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THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 125044. July 13, 1998]

IMELDA DARVIN, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
ROMERO, J.:

Before us is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.G.R. CR. No. 15624 dated January 31, 1996,[1] which affirmed in toto the judgment of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, Cavite, convicting accused-appellant,
Imelda Darvin for simple illegal recruitment under Article 38 and Article 39, in relation to
Article 13 (b) and (c), of the Labor Code, as amended.
Accused-appellant was charged under the following information:

That on or about the 13th day of April 1992, in the Municipality of Bacoor,
Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, through fraudulent representation to one
Macaria Toledo to the effect that she has the authority to recruit workers and
employees for abroad and can facilitate the necessary papers in connection
thereof, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, hire, recruit
and promise a job abroad to one Macaria Toledo, without first securing the
necessary license and permit from the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration to do so, thereby causing damage and prejudice to the
aforesaid Macaria Toledo.
Contrary to law.

[2]

The evidence for the prosecution, based on the testimony of private respondent,
Macaria Toledo, shows that sometime in March, 1992, she met accused-appellant
Darvin in the latters residence at Dimasalang, Imus, Cavite, through the introduction of
their common friends, Florencio Jake Rivera and Leonila Rivera. In said meeting,
accused-appellant allegedly convinced Toledo that by giving her P150,000.00, the latter
can immediately leave for the United States without any appearance before the U.S.
embassy.[3] Thus, on April 13, 1992, Toledo gave Darvin the amount of P150,000.00, as
evidenced by a receipt stating that the amount of P150,000.00 was for U.S. Visa and
Air fare.[4] After receiving the money, Darvin assured Toledo that she can leave within
one week. However, when after a week, there was no word from Darvin, Toledo went

to her residence to inquire about any development, but could not find
Darvin. Thereafter, on May 7, 1992, Toledo filed a complaint with the Bacoor Police
Station against Imelda Darvin. Upon further investigation, a certification was issued by
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) stating that Imelda Darvin
is neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas
employment.[5] Accused-appellant was then charged for estafa and illegal recruitment by
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite.
Accused-appellant, on the other hand, testified that she used to be connected with
Dale Travel Agency and that in 1992, or thereabouts, she was assisting individuals in
securing passports, visa, and airline tickets. She came to know Toledo through
Florencio Jake Rivera, Jr. and Leonila Rivera, alleging that Toledo sought her help to
secure a passport, US visa and airline tickets to the States. She claims that she did not
promise any employment in the U.S. to Toledo. She, however, admits receiving the
amount of P150,000.00 from the latter on April 13, 1992 but contends that it was used
for necessary expenses of an intended trip to the United States of Toledo and her
friend, Florencio Rivera[6] as follows: P45,000.00 for plane fare for one person;
P1,500.00 for passport, documentation and other incidental expenses for each person;
P20,000.00 for visa application cost for each person; and P17,000.00 for services. [7]After
receiving the money, she allegedly told Toledo that the papers will be released within 45
days. She likewise testified that she was able to secure Toledos passport on April 20,
1992 and even set up a date for an interview with the US embassy. Accused alleged
that she was not engaged in illegal recruitment but merely acted as a travel agent in
assisting individuals to secure passports and visa.
In its judgment rendered on June 17, 1993, the Bacoor, Cavite RTC found accusedappellant guilty of the crime of simple illegal recruitment but acquitted her of the crime of
estafa. The dispositive portion of the judgment reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Imelda Darvin is hereby found


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment for
having committed the prohibited practice as defined by paragraph (b) of
Article 34 and punished by paragraph (c) of Article 39 of the Labor Code, as
amended by PD 2018.
Accused Imelda Darvin is hereby ordered to suffer the prison term of Four (4)
years, as minimum, to Eight (8) years, as maximum; and to pay the fine
of P25,000.00.
Regarding her civil liability, she is hereby ordered to reimburse the private
complainant the sum of P150,000.00 and attorneys fees of P10,000.00.
She is hereby acquitted of the crime of Estafa.
SO ORDERED.

