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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 123146. June 17, 2003.]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ALONA BULI-E and JOSEFINA (JOSIE) ALOLINO, appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Juan Antonio Reyes Alberto III, A B S and Associates for A. Buli-e.
Narzal B. Mallares for J. Alolino.

SYNOPSIS

Appellants were convicted of illegal recruitment committed in large scale and eight (8) counts of estafa by the
Regional Trial of Baguio City. In their appeal before the Court, appellant Alona Buli-e contended that she merely
referred the private offended parties to her co-accused Josefina Alolino whom she honestly believed to be abona
fide overseas job recruiter. Appellant Alolino, on the other hand, assailed the trial court in holding that she conspired
with appellant Buli-e in committing the crimes in which they were both charged and convicted.
The Supreme Court affirmed their conviction. According to the Court, Alolino's acts clearly showed that she and Buli-e
acted in concert towards the accomplishment of a common felonious purpose which was to recruit workers for
overseas employment even though they had no license to do so. The Court also upheld the ruling of the trial court
finding appellants guilty of eight (8) counts of estafa. Appellants deceived complainants into believing that they had
the authority and capability to send them to Taiwan for employment. By reason or on the strength of such assurance,
complainants parted with their money in payment of the placement fees. Since the representations of appellants
proved to be false, paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is applicable. Buli-e's claim that she did not
benefit from the money collected from complainants since she gave the payments to Alolino is of no moment. It was
clearly established that she acted in connivance with Alolino in defrauding complainants. cSATEH

SYLLABUS
1.

CRIMINAL LAW; PENAL PROVISIONS OF THE LABOR CODE; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; HOW
COMMITTED; ELEMENTS OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE. Under Article 13(b) of the
Labor Code, recruitment and placement refer to any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting,
utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and include 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 or placement. The essential elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale are (1) the
accused engages in acts of recruitment and placement of workers defined under Article 13(b) or in any
prohibited activities under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) the accused has not complied with the guidelines
issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly with respect to the securing of a license or an
authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas; and (3) the accused commits the unlawful
acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group. When illegal recruitment is committed in large
scale or when it is committed by a syndicate, i.e., if it is carried out by a group of three or more persons
conspiring and/or confederating with one another, it is considered as an offense involving economic sabotage.

2.

ID.; CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH AFFECT CRIMINAL LIABILITY; CONSPIRACY; SHOWN BY APPELLANT'S


ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A COMMON FELONIOUS PURPOSE WHICH WAS TO RECRUIT WORKERS FOR
OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD NO LICENSE TO DO SO. Josefina's acts clearly
show that she and Buli-e acted in concert towards the accomplishment of a common felonious purpose which
was to recruit workers for overseas employment even though they had no license to do so. Settled is the rule
that if it is proved that two or more persons, aimed, by their acts, at the accomplishment of the same unlawful
object, each doing a part so that their acts, although apparently independent, were in fact connected and
cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may
be inferred even though no actual meeting between or among them to coordinate ways and means is proved.

3.

ID.; ESTAFA; A PERSON CONVICTED OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT UNDER THE LABOR CODE CAN ALSO
BE CONVICTED OF VIOLATION OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE PROVISIONS ON ESTAFA PROVIDED
THAT ALL THE ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME ARE PRESENT. The trial court did not err in finding appellants
guilty of eight (8) counts of estafa. It is settled that a person convicted of illegal recruitment under the Labor
Code can also be convicted of violation of the Revised Penal Code provisions on estafa provided that the
elements of the crime are present. The elements for 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. Appellants deceived complainants into believing that they had
the authority and capability to send them to Taiwan for employment. By reason or on the strength of such
assurance, complainants parted with their money in payment of the placement fees. Since the representations
of appellants proved to be false, paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is applicable. Buli-e's
claim that she did not benefit from the money collected from complainants since she gave the payments to
Josefina is of no moment. It was clearly established that she acted in connivance with Josefina in defrauding
complainants. As regards Josefina, the fact that she returned the payment of some of the complainants will not
exculpate her from criminal liability. Criminal liability for estafais not affected by compromise or novation, for it
is a public offense which must be prosecuted and punished by the government on its own motion even though
complete reparation has been made of the damage suffered by the offended party. DHITcS

DECISION
AZCUNA, J p:
Appellants Alona Buli-e and Josefina Alolino assail the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City,
Branch 15, finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment committed in large scale
and eight counts of estafa.

On March 16, 1993, the following information was filed against Jose Alolino and appellants, Alona Buli-e
and Josefina Alolino:
The undersigned accuses ALONA BULI-E, JOSEFINA (JOSIE) ALOLINO and JOSE ALOLINO for VIOLATION OF ARTICLE
38 (b), PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 442, AS AMENDED BY P.D. 1920 FURTHER AMENDED BY P.D. 2018, committed
in large scale, which is an act of economic sabotage, and by a syndicate, committed as follows:
That during the period from March 1991 to July 1992, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused representing themselves to have the capacity to contract,
enlist and hire and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad did then and there willfully and unlawfully,
for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement to the following persons:
1.Constancio Macli-ing
2.Jessica Estay
3.Sidolia Fias-eo
4.John Mangili
5.Nieva Lampoyas
6.Sabado Agapito
7.Joseph Oratil and
8.Joel Oratil
in Taiwan without first obtaining or securing license or authority from the proper government agency
CONTRARY TO LAW. 1

