, 1998, Ocden accompanied Mana-a and 20
other applicants to Zamora Medical Clinic in Manila for their medical examinations, for which each of the applicants
paid P3,000.00. Mana-a also paid to Ocden P22,000.00 as the second installment on her placement fee. When
Josephine Lawanag (Lawanag), Mana-as sister, withdrew her application, Lawanags P15,000.00 placement fee,
already paid to Ocden, was credited to Mana-a.7
Mana-a failed to complete her testimony, but the RTC considered the same as no motion to strike the said
testimony was filed.

Ferrer narrated that she and her daughter Jennilyn were interested to work overseas. About the second week of
September 1998, they approached Ocden through Fely Alipio (Alipio). Ocden showed Ferrer and Jennilyn a copy of a
job order from Italy for factory workers who could earn as much as $90,000.00 to $100,000.00. 8 In the first week of
October 1998, Ferrer and Jennilyn decided to apply for work, so they submitted their passports and pictures to
Ocden. Ferrer also went to Manila for medical examination, for which she spent P3,500.00. Ferrer paid to Ocden on
November 20, 1998 the initial amount of P20,000.00, and on December 8, 1998 the balance of her and Jennilyns
placement fees. All in all, Ferrer paid Ocden P140,000.00, as evidenced by the receipts issued by Ocden. 9
Ferrer, Jennilyn, and Alipio were supposed to be included in the first batch of workers to be sent to Italy. Their flight
was scheduled on December 10, 1998. In preparation for their flight to Italy, the three proceeded to Manila. In
Manila, they were introduced by Ocden to Erlinda Ramos (Ramos). Ocden and Ramos then accompanied Ferrer,
Jennilyn, and Alipio to the airport where they took a flight to Zamboanga. Ocden explained to Ferrer, Jennilyn, and
Alipio that they would be transported to Malaysia where their visa application for Italy would be processed.
Sensing that they were being fooled, Ferrer and Jennilyn decided to get a refund of their money, but Ocden was
nowhere to be found. Ferrer would later learn from the Baguio office of the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA) that Ocden was not a licensed recruiter.
Expecting a job overseas, Ferrer took a leave of absence from her work. Thus, she lost income amounting to
P17,700.00, equivalent to her salary for one and a half months. She also spent P30,000.00 for transportation and
food expenses.10
According to Golidan, the prosecutions third witness, sometime in October 1998, she inquired from Ocden about
the latters overseas recruitment. Ocden informed Golidan that the placement fee was P70,000.00 for each
applicant, that the accepted applicants would be sent by batches overseas, and that priority would be given to
those who paid their placement fees early. On October 30, 1998, Golidan brought her sons, Jeffries and Howard, to
Ocden. On the same date, Jeffries and Howard handed over to Ocden their passports and P40,000.00 as down
payment on their placement fees. On December 10, 1998, Jeffries and Howard paid the balance of their placement
fees amounting to P100,000.00. Ocden issued receipts for these two payments. 11 Ocden then informed Golidan that
the first batch of accepted applicants had already left, and that Jeffries would be included in the second batch for
deployment, while Howard in the third batch.
In anticipation of their deployment to Italy, Jeffries and Howard left for Manila on December 12, 1998 and December
18, 1998, respectively. Through a telephone call, Jeffries informed Golidan that his flight to Italy was scheduled on
December 16, 1998. However, Golidan was surprised to again receive a telephone call from Jeffries saying that his
flight to Italy was delayed due to insufficiency of funds, and that Ocden went back to Baguio City to look for
additional funds. When Golidan went to see Ocden, Ocden was about to leave for Manila so she could be there in
time for the scheduled flights of Jeffries and Howard.
On December 19, 1998, Golidan received another telephone call from Jeffries who was in Zamboanga with the other
applicants. Jeffries informed Golidan that he was stranded in Zamboanga because Ramos did not give him his
passport. Ramos was the one who briefed the overseas job applicants in Baguio City sometime in November 1998.
Jeffries instructed Golidan to ask Ocdens help in looking for Ramos. Golidan, however, could not find Ocden in
Baguio City.
On December 21, 1998, Golidan, with the other applicants, Mana-a and Dao-as, went to Manila to meet Ocden.
When Golidan asked why Jeffries was in Zamboanga, Ocden replied that it would be easier for Jeffries and the other
applicants to acquire their visas to Italy in Zamboanga. Ocden was also able to contact Ramos, who assured
Golidan that Jeffries would be able to get his passport. When Golidan went back home to Baguio City, she learned
through a telephone call from Jeffries that Howard was now likewise stranded in Zamboanga.
By January 1999, Jeffries and Howard were still in Zamboanga. Jeffries refused to accede to Golidans prodding for
him and Howard to go home, saying that the recruiters were already working out the release of the funds for the
applicants to get to Italy. Golidan went to Ocden, and the latter told her not to worry as her sons would already be
flying to Italy because the same factory owner in Italy, looking for workers, undertook to shoulder the applicants
travel expenses. Yet, Jeffries called Golidan once more telling her that he and the other applicants were still in
Zamboanga.
Golidan went to Ocdens residence. This time, Ocdens husband gave Golidan P23,000.00 which the latter could use
to fetch the applicants, including Jeffries and Howard, who were stranded in Zamboanga. Golidan traveled again to
Manila with Mana-a and Dao-as. When they saw each other, Golidan informed Ocden regarding the P23,000.00
which the latters husband gave to her. Ocden begged Golidan to give her the money because she needed it badly.
Of the P23,000.00, Golidan retained P10,000.00, Dao-as received P3,000.00, and Ocden got the rest. Jeffries was

able to return to Manila on January 16, 1999. Howard and five other applicants, accompanied by Ocden, also
arrived in Manila five days later.
Thereafter, Golidan and her sons went to Ocdens residence to ask for a refund of the money they had paid to
Ocden. Ocden was able to return only P50,000.00. Thus, out of the total amount of P140,000.00 Golidan and her
sons paid to Ocden, they were only able to get back the sum of P60,000.00. After all that had happened, Golidan
and her sons went to the Baguio office of the POEA, where they discovered that Ocden was not a licensed
recruiter.12
The defense presented the testimony of Ocden herself.
Ocden denied recruiting private complainants and claimed that she was also an applicant for an overseas job in
Italy, just like them. Ocden identified Ramos as the recruiter.
Ocden recounted that she met Ramos at a seminar held in St. Theresas Compound, Navy Base, Baguio City,
sometime in June 1998. The seminar was arranged by Aida Comila (Comila), Ramoss sub-agent. The seminar was
attended by about 60 applicants, including Golidan. Ramos explained how one could apply as worker in a stuff toys
factory in Italy. After the seminar, Comila introduced Ocden to Ramos. Ocden decided to apply for the overseas job,
so she gave her passport and pictures to Ramos. Ocden also underwent medical examination at Zamora Medical
Clinic in Manila, and completely submitted the required documents to Ramos in September 1998.
After the seminar, many people went to Ocdens house to inquire about the jobs available in Italy. Since most of
these people did not attend the seminar, Ocden asked Ramos to conduct a seminar at Ocdens house. Two
seminars were held at Ocdens house, one in September and another in December 1998. After said seminars,
Ramos designated Ocden as leader of the applicants. As such, Ocden received her co-applicants applications and
documents; accompanied her co-applicants to Manila for medical examination because she knew the location of
Zamora Medical Clinic; and accepted placement fees in the amount of P70,000.00 each from Mana-a and Ferrer and
from Golidan, the amount of P140,000.00 (for Jeffries and Howard).
Ramos instructed Ocden that the applicants should each pay P250,000.00 and if the applicants could not pay the
full amount, they would have to pay the balance through salary deductions once they start working in Italy. Ocden
herself paid Ramos P50,000.00 as placement fee and executed a promissory note in Ramoss favor for the balance,
just like any other applicant who failed to pay the full amount. Ocden went to Malaysia with Ramoss male friend
but she failed to get her visa for Italy.
Ocden denied deceiving Mana-a and Ferrer. Ocden alleged that she turned over to Ramos the money Mana-a and
Ferrer gave her, although she did not indicate in the receipts she issued that she received the money for and on
behalf of Ramos.
Ocden pointed out that she and some of her co-applicants already filed a complaint against Ramos before the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) offices in Zamboanga City and Manila. 13
On July 2, 2001, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Ocden guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of illegal
recruitment in large scale (Criminal Case No. 16315-R) and three counts of estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R,
16318-R, and 16964-R). The dispositive portion of said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 16315-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale as defined and penalized under Article
13(b) in relation to Article 38(b), 34 and 39 of the Labor Code as amended by P.D. Nos. 1693, 1920, 2018
and R.A. 8042. She is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
P100,000.00;
2. In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2)
years, eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to nine (9) years and
nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Jeffries Golidan the
amount of P40,000.00;
3. In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2)

years, eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, up to nine (9) years and
nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify Howard Golidan the amount of
P40,000.00;
4. In Criminal Case No. 16350-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of
estafa for lack of evidence and a verdict of acquittal is entered in her favor;
5. In Criminal Case No. 16369-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of
estafa for lack of evidence and a verdict of acquittal is hereby entered in her favor;
6. In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to suffer an indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years and Two
(2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, up to Twelve (12) years and Nine (9) months of reclusion
temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the amount of P70,000.00; and
7. In Criminal Case No. 16966-R, the Court finds the accused, DOLORES OCDEN, NOT GUILTY of the crime of
estafa for insufficiency of evidence and a verdict of acquittal is hereby entered in her favor.
In the service of her sentence, the provisions of Article 70 of the Penal Code shall be observed. 14
Aggrieved by the above decision, Ocden filed with the RTC a Notice of Appeal on August 15, 2001. 15 The RTC
erroneously sent the records of the cases to the Court of Appeals, which, in turn, correctly forwarded the said
records to us.
In our Resolution16 dated May 6, 2002, we accepted the appeal and required the parties to file their respective
briefs. In the same resolution, we directed the Superintendent of the Correctional Institute for Women to confirm
Ocdens detention thereat.
Ocden filed her Appellant's Brief on August 15, 2003, 17 while the People, through the Office of the Solicitor General,
filed its Appellee's Brief on January 5, 2004. 18
Pursuant to our ruling in People v. Mateo,19 we transferred Ocdens appeal to the Court of Appeals. On April 21,
2006, the appellate court promulgated its Decision, affirming Ocdens conviction but modifying the penalties
imposed upon her for the three counts of estafa, viz:
[T]he trial court erred in the imposition of accused-appellants penalty.
Pursuant to Article 315 of the RPC, the penalty for estafa is prision correccional in its maximum period to prision
mayor in its minimum period. If the amount of the fraud exceeds P22,000.00, the penalty provided shall be
imposed in its maximum period (6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years), adding 1 year for each additional
P10,000.00; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed 20 years.
Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R involve the amount of P40,000.00 each. Considering that P18,000.00 is
the excess amount, only 1 year should be added to the penalty in its maximum period or 9 years. Also, in Criminal
Case No. 16964-R, the amount involved is P70,000.00. Thus, the excess amount is P48,000.00 and only 4 years
should be added to the penalty in its maximum period.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision, dated 02 July 2001, of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Baguio City, Branch 60 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
1. In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of
prision correccional, as minimum to 9 years of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Jeffries Golidan
the amount of P40,000.00;
2. In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of
prision correccional, as minimum to 9 years of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Howard
Golidan the amount of P40,000.00; and
3. In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, accused-appellant is sentenced to 4 years and 2 months of prision
correccional, as minimum to 12 years of prision mayor, as maximum and to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the
amount of P70,000.00.20

Hence, this appeal, in which Ocden raised the following assignment of errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT COMMITTED IN
LARGE SCALE ALTHOUGH THE CRIME WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF ESTAFA IN CRIMINAL CASES NOS. 16316R, 16318-R AND 16[9]64-R.21
After a thorough review of the records of the case, we find nothing on record that would justify a reversal of Ocdens
conviction.
Illegal recruitment in large scale
Ocden contends that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she is guilty of the crime of
illegal recruitment in large scale. Other than the bare allegations of the prosecution witnesses, no evidence was
adduced to prove that she was a non-licensee or non-holder of authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and
placement of workers. No certification attesting to this fact was formally offered in evidence by the prosecution.
Ocdens aforementioned contentions are without merit.
Article 13, paragraph (b) of the Labor Code defines and enumerates the acts which constitute recruitment and
placement:
(b) "Recruitment and placement" refers to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing,
hiring, or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising for advertising for employment
locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, That any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or
promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement.
The amendments to the Labor Code introduced by Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers
and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, broadened the concept of illegal recruitment and provided stiffer penalties,
especially for those that constitute economic sabotage, i.e., illegal recruitment in large scale and illegal recruitment
committed by a syndicate. Pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 8042 are reproduced below:
SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting,
contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising
or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder
of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the
Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or
promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise
include the following acts, whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder,
licensee or holder of authority:
(a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than that specified in the schedule of
allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, or to make a worker pay any amount
greater than that actually received by him as a loan or advance;
(b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in relation to recruitment or
employment;
(c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or commit any act of misrepresentation for
the purpose of securing a license or authority under the Labor Code;
(d) To induce or attempt to induce a worker already employed to quit his employment in order to offer him
another unless the transfer is designed to liberate a worker from oppressive terms and conditions of
employment;

(e) To influence or attempt to influence any person or entity not to employ any worker who has not applied
for employment through his agency;
(f) To engage in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public health or morality or to
the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines;
(g) To obstruct or attempt to obstruct inspection by the Secretary of Labor and Employment or by his duly
authorized representative;
(h) To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies, remittance of foreign
exchange earnings, separation from jobs, departures and such other matters or information as may be
required by the Secretary of Labor and Employment;
(i) To substitute or alter to the prejudice of the worker, employment contracts approved and verified by the
Department of Labor and Employment from the time of actual signing thereof by the parties up to and
including the period of the expiration of the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and
Employment;
(j) For an officer or agent of a recruitment or placement agency to become an officer or member of the
Board of any corporation engaged in travel agency or to be engaged directly or indirectly in the
management of a travel agency;
(k) To withhold or deny travel documents from applicant workers before departure for monetary or financial
considerations other than those authorized under the Labor Code and its implementing rules and
regulations;
(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the Department of Labor and
Employment; and
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and
processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without
the worker's fault. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered
an offense involving economic sabotage.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons
conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3)
or more persons individually or as a group.
xxxx
Sec. 7. Penalties.
(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than
six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of Two hundred thousand
pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).
(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00)
nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes
economic sabotage as defined herein.
Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the person illegally recruited is less than
eighteen (18) years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority. (Emphasis ours.)
It is well-settled that to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that appellant gave complainants the distinct
impression that he had the power or ability to send complainants abroad for work such that the latter were
convinced to part with their money in order to be employed. 22 As testified to by Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidan, Ocden
gave such an impression through the following acts: (1) Ocden informed Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidan about the job
opportunity in Italy and the list of necessary requirements for application; (2) Ocden required Mana-a, Ferrer, and
Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, to attend the seminar conducted by Ramos at Ocdens house in Baguio City;
(3) Ocden received the job applications, pictures, bio-data, passports, and the certificates of previous employment
(which was also issued by Ocden upon payment of P500.00), of Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and
Howard; (4) Ocden personally accompanied Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, for their

medical examinations in Manila; (5) Ocden received money paid as placement fees by Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans
sons, Jeffries and Howard, and even issued receipts for the same; and (6) Ocden assured Mana-a, Ferrer, and
Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, that they would be deployed to Italy.
It is not necessary for the prosecution to present a certification that Ocden is a non-licensee or non-holder of
authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042
enumerates particular acts which would constitute illegal recruitment "whether committed by any person, whether
a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority." Among such acts, under Section 6(m) of Republic Act
No. 8042, is the "[f]ailure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and
processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without the
workers fault."
Since illegal recruitment under Section 6(m) can be committed by any person, even by a licensed recruiter, a
certification on whether Ocden had a license to recruit or not, is inconsequential. Ocden committed illegal
recruitment as described in said provision by receiving placement fees from Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans two sons,
Jeffries and Howard, evidenced by receipts Ocden herself issued; and failing to reimburse/refund to Mana-a, Ferrer,
and Golidans two sons the amounts they had paid when they were not able to leave for Italy, through no fault of
their own.
Ocden questions why it was Golidan who testified for private complainants Jeffries and Howard. Golidan had no
personal knowledge of the circumstances proving illegal recruitment and could not have testified on the same. Also,
Jeffries and Howard already executed an affidavit of desistance. All Golidan wants was a reimbursement of the
placement fees paid.
Contrary to Ocdens claims, Golidan had personal knowledge of Ocdens illegal recruitment activities, which she
could competently testify to. Golidan herself had personal dealings with Ocden as Golidan assisted her sons, Jeffries
and Howard, in completing the requirements for their overseas job applications, and later on, in getting back home
from Zamboanga where Jeffries and Howard were stranded, and in demanding a refund from Ocden of the
placement fees paid. That Golidan is seeking a reimbursement of the placement fees paid for the failed deployment
of her sons Jeffries and Howard strengthens, rather than weakens, the prosecutions case. Going back to illegal
recruitment under Section 6(m) of Republic Act No. 8042, failure to reimburse the expenses incurred by the worker
when deployment does not actually take place, without the workers fault, is illegal recruitment.
The affidavit of desistance purportedly executed by Jeffries and Howard does not exonerate Ocden from criminal
liability when the prosecution had successfully proved her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In People v. Romero, 23 we
held that:
The fact that complainants Bernardo Salazar and Richard Quillope executed a Joint Affidavit of Desistance does not
serve to exculpate accused-appellant from criminal liability insofar as the case for illegal recruitment is concerned
since the Court looks with disfavor the dropping of criminal complaints upon mere affidavit of desistance of the
complainant, particularly where the commission of the offense, as is in this case, is duly supported by documentary
evidence.
Generally, the Court attaches no persuasive value to affidavits of desistance, especially when it is executed as an
afterthought. It would be a dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before the courts of
justice simply because the witnesses who had given them, later on, changed their mind for one reason or another,
for such rule would make solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation of truth at the mercy of unscrupulous
witness.
Complainants Bernardo Salazar and Richard Quillope may have a change of heart insofar as the offense wrought on
their person is concerned when they executed their joint affidavit of desistance but this will not affect the public
prosecution of the offense itself. It is relevant to note that "the right of prosecution and punishment for a crime is
one of the attributes that by a natural law belongs to the sovereign power instinctly charged by the common will of
the members of society to look after, guard and defend the interests of the community, the individual and social
rights and the liberties of every citizen and the guaranty of the exercise of his rights." This cardinal principle which
states that to the State belongs the power to prosecute and punish crimes should not be overlooked since a
criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign State.24
In her bid to exculpate herself, Ocden asserts that she was also just an applicant for overseas employment; and
that she was receiving her co-applicants job applications and other requirements, and accepting her co-applicants
payments of placement fees, because she was designated as the applicants leader by Ramos, the real recruiter.