[8]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court in toto,
hence this petition.
Before this Court, accused-appellant assails the decision of the trial and appellate
courts in convicting her of the crime of simple illegal recruitment. She contends that
based on the evidence presented by the prosecution, her guilt was not proven beyond
reasonable doubt.
We find the appeal impressed with merit.
Article 13 of the Labor Code, as amended, provides the definition of recruitment and
placement as:

x x x; b) 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.
On the other hand, Article 38 of the Labor Code provides:

a) Any recruitment activities, including the prohibited practices


enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by nonlicensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal and
punishable under Article 39 of this Code. The Ministry of Labor and
Employment or any law enforcement officer may initiate complaints
under this Article.
xxx

xxx

x x x.

Applied to the present case, to uphold the conviction of accused-appellant, two


elements need to be shown: (1) the person charged with the crime must have
undertaken recruitment activities; and (2) the said person does not have a license or
authority to do so.[9]
In this case, private respondent, Macaria Toledo alleged that she was offered a job
in the United States as nursing aide[10] by accused-appellant. In her direct examination,
she testified as follows:
Atty Alejandro:
Q

How did you come to know the accused?

Witness : I was introduced by my two friends. One of whom is my best friend. That
according to them, this accused has connections and authorizations, that she can make
people leave for abroad, sir.
Court

What connections?

Witness : That she has connections with the Embassy and with people whom she can
approach regarding work abroad, your Honor.

xxx

xxx

xxx

Q :
When you came to meet for the first time in Imus, Cavite, what transpired in that
meeting of yours?
A

:
When I came to her house, the accused convinced me that by means of
P150,000.00, I will be able to leave immediately without any appearance to any
embassy, non-appearance, Sir.

:
When you mentioned non-appearance, as told to you by the accused, precisely,
what do you mean by that?

:
I was told by the accused that non-appearance, means without working
personally for my papers and through her efforts considering that she is capacitated as
according to her I will be able to leave the country, Sir.

xxx

xxx

xxx

Atty. Alejandro :
What transpired after the accused told you all these things that you will
be able to secure all the documents without appearing to anybody or to any embassy
and that you will be able to work abroad?
Witness : She told me to get ready with my P150,000.00, that is if I want to leave
immediately, Sir.
Atty. Alejandro :

When you mentioned kaagad, how many days or week?

Witness : She said that if I will able to part with my P150,000.00. I will be able to leave in
just one week time, Sir.

xxx

xxx

x x x.[11]

The prosecution, as evidence, presented the certification issued by the POEA that
accused-appellant Imelda Darvin is not licensed to recruit workers abroad.
It is not disputed that accused-appellant does not have a license or authority to
engage in recruitment activities. The pivotal issue to be determined, therefore, is
whether the accused-appellant indeed engaged in recruitment activities, as defined
under the Labor Code. Applying the rule laid down in the case of People v. Goce,[12] to
prove that accused-appellant was engaged in recruitment activities as to commit the
crime of illegal recruitment, it must be shown that the accused appellant gave private
respondent the distinct impression that she had the power or ability to send the private
respondent abroad for work such that the latter was convinced to part with her money in
order to be so employed.
In this case, we find no sufficient evidence to prove that accused-appellant offered
a job to private respondent. It is not clear that accused gave the impression that she
was capable of providing the private respondent work abroad. What is established,
however, is that the private respondent gave accused-appellant P150,000.00. The
claim of the accused that the P150,000.00 was for payment of private respondents air
fare and US visa and other expenses cannot be ignored because the receipt for
the P150,000.00, which was presented by both parties during the trial of the case,