On the same day, eight separate informations for estafa were also filed against Jose Alolino and appellants
Alona Buli-e (Buli-e for brevity) and Josefina Alolino (Josefina, for brevity). Except as to the dates, amounts
involved 2 and the names of complainants, the following information in Criminal Case No. 11123-R typified
the seven other informations for the crime of estafa:
That on or about the 12th day of July, 1992, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding one another, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud one Constancio Macli-ing by way of false pretenses, which
are executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, as follows, to wit: the accused knowing
fully well that they are not authorized job recruiters for persons intending to secure work abroad convinced said
Constancio Macli-ing and pretended that they could secure a job for him/her abroad, for and in consideration of
the sum of P15,000.00 when in truth and in fact they could not; the said Constancio Macli-ing, deceived and
convinced by the false pretenses employed by the accused, parted away the total sum of P15,000.00 in favor of
the accused, to the damage and prejudice of the said Constancio Macli-ing in the aforementioned amount of
FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS (P15,000.00), Philippine Currency. 3

Jose Alolino was never apprehended and remains at large. Upon arraignment, appellants pleaded not guilty
to each of the nine informations filed against them. A joint trial ensued since the cases involved the same
factual milieu.
Evidence for the prosecution showed that on various dates from June 1990 to July 1992, complainants went
to the house of appellant Buli-e at No. 63 Sanitary Camp, Baguio City upon learning that she was recruiting
workers for overseas employment. A cousin of complainant Lampoyas, whom Buli-e helped deploy abroad,
introduced Lampoyas to Buli-e in 1990. 4 The brothers Oratil went to see Buli-e about possible overseas
employment in April 1992. 5 Mangili inquired from Buli-e if she was recruiting workers for overseas
employment also in April 1992. 6 Sabado and Macli-ing approached Buli-e for possible overseas work in
May 1992, 7 while Estay, accompanied by her sister, went to see Buli-e on June 17, 1992. 8 Fias-eo
approached Buli-e on July 13, 1992, accompanied by Lampoyas. 9
Buli-e confirmed to complainants that she was, in fact, recruiting contract workers for Taiwan and that,
although she did not have a license of her own to recruit, her boss in Manila who was a licensed recruiter,
was in the process of getting her one which would soon be issued. 10 Buli-e identified her superiors in
Manila to be the spouses Jose 11 and Josefina Alolino. Josefina was connected with Rodolfo S. Ibuna
Employment Agency (RSI for brevity), a private employment agency licensed to recruit overseas contract
workers. Buli-e informed complainants that requirements for application of overseas work included
submission of bio-data, passport, NBI clearance, and medical examination clearance to show that the
applicant is physically and mentally fit. There was also a placement fee of P40,000 of which P15,000 must
be paid in advance. Buli-e told complainants that if they were interested in applying, they may submit to
her said requirements which she, in turn, will submit to her boss who was in charge of processing the
necessary documents.
In the case of complainant Lampoyas who originally applied with Buli-e for employment in Kuwait, she was
informed by Buli-e that the latter was working for a certain Jessie Agtarep. 12 Lampoyas gave Buli-e
P4,000 on March 14, 1991 as downpayment for the placement fee and P5,000 on August 24, 1991.
Lampoyas' application papers were processed by Jamal Enterprises in Makati, Metro Manila but in 1992,
Buli-e transferred Lampoyas' application to appellant Josefina, whom Buli-e referred to as her new
boss. 13 Lampoyas was enticed to work in Taiwan instead of Kuwait and was assured that her deployment
papers would be processed more quickly. 14
From March to August 1992, Buli-e accompanied complainants, on separate occasions, to Manila where
they had their medical check-up at Saints Peter and Paul Medical Clinic in Ermita. Lampoyas had her
medical check-up in March 1992 15 while Mangili and Joseph Oratil had their medical check-up in May