Ocdens testimony is self-serving and uncorroborated. Ocdens denial of any illegal recruitment activity cannot
stand against the prosecution witnesses positive identification of her in court as the person who induced them to
part with their money upon the misrepresentation and false promise of deployment to Italy as factory workers.
Besides, despite several opportunities given to Ocden by the RTC, she failed to present Ramos, who Ocden alleged
to be the real recruiter and to whom she turned over the placement fees paid by her co-applicants.
Between the categorical statements of the prosecution witnesses, on the one hand, and the bare denial of Ocden,
on the other, the former must perforce prevail. An affirmative testimony is far stronger than a negative testimony
especially when the former comes from the mouth of a credible witness. Denial, same as an alibi, if not
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law.
It is considered with suspicion and always received with caution, not only because it is inherently weak and
unreliable but also because it is easily fabricated and concocted. 25
Moreover, in the absence of any evidence that the prosecution witnesses were motivated by improper motives, the
trial courts assessment of the credibility of the witnesses shall not be interfered with by this Court. 26 It is a settled
rule that factual findings of the trial courts, including their assessment of the witnesses credibility, are entitled to
great weight and respect by the Supreme Court, particularly when the Court of Appeals affirmed such findings. After
all, the trial court is in the best position to determine the value and weight of the testimonies of witnesses. The
absence of any showing that the trial court plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if
considered, might affect the result of the case, or that its assessment was arbitrary, impels the Court to defer to the
trial courts determination according credibility to the prosecution evidence. 27
Ocden further argues that the prosecution did not sufficiently establish that she illegally recruited at least three
persons, to constitute illegal recruitment on a large scale. Out of the victims named in the Information, only Mana-a
and Ferrer testified in court. Mana-a did not complete her testimony, depriving Ocden of the opportunity to crossexamine her; and even if Mana-as testimony was not expunged from the record, it was insufficient to prove illegal
recruitment by Ocden. Although Ferrer testified that she and Mana-a filed a complaint for illegal recruitment against
Ocden, Ferrers testimony is competent only as to the illegal recruitment activities committed by Ocden against
her, and not against Mana-a. Ocden again objects to Golidans testimony as hearsay, not being based on Golidans
personal knowledge.
Under the last paragraph of Section 6, Republic Act No. 8042, illegal recruitment shall be considered an offense
involving economic sabotage if committed in a large scale, that is, committed against three or more persons
individually or as a group.
In People v. Hu,28 we held that a conviction for large scale illegal recruitment must be based on a finding in each
case of illegal recruitment of three or more persons, whether individually or as a group. While it is true that the law
does not require that at least three victims testify at the trial, nevertheless, it is necessary that there is sufficient
evidence proving that the offense was committed against three or more persons. In this case, there is conclusive
evidence that Ocden recruited Mana-a, Ferrer, and Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, for purported employment
as factory workers in Italy. As aptly observed by the Court of Appeals:
Mana-as testimony, although not completed, sufficiently established that accused-appellant promised Mana-a a job
placement in a factory in Italy for a fee with accused-appellant even accompanying her for the required medical
examination. Likewise, Julia Golidans testimony adequately proves that accused-appellant recruited Jeffries and
Howard Golidan for a job in Italy, also for a fee. Contrary to the accused-appellants contention, Julia had personal
knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges for illegal recruitment and estafa filed by her
sons. Julia was not only privy to her sons recruitment but also directly transacted with accused-appellant,
submitting her sons requirements and paying the placement fees as evidenced by a receipt issued in her name.
Even after the placement did not materialize, Julia acted with her sons to secure the partial reimbursement of the
placement fees.29
And even though only Ferrer and Golidan testified as to Ocdens failure to reimburse the placements fees paid when
the deployment did not take place, their testimonies already established the fact of non-reimbursement as to three
persons, namely, Ferrer and Golidans two sons, Jeffries and Howard.
Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 prescribes a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than
P500,000.00 nor more than P1,000,000.00 if the illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage. The RTC, as
affirmed by the Court of Appeals, imposed upon Ocden the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of only
P100,000.00. Since the fine of P100,000 is below the minimum set by law, we are increasing the same to
P500,000.00.
Estafa

We are likewise affirming the conviction of Ocden for the crime of estafa. The very same evidence proving Ocdens
liability for illegal recruitment also established her liability for estafa.
It is settled that a person may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under Republic Act No.
8042 in relation to the Labor Code, and estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. We
explicated in People v. Yabut30 that:
In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted
separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal
Code. The offense of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal intent of the accused is not
necessary for conviction, while estafa is malum in se where the criminal intent of the accused is crucial for
conviction. Conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar conviction for offenses punishable by other
laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code does not bar a
conviction for illegal recruitment under the Labor Code. It follows that ones acquittal of the crime of estafa will not
necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, and vice versa. 31
Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code defines estafa as:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow x
x x:
xxxx
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the
commission of the fraud:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property,
credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other similar deceits.
The elements of estafa are: (a) that the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit,
and (b) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person. 32
Both these elements are present in the instant case. Ocden represented to Ferrer, Golidan, and Golidans two sons,
Jeffries and Howard, that she could provide them with overseas jobs. Convinced by Ocden, Ferrer, Golidan, and
Golidans sons paid substantial amounts as placement fees to her. Ferrer and Golidans sons were never able to
leave for Italy, instead, they ended up in Zamboanga, where, Ocden claimed, it would be easier to have their visas
to Italy processed. Despite the fact that Golidans sons, Jeffries and Howard, were stranded in Zamboanga for
almost a month, Ocden still assured them and their mother that they would be able to leave for Italy. There is
definitely deceit on the part of Ocden and damage on the part of Ferrer and Golidans sons, thus, justifying Ocdens
conviction for estafa in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R, 16318-R, and 16964-R.
The penalty for estafa depends on the amount of defraudation. According to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow
shall be punished by:
1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount
of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; and if such amount exceeds the latter sum,
the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this
Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, when the amount of fraud is over
P22,000.00, is prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, adding one year to the maximum period
for each additional P10,000.00, provided that the total penalty shall not exceed 20 years.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, we take the minimum term from the penalty next lower than the
minimum prescribed by law, or anywhere within prision correccional minimum and medium (i.e., from 6 months and
1 day to 4 years and 2 months).33 Consequently, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals correctly fixed the minimum
term in Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R at 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days of prision correccional; and in

Criminal Case No. 16964-R at 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, since these are within the range of
prision correccional minimum and medium.1avvphi1
As for the maximum term under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, we take the maximum period of the prescribed
penalty, adding 1 year of imprisonment for every P10,000.00 in excess of P22,000.00, provided that the total
penalty shall not exceed 20 years. To compute the maximum period of the prescribed penalty, the time included in
prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum shall be divided into three equal portions, with each
portion forming a period. Following this computation, the maximum period for prision correccional maximum to
prision mayor minimum is from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years. The incremental penalty, when proper,
shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years, at the discretion of the court. 34
In computing the incremental penalty, the amount defrauded shall be substracted by P22,000.00, and the
difference shall be divided by P10,000.00. Any fraction of a year shall be discarded as was done starting with
People v. Pabalan.35
In Criminal Case Nos. 16316-R and 16318-R, brothers Jeffries and Howard Golidan were each defrauded of the
amount of P40,000.00, for which the Court of Appeals sentenced Ocden to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11
months, and 10 days of prision correccional as minimum, to 9 years of prision mayor as maximum. Upon review,
however, we modify the maximum term of the indeterminate penalty imposed on Ocden in said criminal cases.
Since the amount defrauded exceeds P22,000.00 by P18,000.00, 1 year shall be added to the maximum period of
the prescribed penalty (anywhere between 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years). There being no aggravating
circumstance, we apply the lowest of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days. Adding the
one year incremental penalty, the maximum term of Ocdens indeterminate sentence in these two cases is only 7
years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor.
In Criminal Cases No. 19694-R, Ferrer was defrauded of the amount of P70,000.00, for which the Court of Appeals
sentenced Ocden to an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 12
years of prision mayor, as maximum. Upon recomputation, we also have to modify the maximum term of the
indeterminate sentence imposed upon Ocden in Criminal Case No. 19694-R. Given that the amount defrauded
exceeds P22,000.00 by P48,000.00, 4 years shall be added to the maximum period of the prescribed penalty
(anywhere between 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years). There likewise being no aggravating circumstance
in this case, we add the 4 years of incremental penalty to the lowest of the maximum period, which is 6 years, 8
months, and 21 days. The maximum term, therefor, of Ocdens indeterminate sentence in Criminal Case No. 19694R is only 10 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal of accused-appellant Dolores Ocden is DENIED. The Decision dated April 21, 2006
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00044 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION to read as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 16315-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale as defined and penalized under Article
13(b) in relation to Articles 38(b), 34 and 39 of the Labor Code, as amended. She is hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00;
2. In Criminal Case No. 16316-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11 months, and 10
days of prision correccional, as minimum, to 7 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum,
and to indemnify Jeffries Golidan the amount of P40,000.00;
3. In Criminal Case No. 16318-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years, 11 months, and 10
days of prision correccional, as minimum, to 7 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum,
and to indemnify Howard Golidan the amount of P40,000.00; and
4. In Criminal Case No. 16964-R, the Court finds the accused, Dolores Ocden, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of estafa and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of
prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years, 8 months, and 21 days of prision mayor, as maximum, and
to indemnify Rizalina Ferrer the amount of P70,000.00.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 173792

August 31, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
ROSARIO "ROSE" OCHOA, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
For Our consideration is an appeal from the Decision 1 dated March 2, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.H.C. No. 00888, which affirmed with modification the Decision 2 dated April 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Quezon City, Branch 104, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303. The RTC found accused-appellant
Rosario "Rose" Ochoa (Ochoa) guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined and penalized under Article II,
Section 6 in relation to Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the "Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," in Criminal Case No. 98-77300; and of the crime of estafa, as defined and penalized
in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and 98-77303.
The Information filed before the RTC and docketed as Criminal Case No. 98-77300, charged Ochoa with illegal
recruitment in large scale, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the period covering the months of February 1997 up to April 1998 or immediately before or
subsequent thereto in Quezon City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above name
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit Robert Gubat, Junior Agustin, Cesar Aquino,
Richard Luciano, Fernando Rivera, Mariano R. Mislang, Helen B. Palogo, Joebert Decolongon, Corazon S. Austria,
Cristopher A. Bermejo, Letecia D. Londonio, Alma Borromeo, Francisco Pascual, Raymundo A. Bermejo and
Rosemarie A. Bermejo for a consideration ranging from P2,000.00 to P32,000.00 or a total amount of P124,000.00
as placement fee which the complainants paid to herein accused without the accused having secured the
necessary license from the Department of Labor and Employment. 3 (Emphases supplied.)
Three other Informations were filed before the RTC and docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and
98-77303, this time charging Ochoa with three counts of estafa, committed separately upon three private
complainants Robert Gubat (Gubat), Cesar Aquino (Cesar), and Junior Agustin (Agustin), respectively. The
Information in Criminal Case No. 98-77301 accuses Ochoa of the following acts constituting estafa:
That on or about March 3, 1998 in Quezon City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above name accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit and promise employment in
Taiwan to one ROBERT GUBAT for a consideration of P18,800.00 as placement fee, knowing that she has no power,
capacity or lawful authority whatsoever and with no intention to fulfill her said promise, but merely as pretext,
scheme or excuse to get and exact money from said complainant, as she did in fact collect and received the
amount of P18,800.00 from said Robert Gubat, to his damage and prejudice. 4 (Emphases supplied.)
The two other Informations for estafa were similarly worded as the aforequoted Information, except as to the name
of the private complainants and the amount purportedly collected by Ochoa from them, particularly:
Docket No.

Private
Complainant

Amount
Collected

Criminal Case No. 98773025

Cesar Aquino

P19.000.00

Criminal Case No. 98773036

Junior Agustin

P32,000.00

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

The prosecution presented as witnesses Cory Aquino (Cory) of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA)
and private complainants Gubat, Agustin, Francisco Pascual (Pascual), Rosemarie Bermejo (Rosemarie), Cesar,
Christopher Bermejo (Christopher), Joebert Decolongon (Decolongon), and Fernando Rivera (Rivera).
According to private complainants, they were recruited by Ochoa from January to March 1998 for various jobs in
either Taiwan or Saudi Arabia, under the following circumstances:
1. In the second week of February 1998, Ochoa was introduced to Robert Gubat, a licensed electrical
engineer and a resident of Pulang Lupa, Las Pias, through a certain Nila, Gubats neighbor, who had a
pending application for work abroad with Ochoa. Ochoa talked to Gubat on the telephone, and during their
conversation, Ochoa told Gubat that one of her applicants was already leaving for Taiwan. Per Ochoas
instruction, Gubat met with Francisco Pascual, who accompanied him to Ochoas house in San Bartolome,
Novaliches, Quezon City, and personally introduced Gubat to Ochoa. Gubat submitted his rsum to Ochoa,
which Ochoa would bring to Axil International Agency where Ochoa was working as a recruiter. Right after
browsing through Gubats rsum, Ochoa informed Gubat that as an engineer, Gubat was qualified to work
as a factory supervisor and could leave for Taiwan in two weeks or in March 1998. Ochoa also told Gubat
that the total application expenses would amount to 100,000.00, and the downpayment was 50,000.00.
Gubat was able to actually pay Ochoa 18,800.00 as reservation fee at the agency; processing fee for
Gubats papers at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Malacaang, and Embassy of Taiwan; and
medical examination fee. Ochoa, however, only issued to Gubat three receipts, dated March 3, March 31,
and April 6, all in the year 1998, in the amount of P5,000.00 each or a total of P15,000.00. Gubat started to
worry when he was not able to leave for abroad as Ochoa promised and when she failed to show up at their
arranged meetings. When Gubat was finally able to talk to Ochoa, Ochoa again promised him that he would
be leaving for abroad soon. Despite Ochoas renewed promise, Gubat was still not able to leave the country.
Gubat then demanded that Ochoa return his documents and money. When Ochoa failed to comply with his
demand, Gubat filed a report against Ochoa at Barangay (Brgy.) San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City.
On May 21, 1998, he met the other private complainants 7 who had similar complaints against Ochoa. When
nothing came out of the confrontation with Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Gubat and the other private
complainants filed a joint complaint against Ochoa before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 8
2. The paths of Junior Agustin and Ochoa crossed on February 2, 1998. Agustin, a farmer, was staying at the
home of Pascual, his cousin, at No. 4 Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City. When Ochoa arrived at Pascuals
home, Pascual introduced Ochoa to Agustin as a recruiter for overseas workers in Taiwan. Interested in
working abroad, Agustin submitted his bio-data to Ochoa at the latters residence at Phase 1, Lot 3, San
Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. Ochoa promised Agustin that he would be fielded as a factory worker
in Taiwan for three years, earning a monthly salary of P18,000.00. Ochoa then informed Agustin that the
total placement fee for Taiwan is P80,000.00. Agustin initially paid Ochoa the sum of P28,000.00 as
processing fee. Ochoa then promised that Agustin could leave for Taiwan in two months. However, the two
months passed, but there was still no overseas employment for Agustin. Agustin was compelled to file a
complaint against Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. Agustin met the other private
complainants during the barangay hearing on May 21, 1998. Ochoa was also present at said hearing. Given
the unsuccessful barangay hearing, Agustin and the other private complainants lodged a complaint against
Ochoa before the NBI.9
3. Francisco Pascual, presently jobless and a resident of Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City, learned from a
neighbor of one Mrs. Bermejo that her son was being helped by Ochoa, a recruiter, to find a job abroad.
Pascual went to Mrs. Bermejos house in January 1998, and met Ochoa for the first time. Ochoa invited
Pascual to apply for a job abroad, saying that the latter could leave within two weeks. During Pascuals visit
at Ochoas house at Blk. 1, Lot 1, San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City, Ochoa promised Pascual
employment as a driver salesman in Saudi Arabia, with a monthly salary of P18,000.00. Ochoa told Pascual
that the placement fee would be P7,000.00 and that Pascual should already have his medical examination
so that the position in Saudi Arabia could be reserved for him. Since his visa had not yet arrived, Pascual
did not pay any placement fee to Ochoa. Pascual did undergo medical examination at St. Peter Medical
Clinic in Ermita, Manila, for which he paid P2,600.00 to Ochoa. Pascual though did not receive the results of
his medical examination because according to Ochoa, the same was withheld by the clinic. Despite Ochoas
promises, Pascual was not able to leave for Saudi Arabia. At that time, Pascual was still employed as a Field
Coordinator with Selecta, but because of his frequent absences, spent following-up on his application for
work abroad, he was fired. Pascual filed a complaint against Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches,
Quezon City. As nothing happened during the confrontation with Ochoa at the barangay hearing on May 21,
1998, Pascual and the other private complainants filed a complaint before the NBI. 10
4. Rosemarie Bermejo came to know of Ochoa through Rivera, a friend of Rosemaries mother. Rosemarie
first met Ochoa at the latters home in Quezon City sometime in January 1998. Rosemarie was promised by
Ochoa employment for three years in Saudi Arabia as clerk/typist, earning US$400.00. Rosemarie was also
instructed by Ochoa to have a medical examination and secure a passport and NBI clearance. Rosemarie