stated that it was for Air Fare and Visa to USA.[13] Had the amount been for something
else in addition to air fare and visa expenses, such as work placement abroad, the
receipt should have so stated.
By themselves, procuring a passport, airline tickets and foreign visa for another
individual, without more, can hardly qualify as recruitment activities. Aside from the
testimony of private respondent, there is nothing to show that accused-appellant
engaged in recruitment activities. We also note that the prosecution did not present the
testimonies of witnesses who could have corroborated the charge of illegal recruitment,
such as Florencio Rivera, and Leonila Rivera, when it had the opportunity to do so. As
it stands, the claim of private respondent that accused-appellant promised her
employment abroad is uncorroborated. All these, taken collectively, cast reasonable
doubt on the guilt of the accused.
This Court can hardly rely on the bare allegations of private respondent that she
was offered by accused-appellant employment abroad, nor on mere presumptions and
conjectures, to convict the latter. No sufficient evidence was shown to sustain the
conviction, as the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to establish that accusedappellant indeed engaged in recruitment activities, thus committing the crime of illegal
recruitment.
In criminal cases, the burden is on the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable
doubt, the essential elements of the offense with which the accused is charged; and if
the proof fails to establish any of the essential elements necessary to constitute a crime,
the defendant is entitled to an acquittal. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not
mean such a degree of proof as, excluding the possibility of error, produces absolute
certainty. Moral certainty only is required, or that degree of proof which produces
conviction in an unprejudiced mind.[14]
At best, the evidence proffered by the prosecution only goes so far as to create a
suspicion that accused-appellant probably perpetrated the crime charged. But suspicion
alone is insufficient, the required quantum of evidence being proof beyond reasonable
doubt. When the Peoples evidence fail to indubitably prove the accuseds authorship of
the crime of which he stands accused, then it is the Courts duty, and the accuseds
right, to proclaim his innocence. Acquittal, therefore, is in order.[15]
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby GRANTED and the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 15624 dated January 31, 1996, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accused-appellant Imelda Darvin is hereby ACQUITTED on ground of
reasonable doubt. Accordingly, let the accused be immediately released from her place
of confinement unless there is reason to detain her further for any other legal or valid
cause. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and Purisima, JJ., concur.

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez; Paras and Vasquez, Jr., concurring.

[2]

Records, p. 6.
TSN, December 22, 1992, p. 15.
[4]
Exhibits, p. 1.
[5]
Exhibits, p. 2.
[6]
TSN, January 28, 1993, p. 17.
[7]
Rollo, p. 29.
[8]
Records, pp. 78-85.
[9]
People v. Pantaleon, G.R. No. 108107, June 19, 1997.
[10]
TSN, December 22, 1992, pp. 29-30.
[11]
TSN, December 22, 1992, pp. 14-16.
[12]
247 SCRA 780 (1995).
[13]
Exhibit A for the prosecution, Exhibit 5 for the defense, Folder of Exhbits, p. 1.
[14]
Rule 133, Section 2, Rules of Court.
[15]
People v. Geron, G.R. No. 113788, October 17, 1997.
[3]

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
DELIA D. ROMERO,

G.R. No. 171644


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus -

VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson,


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

PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES,
ROMULO
PADLAN and ARTURO
Promulgated:
SIAPNO,
Respondents.
November 23, 2011
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:

This is to resolve the Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] dated March 25,
2006 of petitioner Delia D. Romero assailing the Decision[2] dated July 18, 2005
andResolution[3] dated February 13, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA), affirming
the Decision[4] dated February 24, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
44, Dagupan City, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of Illegal Recruitment as defined in paragraph (a) of Article 38 of Presidential
Decree (P.D.) No. 2018.
The records contain the following antecedent facts:
Private respondent Romulo Padlan (Romulo) was a former classmate of
petitioner in college. Sometime in September 2000 Romulo went to petitioner's
stall (wedding gown rentals) at W. A. Jones St., Calasiao, Pangasinan to inquire
about securing a job in Israel. Convinced by petitioner's words of encouragement
and inspired by the potential salary of US$700.00 to US$1,200.00 a month,
Romulo asked petitioner the amount of money required in order for him to be able
to go to Israel. Petitioner informed him that as soon as he could give her
US$3,600.00, his papers would be immediately processed. To raise the amount,
Romulo secured a loan from a bank and borrowed some more from his
friends. When he was able to raise the amount, Romulo went back to petitioner
and handed her the money. Petitioner contacted Jonney Erez Mokra who
instructed Romulo to attend a briefing at his (Jonney's) house in Dau, Mabalacat,
Pampanga. Romulo was able to leave for Israel on October 26, 2000 and was able
to secure a job with a monthly salary of US$650.00. Unfortunately, after two and
a half months, he was caught by Israel's immigration police and detained for 25
days. He was subsequently deported because he did not possess a working
visa. On his return, Romulo demanded from petitioner the return of his money, but
the latter refused and failed to do so.
On the other hand, private respondent Arturo Siapno is petitioner's
nephew. Sometime in August 2000, he went to petitioner's stall. He was convinced
by the petitioner that if he could give her US$3,600.00 for the processing of his
papers, he could leave the country within 1 to 2 weeks for a job placement in
Israel. Arturo contacted a relative in the U.S. to ask the latter to cover the expenses
for the former's overseas job placement. The relative sent the US$3,000.00 to
Teresita D. Visperas, petitioner's sister in Israel. Petitioner processed Arturo's