1992. 16 On June 20, 1992, Estay had her medical check-up, 17 while Agapito and Macli-ing had their
medical examination on July 5, 1992. 18 Fias-eo had her medical examination on July 20, 1992 while Joel
Oratil had his medical examination in August 1992. Complainants paid for the medical examination, the
results of which were given to Buli-e.
Immediately after complainants had undergone medical examination, Buli-e brought them to No. 11
Concorde Street, Airman's Village, Las Pias, Metro Manila purportedly to introduce them to her boss, the
spouses Alolino. Complainants, except for Macli-ing and Agapito, were able to meet only Jose Alolino on the
same day that they had undergone medical examination. Jose Alolino allegedly told complainants that his
wife, Josefina, was in Taiwan following up applications but he assured them that they too would be
deployed abroad in a matter of months. 19 Mangili, Estay, and the brothers Oratil were able to meet
Josefina personally when they returned to the residence of the Alolinos in Manila to follow up their
applications. 20 Fias-eo and Lampoyas, on the other hand, never met Josefina personally although they
were able to talk to her over the telephone several times when they were following up the status of their
applications. 21 It was during these telephone conversations that Josefina instructed Fias-eo and Lampoyas
to have their medical examinations and secure their NBI clearance in Manila accompanied by Buli-e whom
she identified as her agent. 22
Complainants were assured by one or both of the spouses that they were licensed to recruit overseas
contract workers and that they can deploy workers within two to three months. 23 Complainants were
informed by Buli-e and Josefina that deployment for Taiwan is on a first-come, first-served basis and that
those who can comply with the requirements, particularly the advance payment of P15,000, shall be
deployed first. 24
On different dates from May 1992 to July 1992, complainants handed to Buli-e at Sanitary Camp, Baguio
City their advance payments of P15,000 for which they were issued receipts. 25 Mangili paid P11,000 on
May 22, 1992 and P4,000 on June 18, 1992. 26 The Oratil brothers paid P15,000 each in installments from
May 1992 to July 15, 1992. 27 Macli-ing paid P15,000 on July 12, 1992. 28 Fias-eo gave Buli-e P15,000 on
July 13, 1992. 29 In addition to her previous payments amounting to P9,000, Lampoyas paid Buli-e P5,000
also on July 13, 1992. 30 Estay gave P15,000 on July 21, 1992 31 while Agapito paid Buli-e P15,000 on July
22, 1992. 32 Buli-e assured complainants that she delivered the payments to Josefina. Aside from giving
the downpayment of the placement fee, complainants complied with the rest of the requirements which
included submission of pictures, bio-data, passports, NBI clearances and medical examination reports.
After months of waiting and despite compliance with all the requirements, complainants were not deployed
abroad as promised by appellants. From August 1992 to February 1993, complainants trooped to Buli-e's
house but Buli-e merely kept on telling them to wait. When complainants called up Josefina by long
distance telephone, they were also told just to wait.
Weary of the interminable waiting, complainants went to the POEA office in Baguio City on February 2,
1993, to check whether appellants were indeed licensed to recruit overseas contract workers. They were
dismayed to find out that appellants had no license to recruit in Baguio City or any part of the Cordillera
Administrative Region (CAR). On the same day, complainants filed their complaints with the POEA-CAR and
the Prosecutor's Office of Baguio City.
After appellants were apprehended and during their detention at the Baguio City Jail, Josefina, through
counsel, refunded complainant Fias-eo P15,000 for his downpayment on the placement
fee. 33 Complainant Mangili also demanded a refund and he was paid by Josefina, again through her
counsel, the sum of P25,000 for his advance payment of P15,000 and as reimbursement of the actual
expenses he incurred for his application. 34
During trial, Buli-e testified that she worked for RSI and had been referring applicants to the agency before
1991. She met Josefina a year after she resigned from RSI. 35 In 1990, Buli-e had an applicant for
Singapore, a certain Prescilla Laoayan from Baguio City. Buli-e referred Prescilla to RSI which, through Mrs.
Fe Go, handled the processing of her application. As part of the requirements of the agency, Prescilla had
to undergo training at the house of Josefina, who was then the Marketing Director of RSI. In 1991, Josefina
sent Buli-e a note, through Prescilla, telling her to go to the house of Josefina at No. 11 Concorde Street,
Airman's Village, Las Pias, Metro Manila to discuss matters about recruitment of workers. Buli-e went to
the house of Josefina as requested and it was then that she was appointed as an agent of Josefina. 36 Bulie was tasked to find job applicants for Taiwan, Korea or Singapore whom she can refer to RSI through
Josefina. Buli-e would then be paid for each referral. When Buli-e asked Josefina if the latter was authorized
or had any license to recruit for overseas placement, Josefina answered in the affirmative. 37
Thereafter, Buli-e started recruiting job applicants for Taiwan, Singapore and Korea at her house in No. 63
Sanitary Camp, Baguio City. Complainants sought her of their own accord and Buli-e informed them of the
requirements for job application which consisted of submission of bio-data, passport, NBI clearance and
placement fee of P40,000 of which P15,000 must be paid in advance upon instructions of Josefina. Josefina
allegedly instructed Buli-e to accompany complainants to Sts. Peter and Paul Medical Clinic in Ermita,
Manila for medical check-up. 38 Buli-e was likewise instructed by Josefina to accompany some of the
complainants in securing their NBI clearance and to receive whatever documents complainants will be
submitting including the P15,000 advance payment, all of which should be submitted to Josefina. Buli-e