and her brothers, who also applied for jobs abroad, were accompanied by Ochoa to the St. Peter Medical
Clinic in Malate, Manila for their medical examination on February 27, 1998. Rosemarie and her brother
each handed over to Ochoa P2,600.00 for their medical examinations, and it was Ochoa who gave the
payment to the clinic. Rosemarie and her brothers then spent P55.00 each to secure NBI clearances for
travel abroad. In addition, Rosemarie gave Ochoa P5,500.00 on April 17, 1998; and although not secured by
a receipt, said payment was witnessed by Rosemaries mother and Imelda Panuga, the landlord of
Rosemaries mother, who lent Rosemarie the P5,500.00. During their initial meeting in January 1998, Ochoa
said that Rosemarie could already leave for abroad in two weeks. Since Rosemarie was not able to complete
the requirements, her departure for Saudi Arabia was moved to April 19, 1998. On April 19, 1998, Ochoa
requested Rosemarie to go to the office of Al Arab Agency located at Jalandoni Building, Ermita, Manila, to
which Ochoa was purportedly connected. Rosemarie waited at the Al Arab Agency until noon, but no one
came to pick her up. Later, at the same day, Ochoa invited Rosemarie to her house for the birthday
celebration of her father. There, Ochoa explained that Rosemarie was unable to leave for Saudi Arabia
because the Al Arab Agency has yet to secure Rosemaries Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). Ochoa
advised Rosemarie to stay at the rented apartment of Rosemaries mother because it was close to Ochoas
house and would be more convenient as Rosemarie could leave for abroad any day soon. When none of
Ochoas promises came to fruition, Rosemarie, together with the other private complainants, first sought
redress from Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City, and then from the NBI. 11
5. It was Pascual who introduced Cesar Aquino, a resident of Cubao, to Ochoa at the latters residence in
San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City, sometime in February 1998. When Cesar directly asked Ochoa if
she was a recruiter, the latter answered in the affirmative. Cesar applied to work as a factory worker in
Taiwan. Ochoa told Cesar that as a factory worker, he could earn at least P15,000.00 a month. On March 13,
1998, Cesar handed over P17,000.00 to Ochoa to cover his processing fee and medical examination. On the
same day, Cesar had his medical examination at St. Peter Medical Clinic. Ochoa then promised that Cesar
could leave two weeks thereafter. When two weeks had passed and he was not able to leave for Taiwan,
Cesar demanded that Ochoa return his money. Ochoa failed to comply with Cesars demand, and Cesar
instituted a complaint against Ochoa at Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. At the hearing
attended by Ochoa, Cesar, and the other private complainants before the Barangay Lupon, Ochoa signed a
Kasunduan, agreeing to return the money to private complainants. Again, Ochoa failed to fulfill her promise
to return the money paid by Cesar, thus, the latter, together with the other complainants, filed a complaint
with the NBI.12
6. Christopher Bermejo met Ochoa at the house of his mother in Novaliches, Quezon City in January 1998.
Also present at the house were Fernando Bermejo, Christophers brother, and Richard Luciano. Ochoa
promised that after a week, Christopher would already be deployed to Saudi Arabia as an accountant,
earning 250-350 Saudi Riyals. As a result, Christopher immediately resigned from his job at the
Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). Christophers mother paid Ochoa P5,000.00 as processing fee
for Christophers application. A week passed and Ochoa failed to send Christopher to Saudi Arabia for work.
When Rosemarie and Raymundo Bermejo (Raymundo), Christophers sister and brother, respectively, also
failed to leave for work abroad as promised by Ochoa, Christopher, Rosemarie, and their mother went to
see Ochoa at an office at the Jalandoni Building, Ermita, Manila. Ochoa explained that Christopher and his
siblings could not leave yet because there are other documents that still need to be accomplished. Ochoa
said that she would just notify Christopher and his siblings of their scheduled departure. When they still did
not receive any notification from Ochoa, Rosemarie, Raymundo, and their mother returned to the office at
the Jalandoni Building and found out that their placement fees were not given to said office. Christopher
joined the other private complainants in filing a complaint against Ochoa before the NBI. 13
7. Joebert Decolongon is a resident of Sta. Maxima, Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City, and works as a bus
conductor.lawphi1 Decolongon was introduced to Ochoa by Rivera, Decolongons friend, at Riveras house
on Villareal Street, Gulod, Novaliches. Ochoa informed Decolongon that there was a vacancy for the position
of janitor in Saudi Arabia, with a monthly salary of 800 Saudi Riyals. Decolongon submitted his application,
birth certificate, and passport to Ochoa. Ochoa also went to Decolongons house and collected from
Decolongons wife the initial amount of P2,000.00 as placement fee. The rest of Decolongons placement
fees would be paid by one-month salary deduction. Trusting Ochoa, neither Decolongon nor his wife
demanded a receipt. When Ochoa failed to deploy Decolongon for employment abroad, Decolongon too
filed a complaint against Ochoa before Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. Without a successful
resolution at the barangay level, Decolongon joined the private complainants in filing a complaint against
Ochoa before the NBI.14
8. Sometime in January 1998, Ochoa was accompanied by a certain Amy to Fernando Riveras residence at
27 Villareal Street, Novaliches, Quezon City. Ochoa first talked to Riveras mother who had previously
worked abroad. Ochoa then also offered work to Rivera, either as tea boy or janitor in the army in Riyadh,
Saudi Arabia. Rivera chose to work as a tea boy, with a salary of 800 to 1,000 Saudi Riyals. Ochoa said that
Rivera would be deployed in the first week of February 1998. Ochoa required Rivera to submit NBI

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

Amounts Collected

Robert Gubat

P18,000.00 for placement and medical fees17

Junior Agustin

P22,000.00 for placement and medical fees18

Francisco Pascual

P 2,000.00 for medical fee19

Rosemarie Bermejo

P 2,600.00 for medical fee20

Cesar Aquino

P 19,000.00 for placement and medical fees21

Christopher Bermejo

P 2,600.00 for medical fee22

Joebert Decolongon

P 6,000.00 for medical fee23

Fernando Rivera

P 2,000.00 for medical fee24

Ochoa claimed though that she remitted private complainants money to a person named Mercy, the manager of
AXIL, but AXIL failed to issue receipts because the private complainants did not pay in full. 25
On April 17, 2000, the RTC rendered a Decision finding Ochoa guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of
illegal recruitment in large scale (Criminal Case No. 98-77300) and three counts of estafa (Criminal Case Nos. 9877301, 98-77302, 98-77303). The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 98-77300, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO "ROSE" OCHOA, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal of ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE, defined and penalized in Section
6 in relation to Section 7 (b) of Republic Act No. 8042, and sentences her to life imprisonment and a fine of
One Million Pesos.
2. In Criminal Case No. 98-77301, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO "ROSE" OCHOA, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a)
of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and
twenty (20) days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Robert Gubat in the amount
of Eighteen Thousand Eight Hundred (P18,800.00) Pesos.

3. In Criminal Case No. 98-77302, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO "ROSE" OCHOA, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a)
of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and
twenty (20) days of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Cesar Aquino in the
amount of Seventeen Thousand (P17,000.00) Pesos.
4. In Criminal Case No. 98-77303, the Court finds the accused, ROSARIO "ROSE" OCHOA, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a)
of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11)
months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and
twenty-one (21) days of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Junior Agustin in the
amount of Twenty-Eight Thousand (P28,000.00) Pesos.26
Ochoa filed a Notice of Appeal27 in which she stated her intention to appeal the RTC judgment of conviction and
prayed that the records of her case be forwarded to the Court of Appeals. Ochoas appeal was docketed as CA-G.R.
CR. No. 24147 before the Court of Appeals.
In a Resolution28 dated August 8, 2000, the Court of Appeals granted Ochoas First Motion for Extension of Time to
file her brief.
Ochoa filed her Appellants Brief on September 4, 2000 29 while the People, through the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), filed its Appellees Brief on March 1, 2001. 30
The Special Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision 31 dated June 17, 2002 affirming
the appealed RTC decision dated April 17, 2000. Ochoa filed a Motion for Reconsideration, 32 which the People
opposed for being bereft of merit.33
In its Resolution 34 dated August 6, 2003, the Court of Appeals declared that it had no jurisdiction over Ochoas
appeal, ratiocinating thus:
We affirmed this judgment on 17 June 2002. While neither the accused-appellant nor the Office of the Solicitor
General representing the people ever raised the issue of jurisdiction, our second look at the suit proved worthwhile
because we came to realize that we mistakenly assumed jurisdiction over this case where it does not obtain.
It was error to consider accused-appellants appeal from a trial court judgment imposing life imprisonment in
Criminal Case No. Q-98-77300 for illegal recruitment in a large scale. Consequently, the judgment we rendered
dated 17 June 2002 is null and void. No less than Article VIII, 5(2)(d) of the Constitution proscribes us from taking
jurisdiction
SECTION 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
xxxx
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or Rules of Court may provide, final
judgments and orders of the lower court in:
xxxx
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher
17(1) of the Judiciary Act of 1948 reiterates
SECTION 17. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal, as the
law or rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts as herein provided, in
(1) All criminal cases involving offenses for which the penalty imposed is life imprisonment; and those involving
offenses which, although not so punished, arose out of the same occurrences or which may have been committed
by the accused on the same occasion as that giving rise to the more serious offense, regardless of whether the

accused are charged as principals, accomplices, or accessories, or whether they have been tried jointly or
separately; x x x.
3 of Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure likewise declares
SEC. 3. How appeal taken.
(c) The appeal to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial Court is reclusion
perpetua or life imprisonment, or where a lesser penalty is imposed but for offenses committed on the same
occasion or which arose out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the
penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is impose[d], shall be by filing a notice of appeal in
accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.
Even if only in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77300 was the penalty of life imprisonment meted out, we still cannot
consider the appeal of the verdict in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 to 98-77303 for as the Supreme Court clearly
clarified
An appeal of a single decision cannot be split between two courts. The splitting of appeals is not conclusive to the
orderly administration of justice and invites possible conflict of dispositions between the reviewing courts.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to review an appeal of a judgment imposing an indeterminate
sentence, if the same ruling also imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment and death for crimes arising out of
the same facts. In other words, the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals of criminal cases in which
the penalty imposed below is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or death, even if the same decision orders, in
addition, a lesser penalty or penalties for crimes arising out of the same occurrence or facts.
It will be seen that Robert Gubat, private complainant in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77301, Cesar Aquino, private
complainant in Criminal Case No. Q-98-77302 and Junior Agustin, private complainant in Criminal Case No. Q-9877303 were also the private complainant in the illegal recruitment in a large scale suit, docketed as Criminal Case
No. Q-98-77300. As gleaned from the charges, the estafa cases were intimately related to or arose from the facts
and occurrences of the alleged illegal recruitment. Clearly, we have no recourse but to refuse cognizance over the
estafa cases as well.35
Despite its lack of jurisdiction over Ochoas appeal, the Court of Appeals did not dismiss the same and merely
ordered its transfer to us:
While the Supreme Court Circular No. 2-90 directs the dismissal of appeals filed before the wrong court, the
Supreme Court has in practice allowed the transfer of records from this Court to the highest court. In which case,
we shall subscribe to this practice in the interest of substantial justice.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, our decision is declared NULL and VOID. We order the TRANSFER of the records
of Criminal Cases Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303 to the Supreme Court for proper action. 36
In the Resolution37 dated September 17, 2003, we accepted Ochoas appeal and informed both Ochoa and the OSG
to file their respective additional briefs. Ochoas appeal was then docketed as G.R. No. 159252.
On August 17, 2004, Ochoas counsel filed an explanation stating that he had nothing more to add since he had
already written and filed all necessary pleadings, complete with all the necessary research and arguments. 38
In the meantime, People v. Mateo39 was promulgated on July 7, 2004, where we held that an appeal from the
decisions of the RTC, sentencing the accused to life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua, should be made to the
Court of Appeals. Thus, in our Resolution 40 dated March 11, 2005, the Court ordered the transfer of the records of
G.R. No. 159252 to the Court of Appeals for a decision on the merit. We likewise directed the Court of Appeals to
raffle the said case to any of its regular divisions.
When Ochoas appeal was before the Court of Appeals a second time, it was docketed as CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
00888. The Court of Appeals, in a Decision dated March 2, 2006, affirmed with modification the RTC Decision dated
April 17, 2000. The appellate court essentially affirmed the findings of fact and law of the RTC, but reduced the
award of damages in Criminal Case No. 98-77301 and increased the prison sentence in Criminal Case No. 98-77303.
The decretal portion of said Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