papers and contacted Jonney Erez Mokra. Jonney instructed Arturo to attend a
briefing in Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Afterwards, Arturo left for Israel
sometime in September 2000. He was able to work and receive US$800.00 salary
per month. After three months of stay in Israel, he was caught by the immigration
officials, incarcerated for ten days and was eventually deported. After arriving in
the country, Arturo immediately sought the petitioner. Petitioner promised him
that she would send him back to Israel, which did not happen.
Arturo, after learning that Romulo suffered the same fate, checked with the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Dagupan District Office whether
petitioner, Teresita D. Visperas and Jonney Erez Mokra had any license or
authority to recruit employees for overseas employment. Finding that petitioner
and the others were not authorized to recruit for overseas employment, Arturo and
Romulo filed a complaint against petitioner, Teresita and Jonney before the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Consequently, an Information dated June 18, 2001 was filed against
petitioner and Jonney Erez Mokra for the crime of Illegal Recruitment which reads
as follows:
That sometime in the month of August and September 2000 in the
Municipality of Calasiao, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being licensee
or holder of authority, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
another, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously undertake and
perform recruitment activity by recruiting ARTURO SIAPNO and ROMULO
PADLAN to a supposed job abroad particularly in Israel, for a fee, without first
securing the necessary license and permit to do the same.
CONTRARY to Art. 38 (a) of P.D. 442, as amended by P.D. 2018.

Upon arraignment on August 20, 2001, petitioner, with the assistance of her
counsel pleaded not guilty, whereas accused Jonney Erez Mokra was and is still atlarge. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
To establish the facts earlier mentioned, the prosecution presented the
testimonies of Romulo Padlan and Arturo Siapno. Petitioner, on the other hand,

offered her own testimony, as well as Satchi Co Pontaces to prove that petitioner
did not recruit the private respondents. According to petitioner, private
respondents went to her to inquire about the working status of her sister in
Israel. She told them that her sister was doing well. When private respondents
asked her how her sister was able to go to Israel, petitioner told them that she does
not know and that she will have to ask her sister about that matter. Petitioner then
called her sister and told her that the private respondents wanted to ask for her help
in going to Israel. It was petitioner's sister and the private respondents who
communicated with each other, and the petitioner had no knowledge as to the
content of the former's conversations and agreements.
The RTC found petitioner guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of its
decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Delia Romero guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment as defined in paragraph (a) of
Article 38 of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended by Presidential Decree No.
2018, and pursuant to law hereby sentences accused Delia Romero to suffer the
penalty of Eight (8) Years and a fine of P100,000.00 plus costs.
Accused Delia Romero is directed to return the amount of $3,600.00 or its
equivalent to complainant Romulo Padlan and the amount of $3,600.00 or its
equivalent to Arturo Siapno.
The case as against Jonney Mokra aka Erez, is hereby ordered archived
subject to reinstatement upon his arrest.
SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the decision of the RTC, the fallo of
which states:
WHEREFORE,
AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