said that she submitted the documents and the payments either to Jose Alolino or to Josefina. 39 She
clarified that she did not have a hand in securing the passports of complainants 40 and received
instructions from Josefina only when she communicated with Josefina through the telephone or went to
Manila. She averred that she and several members of her family also tried to apply for overseas work with
Josefina and paid the latter P100,000. 41
Buli-e presented Mrs. Nonette Legaspi-Villanueva, Unit Coordinator of POEA-CAR, to testify that RSI was a
licensed employment agency and that Josefina was a licensed recruiter at the time that Buli-e had dealings
with her co-appellant. Mrs. Villanueva testified that she has been with the POEA since 1985. Part of her
functions included administrative and technical supervision of the staff regarding employment, facilitation,
licensing, investigation and monitoring of the provincial recruitment authority as well as issuance of
authorization to personnel to conduct inspection of licensed agencies in the City of Baguio. 42 Mrs.
Villanueva said that, as per the certification of the Chief of the Licensing Branch of the POEA, RSI was a
private employment agency with a license which expired on July 14, 1992. Josefina Alolino was included in
the list of the personnel submitted by the agency in July 1990 as Marketing Consultant. 43 Mrs. Villanueva,
however, clarified that licenses or permits to recruit workers are territorial in nature so that an agency
licensed in Manila can only engage in recruitment activities within the place specified in the license
although the applicants may be non-residents of Metro Manila. She further testified that she cannot
remember if Buli-e was given any authority to recruit in Baguio City. 44
Josefina, on the other hand, testified that on September 16, 1987, she was appointed as one of the four
Marketing Directors of RSI which was located in 408 Jovan Condominium, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong,
Metro Manila. RSI, represented by Rodolfo S. Ibuna as proprietor, was a private employment agency with a
license which expired on July 14, 1992. As Overseas Marketing Director of RSI, Josefina was tasked to
represent the agency in negotiating with employers in Taiwan, Malaysia, United States and
Singapore 45 for said employers to avail of the services of RSI in recruiting, hiring, processing and
deploying Filipino contract workers. She was also authorized to solicit applicants for overseas placement
through advertisements, referrals, walk-ins, etc., and to undertake screening, evaluation and final selection
of applicants. As per agreement with RSI, Josefina was entitled to a certain share for each successful
negotiation with a foreign employer. 46
Josefina denied that Buli-e was her agent and insisted that she never gave Buli-e authority to recruit for
RSI. On the contrary, Buli-e allegedly informed Josefina that she was an agent of Mrs. Fe Go, another
marketing Director of RSI. Sometime in 1991, Mrs. Go referred to Josefina a certain Prescilla Laoayan, who
wanted to apply as a domestic helper in Taiwan. Upon being told that she could not be deployed unless she
would give a downpayment of P15,000 for the placement fee, Prescilla informed Josefina that she already
gave P15,000 to an agent whom she identified to be Buli-e. Josefina then wrote a note for Buli-e informing
her that there was a problem regarding the processing of Prescilla's application. Prescilla delivered the note
to Buli-e who in turn went to see Josefina at her house in No. 11 Concorde Street, Airman's Village, Las
Pias, Metro Manila. Josefina said that she and Buli-e merely talked about Prescilla's application and that
was the first time that Josefina met and talked with Buli-e although she had already seen her before in the
office of Mrs. Fe Go. 47
Josefina testified that herein complainants were originally referred by Buli-e to Mrs. Fe Go who, in turn,
referred them to her. Josefina said that she accepted referrals from Buli-e even though the latter was not
her agent nor connected with RSI because their agency accepts referrals from everyone. In 1992, Buli-e,
claiming that complainants authorized and designated her to act as their spokesperson, went to the house
of Josefina several times to follow up the progress of their applications.48
Josefina denied having given Buli-e instructions to accompany complainants to Saints Peter and Paul
Medical Clinic in Ermita, Manila. She also denied having an understanding with Buli-e to receive payments
from each of complainants and to bring them to her house in Las Pias, Metro Manila. 49 Josefina
explained that the deployment of complainants was delayed because the Taiwanese government changed
its previous policy of allowing foreign employment agencies like RSI to negotiate directly with prospective
employers in Taiwan. Foreign employment agencies were instead allowed to negotiate only with local
employment agencies in Taiwan, which, in turn, were responsible for negotiating with the Taiwanese
employers. The change in the policy caused delay in the deployment of complainants since the local
employment agencies in Taiwan demanded additional requirements such as additional fees. Josefina said
she informed complainants of the delay and the reason for it but complainants could not wait to be
deployed and, instead, demanded the refund of their payments. 50
On March 2, 1993, Josefina allegedly gave Buli-e P75,000 with the instruction that she was to give
complainant Lampoyas P5,000 as refund, and P10,000 each to complainants Macli-ing, Estay, Fias-eo,
Mangili, Agapito, and the Oratil brothers. Upon having been approached by complainants for the refund of
their money, Josefina informed them that she already gave their refunds through Buli-e. Complainants,
however, claimed that they did not receive their refunds from Buli-e. When complainants could not wait for
the refund of their payments and failed to see Josefina who was always out of the country due to her work,
they filed the present cases. 51
Emelita Racelis testified that she was an employee of RSI from 1989 to 1992 and was one of the two
persons assigned to Josefina. 52 Ms. Racelis said that Buli-e frequently went to the RSI, bringing applicants

with her three times a month. Among the applicants whom Buli-e referred to RSI through one of the
marketing directors, Mrs. Fe Go, was a certain Prescilla Laoayan. Racelis said that Laoayan was endorsed
by Mrs. Go to Josefina because it is the practice that when the applicant of one of the marketing directors
cannot be deployed, the applicant will be endorsed to another marketing director with a job opening.
Josefina, however, had trouble deploying Ms. Laoayan whose placement fee had not been forwarded by
Buli-e to RSI. 53
On July 4, 1995, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
1.In Criminal Case No. 11122-R, the Court finds the accused Alona Buli-e and Josefina (Josie) Alolino
guilty beyond reasonable doubt, by direct participation and in conspiracy with each other, of
the crime of illegal recruitment in a large scale as defined and penalized under Article 38(b) in
relation to Article 39 of PD 442 as amended by PD 2018 and sentences each of them to life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00 each, and to pay the costs.
2.In Criminal case No. 11123-R to 11130-R (8 counts), the court finds the accused Alona Buli-e and
Josefina (Josie) Alolino guilty beyond reasonable doubt by direct participation and in conspiracy
with each other of the crime of Estafa as charged in the Informations in the aforesaid 8 cases
as defined and penalized under Article 315 first paragraph in relation to No. 2 (a) of the same
article and sentences each of them, applying the indeterminate sentence law, to an
imprisonment ranging from six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum
to six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty (20) days of prision mayor as maximum in each of
the aforesaid 8 cases; to indemnify jointly and severally the offended parties Constancio Macliing, Jessica Estay, Sidolia Fias-eo, John Mangili, Sabado Agapito, Joseph Oratil and Joel Oratil the
sum of P15,000.00 each and Nieva Lampoyas the sum of P14,000.00 as actual damages
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs.
The accused Alona Buli-e and Josefina (Josie) Alolino being detention prisoners are entitled to
be credited 4/5 of their preventive imprisonment in the service of their sentence in accordance
with Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code.
SO ORDERED. 54