I. The judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No. 98-77300 finding appellant Rosario Ochoa guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale constituting economic sabotage under Sec. 6
(l) and (m) in relation to Sec. 7(b) of R.A. No. 8042 and sentencing her to life imprisonment and a fine of
One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) is AFFIRMED.
II. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77301, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa
is MODIFIED. Appellant is, hereby, ordered to indemnify Robert Gubat in the amount of P15,000.00 only as
and by way of actual damages.
III. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77302, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa
is AFFIRMED.
IV. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 98-77303, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa
is MODIFIED. Appellant is, hereby, sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision correccional as minimum, to EIGHT (8) YEARS OF prision mayor as maximum. 41
Ochoas appeal is anchored on the following assignment of errors:
The lower court erred:
a. In admitting Exhibit "A" the POEA Certification when it was already excluded during the bail hearing
b. In shifting the burden of the accused to prove that there was no illegal recruitment
c. In finding that there was estafa
d. By not limiting liability of the accused to civil liability only 42
We find no reversible error in the assailed Court of Appeals decision.
Illegal recruitment in large scale
Ochoa was charged with violation of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042. Said provision broadens the concept of
illegal recruitment under the Labor Code43 and provides stiffer penalties, especially for those that constitute
economic sabotage, i.e., illegal recruitment in large scale and illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate.
Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 defines illegal recruitment as follows:
SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting,
contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising
or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder
of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the
Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or
promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise
include the following acts, whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or
holder of authority:
xxxx
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and processing for
purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without the worker's fault.
Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving
economic sabotage.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons
conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3)
or more persons individually or as a group.
It is well-settled that to prove illegal recruitment, it must be shown that appellant gave complainants the distinct
impression that she had the power or ability to send complainants abroad for work such that the latter were
convinced to part with their money in order to be employed. 44 All eight private complainants herein consistently

declared that Ochoa offered and promised them employment overseas. Ochoa required private complainants to
submit their bio-data, birth certificates, and passports, which private complainants did. Private complainants also
gave various amounts to Ochoa as payment for placement and medical fees as evidenced by the receipts Ochoa
issued to Gubat,45 Cesar,46 and Agustin.47 Despite private complainants compliance with all the requirements Ochoa
specified, they were not able to leave for work abroad. Private complainants pleaded that Ochoa return their hardearned money, but Ochoa failed to do so.
Ochoa contends that Exhibit "A," the POEA certification which states that Ochoa, in her personal capacity, is
neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment was already rejected by the RTC
during the hearings on bail for being hearsay, and should not have been admitted by the RTC after the trial on the
merits of the criminal cases. Inadmissible evidence during bail hearings do not become admissible evidence after
formal offer. Without the POEA certification, the prosecution had no proof that Ochoa is unlicensed to recruit and,
thus, she should be acquitted.
Ochoas contention is without merit.
We refer to the following ruling in Fullero v. People, 48 wherein we rejected a similar argument raised by petitioner
therein against a certification issued by an officer of the Professional Regulation Commission:
Regarding the third issue, petitioner contended that the prosecution's documentary evidence, consisting of Exhibits
"A," "C," "F," "G," "H," "I," "J," "K," "L," "M," "N," "O," "P," "Q" and "R" and their sub-markings, are inadmissible in
evidence based on the following reasons:
(1) Exhibit "A," which is the Certification of the PRC dated 17 January 1998, confirming that petitioner's name does
not appear in the registry books of licensed civil engineers, was not properly identified during the trial. The proper
person to identify the certification should have been the signatory therein which was PRC Director II Jose A. Arriola,
or in his absence, a person who actually witnessed the execution of the certification. Prosecution witness Atayza,
who was not present when the certification was executed, had identified the certification during the trial. Thus, the
contents of the certification are mere hearsay; x x x.
xxxx
Section 36, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, states that a witness can testify only to those facts which he
knows of or comes from his personal knowledge, that is, which are derived from his perception. A witness,
therefore, may not testify as to what he merely learned from others either because he was told, or he read or heard
the same. Such testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has
learned. This is known as the hearsay rule.
The law, however, provides for specific exceptions to the hearsay rule. One of the exceptions is the entries in
official records made in the performance of duty by a public officer. In other words, official entries are admissible in
evidence regardless of whether the officer or person who made them was presented and testified in court, since
these entries are considered prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. Other recognized reasons for this
exception are necessity and trustworthiness. The necessity consists in the inconvenience and difficulty of requiring
the official's attendance as a witness to testify to innumerable transactions in the course of his duty. This will also
unduly hamper public business. The trustworthiness consists in the presumption of regularity of performance of
official duty by a public officer.
Exhibit "A," or the Certification of the PRC dated 17 January 1998, was signed by Arriola, Director II of the PRC,
Manila. Although Arriola was not presented in court or did not testify during the trial to verify the said certification,
such certification is considered as prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein and is therefore presumed to be
truthful, because petitioner did not present any plausible proof to rebut its truthfulness. Exhibit A is therefore
admissible in evidence.49
In the case at bar, the POEA certification was signed by Dir. Mateo of the POEA Licensing Branch. Although Dir.
Mateo himself did not testify before the RTC, the prosecution still presented Cory, Dir. Mateos subordinate at the
POEA Licensing Branch, to verify Dir. Mateos signature.
Also worth re-stating is the justification provided by the Court of Appeals for the admissibility of the POEA
certification, viz:
The certificate is admissible. It is true that the trial court, during the bail hearings, rejected the certification for
being hearsay because at that stage of the proceedings, nobody testified yet on the document. However, as the
trial progressed, an officer of the POEA, specifically in its licensing branch, had testified on the document. It does

not follow, then, as appellant would want this court to assume, that evidence rejected during bail hearings could
not be admissible during the formal offer of evidence.
This court admits that Ms. Cory Aquino was not the signatory of the document. Nevertheless, she could testify on
the veracity of the document because she is one of the officers of the licensing branch of the POEA. Being so, she
could testify whether a certain person holds a license or not. It bears stressing that Ms. Aquino is familiar with the
signature of Mr. Mateo because the latter is her superior. Moreover, as testified to by Ms. Aquino, that as a policy in
her office, before a certification is made, the office checks first whether the name of the person requested to be
verified is a reported personnel of any licensed agency by checking their index and computer files.
As found in the offices records, appellant, in her personal capacity, is neither licensed nor authorized to recruit
workers for overseas employment. It bears stressing, too, that this is not a case where a certification is rendered
inadmissible because the one who prepared it was not presented during the trial. To reiterate, an officer of the
licensing branch of the POEA, in the person of Ms. Aquino, testified on the document. Hence, its execution could be
properly determined and the veracity of the statements stated therein could be ascertained. 50
More importantly, Ochoa could still be convicted of illegal recruitment even if we disregard the POEA certification,
for regardless of whether or not Ochoa was a licensee or holder of authority, she could still have committed illegal
recruitment. Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 clearly provides that any person, whether a non-licensee, nonholder, licensee or holder of authority may be held liable for illegal recruitment for certain acts as enumerated in
paragraphs (a) to (m) thereof. Among such acts, under Section 6(m) of Republic Act No. 8042, is the "[f]ailure to
reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and processing for purposes of
deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without the workers fault." Ochoa
committed illegal recruitment as described in the said provision by receiving placement and medical fees from
private complainants, evidenced by the receipts issued by her, and failing to reimburse the private complainants
the amounts they had paid when they were not able to leave for Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, through no fault of their
own.
Ochoa further argues in her defense that she should not be found personally and criminally liable for illegal
recruitment because she was a mere employee of AXIL and that she had turned over the money she received from
private complainants to AXIL.
We are not convinced. Ochoas claim was not supported by any corroborating evidence. The POEA verification
dated September 23, 1998, also signed by Dir. Mateo, and presented by Ochoa during trial, pertains only to the
status of AXIL as a placement agency with a "limited temporary authority" which had already expired. Said
verification did not show whether or not Ochoa was employed by AXIL. Strangely, for an alleged employee of AXIL,
Ochoa was not able to present the most basic evidence of employment, such as appointment papers, identification
card (ID), and/or payslips. The receipts presented by some of the private complainants were issued and signed by
Ochoa herself, and did not contain any indication that Ochoa issued and signed the same on behalf of AXIL. Also,
Ochoa was not able to present any proof that private complainants money were actually turned over to or received
by AXIL.
There is no reason for us to disturb the weight and credence accorded by the RTC to the evidence of the
prosecution, over that of the defense. As is well-settled in this jurisdiction, greater weight is given to the positive
identification of the accused by the prosecution witnesses than the accuseds denial and explanation concerning
the commission of the crime.51 Likewise, factual findings of the trial courts, including their assessment of the
witnesses credibility, are entitled to great weight and respect by the Supreme Court, particularly when the Court of
Appeals affirmed such findings. After all, the trial court is in the best position to determine the value and weight of
the testimonies of witnesses. The absence of any showing that the trial court plainly overlooked certain facts of
substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case, or that its assessment was arbitrary,
impels the Court to defer to the trial courts determination according credibility to the prosecution evidence. 52
Moreover, in the absence of any evidence that the prosecution witnesses were motivated by improper motives, the
trial courts assessment of the credibility of the witnesses shall not be interfered with by this Court. 53
Under the last paragraph of Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042, illegal recruitment shall be considered an offense
involving economic sabotage if committed in a large scale, that is, committed against three or more persons
individually or as a group. Here, there are eight private complainants who convincingly testified on Ochoas acts of
illegal recruitment.
In view of the overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution, we uphold the verdict of the RTC, as affirmed
by the Court of Appeals, that Ochoa is guilty of illegal recruitment constituting economic sabotage.

Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 provides that the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than
P500,000.00 nor more than P1,000.000.00 shall be imposed when the illegal recruitment constitutes economic
sabotage. Thus:
Sec. 7. Penalties.
(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than
six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred
thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).
(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00)
nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes
economic sabotage as defined herein.
Since the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P1,000,000.00 imposed on Ochoa by the RTC, and affirmed by
the Court of Appeals, are in accord with the law, we similarly sustain the same.
Estafa
We affirm as well the conviction of Ochoa for estafa committed against three private complainants in Criminal Case
Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and 98-77303. The very same evidence proving Ochoas criminal liability for illegal
recruitment also established her criminal liability for estafa.
It is settled that a person may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under Republic Act No.
8042, in relation to the Labor Code, and estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. We
explicated in People v. Cortez and Yabut 54 that:
In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted
separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal
Code. The offense of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal intent of the accused is not
necessary for conviction, while estafa is malum in se where the criminal intent of the accused is crucial for
conviction. Conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar conviction for offenses punishable by other
laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code does not bar a
conviction for illegal recruitment under the Labor Code. It follows that ones acquittal of the crime of estafa will not
necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, and vice versa. 55
Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code defines estafa as:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow x
x x:
xxxx
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the
commission of the fraud:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit,
agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other similar deceits.
The elements of estafa are: (a) that the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit,
and (b) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person. 56
Both elements are present in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301, 98-77302, and 98-77303. Ochoas deceit was evident in
her false representation to private complainants Gubat, Cesar, and Agustin that she possessed the authority and
capability to send said private complainants to Taiwan/Saudi Arabia for employment as early as one to two weeks
from completion of the requirements, among which were the payment of placement fees and submission of a
medical examination report. Ochoa promised that there were already existing job vacancies overseas for private
complainants, even quoting the corresponding salaries. Ochoa carried on the deceit by receiving application
documents from the private complainants, accompanying them to the clinic for medical examination, and/or
making them go to the offices of certain recruitment/placement agencies to which Ochoa had actually no
connection at all. Clearly deceived by Ochoas words and actions, private complainants Gubat, Cesar, and Aquino
were persuaded to hand over their money to Ochoa to pay for their placement and medical fees. Sadly, private
complainants Gubat, Cesar, and Aquino were never able to leave for work abroad, nor recover their money.

The penalty for estafa depends on the amount of defraudation. According to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow
shall be punished by:
1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount
of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum,
the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall
be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
It was established by evidence that in Criminal Case No. 98-77301, Gubat was defrauded by Ochoa in the amount
of P15,000.00; in Criminal Case No. 77-98302, Cesar paid Ochoa the sum of P17,000.00; and in Criminal Case No.
77-98303, Agustin handed over to Ochoa a total of P28,000.00.
The prescribed penalty for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, when the amount of the fraud is over
P12,000.00 but not exceeding P22,000.00, is prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum (i.e., from 4
years, 2 months and 1 day to 8 years). If the amount of fraud exceeds P22,000.00, the aforementioned penalty
shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional P10,000.00, provided that the total
penalty shall not exceed 20 years.1avvphi1
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to
that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code, or anywhere within prision correccional minimum and medium (i.e.,
from 6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months).57 Consequently, the minimum terms in Criminal Case Nos. 9877301 and 98-77302 were correctly fixed by the RTC and affirmed by the Court of Appeals at 2 years, 11 months,
and 11 days of prision correccional. While the minimum term in Criminal Case No. 98-77303 was increased by the
Court of Appeals to 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, it is still within the range of the penalty next lower
to that prescribed by Section 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
The maximum term under the Indeterminate Sentence Law shall be that which, in view of attending circumstances,
could be properly imposed under the rules of the Revised Penal Code. To compute the minimum, medium, and
maximum periods of the prescribed penalty for estafa when the amount of fraud exceeds P12,000.00, the time
included in prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum shall be divided into three equal portions, with
each portion forming a period. Following this computation, the minimum period for prision correccional maximum to
prision mayor minimum is from 4 years, 2 months, and 1 day to 5 years, 5 months, and 10 days; the medium
period is from 5 years, 5 months, and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, and 20 days; and the maximum period is from
6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years. Any incremental penalty (i.e., 1 year for every P10,000.00 in excess of
P22,000.) shall thus be added to anywhere from 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years, at the discretion of the
court, provided that the total penalty does not exceed 20 years. 58
In Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 and 98-77302, the amounts of fraud were more than P12,00.00 but not exceeding
P22,000.00, and in the absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the maximum term shall be taken
from the medium period of the penalty prescribed (i.e., 5 years, 5 months, and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, and
20 days). Thus, the maximum terms of 6 years, 8 months, and 20 days actually imposed by the RTC and affirmed
by the Court of Appeals in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77301 and 98-77302 are proper.
As for determining the maximum term in Criminal Case No. 98-77303, we take into consideration that the amount
of fraud was P28,000.00. Since the amount of fraud exceeded P22,000.00, the maximum term shall be taken from
the maximum period of the prescribed penalty, which is 6 years, 8 months, and 21 days to 8 years; but since the
amount of fraud exceeded P22,000.00 by only P6,000.00 (less than P10,000.00), no incremental penalty shall be
imposed. Considering that the maximum term of 8 years fixed by the Court of Appeals in Criminal Case No. 9877303 is within the maximum period of the proscribed penalty, we see no reason for disturbing the same.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the present appeal for lack of merit and AFFIRM the Decision dated March 2, 2006 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00888, affirming with modification the Decision dated April 17, 2000 of the
Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 104, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-77300 to 98-77303, to read as follows:
1. In Criminal Case No. 98-77300, accused-appellant Rosario "Rose" Ochoa is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale, constituting economic sabotage, as defined and
penalized in Section 6(l) and (m), in relation to Section 7(b), of Republic Act No. 8042, and is sentenced to
life imprisonment and a fine of One Million Pesos (P1,000.000.00);

2. In Criminal Case No. 98-77301, accused-appellant Rosario "Rose" Ochoa is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11) months,
and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years, eight (8) months, and twenty
(20) days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify private complainant Robert Gubat in the amount
of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) as actual damages;
3. In Criminal Case No. 98-77302, accused-appellant Rosario "Rose" Ochoa is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11) months,
and eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years, eight (8) months, and twenty
(20) days of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify private complainant Cesar Aquino in the amount
of Seventeen Thousand Pesos (P17,000.00); and
4. In Criminal Case No. 98-77303, accused-appellant Rosario "Rose" Ochoa is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa, as defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the
Revised Penal Code, and is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of
prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify
private complainant Junior Agustin in the amount of Twenty-Eight Thousand Pesos (P28,000.00).
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 187052

September 13, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
MELISSA CHUA a.k.a. Clarita Ng Chua, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is an appeal from the September 15, 2008 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
01006. The Court of Appeals had affirmed with modification the Decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
Bnmch 33, in Criminal Case No. 03-217999-403. The RTC found appellant Melissa Chua, a.k.a. Clarita Ng Chua,
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale and four counts of estafa. The Court of Appeals
modified the penalty imposed upon appellant for each count of estafa to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment
for 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional. as minimum, to 13 years of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
Appellant Melissa Chua was charged on May 6, 2003, with the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale in an
Information3 which alleged:
That on or about and during the period comprised between July 29, 2002 and August 20, 2002, 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 overseas particularly to Taiwan, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, for fee,
recruit and promise employment/job placement to REY P. TAJADAO, BILLY R. DANAN, 4 ROYLAN A. URSULUM and
ALBERTO A. AGLANAO without first having secured the required license from the Department of Labor and
Employment as required by law, and charge or accept directly or indirectly from said complainants various amounts
as placement fees in consideration for their overseas employment, which amounts are in excess of or greater than
that specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the POEA, and without valid reasons and without the
fault of said complainants, failed to actually deploy them and failed to reimburse expenses incurred in connection
with their documentation and processing for purposes of their deployment.
Contrary to law.