premises

considered,

the

appealed

Decision

is

Hence, the present petition after petitioner's motion for reconsideration was
denied by the CA. Petitioner enumerates the following assignment of errors:
First Assignment of Error
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused of the
offense charged (Illegal Recruitment) for said finding is contrary to law and
evidence in record.
Second Assignment of Error
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused in
interpreting the gesture of good faith of the petitioner as referral in the guise of
illegal recruitment.
Third Assignment of Error
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of the accused based
merely on a certification from the DOLE-Dagupan District Office without said
certification being properly identified and testified thereto.
Fourth Assignment of Error
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the conviction of accused based on
speculations and probabilities and not on the evidence on record.
Fifth Assignment of Error
The Court of Appeals erred in not acquitting the accused on the ground of
reasonable doubt.

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


follows:
ART. 38. Illegal Recruitment. - (a) Any recruitment activities, including
the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of this Code, to be
undertaken by 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.

Article 13 (b) of the same Code defines, recruitment and placement as:
any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or
procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided,
that any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee,
employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and
placement.
The crime of illegal recruitment is committed when two elements concur,
namely: (1) the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable
one to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement of workers; and (2) he
undertakes either any activity within the meaning of "recruitment and placement"
defined under Article 13 (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Article
34 of the Labor Code.[5]
In disputing the absence of the first element, petitioner offers her opinion that
the CA erred in affirming the trial court's reliance on a mere certification from the
DOLE Dagupan District Office that she does not have the necessary licence to
recruit workers for abroad. She claims that the prosecution committed a
procedural lapse in not procuring a certification from the agency primarily
involved, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The said
argument, however, is flawed.
Under the first element, a non-licensee or non-holder of authority is any
person, corporation or entity which has not been issued a valid license or authority
to engage in recruitment and placement by the Secretary of Labor, or whose
license or authority has been suspended, revoked or cancelled by the POEA or the
Secretary.[6] Clearly, the creation of the POEA did not divest the Secretary of

Labor of his/her jurisdiction over recruitment and placement of activities. The


governing rule is still Article 35[7] of the Labor Code. This is further discussed in
this Court's ruling in Trans Action Overseas Corp. v. Secretary of Labor,[8] wherein
it was ruled that:
In the case of Eastern Assurance and Surety Corp. v. Secretary of
Labor, we held that:
The penalties of suspension and cancellation of license or
authority are prescribed for violations of the above-quoted
provisions, among others. And the Secretary of Labor has the
power under Section 35 of the law to apply these sanctions, as well
as the authority, conferred by Section 36, not only to restrict and
regulate the recruitment and placement activities of all agencies,
but also to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the
objectives and implement the provisions governing said
activities. Pursuant to this rule-making power thus granted, the
Secretary of Labor gave the POEA, on its own initiative or upon a
filing of a complaint or report or upon request for investigation by
any aggrieved person, xxx (authority to) conduct the necessary
proceedings for the suspension or cancellation of the license or
authority of any agency or entity for certain enumerated offenses
including 1) the imposition or acceptance, directly or indirectly, of
any amount of money, goods or services, or any fee or bond in
excess of what is prescribed by the Administration, and
2) any other violation of pertinent provisions of the Labor
Code and other relevant laws, rules and regulations.
The Administrator was also given the power to order the dismissal of the
case or the suspension of the license or authority of the respondent agency or
contractor or recommend to the Minister the cancellation thereof.
This power conferred upon the Secretary of Labor and
Employment was echoed in People v. Diaz, viz.:
A non-licensee or non-holder of authority means any
person, corporation or entity which has not been issued a valid
license or authority to engage in recruitment and placement by the
Secretary of Labor, or whose license or authority has been
suspended, revoked or cancelled by the POEA or the Secretary.[9]