In rendering the decision, the trial court ruled that by their acts, Buli-e and Josefina, conspired and
confederated with one another in the illegal recruitment of complainants for overseas employment. Buli-e
performed the recruitment activities in Baguio and Josefina, in Manila. The trial court specifically noted
Buli-e's acts of accompanying the complainants to Manila for their medical examinations, securing
complainants' NBI clearances and passports as well as receiving complainants' downpayments for the
purported placement fee as an indication that she directly participated in the recruitment of all
complainants. The trial court observed that Buli-e practically confessed her acts of recruitment in open
court and justified the same by claiming that she was just acting as an agent of Josefina or was authorized
to act in behalf of the latter.
As regards Josefina, the trial court held that she directly participated in the recruitment of complainants
even if she did not personally go to Baguio City since she received the applications and other requirements
such as NBI clearances, passports, bio-data as well as the advanced payments of complainants from Buli-e.
Either she or her husband Jose, or both of them, entertained complainants who were brought by Buli-e to
their home at No. 11 Concorde Street, Airman's Village, Las Pias, Metro Manila. The spouses repeatedly
promised to work or make arrangements for complainants' deployment abroad.
The trial court ruled that the authority given to Josefina as Overseas Marketing Director of RSI, a duly
licensed employment agency, was confined to negotiating with foreign employers in Taiwan and she was
not supposed to recruit overseas Filipino workers. The court stressed that assuming Josefina was
authorized to recruit in Manila, she had no authority to do so in Baguio City. Citing Article 29 of the Labor
Code which states that no license or authority shall be used directly or indirectly by any person other than
the one in whose favor it was issued or at any place other than that stated in the license or authority, nor
may such license or authority be transferred or conveyed to any other person or entity, the trial court ruled
that appellants could not use the RSI license in Manila to recruit overseas contract workers in Baguio City.
The trial court further noted that the license of RSI employment office was already suspended on June 8,
1992 and expired on July 14, 1992. Consequently, the authority given by RSI to Josefina was likewise
suspended on June 8, 1992 and expired on July 14, 1992.
Finally, the trial court said that Josefina's act of returning the advanced payments of some of complainants
would not exculpate her and only proved that she had in fact received money from complainants who were
made to believe that they would be deployed abroad at the soonest possible time.
With regard to the eight charges of estafa filed against appellants, the trial court convicted them on the
ground that all the elements of estafa were present under each of the eight charges filed. The trial court
held that appellants through false pretenses and fraudulent acts represented to complainants that they
had the power, authority and capacity to deploy workers abroad for a fee of P40,000, of which P15,000
should be paid as advance payment. The false pretenses and fraudulent acts were executed prior to or

simultaneous with appellants' taking the sum of P15,000 as advance payment from each of private
complainants 55 which were received by Buli-e in Baguio City and turned over by her to Josefina in Manila.
Complainants relied on the pretenses and misrepresentations of appellants and parted with substantial
sums of money as advance payments of their placement fees. As a result of the false pretenses and
misrepresentations, complainants were damaged and prejudiced to the extent of the sums they had given
as downpayment since appellants failed to send them abroad as promised.
In her appeal before us, appellant Buli-e contends that the trial court erred:
I.IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE THE DEFENSE OF THE CO-ACCUSED ALONA BULI-E THAT SHE MERELY REFERRED THE
PRIVATE OFFENDED PARTIES TO CO-ACCUSED SPOUSES JOSE AND JOSEFINA ALOLINO, WHOM SHE
HONESTLY BELIEVED TO BE BONA FIDE OVERSEAS JOB RECRUITERS;
II.IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS CONSPIRACY BETWEEN HEREIN APPELLANT BULI-E AND SPOUSES ALOLINO IN
THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIMES OF LARGE SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT AND ESTAFA; AND
III.HOLDING CO-ACCUSED ALONA BULI-E LIABLE FOR ESTAFA WHEN THERE WAS NO SHOWING THAT SAID
ACCUSED BENEFITED FROM THE ALLEGED MISREPRESENTATION.

Appellant Josefina, on the other hand, presents the following assignments of error:
I.THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING JOSEFINA ALOLINO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT BY DIRECT
PARTICIPATION AND IN CONSPIRACY WITH CO-ACCUSED ALONA BULI-E OF THE CRIME OF ILLEGAL
RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE AS DEFINED AND PENALIZED UNDER ARTICLE 38[b] IN RELATION TO
ARTICLE 39 OF P.D. 442 AS AMENDED BY P.D. 2018 AND IN SENTENCING EACH OF THEM TO LIFE
IMPRISONMENT AND TO PAY A FINE OF P100,000.
II.THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED JOSEFINA ALOLINO GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
BY DIRECT PARTICIPATION AND IN CONSPIRACY WITH CO-ACCUSED ALONA BULI-E OF THE CRIME
OF ESTAFA AS CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION IN THE AFORESAID 8 CASES AS DEFINED AND PENALIZED
UNDER ARTICLE 315 FIRST PARAGRAPH IN RELATION TO NO. 2[A] OF THE SAME ARTICLE.

We shall discuss the interrelated issues together.


Under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code, recruitment and placement refer to any act of canvassing, enlisting,
contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and include 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 or placement.
The essential elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale are (1) the accused engages in
acts of recruitment and placement of workers defined under Article 13(b) or in any prohibited activities
under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) the accused has not complied with the guidelines issued by the
Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly with respect to the securing of a license or an authority to
recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas; and (3) the accused commits the unlawful acts
against three or more persons, individually or as a group. 56 When illegal recruitment is committed in large
scale or when it is committed by a syndicate, i.e., if it is carried out by a group of three or more persons
conspiring and/or confederating with one another, it is considered as an offense involving economic
sabotage. cTCaEA
The factual backdrop shows that appellants engaged in recruitment activities involving eight persons. The
recruitment activities were made by appellants without having the license or authority to do so as
evidenced by the certification issued by Legal Officer of the POEA Regional Extension Unit, Cordillera
Administrative Region, which stated that Alona Buli-e, Hilario Antonio, 57 Josie Alolino and Jose Alolino were
not licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment in the City of Baguio or in any part
of the region. 58
Appellant Buli-e herself does not deny that she had no license or authority to recruit workers for overseas
employment. She, however, insists that she had never directly participated in recruiting complainants
since it was in fact complainants who sought her help in applying for overseas employment. Buli-e
explained that she merely "referred" complainants to the spouses Alolino whom she honestly believed to
be bona fide overseas job recruiters and, since she, herself, had intentions of applying for overseas work,
she tagged along with complainants to Manila to see the spouses Alolino. Inasmuch as she and
complainants were all from Baguio City, complainants allegedly designated her to conduct all negotiations
and follow up of their applications with the spouses.
Buli-e's claim deserves scant consideration. It is true that Buli-e did not actively seek complainants to
recruit them for overseas employment. It was complainants who sought her out. Nevertheless, when
complainants approached her, Buli-e gave complainants the impression that she had the ability to send
workers abroad by saying that although she did not have a license of her own to recruit, her boss, who was
a licensed recruiter, was already in the process of securing her a license. 59She not only informed
complainants of the requirements in applying for overseas employment and even accompanied them to
Manila to procure the necessary documents such as passport, medical and NBI clearances. 60 It was she