Appellant was also charged with four counts of estafa in separate Informations, which, save for the date and the
names of private complainants, uniformly read:
That on or about August 10, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud ALBERTO A. AGLANAO in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, by
means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation which she made to said ALBERTO A. AGLANAO prior to
and even simultaneous with the commission of the fraud, to the effect that she has the power and capacity to
recruit and employ the latter in Taiwan as a factory worker and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent
papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, induced and succeeded in inducing the
said ALBERTO A. AGLANAO to give and deliver, as in fact he gave and delivered to the said accused the amount of P
80,000.00 on the strength of the said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same
were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount of P 80,000.00
which amount, once in her possession, with intent to defraud, they willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
misappropriated, misapplied and converted the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of said ALBERTO A. AGLANAO in the aforesaid amount of P 80,000.00, Philippine Currency.
Contrary to law.5
On arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to all charges. A joint trial of the cases ensued.
At the trial, private complainant Rey P. Tajadao testified that in August 2002, his fellow complainant, Alberto A.
Aglanao, introduced him to appellant Chua. By then, Aglanao had already submitted his application for employment
abroad with appellant. Since Tajadao was also interested to work overseas, he suggested that Tajadao apply as well.
Soon after, Tajadao met with appellant, who offered him a job as a factory worker in Taiwan for deployment within
the month. Appellant then required him to undergo medical examination and pay a placement fee of P 80,000.
Chua assured Tajadao that whoever pays the application fee the earliest can leave sooner. Thus, Tajadao delivered
to appellant staggered payments of P 40,000, P 35,000 and P 5,000 at the Golden Gate International (Golden Gate)
Office in Paragon Tower, Ermita, Manila. Said payments are evidenced by a voucher 6 signed by appellant.
After completing payment, Tajadao was made to sign a contract containing stipulations as to salary and conditions
of work. On several occasions, thereafter, he returned to appellants office to follow-up on his application. After
several visits, however, Tajadao noticed that all the properties of Golden Gate in its Paragon Tower Office were
already gone.
Tajadao filed a complaint for illegal recruitment against appellant before the Philippine Overseas Employment
Agency (POEA). It was only then that he learned that appellant Chua was not licensed to recruit workers for
overseas employment.
Another private complainant, Billy R. Danan, testified that Chua also offered employment abroad but failed to
deploy him. He recalled meeting appellant on August 6, 2002 at the Golden Gate Office in Ermita, Manila. Danan
inquired about the prospect of finding work in Taiwan as a factory worker, and appellant confirmed there was a
standing "job order." The latter advised Danan to obtain a passport, undergo medical examination, secure an NBI
clearance and prepare the amount of P 80,000.
On August 10, 2002, Danan paid appellant in full as evidenced by a cash voucher signed by the latter. A month
passed, however, and he was still unable to leave for Taiwan. Appellant informed Danan that his departure would be
re-scheduled because Taiwan had suspended admission of overseas workers until after the festival. After appellant
advanced this explanation several times, Danan decided to verify whether she was licensed to recruit.Upon learning
otherwise, Danan lodged a complaint for illegal recruitment against appellant with the POEA.
The third private complainant, Alberto Aglanao, testified that he met appellant Chua on August 5, 2002. Like
Tajadao and Danan, Aglanao applied for work as a factory worker in Taiwan. Appellant similarly assured Aglanao of
employment abroad upon payment of P 80,000. But despite payment7 of said amount on August 10, 2002,
appellant failed to deploy Aglanao to Taiwan.
Roylan Ursulum,8 the fourth private complainant, testified that he too went to the Golden Gate Office in Ermita,
Manila to seek employment as a factory worker. He was introduced by Shirley Montano to appellant Chua. The
latter told Ursulum that the first applicants to pay the placement fee of P 80,000 shall be deployed ahead of the
others. Thus, Ursulum obtained a loan of P 80,000 to cover the placement fee, which he allegedly gave appellant in
two installments of P 40,000 each. As with the rest of the private complainants, Ursulum never made it to Taiwan.
Ursulum did not submit proof of payment but presented, instead, ten text messages on his mobile phone
supposedly sent by appellant. One of said text messages reads, "Siguro anong laking saya nyo pag namatay na ko."

The prosecution likewise presented as witness Severino Maranan, Senior Labor Employment Officer of the POEA.
Maranan confirmed that appellant Chua was neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas
employment. In support, he presented to the court a certification issued by the POEA to that effect.
In her defense, appellant Chua denies having recruited private complainants for overseas employment. According
to appellant, she was only a cashier at Golden Gate, which is owned by Marilen Callueng. However, she allegedly
lost to a robbery her identification card evidencing her employment with the agency. Appellant denied any
knowledge of whether the agency was licensed to recruit workers during her tenure as it has been delisted.
In a Decision dated March 28, 2005, the RTC of Manila, Branch 33, found appellant Melissa Chua, a.k.a. Clarita Ng
Chua, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment in large scale and four counts of estafa. The fallo of the
RTC decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, judgment is
hereby rendered CONVICTING the accused as principal in the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa
(four counts) and she is sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (Php500,000.00) for illegal recruitment in large scale; and the indeterminate penalty of four (4)
years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to Twelve (12) years of prision mayor as maximum
for EACH count of Estafa.
The accused is also ordered to pay each of the complainant[s] the amount of P 80,000.00.
In the service of the sentence, the accused is credited with a x x x the full extent of her preventive imprisonment if
she agrees in writing to observe the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners; otherwise, only 4/5
of the time of such preventive imprisonment shall be credited to her.
SO ORDERED.9
The trial court relied on the testimony of Severino Maranan, Senior Labor Employment Officer of the POEA, that
appellant is not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment at the time she promised but failed to place
the four private complainants for work abroad. It accorded greater weight to the testimonies of private
complainants who positively identified appellant as the person who recruited them for employment in Taiwan and
received the placement fees.
The court a quo likewise found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa for misrepresenting herself as
having the power and capacity to recruit and place private complainants as factory workers in Taiwan. Such
misrepresentation, the trial court stressed, induced private complainants to part with their money. The RTC brushed
aside appellants defense that she was merely a cashier of Golden Gate and that the same is owned by Marilen
Callueng. It gave little weight to the receipts submitted by appellant to prove that she turned over the placement
fees to Callueng. The trial court observed nothing in said receipts indicating that the money came from private
complainants.
Dissatisfied, appellant Chua filed a Notice of Appeal10 on April 15, 2005.
By Decision dated September 15, 2008, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the RTC ruling. It modified
the penalty for each of the four counts of estafa by imposing upon appellant an indeterminate sentence of 4 years
and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 13 years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, for each count
of estafa.
The appellate court held that the prosecution has established by proof beyond reasonable doubt that appellant had
no license to recruit at the time she promised employment to and received placement fees from private
complainants. It dismissed appellants defense that she was only a cashier of Golden Gate and that she remitted
the placement fees to "the agencys treasurer." The Court of Appeals explained that in order to hold a person liable
for illegal recruitment, it is enough that he or she promised or offered employment for a fee, as appellant did.
The appellate court held further that the same pieces of evidence which establish appellants commission of illegal
recruitment also affirm her liability for estafa. It pointed out that appellant defrauded private complainants when
she misrepresented that they would be hired abroad upon payment of the placement fee. The Court of Appeals
perceived no ill motive on the part of private complainants to testify falsely against appellant.

Lastly, the appellate court modified the penalty imposed by the trial court upon appellant Chua for each count of
estafa. It raised the maximum period of appellants indeterminate sentence from 12 years of prision mayor to 13
years of reclusion temporal.
On October 6, 2008, appellant Chua elevated the case to this Court byfiling a Notice of Appeal. 11
In a Resolution12 dated July 1, 2009, we required the parties to file their respective supplemental briefs, if they so
desire. On August 26, 2009, appellant Chua filed a Manifestation (In lieu of Supplemental Brief) 13 by which she
repleaded and adopted all the defenses and arguments raised in her Appellants Brief. 14 On September 3, 2009, the
Office of the Solicitor
General, for the People, filed a Manifestation 15 that it will no longer file a supplemental brief since it has discussed
in its Appellees Brief16 all the matters and issues raised in the Appellants Brief.
Before us, appellant Melissa Chua presents a lone assignment of error:
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE OFFENSE OF ILLEGAL
RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE AND FOUR (4) COUNTS OF ESTAFA DESPITE THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE
FOR THE PROSECUTION.17
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the people, submits that it has established all the elements necessary to hold
appellant Chua liable for illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa. It cites the testimony of Severino Maranan,
Senior Labor Employment Officer of the POEA, and the certification issued by Felicitas Q. Bay, Director II of the
POEA, to the effect that appellant was not authorized to engage in recruitment activities.The OSG argues against
appellants defense that she was only a cashier of Golden Gate on the argument that her act of representing to the
four private complainants that she could send them to Taiwan as factory workers constitutes recruitment. It
stresses that the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is malum prohibitum; hence, mere commission of the
prohibited act is punishable and criminal intent is immaterial. Lastly, the OSG points out that appellant failed to
show any ill motive on the part of private complainants to testify falsely against her.
For her part, appellant Chua maintains that she was merely a cashier of Golden Gate International. She disowns
liability for allegedly "merely acting under the direction of her superiors" 18 and for being "unaware that her acts
constituted a crime."19 Appellant begs the Court to review the factual findings of the court a quo.
The crime of illegal recruitment is defined and penalized under Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8042, or
the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as follows:
SEC. 6. Definition. For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting,
contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising
or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder
of authority contemplated under Article 13 (f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the
Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or
promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise
include the following acts, 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.
The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of
juridical persons, the officers having control, management or direction of their business shall be liable.
SEC. 7. Penalties.
(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six (6)
years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos
(P 200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P 500,000.00).

(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P 500,000.00) nor
more than One million pesos (P 1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage
as defined herein.
Provided, however, That the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the person illegally recruited is less than
eighteen (18) years of age or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority.
In order to hold a person liable for illegal recruitment, the following elements must concur: (1) the offender
undertakes any of the activities within the meaning of "recruitment and placement" under Article 13(b) 20 of the
Labor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article
3421 of the Labor Code (now Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042) and (2) the offender has no valid license or
authority required by law to enable him to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers. 22 In the case of
illegal recruitment in large scale, a third element is added: that the offender commits any of the acts of recruitment
and placement against three or more persons, individually or as a group. 23 All three elements are present in the
case at bar.
Inarguably, appellant Chua engaged in recruitment when she represented to private complainants that she could
send them to Taiwan as factory workers upon submission of the required documents and payment of the placement
fee. The four private complainants positively identified appellant as the person who promised them employment as
factory workers in Taiwan for a fee of P 80,000. More importantly, Severino Maranan the Senior Labor Employment
Officer of the POEA, presented a Certification dated December 5, 2002, issued by Director Felicitas Q. Bay, to the
effect that appellant Chua is not licensed by the POEA to recruit workers for overseas employment.
The Court finds no reason to deviate from the findings and conclusions of the trial court and appellate court. The
prosecution witnesses were positive and categorical in their testimonies that they personally met appellant and
that the latter promised to send them abroad for employment.
In fact, the substance of their testimonies corroborate each other on material points, such as the amount of the
placement fee, the country of destination and the nature of work. Without any evidence to show that private
complainants were propelled by any ill motive to testify falsely against appellant, we shall accord their testimonies
full faith and credit. After all, the doctrinal rule is that findings of fact made by the trial court, which had the
opportunity to directly observe the witnesses and to determine the probative value of the other testimonies, are
entitled to great weight and respect because the trial court is in a better position to assess the same, an
opportunity not equally open to the appellate court. 24 The absence of any showing that the trial court plainly
overlooked certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, might affect the result of the case, or that its
assessment was arbitrary, impels the Court to defer to the trial courts determination according credibility to the
prosecution evidence.25
Appellant cannot escape liability by conveniently limiting her participation as a cashier of Golden Gate. The
provisions of Article 13(b) of the Labor Code and Section 6 of R.A. No. 8042 are unequivocal that illegal recruitment
may or may not be for profit. It is immaterial, therefore, whether appellant remitted the placement fees to "the
agencys treasurer" or appropriated them. The same provision likewise provides that the persons criminally liable
for illegal recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. Just the same, therefore, appellant can be
held liable as a principal by direct participation since she personally undertook the recruitment of private
complainants without a license or authority to do so. Worth stressing, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos
Act of 1995 is a special law, a violation of which is malum prohibitum, not mala in se. Intent is thus, immaterial 26
and mere commission of the prohibited act is punishable.
Furthermore, we agree with the appellate court that the same pieces of evidence which establish appellants
liability for illegal recruitment in large scale likewise confirm her culpability for estafa.
It is well-established in jurisprudence that a person may be charged and convicted for both illegal recruitment and
estafa. The reason therefor is not hard to discern: illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum, while estafa is mala in
se. In the first, the criminal intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction. In the second, such intent is
imperative. Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) 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.27
The elements of estafa by means of deceit are the following: (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.28
In this case, the prosecution has established that appellant defrauded the complaining witnesses by leading them
to believe that she has the capacity to send them to Taiwan for work, even as she does not have a license or
authority for the purpose. Such misrepresentation came before private complainants delivered P 80,000 as
placement fee to appellant. Clearly, private complainants would not have parted with their money were it not for
such enticement by appellant. As a consequence of appellants false pretenses, the private complainants suffered
damages as the promised employment abroad never materialized and the money they paid were never
recovered.29
In an effort to exculpate herself, appellant presented in evidence 11 vouchers 30 amounting to P 314,030, which was
allegedly received by Marilen Callueng, the supposed owner of Golden Gate. Notably, the dates on which said
vouchers were issued and the amounts purportedly remitted to Callueng by way thereof do not correspond with the
placement fee given by private complainants and the dates on which they paid the same to appellant. For instance,
private complainants Aglanao and Danan delivered P 80,000 to appellant on August 10, 2002 but none of the
vouchers presented by appellant was issued on said date. On August 20, 2002, private complainant Tajadao paid P
40,000 to appellant but the latters voucher for said date covers only P 22,480. More importantly, there is nothing
in appellants vouchers to indicate that the amounts listed therein were received from private complainants. On the
other hand, while the vouchers presented by private complainants Aglanao, Danan and Tajadao do not bear their
names, they could not have come into possession of said form except through appellant. Hence, appellant admitted
in open court that she received P 80,000 from private complainants and that she was authorized to issue receipts,
thus:
ATTY: BETIC:
Q: Were you authorized to issue receipts in behalf of that Agency?
A: yes, Sir.
xxxx
Q: Now, you said that you were employed with Golden Gate Agency owned and operated by Marilen Callueng, and
as a cashier did you happen to come across private complainants, Billy R. Da[n]an, Alberto Aglanao and Rey
Tajadao?
A: Yes, Sir before they were asked to sign a contract they paid to me.
Q: Do you know how much were paid or given by the persons I have mentioned?
A: Eighty Thousand Pesos Only (P 80,000.00) Sir.
Q: Each?
A: Yes, Sir.31
Be that as it may, we take exception as regards private complainant Roylan Ursulum. The Court finds that the
prosecution failed to establish the presence of the third and fourth elements of estafa as regards the incident with
Roylan Ursulum. While Ursulum claims that he delivered to Chua two installments of P 40,000 each on July 29, 2002
and August 3, 2002, he failed to produce receipts to substantiate the same. Instead, Ursulum relies on ten text
messages allegedly sent by appellant as evidence of their transaction. Out of said series of messages, Ursulum
presented only one which reads, "Siguro anong laking saya nyo pag namatay na ko." Notably, the prosecution did
not present evidence to confirm whether said text message actually emanated from appellant. Assuming arguendo
that it did, still, said message alone does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that appellant was able to
obtain P 80,000 from Ursulum as a result of her false pretenses.
Unlike in illegal recruitment where profit is immaterial, a conviction for estafa requires a clear showing that the
offended party parted with his money or property upon the offenders false pretenses, and suffered damage
thereby. In every criminal prosecution, the State must prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime
charged and the complicity or participation of the accused. 32 It is imperative, therefore, that damage as an element
of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) be proved as conclusively as the offense itself. The failure of the

prosecution to discharge this burden concerning the estafa allegedly committed against Ursulum warrants the
acquittal of appellant on the said charge.
Now on the matter of the appropriate penalty. Under Section 6, R.A. No. 8042, illegal recruitment when committed
in large scale shall be considered as an offense involving economic sabotage. Accordingly, it shall be punishable by
life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P 500,000 nor more than P 1,000,000. The law provides further that
the maximum penalty shall be imposed if illegal recruitment is committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of
authority.
In the case at bar, the trial court imposed upon appellant Chua the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P
500,000. However, considering that appellant is a non-licensee or non-holder of authority, we deem it proper to
impose upon her the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and fine of P 1,000,000.
Meanwhile, the penalty for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is prision correccional in its
maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over P 12,000 but does not
exceed P 22,000. If the amount exceeds P 22,000, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one
year for each additional P 10,000. But, the total penalty imposed shall not exceed 20 years.
The range of penalty provided for in Article 315 is composed of only two periods.1wphi1 Thus, to get the
maximum period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years included in the two periods should be
divided into three equal periods of time, forming one period for each of the three portions. The maximum, medium
and minimum periods of the prescribed penalty are therefore:
Minimum period - 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 5 years, 5 months and 10 days
Medium period - 5 years, 5 months and 11 days to 6 years, 8 months and 20 days
Maximum period - 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years. 33
In this case, the amount by which appellant defrauded private complainants Aglanao, Danan and Tajadao is P
80,000, which exceeds P 22,000. Hence, the penalty should be imposed in the maximum period of 6 years, 8
months and 21 days to 8 years. Since the total amount of fraud in this case exceeds the threshold amount of P
22,000 by P 58,000, an additional penalty of five years imprisonment should be imposed. Thus, the maximum
period of appellant's indeterminate sentence should be 13 years of reclusion temporal.
The minimum period of the indeterminate sentence, on the other hand, should be within the nmge ofpenaity next
lower to that prescribed by Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code for the crime committed.The
penalty next lower to prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum is prision correccional minimum (6
months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months) to prision correccional medium (2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 4 years
and 2 months). Thus, the appellate court correctly modified the minirnum period of appellant's sentence to 4 years
and 2 months of prision correccional.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Appellant Melissa Chua, a.k.a. Clarita Ng Chua is ACQUITTED of one
count of estafa filed by private complainant Roylan Ursulum in Criminal Case No. 03-21 7999-403.
The Decision dated September I5, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01006 is AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION in that the appellant is ordered to pay a fine of P 1,000,000 and to indemnify each of the private
complainants Alberto A. Aglanao, Billy R. Danan and Rey P. Tajadao in the amount of P-80,000.
With costs against the accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-2216