Thus, the trial court did not err in considering the certification from the
DOLE-Dagupan District Office stating that petitioner has not been issued any
license by the POEA nor is a holder of an authority to engage in recruitment and
placement activities. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its
Comment[10] dated October 9, 2006, also gives a valid observation as to the
admissibility of the certification as evidence for the prosecution, thus:
x x x Notably, there is nothing on record to show that petitioner objected to the
admissibility of the certification for the purpose for which it was offered. Thus,
petitioner's argument that the certification was inadmissible because it was not
properly identified by the issuing officer should be rejected. It is well-settled that
[e]very objections to the admissibility of evidence shall be made at the time such
evidence is offered or as soon thereafter as the ground for objection shall have
become apparent, otherwise the objection shall be considered
waived. Accordingly, the certification has been accepted as admissible by the
trial court and properly considered as evidence for the party who submitted it.[11]

Anent the second element, petitioner insists that the CA was wrong in
affirming the factual findings of the trial court. According to her, the
accommodation extended by the petitioner to the private respondents is far from
the referral as contemplated in Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code.
It is a settled rule that factual findings of the trial courts, including their
assessment of the witnesses' credibility, are entitled to great weight and respect by
the Supreme Court, particularly when the CA affirmed such findings.[12] After all,
the trial court is in the best position to determine the value and weight of the
testimonies of witnesses.[13]
Nevertheless, the testimonies of the private respondents clearly establish the
fact that petitioner's conduct falls within the term recruitment as defined by
law. As testified by Romulo Padlan, petitioner convinced him and Arturo Siapno
to give her US$3,600.00 for the processing of their papers, thus:
Q: In September 2000, did you see the accused?
A: There was, sir.
Q: Where did you see each other?
A: At her stall, sir.

xxxx
Q: What was your purpose in going to her stall?
A: My purpose is to inquire about my application to Israel, sir.
Q: What happened when you inquired from her about your application in going to
Israel?
A: I inquired from her and she responded with me with sweet words, sir.
Q: What did you ask her when you first met her in her stall [in] September 2000?
A: I asked her about the possible placement and the condition about the job in
Israel.
Q: And what was her response?
A: Her response was positive and very encouraging, sir.
Q: What was the very good and very encouraging response of the accused?
A: Regarding the salary amounting to $700.00 to $1,000.00 dollars a month, sir.
Q: When you were informed that the salary is quite good in Israel, what did you
do, if any?
A: I planned to produce money so that I can apply for Israel, sir.
Q: And what transpired next after that?
A: She told me that, If you can produce $3,600.00 dollars then I will begin to
process your papers.
Q: After telling you that, what did you do, if any?
A: So I planned to have a loan [from] Rural Bank of Central Pangasinan and
borrow some money [from] my other friends, sir.
xxxx
Q: After producing that money, what did you do?
xxxx
A: I [went] to her stall [in] September 26 around 10:00 P.M. and handed the
money to Mrs. Delia Romero, sir.
xxxx
Q: How much money did you give to the accused [in] September 2000?
A: [In] September 2000, I gave her $1,500.00 US dollars, sir.[14]

Arturo Siapno also testified as to how petitioner convinced him to apply for a
job in Israel and offered her services for a fee, thus:
Q: [I]n August 2000, where were you?
A: I was residing in Puelay-Carangalaan. Dagupan City.
Q: On the same month, did you have any transaction with the accused?
A: Yes sir[.] I met the accused at the appliance store which is located at Puelay
and she offered me a job in Israel.
Q: [When] she offered you a job in Israel, what did you do?
A: I went to their stall which is located [in] Calasiao, and in the same place I
also met several applicants.
Q: When did you go to the stall of the accused?
A: The following day, sir.
xxxx
Q: And what did you do at the stall of the accused in Calasiao, Pangasinan?
A: When I went to the stall of the accused, since I saw other applicants, I was
convinced to apply and I called up my aunt and asked for help.
Q: Since you were at the stall of the accused in Calasiao, what transpired next?
A: When I talked to her, she told me if I have a money of P3,600.00 I could
easily depart within one (1) week or two (2) weeks.[15]