who brought them to the house of the spouses Alolino and it was also she who received from complainants
advanced payments for placement fee which she handed over to the spouses. Her claim that she and her
relatives were also victims of illegal recruitment by the spouses Alolino is not substantiated.
We also find no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court that Josefina Alolino conspired and
confederated with Buli-e in recruiting applicants for overseas employment from Baguio City although
neither she nor Buli-e had license or authority to do so. Her claim that she did not have a direct
participation in the recruitment in Baguio City and that she merely assisted the complainants by referring
them to RSI to facilitate their papers does not merit credence. There is no showing that complainants ever
set foot in the RSI office. They were always brought by Buli-e to the house of the spouses Alolino in Las
Pias after their medical check up. Complainants, who were with other applicants, were entertained and
generously fed breakfast or dinner by one or both of the spouses who assured them that they would be
able to fly to Taiwan in just a matter of months. 61 Although Josefina alleged that the documents and
payments were handed by Buli-e to the RSI office, Josefina could show no proof to substantiate her claim. It
is significant to note that after the informations for illegal recruitment and eight counts of Estafa were
already filed in court, some of the complainants were given a refund of their advances for the placement
fees by Josefina herself, through counsel, and not by RSI.
Josefina's acts clearly show that she and Buli-e acted in concert towards the accomplishment of a common
felonious purpose which was to recruit workers for overseas employment even though they had no license
to do so. Settled is the rule that if it is proved that two or more persons, aimed, by their acts, at the
accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, although apparently
independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a
concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may be inferred even though no actual meeting between or among
them to coordinate ways and means is proved. 62
Josefina, however, maintains that as Overseas Marketing Director for RSI, she was authorized to solicit
applicants for overseas placement through advertisements, referrals, walk-ins, etc. and to undertake
screening, evaluation and final selection of applicants.
Apart from her bare testimony, there is nothing on record to corroborate Josefina's claim that as Marketing
Director she was authorized to solicit applicants for overseas placement through advertisements, referrals,
walk-ins, etc. Josefina did not bother to formally offer as evidence the document allegedly supporting her
claim that part of her duties as Marketing Director included recruitment of overseas contract workers. The
document not having been formally offered in court cannot be considered, pursuant to Section 34, Rule
132 of the Rules of Court.
Moreover, the Licensing Branch of the POEA confirmed that the license of RSI had already been suspended
on June 8, 1992 and expired on July 14, 1992. 63Consequently, even if Josefina was licensed to recruit
workers for overseas employment, her authority to do so ceased when the license of her agency, RSI, was
suspended and when it eventually expired. Josefina, however, despite the suspension and expiration of the
RSI license, continued to engage in recruitment activities for overseas employment. Except for Lampoyas
who met Jose Alolino at the latter's house in March 1992, and Mangili and Joseph Oratil who met Jose
Alolino in May 1992, complainants were entertained at the house of the Alolinos after the license of RSI
had already been suspended. Lampoyas, Macli-ing and Mangili completed the P15,000 downpayment of
the placement fee after the license of RSI had already been suspended. The rest of complainants gave
payments for the placement fee after the license of RSI had already expired.
Furthermore, Josefina's alleged authority to recruit applicants for overseas employment as Marketing
Director of RSI was only confined to Metro Manila. Article 29 of the Labor Code provides:
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 or at any place other than that 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 offices anywhere shall be subject to the prior approval of the Secretary of Labor.

We are not persuaded by Josefina's claim that no recruitment activity was being done outside of the
territorial permit of RSI and it was only incidental that complainants who were referred to her by Buli-e
were residents of Baguio City. As earlier discussed, there is no indication that complainants ever set foot in
the RSI office. They were always brought by Buli-e to Las Pias, Metro Manila where they were entertained
by one or both of the spouses Alolino who repeatedly assured them that they would be able to fly to
Taiwan in a matter of months. Josefina, who claims to have authority to recruit applicants for overseas
employment in behalf of RSI, should have known that licensed agencies are prohibited from conducting
any provincial recruitment, job fairs or recruitment activities of any form outside of the address stated in
the license, acknowledged branch or extension office, without securing prior authority from the
POEA. 64 Pursuant to the POEA rules and regulations, Josefina could recruit applicants for overseas
employment and process their applications only at the RSI office in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila since there
was no showing that RSI had an acknowledged branch or extension office in Baguio City or that the prior
approval of the POEA for provincial recruitment or recruitment activities outside the RSI office was
obtained.

Finally, the trial court did not err in finding appellants guilty of eight (8) counts of estafa. It is settled that a
person convicted of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code can also be convicted of violation of the
Revised Penal Code provisions on estafa provided that the elements of the crime are present. 65 The
elements for estafaare: (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. 66
Appellants deceived complainants into believing that they had the authority and capability to send them to
Taiwan for employment. By reason or on the strength of such assurance, complainants parted with their
money in payment of the placement fees. Since the representations of appellants proved to be false,
paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is applicable. Buli-e's claim that she did not benefit
from the money collected from complainants since she gave the payments to Josefina is of no moment. It
was clearly established that she acted in connivance with Josefina in defrauding complainants. As regards
Josefina, the fact that she returned the payment of some of the complainants will not exculpate her from
criminal liability. Criminal liability for estafa is not affected by compromise or novation, for it is a public
offense which must be prosecuted and punished by the government on its own motion even though
complete reparation has been made of the damage suffered by the offended party. 67
The actual damages in the sum of P15,000 awarded to each of complainants Fias-eo and Mangili, however,
should be deleted inasmuch as said amounts have already been reimbursed by Josefina during her
detention.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 15, is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the actual damages awarded to Fias-eo and Mangili in Criminal Cases Nos. 11125-R
and 11126-R are deleted. Costs de oficio. ESTAIH
SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 150530. February 20, 2003.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ALEX BAYTIC, accused-appellant.