January 31, 1950

DEE C. CHUAN & SONS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, CONGRESS OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS (CLO), KAISAHAN NG
MGA MANGGAGAWA SA KAHOY SA PILIPINAS and JULIAN LUMANOG AND HIS WORK-CONTRACT
LABORERS, respondents.
Quisumbing, Sycip and Quisumbing for petitioner.
Lazatin and Caballero for respondents.
Arsenio I. Martinez for the Court of Industrial Relations.
TUASON, J.:
Dee C. Chuan & Sons, Inc. assails the validity of an order of the Court of Industrial Relations. The order made upon
petitioner's request for authority to hire" about twelve(12) more laborers from time to time and on a temporary
basis," contains the proviso that "the majority of the laborers to be employed should be native." The petition was
filed pending settlement by the court of a labor dispute between the petitioner and Kaisahan Ng Mga Manggagawa
sa Kahoy sa Pilipinas.
At the outset, the appellant takes exception to the finding of the court below that Dee C. Chuan & Sons, Inc. is
capitalized with foreign descent. This question has little or no bearing on the case and may well be passed over
except incidentally as a point of argument in relation to the material issues.
It is next said that "The Court of Industrial Relations cannot intervene in questions of selection of employees and
workers so as to impose unconstitutional restrictions," and that "The restrictions of the number of aliens that nay be
employed in any business, occupation, trade or profession of any kind, is a denial of the equal protection of the
laws." Although the brief does not name the persons who are supposed to be denied the equal protection of the
laws, it is clearly to be inferred that aliens in general are in petitioner's mind. certainly, the order does not, directly
or indirectly, immediately or remotely, discriminate against the petitioner on account of race or citizenship. The
order could have been issued in a case in which the employer was a Filipino. As a matter of fact the petitioner
insists that 75 % of its shares of stock are held by Philippine citizens, a statement which is here assumed to be
correct.
But is petitioner entitled to challenge the constitutionality of a law or an order which does not adversely affect it, in
behalf of aliens who are prejudiced thereby? The answer is not in doubt. An alien may question the constitutionality
of a statute (or court order) only when and so far as it is being, or is about to be, applied to his disadvantage. (16
C.J.S. 157 et seq.) The prospective employees whom the petitioner may contemplate employing have not come
forward to seek redress; their identity has not even been revealed. Clearly the petitioner has no case in so far as it
strives to protect the rights of others, much less others who are unknown and undetermined. U.S. vs. Wong Ku Ark,
169 U.S. 649; Truax vs. Reich, 239 U.S. 39 60 Law ed., 131., and other American decisions cited do not support the
petitioner for the very simple reasons that in those cases it was the persons themselves whose rights and
immunities under the constitution were being violated that invoked the protection of the courts.
The petitioner is within its legitimate sphere of interest when it complains that the appealed order restrains it in its
liberty to engage the men it pleases. This complaint merits a more detailed examination.
That the employer's right to hire labor is not absolute has to be admitted. "This privilege of hiring and firing ad
libitum is, of course, being subjected to restraints today." Statutes are cutting in on it. And so does Commonwealth
Act No. 103. The regulations of the hours of labor of employees and of the employment of women and children are
familiar examples of the limitation of the employer's right in this regard. The petitioner's request for permission to
employ additional; laborers is an implicit recognition of the correctness of the proposition. The power of the
legislature to make regulations is subject only to the condition that they should be affected with public interest and
reasonable under the circumstances. The power may be exercised directly by the law-making body or delegated by
appropriate rules to the courts or administrative agencies.
We are of the opinion that the order under consideration meets the test of reasonableness and public interest. The
passage of Commonwealth Act No. 103 was "in conformity with the constitutional objective and . . . the historical
fact that industrial and agricultural disputes have given rise to disquietude, bloodshed and revolution in our
country." (Antamok Goldfields Mining Co. vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 40 Off. Gaz., 8th Supp., 173.) 1
"Commonwealth Act No. 103 has precisely vested the Court of Industrial Relations with authority to intervene in all
disputes between employees or strikes arising from the difference as regards wages, compensation, and other labor
conditions which it may take cognizance of." (Central Azucarera de Tarlac vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 40 Off.

Gaz., 3rd Supp., 319, 324.)2 Thus it has jurisdiction to determine the number of men to be laid off during offseasons. By the same token, the court may specify that a certain proportion of the additional laborers to be
employed should be Filipinos, if such condition, in the court's opinion, "is necessary or expedient for the purpose of
settling disputes or doing justice to the parties."
The order in question has that specific end in view. In parallel view the court observed: "Undoubtedly, without the
admonition of the Court, nothing could prevent petitioner from hiring purely alien laborers, and there is no
gainsaying the fact that further conflict or dispute would naturally ensue. To cope with this contingency, and acting
within the powers granted by the organic law, the court, believing in the necessity and expediency of making
patent its desire to avoid probable and possible further misunderstanding between the parties, issued the order."
We are not prepared to declare that the order is not conducive to the aim pursued. The question is a practical one
depending on facts with which the court is best familiar. The fact already noted should not be lost sight of that
there is a pending strike and besides, that the employment of temporary laborers was opposed by the striking
employees and was the subject of a protracted hearing.
We can not agree with the petitioner that the order constitutes an unlawful intrusion into the sphere of legislation,
by attempting to lay down a public policy of the state or to settle a political question. In the first place, we believe,
as we have already explained, that the court's action falls within the legitimate scope of its jurisdiction. In the
second place, the order does not formulate a policy and is not political in character. It is not a permanent, allembracing regulation. It is a compromise and emergency measure applicable only in this case and calculated to
bridge a temporary gap and to adjust conflicting interests in an existing and menacing controversy. The hiring of
Chinese laborers by the petitioner was rightly considered by the court likely to lead the parties away from the
reconciliation which it was the function of the court to effectuate.
As far as the petitioner is concerned, the requirement that majority of the laborers to be employed should be
Filipinos is certain not arbitrary, unreasonable or unjust. The petitioner's right to employ labor or to make contract
with respect thereto is not unreasonably curtailed and its interest is not jeopardized. We take it that the nationality
of the additional laborers to be taken in is immaterial to the petitioner. In its application for permission to employ
twelve temporary laborers it expressly says that these could be Filipinos or Chinese. On the face of this statement,
assuming the same to be sincere, the petitioner objection to the condition imposed by the court would appear to be
academic and a trifle.
We should not close without adverting to the fact that the petitioner does not so much as pretend that the hiring of
additional laborers is its prerogative as a matter of right. It seems to be conceded that during the pendency of the
dispute the petitioner could employ temporary laborers only with the permission of the Court of Industrial Relations.
The granting of the application thus lies within the sound judgment of the court, and if the court could turn it down
entirely, as we think it could, its authority to quality the permission should be undeniable, provided only that the
qualification is not arbitrary, against law, morals, or established public policy, which it is not; it is an expedient and
emergency step designed to relieve petitioner's own difficulties. Also important to remember is that it is not
compulsory on petitioner's part to take advantage of the order. Being a permute petitioner is the sole judge of
whether it should take the order as it is, or leave it if it does not suit its interest to hire new laborers other than
Chinese.
The order appealed from is affirmed with costs to this appeal against the petitioner-appellant.
Moran, C.J., Pablo, Padilla, and Torres, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
OZAETA, J., with whom concur PARAS, MONTEMAYOR, and REYES, JJ., dissenting:
During the trial of an industrial dispute between the petitioner and the respondent labor union, the former applied
to the Court of Industrial Relations for authority "to hire about twelve more laborers from time to time and on a
temporary basis, to be chosen by the petitioner from either Filipinos or Chinese." the court granted the authority
applied for but imposed as a condition that the majority of the twelve new laborers to be hired "should be native
and only a nominal percentage thereof alien." In imposing such condition the court said:
The hiring of laborers who are not native or Filipino should be discouraged, as it is being discouraged by this
court. In these critical moments of unemployment, any competition of alien and native labor would be
destructive of our Nation that is in the making. By the act of God, this nation is the Philippines, her soil is

the patrimony of the Filipino people, and in this Philippine soil the Filipino laborers must have priority and
preference. No capitalistic management can violate this written law, unless it wants to court trouble and
conflict. In the hiring, therefore, of laborers, it is the opinion of this court that management, in employing
aliens, should be prudent and cautious and should, as much as possible, employ only a small percentage
thereof limited to those absolutely necessary and confidential.
The power of the Court of Industrial Relations to impose such condition as to limit the authority of the employer to
hire laborers than Filipinos is challenged by the petitioner. "The petitioner is within its legitimate sphere of interest
when it complains that the appealed order restrains it in liberty to engage the men it pleases," says the majority
opinion, and we add "regardless of race or nationality." It is true that no alien laborer who may be adversely
affected by the order has been made a party herein. Under the circumstances of the case he could not be expected
to have intervened in the incident which gave rise to the order complained of. But his intervention is not necessary
in order to determine whether or not the Court of Industrial Relations is empowered by law to impose the condition
above mentioned. If the court has no power to discriminate against a certain class of laborers on account of their
race or nationality, it has no power to impose the condition in question, and the employer has legitimate right to
complain against such imposition.
The Court of Industrial Relations impliedly admits the nonexistence of any statue providing that Filipino laborers
must be preferred over aliens; but it claims or adopts an "unwritten law" to that effect and says that "no capitalistic
management can violate this unwritten law, unless it wants to court trouble and conflict." Who made such
unwritten law? Certainly the Congress of the Philippines, the only entity authorized by the Constitution to make
laws, and which does not promulgate unwritten laws, did not do so. The court, therefore, cannot take cognizance of,
and much less apply, such supposed unwritten law.
It is sheer usurpation of legislative power for the court to enact or make laws. Its power is confined to interpreting
and applying the laws enacted by the legislature.
The case of Truax vs. Reich (600 law. ed., 131), which was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on
November 1, 1915, is of pertinent and persuasive application to the question at issue in that, in our opinion, it
emphasizes the utter lack of power of the court to impose the condition here complained of; for in said case
Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Legislature of the State of Arizona could not validly enact a law
similar to the supposed unwritten law which the Court of Industrial Relations has conceived and has tried to
enforce. The law involved in said case pertinently reads as follows:
SEC. 1. Any company, corporation, partnership, association or individual who is, may hereafter become, an
employer of more than five (5) workers at any one time, in the state of Arizona, regardless of kind or class
of work, or sex of workers, shall employ not less than (80) per cent qualified electors or native-born citizens
of the United States or some subdivision thereof.
SEC. 2. Any company, corporation, partnership, association or individual, their agent or agents, found guilty
of violating any of the provisions of this act shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred ($100)
dollars, and imprisoned for not less than thirty (30) days.
Mike Raich, a native of Austria and an inhabitant of the State of Arizona, but not a qualified elector, was employed
as a cook by William Truax in his restaurant, where he had nine employees, of whom seven were neither nativeborn citizens of the United States nor qualified electors. After the passage of said law Raich was informed by his
employer that because of its requirements and because of the fear of the penalties that would be incurred in case
of its violation, he would be discharged. Thereupon Raich sued Truax and the Attorney General of Arizona to enjoin
them from enforcing the law on the ground that it was unconstitutional because it denied him the equal protection
of the laws. Both the District Court and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld his contention. The court
said that the complainant was entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment to the equal protection of the laws of
Arizona. "These provisions," said the court, "are universal in their application, to all person within the territorial
jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal laws. . . . The
discrimination defined by the act does not pertain to the regulation or distribution of the public domain, or of the
common property or resources of the people of the state, the enjoyment of which may be limited to its citizens as
against both aliens and the citizens of other states." The court said further:
It is sought to justify this act as an exercise of the power of the state to make reasonable classifications in
legislating to promote the health, safety, morals, and welfare of those within its jurisdiction. But this
admitted authority, with the broad range of legislative discretion that it implies, does not go so far as to
make it possible for the state to deny to lawful inhabitants, because of their race or nationality, the ordinary
means of earning a livelihood. It requires no argument to show that the right to work for a living in the
common occupations of the community is of the very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity that
it was the purpose of the Amendment to secure. . . . If this could be refused solely upon the ground of race

or nationality, the prohibition of the denial to any person of the equal protection of the laws would be a
barren form of words. It is no answer to say, as it is argued, that the act proceeds upon the assumption that
'the employment of aliens, unless restrained, was a peril to the public welfare. The discrimination against
aliens in the wide range of employments to which the acts relates is made an end in itself, and thus the
authority to deny to aliens, upon the mere fact of their alienage, the right to obtain support in the ordinary
fields of labor, is necessarily involved.
Our own Constitution contains a provision similar to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States. Section 1 of Article III provides:
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be
denied the equal protection of the laws.
It is patent that if the lawmaking body itself cannot validly enact the supposed unwritten law conceived or adopted
by the lower court, much less could the latter do so.
Section 13 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, invoked by the trial court and by majority of this court as authorizing the
imposition of the discriminatory condition contained in the order appealed from, reads as follows:
SEC. 13. Character of the award. In making an award, order or decision, under the provision of section
four of this Act, the Court shall not be restricted to the specific relief claimed or demands made by the
parties to the industrial or agricultural dispute, but may include in the award, order or decision any matter
or determination which may be deemed necessary or expedient for the purpose of setting the dispute or of
preventing further industrial or agricultural dispute.
As correctly stated by Judge Lanting of the lower court in his dissenting opinion:
The reference in the resolution of the majority to section 13 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, authorizing this
Court to include in its awards, orders or decisions "any matter or determination which may be deemed
necessary or expedient for the purpose of setting the dispute or of preventing further . . . disputes", is
farfetched. This provision certainly does not authorize this Court to go beyond its prescribed powers and
issue an order which grossly violates the fundamental law. More specifically, it cannot make any ruling
which will produce the effect of discriminating against and oppressing a person or class of persons and
deny them the equal protection of the laws, aside from curtailing their individual freedom and their right to
live.
As matter of fact the respondent labor union "manifested its conformity to the hiring of additional laborers,
provided that it be consulted by the petitioner and that it be given the privilege of recommending the twelve new
laborers that are to be hired." And Judge Roldan in his order overruled that proposition by saying : "The stand taken
by the respondent labor union is not correct, because it attempts to encroach upon the prerogative of the company
to determine and adopt its own policy in the selection of its employees and workers, and the Court should only
intervene in questions of this nature when there is discrimination or retaliation on the part of the company, which
has not been proven or even alleged in the case bar (Manila Trading & Supply Co. vs. Judge Francisco Zulueta et al.,
G. R. No. 46853;1 Manila Chauffeurs League vs. Bachrach Motor Co., G. R. No. 49138; 2 Pampanga Bus Co. vs.
Pampanga Bus Co. Employees' Union, G. R. No. 46739; 3 National Labor Union vs. San Miguel Brewery, CIR case No.
26-V, June 12, 1947)."
Thus the Court of Industrial Relations itself correctly held that the respondent labor union has no right to encroach
upon the prerogative of the company to determine and adopt its own policy in the selection of its employees and
workers, and that the court itself should not intervene in such selection because there was no proof of
discrimination or retaliation on the part of the company. Yet in the dispositive part of its order the court not only
intervenes in such selection but compels the company to discriminate against a certain class of laborers. The
inconsistency and illegality of the order appealed from are too patent fro argument.
To hold that the Court of Industrial Relations may, under section 13, impose any condition in its order or award in
order to prevent further industrial disputes, regardless of whether or not such condition is in violation of law or of
the Constitution, is, in our opinion, thinkable. It goes without saying that industrial dispute must be settled in
accordance with law and justice. Suppose that the members of a labor union should demand of an employer that 80
per cent of the new laborers the latter may hire should be Filipinos, or that all of them should be Tagalogs or
Ilocanos, and should threaten to declare a strike unless such demand be complied with; would the court be justified
in granting such demand under section 13 on the ground that by doing so it would prevent a or strike or lockout
and settle an industrial dispute? The negative answer can hardly be disputed, since unreasonableness or illegal

demands should not be countenanced by the court. Yet the affirmance by this Court of the order appealed from in
effect authorizes the Court of Industrial Relations hereafter to commit such arbitrariness.
For the foregoing reasons, we vote to modify the appealed order by eliminating therefrom the discriminatory
condition in question.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 100641 June 14, 1993


FARLE P. ALMODIEL, petitioner,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FIRST DIVISION), RAYTHEON PHILS., INC., respondents.
Apolinario Lomabao, Jr. for petitioner.
Vicente A. Cruz, Jr., for private respondent.