From the above testimonies, it is apparent that petitioner was able to


convince the private respondents to apply for work in Israel after parting with their
money in exchange for the services she would render. The said act of the
petitioner, without a doubt, falls within the meaning of recruitment and placement
as defined in Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code.
As to petitioner's contention that the testimony of Arturo Siapno that the
latter paid a certain amount of money to the former must not be given any
credence due to the absence of any receipt or any other documentary evidence
proving such, the same is without any merit. In People v. Alvarez,[16] this Court
ruled that in illegal recruitment cases, the failure to present receipts for money that
was paid in connection with the recruitment process will not affect the strength of
the evidence presented by the prosecution as long as the payment can be proved

through clear and convincing testimonies of credible witnesses. It was discussed


that:
In illegal recruitment, mere failure of the complainant to present
written receipts for money paid for acts constituting recruitment activities is not
fatal to the prosecution, provided the payment can be proved by clear and
convincing testimonies of credible witnesses.
xxxx
x x x The Court has already ruled that the absence of receipts in a case
for illegal recruitment is not fatal, as long as the prosecution is able to establish
through credible testimonial evidence that accused-appellant has engaged
in illegal recruitment. Such case is made, not by the issuance or the signing of
receipts for placement fees, but by engagement in recruitment activities without
the necessary license or authority.
In People v. Pabalan, the Court held that the absence of receipts
for some of the amounts delivered to the accused did not mean that the appellant
did not accept or receive such payments. Neither in the Statute of Frauds nor in
the rules of evidence is the presentation of receipts required in order to prove the
existence of a recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal
recruitment cases. Such proof may come from the testimonies of witnesses.[17]

With regard to the penalty imposed by the RTC and affirmed by the CA, this
Court finds it to be inappropriate. The trial court imposed the penalty of eight (8)
years imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 plus cost and ordered petitioner to
return the amount of US$3,600.00 or its equivalent to Romulo Padlan and the
amount of US$3,600.00 or its equivalent to Arturo Siapno. Under Article 39 (c) of
the Labor Code, which prescribes the penalty for illegal recruitment, any person
who is neither a licensee nor a holder of authority under the law and found
violating any provision thereof or its implementing rules and regulations shall,
upon conviction thereof, suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than four
(4) years but not more than eight (8) years or a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor
more than P100,000.00 or both such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the
court. Clearly, the trial court, by imposing a straight penalty, disregarded the
application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.[18] In Argoncillo v. Court of
Appeals,[19] this Court ruled that the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law
is mandatory to both the Revised Penal Code and the special laws, and in the same

ruling, this Court summarized the application and non-application of the


Indeterminate Sentence Law, to wit:
x x x It is basic law that x x x the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law
is mandatory where imprisonment exceeds one (1) year, except only in the
following cases:
a. Offenses punished by death or life imprisonment.
b. Those convicted of treason (Art. 114) conspiracy or proposal to
commit treason (Art. 115).
c. Those convicted of misprision of treason (Art. 116), rebellion
(Art. 134), sedition (Art. 139) or espionage (Art. 117).
d. Those convicted of piracy (Art. 122).
e. Habitual delinquents (Art. 62, par. 5).
Recidivists are entitled to an Indeterminate sentence. (People v.
Jaramilla, L-28547, February 22, 1974) Offender is not
disqualified to avail of the benefits of the law even if the crime is
committed while he is on parole. (People v. Calreon, CA 78 O. G.
6701, November 19, 1982).
f. Those who escaped from confinement or those who evaded
sentence.
g. Those granted conditional pardon and who violated the terms of
the same. (People v. Corral, 74 Phil. 359).
h. Those whose maximum period of imprisonment does not exceed
one (1) year.
Where the penalty actually imposed does not exceed one (1) year, the
accused cannot avail himself of the benefits of the law, the application of which is
based upon the penalty actually imposed in accordance with law and not upon that
which may be imposed in the discretion of the court. (People v. Hidalgo, [CA]
G.R. No. 00452-CR, January 22, 1962).
i. Those who are already serving final judgment upon the approval
of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.
The need for specifying the minimum and maximum periods of the
indeterminate sentence is to prevent the unnecessary and excessive deprivation of
liberty and to enhance the economic usefulness of the accused, since he may be

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

The Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that if, as in this case, the offense
is punished by a law other than the Revised Penal Code, the court shall sentence
the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not
exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the
minimum term prescribed by the same. The imposable penalty is imprisonment of
not less than four (4) years but not more than eight (8) years; hence, the proper
penalty imposed should be within the range of four (4) years to eight (8)
years. Thus, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the Court can impose the
minimum and maximum terms of the penalty of imprisonment within the range of
four (4) years to eight (8) years.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari dated March 25,
2006 of petitioner Delia D. Romero is hereby DENIED. Consequently, the
Decision dated July 18, 2005 and Resolution dated February 13, 2006 of the Court
of Appeals, affirming the Decision dated February 24, 2004 of the Regional Trial
Court, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal
Recruitment as defined in paragraph (a) of Article 38 of Presidential Decree (P.D.)
No. 2018, are hereby AFFIRMED with theMODIFICATION that the penalty
imposed should be imprisonment of four (4) years, as minimum, to seven (7)
years, as maximum, and a fine of P100,000.00 plus cost and for petitioner to return
the amount of $3,600.00 or its equivalent to Romulo Padlan and the amount of
$3,600.00 or its equivalent to Arturo Siapno.
SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice
Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Third Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Designated as an additional member in lieu of Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, per Special
Order No. 1152, dated November 11, 2011.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 12-104.
[2]
Penned by Associate Justice Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo, with Associate Justices Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and
Edgardo P. Cruz, concurring; id., at 83-94.
[3]
Id. at 96-98.
[4]
Penned by Judge Crispin C. Laron, id. at 34-41.
[5]
People v. Naparan, Jr., G.R. No. 98443, August 30, 1993, 225 SCRA 714, 723.
[6]
Abaca v. Court of Appeals and People, G.R. No. 127162, June 5, 1998, 290 SCRA 657, 663, citing Sec. 1
(d) of the Rules Implementing P.D. 1920 promulgated on July 12, 1984.
[7]
Art. 35. Suspension and/or Cancellation of License or Authority. - The Secretary of Labor shall have the
power to suspend or cancel any license or authority to recruit employees for overseas employment for violation of
rules and regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor, the Overseas Employment Development Board, and the
National Seamen Board, or for violation of the provisions of this and other applicable laws, General Orders and
Letters of Instruction.
[8]
G.R. No. 109583, September 5, 1997, 278 SCRA 584.
[9]
Id. at 589-560.
[10]
Rollo, pp. 142-144.
[11]
Id. at 142.
[12]
People v. Nogra, G.R. No. 170834, August 29, 2008, 563 SCRA 723, 735, citing People v. Aguila, G.R.
No. 171017, December 6, 2006, 510 SCRA 642.
[13]
Id., citing Abarquez v. People, G.R. No. 150762, January 20, 2006, 479 SCRA 225, 233.
[14]
TSN, September 21, 2001, pp. 3-6.
[15]
TSN, January 10, 2002, pp. 4-5.
[16]
G.R. No. 142981, August 20, 2002, 387 SCRA 448, 464-465, citing People v. Ong, G.R. No. 119594,
January 18, 2000, 322 SCRA 38, 54; People v. Saley, G.R. No. 121179, July 2, 1998, 291 SCRA 715; People v.
Seoron, G.R. No. 119160, January 30, 1997, 267 SCRA 278, 284; People v. Pabalan, G.R. Nos. 115350 and
117819-21, September 30, 1996, 262 SCRA 574, 587.
[17]
Id. at 449-465.
[18]
Act No. 4103, as amended.
[19]
G.R. No. 118806, July 10, 1998, 292 SCRA 313.
[20]
Id. at 330-331, citing Spouses Jose and Trinidad Bacar v. Judge Salvador P. de Guzman, Jr., A.M. No.
RTJ-96-1349, April 18, 1997, 271 SCRA 328.