NOCON, J.:
Subject of this petition for certiorari is the decision dated March 21, 1991 of the National Labor Relations
Commission in NLRC Case No.
00-00645-89 which reversed and set aside the Labor Arbiter's decision dated September 27, 1989 and ordered
instead the payment of separation pay and financial assistance of P100,000.00. Petitioner imputes grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the Commission and prays for the reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter's decision which
declared his termination on the ground of redundancy illegal.
Petitioner Farle P. Almodiel is a certified public accountant who was hired in October, 1987 as Cost Accounting
Manager of respondent Raytheon Philippines, Inc. through a reputable placement firm, John Clements Consultants,
Inc. with a starting monthly salary of P18,000.00. Before said employment, he was the accounts executive of
Integrated Microelectronics, Inc. for several years. He left his lucrative job therein in view of the promising career
offered by Raytheon. He started as a probationary or temporary employee. As Cost Accounting Manager, his major
duties were: (1) plan, coordinate and carry out year and physical inventory; (2) formulate and issue out hard copies
of Standard Product costing and other cost/pricing analysis if needed and required and (3) set up the written Cost
Accounting System for the whole company. After a few months, he was given a regularization increase of P1,600.00
a month. Not long thereafter, his salary was increased to P21,600.00 a month.
On August 17, 1988, he recommended and submitted a Cost Accounting/Finance Reorganization, affecting the
whole finance group but the same was disapproved by the Controller. However, he was assured by the Controller
that should his position or department which was apparently a one-man department with no staff becomes
untenable or unable to deliver the needed service due to manpower constraint, he would be given a three (3) year
advance notice.
In the meantime, the standard cost accounting system was installed and used at the Raytheon plants and
subsidiaries worldwide. It was likewise adopted and installed in the Philippine operations. As a consequence, the
services of a Cost Accounting Manager allegedly entailed only the submission of periodic reports that would use
computerized forms prescribed and designed by the international head office of the Raytheon Company in
California, USA.

On January 27, 1989, petitioner was summoned by his immediate boss and in the presence of IRD Manager, Mr.
Rolando Estrada, he was told of the abolition of his position on the ground of redundancy. He pleaded with
management to defer its action or transfer him to another department, but he was told that the decision of
management was final and that the same has been conveyed to the Department of Labor and Employment. Thus,
he was constrained to file the complaint for illegal dismissal before the Arbitration Branch of the National Capital
Region, NLRC, Department of Labor and Employment.
On September 27, 1989, Labor Arbiter Daisy Cauton-Barcelona rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that complainant's termination on the ground
of redundancy is highly irregular and without legal and factual basis, thus ordering the respondents
to reinstate complainant to his former position with full backwages without lost of seniority rights
and other benefits. Respondents are further ordered to pay complainant P200,000.00 as moral
damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, plus ten percent (10%) of the total award as
attorney's fees. 1
Raytheon appealed therefrom on the grounds that the Labor Arbiter committed grave abuse of discretion in
denying its rights to dismiss petitioner on the ground of redundancy, in relying on baseless surmises and selfserving assertions of the petitioner that its act was tainted with malice and bad faith and in awarding moral and
exemplary damages and attorney's fees.
On March 21, 1991, the NLRC reversed the decision and directed Raytheon to pay petitioner the total sum of
P100,000.00 as separation pay/financial assistance. The dispositive portion of which is hereby quoted as follows:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby set aside. In its stead, Order is hereby issued
directing respondent to pay complainant the total separation pay/financial assistance of One
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00).
SO ORDERED. 2
From this decision, petitioner filed the instant petition averring that:
The public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to (lack of) or in excess of
jurisdiction in declaring as valid and justified the termination of petitioner on the ground of
redundancy in the face of clearly established finding that petitioner's termination was tainted with
malice, bad faith and irregularity. 3
Termination of an employee's services because of redundancy is governed by Article 283 of the Labor Code which
provides as follows:
Art. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. The employer may also terminate
the employment of any employee due to installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy,
retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or
undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this Title, by
serving a written notice on the worker and the Department of Labor and Employment at least one
(1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to installation of labor-saving
devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent
to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment
to prevent losses and in cases of closure or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking
not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to at
least one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is
higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered as one (1) whole year.
There is no dispute that petitioner was duly advised, one (1) month before, of the termination of his employment on
the ground of redundancy in a written notice by his immediate superior, Mrs. Magdalena B.D. Lopez sometime in
the afternoon of January 27, 1989. He was issued a check for P54,863.00 representing separation pay but in view of
his refusal to acknowledge the notice and the check, they were sent to him thru registered mail on January 30,
1989. The Department of Labor and Employment was served a copy of the notice of termination of petitioner in
accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code and the implementing rules.
The crux of the controversy lies on whether bad faith, malice and irregularity crept in the abolition of petitioner's
position of Cost Accounting Manager on the ground of redundancy. Petitioner claims that the functions of his

position were absorbed by the Payroll/Mis/Finance Department under the management of Danny Ang Tan Chai, a
resident alien without any working permit from the Department of Labor and Employment as required by law.
Petitioner relies on the testimony of Raytheon's witness to the effect that corollary functions appertaining to cost
accounting were dispersed to other units in the Finance Department. And granting that his department has to be
declared redundant, he claims that he should have been the Manager of the Payroll/Mis/Finance Department which
handled general accounting, payroll and encoding. As a B. S. Accounting graduate, a CPA with M.B.A. units, 21
years of work experience, and a natural born Filipino, he claims that he is better qualified than Ang Tan Chai, a B.S.
Industrial Engineer, hired merely as a Systems Analyst Programmer or its equivalent in early 1987, promoted as MIS
Manager only during the middle part of 1988 and a resident alien.
On the other hand, Raytheon insists that petitioner's functions as Cost Accounting Manager had not been absorbed
by Ang Tan Chai, a permanent resident born in this country. It claims to have established below that Ang Tan Chai
did not displace petitioner or absorb his functions and duties as they were occupying entirely different and distinct
positions requiring different sets of expertise or qualifications and discharging functions altogether different and
foreign from that of petitioner's abolished position. Raytheon debunks petitioner's reliance on the testimony of Mr.
Estrada saying that the same witness testified under oath that the functions of the Cost Accounting Manager had
been completely dispensed with and the position itself had been totally abolished.
Whether petitioner's functions as Cost Accounting Manager have been dispensed with or merely absorbed by
another is however immaterial. Thus, notwithstanding the dearth of evidence on the said question, a resolution of
this case can be arrived at without delving into this matter. For even conceding that the functions of petitioner's
position were merely transferred, no malice or bad faith can be imputed from said act. A survey of existing case law
will disclose that in Wiltshire File Co., Inc. v. NLRC, 4 the position of Sales Manager was abolished on the ground of
redundancy as the duties previously discharged by the Sales Manager simply added to the duties of the General
Manager to whom the Sales Manager used to report. In adjudging said termination as legal, this Court said that
redundancy, for purposes of our Labor Code, exists where the services of an employee are in excess of what is
reasonably demanded by the actual requirements of the enterprise. The characterization of an employee's services
as no longer necessary or sustainable, and therefore, properly terminable, was an exercise of business judgment on
the part of the employer. The wisdom or soundness of such characterization or decision was not subject to
discretionary review on the part of the Labor Arbiter nor of the NLRC so long, of course, as violation of law or merely
arbitrary and malicious action is not shown.
In the case of International Macleod, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 5 this Court also considered the position of
Government Relations Officer to have become redundant in view of the appointment of the International Heavy
Equipment Corporation as the company's dealer with the government. It held therein that the determination of the
need for the phasing out of a department as a labor and cost saving device because it was no longer economical to
retain said services is a management prerogative and the courts will not interfere with the exercise thereof as long
as no abuse of discretion or merely arbitrary or malicious action on the part of management is shown.
In the same vein, this Court ruled in Bondoc v. People's Bank and Trust Co., 6 that the bank's board of directors
possessed the power to remove a department manager whose position depended on the retention of the trust and
confidence of management and whether there was need for his services. Although some vindictive motivation
might have impelled the abolition of his position, this Court expounded that it is undeniable that the bank's board of
directors possessed the power to remove him and to determine whether the interest of the bank justified the
existence of his department.
Indeed, an employer has no legal obligation to keep more employees than are necessary for the operation of its
business. Petitioner does not dispute the fact that a cost accounting system was installed and used at Raytheon
subsidiaries and plants worldwide; and that the functions of his position involve the submission of periodic reports
utilizing computerized forms designed and prescribed by the head office with the installation of said accounting
system. Petitioner attempts to controvert these realities by alleging that some of the functions of his position were
still indispensable and were actually dispersed to another department. What these indispensable functions that
were dispersed, he failed however, to specify and point out. Besides, the fact that the functions of a position were
simply added to the duties of another does not affect the legitimacy of the employer's right to abolish a position
when done in the normal exercise of its prerogative to adopt sound business practices in the management of its
affairs.
Considering further that petitioner herein held a position which was definitely managerial in character, Raytheon
had a broad latitude of discretion in abolishing his position. An employer has a much wider discretion in terminating
employment relationship of managerial personnel compared to rank and file employees. 7 The reason obviously is
that officers in such key positions perform not only functions which by nature require the employer's full trust and
confidence but also functions that spell the success or failure of an enterprise.

Likewise destitute of merit is petitioner's imputation of unlawful discrimination when Raytheon caused corollary
functions appertaining to cost accounting to be absorbed by Danny Ang Tan Chai, a resident alien without a working
permit. Article 40 of the Labor Code which requires employment permit refers to non-resident aliens. The
employment permit is required for entry into the country for employment purposes and is issued after
determination of the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of
application to perform the services for which the alien is desired. Since Ang Tan Chai is a resident alien, he does not
fall within the ambit of the provision.
Petitioner also assails Raytheon's choice of Ang Tan Chai to head the Payroll/Mis/Finance Department, claiming that
he is better qualified for the position. It should be noted, however, that Ang Tan Chai was promoted to the position
during the middle part of 1988 or before the abolition of petitioner's position in early 1989. Besides the fact that
Ang Tan Chai's promotion thereto is a settled matter, it has been consistently held that an objection founded on the
ground that one has better credentials over the appointee is frowned upon so long as the latter possesses the
minimum qualifications for the position. In the case at bar, since petitioner does not allege that Ang Tan Chai does
not qualify for the position, the Court cannot substitute its discretion and judgment for that which is clearly and
exclusively management prerogative. To do so would take away from the employer what rightly belongs to him as
aptly explained in National Federation of Labor Unions v. NLRC: 8
It is a well-settled rule that labor laws do not authorize interference with the employer's judgment
in the conduct of his business. The determination of the qualification and fitness of workers for
hiring and firing, promotion or reassignment are exclusive prerogatives of management. The Labor
Code and its implementing Rules do not vest in the Labor Arbiters nor in the different Divisions of
the NLRC (nor in the courts) managerial authority. The employer is free to determine, using his own
discretion and business judgment, all elements of employment, "from hiring to firing" except in
cases of unlawful discrimination or those which may be provided by law. There is none in the instant
case.
Finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the National Labor Relations Commission in reversing and
annulling the decision of the Labor Arbiter and that on the contrary, the termination of petitioner's employment was
anchored on a valid and authorized cause under Article 283 of the Labor Code, the instant petition for certiorari
must fail.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 93666 April 22, 1991


GENERAL MILLING CORPORATION and EARL TIMOTHY CONE, petitioners,
vs.
HON. RUBEN D. TORRES, in his capacity as Secretary of Labor and Employment, HON. BIENVENIDO E.
LAGUESMA, in his capacity as Acting Secretary of Labor and Employment, and BASKETBALL COACHES
ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Sobrevinas, Diaz, Hayudini & Bodegon Law Office for petitioners.
Rodrigo, Cuevas & De Borja for respondent BCAP.
RESOLUTION

FELICIANO, J.:

On 1 May 1989, the National Capital Region of the Department of Labor and Employment issued Alien Employment
Permit No. M-0689-3-535 in favor of petitioner Earl Timothy Cone, a United States citizen, as sports consultant and
assistant coach for petitioner General Milling Corporation ("GMC").
On 27 December 1989, petitioners GMC and Cone entered into a contract of employment whereby the latter
undertook to coach GMC's basketball team.
On 15 January 1990, the Board of Special Inquiry of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation approved
petitioner Cone's application for a change of admission status from temporary visitor to pre-arranged employee.
On 9 February 1990, petitioner GMC requested renewal of petitioner Cone's alien employment permit. GMC also
requested that it be allowed to employ Cone as full-fledged coach. The DOLE Regional Director, Luna Piezas,
granted the request on 15 February 1990.
On 18 February 1990, Alien Employment Permit No. M-02903-881, valid until 25 December 1990, was issued.
Private respondent Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines ("BCAP") appealed the issuance of said alien
employment permit to the respondent Secretary of Labor who, on 23 April 1990, issued a decision ordering
cancellation of petitioner Cone's employment permit on the ground that there was no showing that there is no
person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing to perform the services required nor that the hiring of
petitioner Cone would redound to the national interest.
Petitioner GMC filed a Motion for Reconsideration and two (2) Supplemental Motions for Reconsideration but said
Motions were denied by Acting Secretary of Labor Bienvenido E. Laguesma in an Order dated 8 June 1990.
Petitioners are now before the Court on a Petition for Certiorari, dated 14 June 1990, alleging that:
1. respondent Secretary of Labor gravely abused his discretion when he revoked petitioner Cone's
alien employment permit; and
2. Section 6 (c), Rule XIV, Book I of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code is null and void
as it is in violation of the enabling law as the Labor Code does not empower respondent Secretary
to determine if the employment of an alien would redound to national interest.
Deliberating on the present Petition for Certiorari, the Court considers that petitioners have failed to show any
grave abuse of discretion or any act without or in excess of jurisdiction on the part of respondent Secretary of Labor
in rendering his decision, dated 23 April 1990, revoking petitioner Cone's Alien Employment Permit.
The alleged failure to notify petitioners of the appeal filed by private respondent BCAP was cured when petitioners
were allowed to file their Motion for Reconsideration before respondent Secretary of Labor. 1
Petitioner GMC's claim that hiring of a foreign coach is an employer's prerogative has no legal basis at all. Under
Article 40 of the Labor Code, an employer seeking employment of an alien must first obtain an employment permit
from the Department of Labor. Petitioner GMC's right to choose whom to employ is, of course, limited by the
statutory requirement of an alien employment permit.
Petitioners will not find solace in the equal protection clause of the Constitution. As pointed out by the SolicitorGeneral, no comparison can be made between petitioner Cone and Mr. Norman Black as the latter is "a long time
resident of the country," and thus, not subject to the provisions of Article 40 of the Labor Code which apply only to
"non-resident aliens." In any case, the term "non-resident alien" and its obverse "resident alien," here must be
given their technical connotation under our law on immigration.
Neither can petitioners validly claim that implementation of respondent Secretary's decision would amount to an
impairment of the obligations of contracts. The provisions of the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules and
Regulations requiring alien employment permits were in existence long before petitioners entered into their
contract of employment. It is firmly settled that provisions of applicable laws, especially provisions relating to
matters affected with public policy, are deemed written into contracts. 2 Private parties cannot constitutionally
contract away the otherwise applicable provisions of law.
Petitioners' contention that respondent Secretary of Labor should have deferred to the findings of Commission on
Immigration and Deportation as to the necessity of employing petitioner Cone, is, again, bereft of legal basis. The
Labor Code itself specifically empowers respondent Secretary to make a determination as to the availability of the

services of a "person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the
services for which an alien is desired." 3 In short, the Department of Labor is the agency vested with jurisdiction to
determine the question of availability of local workers. The constitutional validity of legal provisions granting such
jurisdiction and authority and requiring proof of non-availability of local nationals able to carry out the duties of the
position involved, cannot be seriously questioned.
Petitioners apparently also question the validity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations, specifically Section 6
(c), Rule XIV, Book I of the Implementing Rules, as imposing a condition not found in the Labor Code itself. Section 6
(c), Rule XIV, Book I of the Implementing Rules, provides as follows:
Section 6. Issuance of Employment Permit the Secretary of Labor may issue an employment
permit to the applicant based on:
a) Compliance by the applicant and his employer with the requirements of Section 2 hereof;
b) Report of the Bureau Director as to the availability or non-availability of any person in the
Philippines who is competent and willing to do the job for which the services of the applicant are
desired.
(c) His assessment as to whether or not the employment of the applicant will redound to the
national interest;
(d) Admissibility of the alien as certified by the Commission on Immigration and Deportation;
(e) The recommendation of the Board of Investments or other appropriate government agencies if
the applicant will be employed in preferred areas of investments or in accordance with the
imperative of economic development;
xxx xxx xxx
(Emphasis supplied)
Article 40 of the Labor Code reads as follows:
Art. 40. Employment per unit of non-resident aliens. Any alien seeking admission to the
Philippines for employment purposes and any domestic or foreign employer who desires to engage
an alien for employment in the Philippines shall obtain an employment permit from the Department
of Labor.
The employment permit may be issued to a non-resident alien or to the applicant employer after a
determination of the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and
willing at the time of application to perform the services for which the alien is desired.
For an enterprise registered in preferred areas of investments, said employment permit may be
issued upon recommendation of the government agency charged with the supervision of said
registered enterprise. (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioners apparently suggest that the Secretary of Labor is not authorized to take into account the
question of whether or not employment of an alien applicant would "redound to the national interest"
because Article 40 does not explicitly refer to such assessment. This argument (which seems impliedly to
concede that the relationship of basketball coaching and the national interest is tenuous and unreal) is not
persuasive. In the first place, the second paragraph of Article 40 says: "[t]he employment permit may be
issued to a non-resident alien or to the applicant employer after a determination of the non-availability of a
person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the
services for which the alien is desired." The permissive language employed in the Labor Code indicates that
the authority granted involves the exercise of discretion on the part of the issuing authority. In the second
place, Article 12 of the Labor Code sets forth a statement of objectives that the Secretary of Labor should,
and indeed must, take into account in exercising his authority and jurisdiction granted by the Labor Code,
Art. 12. Statement of Objectives. It is the policy of the State:

a) To promote and maintain a state of full employment through improved manpower training,
allocation and utilization;
xxx xxx xxx
c) To facilitate a free choice of available employment by persons seeking work in conformity with
the national interest;
d) To facilitate and regulate the movement of workers in conformity with the national interest;
e) To regulate the employment of aliens, including the establishment of a registration and/or work
permit system;
xxx xxx xxx
Thus, we find petitioners' arguments on the above points of constitutional law too insubstantial to require further
consideration.
Petitioners have very recently manifested to this Court that public respondent Secretary of Labor has reversed his
earlier decision and has issued an Employment Permit to petitioner Cone. Petitioners seek to withdraw their Petition
for Certiorari on the ground that it has become moot and academic.
While ordinarily this Court would dismiss a petition that clearly appears to have become moot and academic, the
circumstances of this case and the nature of the questions raised by petitioners are such that we do not feel
justified in leaving those questions unanswered. 4 Moreover, assuming that an alien employment permit has in fact
been issued to petitioner Cone, the basis of the reversal by the Secretary of Labor of his earlier decision does not
appear in the record. If such reversal is based on some view of constitutional law or labor law different from those
here set out, then such employment permit, if one has been issued, would appear open to serious legal objections.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the Petition for certiorari for lack of merit. Costs against petitioners.
Fernan, C.J., Bidin and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
Gutierrez, Jr., J., in the result.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 127162 June 5, 1998


JOSE ABACA, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

MARTINEZ, J.:
Petitioner Jose Abaca was tried before the Regional Trial Court of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, for the crime of illegal
recruitment under Article 38 and 39 of President Decree No. 442, based on an Information which reads:

That in the month of November 1988, and for a period prior and/or subsequent thereto, in the
Municipality of Calapan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused thru false manifestation and fraudulent representation
made to ROSELIA JIZ JANEO, ZENAIDA J. SUBANG, RENITA J. JANEO and MELROSE S. PALOMO to the
effect that he has the authority to recruit workers for employment in Taipei, Taiwan and can
facilitate the processing of their necessary papers in connection therewith if given the necessary
amount of money to cover the costs of such recruitment and by means of other similar deceit when
in truth and in fact he is not authorized nor licensed to recruit, did then and there willfully and
unlawfully, and feloniously collect from the aforestated applicants the aggregate amount of
FOURTEEN TGHOUSAND PESOS (P14,000.00), Philippine Currency, the said accused assuring and
representing that the same would be used in depraying the necessary expenses of the
complainants' application for employment abroad and having been convinced by said
misrepresentation the complainants gave the said amount to the herein accused, but the latter far
from complying with his obligations, misapproprated and converted to his own personal use and
benefit the aforecited amount, to the damage and prejudice of the said ROSELIA JIZ JANEO,
ZENAIDA J. SUBANG, RENITA J. JANEO and MELROSE S. PALOMO.
Contrary to Articles 38 and 39 of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended otherwise known as the
Labor Code of the Philippines. 1
Arraigned on February 6, 1990, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafer, trial ensued.
The prosecution's evidence, as summarized by the trial court, reads as follows:
The gist of the testimonies of the four complainants revolves on how the accused (petitioner herein)
recruited them to work abroad and made them believe that the accused could work out their
papers in consideration of a certain sum of money. Specifically, the four complainants similarly
testified that the accused was introduced to them by his brothers, Perferio and Guiding Abaca,
whom they already knew for a long time. Sometime in the month of November 1988, the accused,
accompanied by his brothers, misrepresented himself to be a licensed recruiter and convinced the
four complainants that for a consideration they could work abroad at Taipei either as a domestic
helper or factory worker with a salary ranging from $300 to $500 a month. The accused asked the
sum of P14,000.00 each, but the complainants requested if they could pay P6,000.00 first and
before departure they will complete the amount as demanded. Thus, the complainants paid partial
amount at the office of the accused at Five Ace Philippines located in Manila and all of them gave
their own down payment. Each complainant paid the accused P1,500.00 allegedly to be used for
the processing of the passport and the following amounts for processing . . .
All the complainants were able to receive the passport from the accused.
From the foregoing, the complainants were able to pay the accused the aggregate amount of
P14,000.00, excluding the amount of P1,500.00 each for the passport.
It was agreed between the complainant and the accused that the balance of thier obligation would
be given on or before they leave for abroad. But since their payment, the accused promised them
to leave, first on or before December, 1988 and then anytime in January of 1989, and then later.
When the complainants sensed that they would not leave anymore, they informed the brothers of
the accuse whom they are familiar with, complaining about the failure of the accused to send them
abroad when they have already paid the advance payment. The two brothers could not do
otherwise but appeased them and promised to contract their brother, the accused herein. Finally,
the complainants were able to confront the accused and demanded the return of their money, but
the accused merely promised to do so, until such time that they already filed their complaint with
the NBI.
On the other hand, petitioner's version of the case is likewise capsulized by the trial court in this wise, viz:
In trying to absolve himself from criminal liability, the accused shifted the blame to a certain Mr.
Reynaldo Tan to whom he alleges to have remitted the sums of money he received from the
complainants. To corroborate his version of the incident, the accused presented one Alberto
Tolentino, an employee of the Department of Public Works and Highways who also was recruited by
Mr. Abaca and who was also referred to Mr. Reynaldo Tan.
xxx xxx xxx

When asked if he recruited complainants as they testified in Court, the accused denied the truth of
such statement. The accused stated that he did not recruit them and the truth was he happened to
be at the establishment of complainants in Calapan and they were able to talk with the Janeo
sisters who told them of their problems wherein they were notified to vacate the establishment, and
thus asked the accused to assist them in going abroad. The accused told them that they were
recruiting workers in the Middle East but he is discouraging female to work there because of the
horrible experiences others have undergone. The accused also told them that he was referring
them to somebody whom he knows are sending people to Taipei in the person of Mr. Reynaldo Tan.
The complainants agreed, after which the accused left for Manila where he was working. Then, one
morning, the two girls in the name of Melrose Paloma and Zenaida Subang called the accused by
phone and told him that they are interested in joining the Janeo sister to go to Taipei and they said
that they came across the calling card of the accused marked as Exhibit "G". He admitted that the
Five Ace Philippines is only engaged in trading and not as recruitment agency. He informed the
Court that he was connected with the recruitment agency called WORK Incorporated-a licensed
company.
After trial, judgment was rendered finding petitioner guilty of the crime charged, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment
under Art. 39 (c) of P.D. 442, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of four (4) years
straight and to indemnify the complainants the aggregate amount of P14,000.00 by way of civil
liability, with the legal rate of interest from 1988 up to the time of payment.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the respondent Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court. It found
petitioner guilty of illegal recruitment on a large-scale and sentenced him to life imprisonment and a fine of
P100,000.00. 2
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the same was denied on November 7, 1996.

Petitioner now comes to us alleging that the respondent court committed grave and reversible errors of law and/or
acted with grave abuse of direction
1. In not considering the certification (Exh. 1) issued by the POEA stating, among
others, that WORK, Inc. was a duly licensed private recruitment agency prior to
August 20, 1989, and that petitioner was then a manager and PDOS (Pre-Departure
Orientation Seminar) Trainor in said recruitment agency, and that, therefore, by
virtue of his position as manager and PDOS trainor of WORK, Inc., he had the
authority to undertake recruitment activities.
2. In not finding that petitioner, being a holder of authority, may not be validly
charged of illegal recruitment as defined by law in force at the time of the alleged
commission of the offense charged, much less, convicted and sentenced to life
imprisonment.
3. In declaring petitioner guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale and sentencing
him to a penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00
4. In finding that herein petitioner undertook recruitment activities, there being a
grave misapprehension of the facts.
The petition must be dismissed.
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 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. 4
Under the first element, a nonlicensee or nonholder 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 canceled by the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA) or the Secretary. 5 Agents or representatives appointed by a licensee or a holder of authority
but whose appointments are not previously authorized by POEA are within the meaning of the term nonlicensee or
nonholder of authority. 6
The record shows that petitioner is not a licensed recruiter as evidenced by the Certification 7 issued by Mr.
Hermogenes C. Mateo, Chief of the Licensing Branch, POEA. Testifying on the aforesaid certification, Mr. Mateo said:
Q Now, how about a person by the name of Jose Abaca alias "Joe" or Jose "Joe"
Abaca listed in that particular list among those authorized by the Philippine
Overseas Employment Administration to recruit workers for employment abroad?
A He is not included among those authorized to recruit in their personal capacity
like single proprietorship, sir. 8
Petitioner's theory that he has the authority to recruit by reason of his position as manager and Pre-Departure
Orientation Seminar Trainor (PDOS) of the WORKERS FOR OVERSEAS RECRUITMENT KEY CENTER, INC. (WORK, Inc.),
a licensed private recruitment agency is devoid of merit. The Certification 9 issued by Mr. Mateo, which was relied
upon by petitioner is nothing but an affirmation that he is an officer of WORK, Inc. It does not, in any way, prove
that petitioner has a license or authority to undertake recruitment activities. Moreover, his employment with a
licensed placement agency does not ipso facto authorize him to recruit workers. This was clarified by Mr. Mateo
when he testified that:
Q Now, will you please tell this Court if the employees of WORK, Incorporated in
particular or any agency or that matter which are license to recruit workers for
overseas employment authorized or licensed to recruit workers for employment
abroad?
xxx xxx xxx
A That will depend on the designation of the person concerned, sir.
FISCAL SENOREN:
Q What do you mean by it depends upon the designation of a person?
A Well, if the designation states for example that he is only authorized to market for
overseas principal, that is the only function that he could do so in representing the
company. For example, if he is trainor, it so states that he is authorized to serve as
trainor in the conduct of pre-departure orientation seminar, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
Q When a person is trainor or only a personnel manager, do you mean to say that
he cannot recruit for his agency?
A As far as the POEA is concerned, we only recognize the appointment submitted to
our office in his capacity as that, Your Honor. 10
Even assuming that WORK, Inc. had authorized petitioner, by reason of his position in the company, to recruit
workers, still, such authority was not previously approved by the POEA. 11
Again, Mr. Mateo explain that a licensee or holder of authority may authorize their employees to recruit for the
agency. However, said authority must be submitted to and approved by the POEA. 12 The provision of Article 29 of
the Labor Code is very clear on this:
Art. 29. Non-transferability of license or authority. No license or authority shall be used directly or
indirectly by any person other than the one in whose favor it was issued of at any place other than
stated in the license or authority, nor may such license or authority be transferred, conveyed or
assigned to any other person or entity. Any transfer of business address, appointment or

designation of any agent or representative including the establishment of additional officers


anywhere shall be subject to the prior approval of the Department of Labor. (Emphasis Ours)
Moreover, there is nothing from the record which would show even by implication that petitioner was acting for and
in behalf of WORK, Inc. when he was dealing with the complainants. Petitioner gave his calling card 13 and met with
private complainants at his office at Five Ace, Phil., Malate, City of Manila.
Thus, complainant Roselia Janeo testified:
Q Where did you give the amount of P1,500.00 for your passport?
A I give (sic) the amount of P1,500.00 to Jose Abaca in Manila because he instructed
us to follow him in Manila.
Q Where in Manila did you give that P1,500.00?
A At Five Ace Philippines and this Five Ace Philippines is the agency which according
to Jose Abaca he is handling 14
Complainant Reneta Janeo also testified:
Q Miss witness, where did you give the amount of P6,000.00 to Mr. Jose Abaca?
A At Five Ace Philippines, sir.
Q What is this Five Ace Philippines?
A It is an office, sir.
Q And where is this Five Ace Philippines located?
A At Guerrero corner J. Nakpil St., Malate, sir.

15

Petitioner's testimony that he referred the private complainants to a certain Reynaldo Tan because WORK, Inc. is
deploying workers to the Middle East and other countries with bilateral agreement with the Philippines undisputably
show that he was not representing WORK, Inc. when he dealt with private complainants. Petitioner recounted:
Q If that is so, Mr. Witness, why do you have to refer the complainants to other
company represented by Mr. Reynaldo Tan, if according to you, the WORK
Incorporated was duly licensed to engage in recruitment business?
A Well, as I have said that I did not want them to be deployed to the Middle East
wherein we have authority to deploy to the Middle East. Now, the fact that we do
not have a bilateral agreement with Taipei but the Taipei government is accepting
employees from the Philippines on a tourist visa and a tourist passport and visitors
visa and as matter of fact, we have no less than two hundred thousand Filipino
workers in Taipei right now under a visitor's visa on a tourist passport.
Q So your company is not engaged in sending workers for Taipei, Taiwan I am
referring to WORK Incorporated?
A Yes, sir.
Q Because, according to you, our government has no diplomatic relation.
A Bilated agreement, sir.
Q Bilated agreement with said country?

A Because the papers to be processed by the POEA, that cannot be processed


because our government has no bilateral agreement with the said country.
Q And you want to impress upon this Court that all workers going to Taipei, Taiwan
work there unofficially without the sanction of our government but on shall we say,
unofficial capacity, am I right?
A Yes, unofficially in our country because they are working there on a tourist visa.
And that is not the problem of our country. This is the problem of the once
accepting these people. Even a tourist visa, a tourist passport.
Q So that is the reason, according to you, why you do not utilize your company, the
WORK Incorporated in connection with this particular application of the
complainants in going to Taipei, Taiwan?
A Yes, sir.

16

(Emphasis Ours)

It is clear therefore that petitioner never acted for and in behalf of WORK, Inc. when he recruited the private
complainants.
Going now to the second element of the crime charged, that is, the offender undertakes either any acivity within
the meaning of recruitment and placement, Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines "recruitment and placement,"
as follows:
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)
Petitioner's act of (1) representing to the private complainants that he can help them work in Taipei with a monthly
salary of $300 to $500; (2) requiring them to submit their ID pictures, birth certificates and bio-data for their
employment abroad; (3) demanding from them P12,000.00 as processing fee; and (4) receiving from them certain
amounts for the processing of their passports and other papers, are all recruitment activities within the
contemplation of the law.
The finding of the trial court in this regard is worth noting:
It has already been shown by the prosecution that accused was not licensed or authorized by the
POEA to recruit workers for abroad. And yet, despite such fact, accused, thru false manifestation
and fraudulent representation, made the complainants believe that he could help them work abroad
as household helper or factory worker at Taipei at a salary ranging from $300 to $500, alleging that
he has a friend who could help them work abroad. Relying on this representation, complainants
were constrained to pay the aggregate amount of P14,000.00 as demanded by the accused besides
the P1,500.00 each for passport, and the accused issued a private receipt (not official or printed
receipt) evidencing such payment. With these receipts marked as Exhibits "A" to "E", "H" and "I"
and the issuance of the passport, ID pictures, birth certificate, bio-data and other personal papers,
the complainants were led to believe that accused could really help them work abroad. Thus, after
payment, accused assured complainants that they might be able to leave in December of 1988.
Come December 1988 and yet complainants were not able to leave and was again promised by
accused that they could leave the following month of January, 1989. Again, complainants failed to
leave, thus, they demanded from the accused to return the money, otherwise, they would file a
case against the accused in court. 17
Petitioner further asserted that he did not recruit private complainants but only tried to help them by referring them
to one Reynaldo Tan who was allegedly licensed to recruit workers to Taiwan. This posture, unfortunately will not
exculpate him. Petitioner's act of referring private complainants to Tan is, under the law, also considered a
recruitment activity.
Finally, petitioner faults respondent court in finding him guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale which has a
higher penalty. He argues that he cannot be convicted of illegal recruitment in large scale because the information
charged him only with simple illegal recruitment. Having been sentenced by the respondent court to a graver

offense, petitioner claims that he was deprived of his constitutional right to be informed of the true nature and
cause of the accusation against him.
We do not agree.
The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the technical name given by the fiscal appearing in
the title of the information but by the actual recital of facts appearing in the complaint or information. 18
Thus, where the allegations in the information clearly sets forth the essential elements of the crime charged, the
constitutional right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of his accusations is not violated. 19
The information against petitioner has clearly recited all the elements of the crime of illegal recruitment at large
scale, namely:
1. the offender is a non-licensee or non-holder of authority to engage in recruitment and placement
activity,
2. the offender undertakes recruitment and placement activity defined under Article 13 (b), or any
prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34, and
3. illegal recruitment is committed against three or more persons individually or as a group.

20

All these elements were duly proven by the prosecution. Petitioner, as discussed earlier, is not licensed or
authorized to recruit overseas workers; he undertook recruitment activities defined under Article 34 under
the Labor Code and he recruited the four (4) complainant-workers, thus making the crime illegal
recruitment in large scale. The imposable penalty is life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand
Pesos (P100,000.00) pursuant to Article 38 (b) 21 and Article 39 (a) 22 of the Labor Code.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.