SYNOPSIS
Private complainants Ofelia Bongbonga, Millie Passi and Nolie Bongbonga accused Alex Baytic of recruiting
them for overseas employment. They alleged that accused promised them employment in Italy as janitor/utility for
a fee; that he demanded money from them for processing of their medical certificate, certificate of employment
and other travel documents; that because of his misrepresentations, they were persuaded to give him P4,000.00
each; that he failed to appear on the appointed date of their interview and was nowhere to be found. Thus,
accused was charged before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City with the crime of illegal recruitment in Large
Scale. Accused denied the charge against him and contended that it was Kennedy Hapones, a new acquaintance,
who was the illegal recruiter. The trial court, however, rejected his defense and sustained the complaining
witnesses and gave more credence to their straightforward and consistent testimonies. Accused was, therefore,
found guilty as charged and was sentenced to life imprisonment and to pay a fine.
Hence, this appeal.
Illegal recruitment in large scale is committed when three elements concur. First, the offender has no valid
license or authority required by law to enable one to engage lawfully in recruitment and placement of workers.
Second, he or she undertakes either any activity within the meaning of "recruitment and placement" defined under
Art. 13, par. (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Art. 34 of the Labor Code. Third, the accused
commits the acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group. The Supreme Court found that all these
essential requisites are present in this case. Accused-appellant's vain attempt at exculpating himself by
pinpointing Hapones as the culprit cannot mislead the Court from his transparent and obvious machinations. His
self-serving statement that he himself was a victim of Hapones wilts in the face of the complaining-witnesses'
testimonies that he made promises of employment, solicited money from them and even signed receipts as proof
of payment. His protestations notwithstanding, he failed to prove that the complaining witnesses were incited by
any motive to testify falsely against him. The Court held that it is contrary to human nature and experience for
persons to conspire and accuse a stranger of a crime or even a casual acquaintance for that matter, that would
take the latter's liberty and send him to prison just to appease their feeling of rejection and assuage the frustration
of their dreams to go abroad. Appellant's denials therefore cannot prevail over the positive declaration of the
prosecution witnesses. Thus, the Court affirmed the decision of the trial court.

SYLLABUS
1.

LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; LABOR CODE; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE;
ELEMENTS; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. Illegal recruitment is committed when two (2) elements concur.
First, the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to engage lawfully in
recruitment and placement of workers. Second, he or she undertakes either any activity within the meaning of
"recruitment and placement" defined under Art. 13, par. (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Art.
34 of the Labor Code. In case of illegal recruitment in large scale, a third element is added: that the accused
commits the acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group. The first element is present. POEA
representative Flordeliza Cabusao presented in evidence a certification from one Hermogenes Mateo, Director
III, Licensing Branch, showing that accused-appellant was neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for
overseas employment. The second element is likewise present. Accused-appellant is deemed engaged in

recruitment and placement under Art. 13, par. (b), of the Labor Code when he made representations to each of
the complainants that he could send them to Italy for employment as utility personnel. Prosecution witness
Ofelia Bongbonga categorically stated that accused-appellant promised her employment for a fee, a testimony
corroborated by both complaining witnesses Nolie Bongbonga and Millie Passi. His promises and
misrepresentations gave the complainants the distinct impression that he had the authority to engage in
recruitment, thus enabling him to collect from them various amounts for recruitment and placement fees
without license or authority to do so.
2.

ID.; ID.; ID.; PENALTY. Accused-appellant recruited at least three (3) persons, giving them the impression

that he had the authority to deploy people abroad. As such, his crime of economic sabotage can be
categorized as illegal recruitment in large scale punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00,
now increased to a minimum of P500,000.00 by virtue of Rep. Act No. 8042, also known as the "Migrant
Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995."

3.

REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; ACCUSED'S UNSUBSTANTIATED DENIALS


CANNOT BE GIVEN GREATER EVIDENTIARY VALUE OVER TESTIMONY OF CREDIBLE WITNESSES WHO
TESTIFIED ON AFFIRMATIVE MATTERS; CASE AT BAR. Accused-appellant's vain attempt at exculpating
himself by pinpointing Hapones as the culprit cannot mislead this Court from his transparent and obvious
machinations. His self-serving statement that he himself was a victim of Hapones wilts in the face of the
complaining-witnesses' testimonies that he made promises of employment, solicited money from them and
even signed receipts as proof of payment. His protestations notwithstanding, he failed to prove that the
complaining witnesses were incited by any motive to testify falsely against him. It is contrary to human nature
and experience for persons to conspire and accuse a stranger of a crime, or even a casual acquaintance for
that matter, that would take the latter's liberty and send him to prison just to appease their feeling of rejection
and assuage the frustration of their dreams to go abroad. His denials cannot prevail over the positive
declaration of the prosecution witnesses. Accused-appellant's unsubstantiated denials cannot be given greater
evidentiary value over the testimony of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters. There is
therefore no discernible reason to disturb the findings of the trial court, which is in the best position to assess
the witnesses' credibility and to appreciate complainants' candor and truthfulness. HIACEa

DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J p:
ALEX BAYTIC appeals from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City 1 finding him guilty of
illegal recruitment in large scale and sentencing him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.
Accused is further ordered to reimburse complaining witnesses Ofelia Bongbonga, Millie Passi and Nolie
Bongbonga P3,500.00, P4,000.00 and P4,000.00, respectively, representing the amounts fraudulently
taken from them.
On 24 September 1998 Kennedy Hapones accompanied by accused Alex Baytic went to the house of his
aunt Ofelia Bongbonga at 514 Tabigo Street, Manggahan, Quezon City. There they found Ofelia, Nolie and
Zenaida, all surnamed Bongbonga, together with Millie Passi, Yolanda Barrios and Elvira Nacario. Accused
Alex Baytic told the girls that he was looking for workers willing to work in Italy as utility personnel. He
explained that interested applicants should give him money for processing of their medical certificate,
certificate of employment and other travel documents. Since the offer appeared to be a good opportunity
to work abroad, Ofelia Bongbonga on the same day gave the accused P3,500.00, followed by Millie Passi
with P4,000.00 the next day, and Nolie Bongbonga with P4,000.00 on 5 October as their placement fees.
All these transactions were evidenced by receipts issued by accused Alex Baytic.
According to private complainant Ofelia Bongbonga, accused Baytic promised her and her two (2) coapplicants an interview by his cousin, a doctor from Italy, on 7 October 1998 at the Corinthian Gardens.
However, on the appointed date of their interview, the accused failed to appear. Ofelia, Millie and Nolie
frantically searched for him but he was nowhere to be found. Ofelia further testified that sometime in
January 1999 they heard over the radio that accused Baytic was arrested in Pasig City for illegal
recruitment activities. Upon inquiry from the radio station, she learned that the accused was already
detained at the Pasig Provincial Jail, so she followed him there. Thereafter, she and her two (2) other
companions, Millie and Nolie, who were likewise victimized by the accused filed the instant case against
him.
On the witness stand, both private complainants Millie Passi and Nolie Bongbonga corroborated the
testimony of Ofelia Bongbonga on every material point. In particular, Millie Passi recounted that she was
also enticed to part with P4,000.00 when Baytic promised her a good paying job abroad. According to her,
there was no reason for her to be suspicious of the identity of the accused as well as of his representations
since he was a good friend of her cousin Kennedy Hapones.
Like the two (2) other complainants, Nolie Bongbonga averred that the accused through
misrepresentations persuaded her to give him P4,000.00 for the processing of certain travel documents. As
proof thereof she presented a receipt dated 5 October 1998 purportedly signed and issued by the accused.
Accused Alex Baytic, testifying in his defense, not only denied the accusations against him but also insisted
that it was actually Kennedy Hapones, a new acquaintance, who was the illegal recruiter. He recounted

that sometime in November 1999, he went to the house of Hapones who was trying to recruit him for
deployment abroad. According to the accused, Hapones told him to prepare P250,000.00 although the
former eventually accepted an initial advance payment of P4,500.00. He again met Hapones the following
month when the latter told him and a group of other applicants, including Ofelia Bongbonga, that their
requirements were ready. That was the last time he saw Hapones who, he later learned, had already left for
abroad. He was suspected of being in cahoots with Hapones because whenever the latter and the
applicants talked, Hapones would always point at him, although he never had the opportunity to know
what Hapones had actually said to them.
But the trial court sustained the complaining witnesses and gave more credence to their straightforward
and consistent testimonies. It opined that all the essential requisites of the crime of illegal recruitment in
large scale as defined in Art. 13, par. (b), of the Labor Code 2 were present
. . . The accused made representations to each of the complainants that he could send them to Italy as
janitor/utility aides through direct hiring, which constitutes a promise of employment which amounted to
recruitment as defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code. The testimonies of the three prosecution witnesses
that they were actually recruited for overseas employment by the accused and were induced by him to part with
their money retain undiminished probative worth and weight. The receipts (Exhibits "A", "C", and "D")
respectively issued to the complainants are sufficient proofs of his guilt as against accused's mere denial of the
signatures appearing therein. The modus operandi of the accused was well established by the corroborative
testimonies of the witnesses. 3

Accused-appellant now prays that the Court to take a second hard look at his conviction in view of the
alleged failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He takes exception to the
finding of the trial court that all the elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale are present.
He argues that the first element, i.e., the accused engages in the recruitment and placement of workers,
defined under Art. 13, or in any prohibited activities under Art. 34, of the Labor Code, is not present
because he did not solicit any money from the complainants nor did he promise them employment in Italy.
The truth of the matter, according to him, is that he himself was victimized by Kennedy Hapones, the real
illegal recruiter. He explained that when Hapones could not be contacted, the complainants vented their
anger towards him, being Hapones' constant companion.
Such being the case, accused-appellant insists that the second element, which is the absence of license or
authority to recruit, could not have been present because there was in fact no need for him to apply for the
license as he was not in the recruitment business.
We are not impressed. Illegal recruitment is committed when two (2) elements concur. First, the offender
has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to engage lawfully in recruitment and
placement of workers. Second, he or she undertakes either any activity within the meaning of "recruitment
and placement" defined under Art. 13, par. (b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Art. 34 of
the Labor Code. In case of illegal recruitment in large scale, a third element is added: that the accused
commits the acts against three or more persons, individually or as a group. 4
The first element is present. POEA representative Flordeliza Cabusao presented in evidence a certification
from one Hermogenes Mateo, Director III, Licensing Branch, showing that accused-appellant was neither
licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment. 5
The second element is likewise present. Accused-appellant is deemed engaged in recruitment and
placement under Art. 13, par. (b), of the Labor Code when he made representations to each of the
complainants that he could send them to Italy for employment as utility personnel. Prosecution witness
Ofelia Bongbonga categorically stated that accused-appellant promised her employment for a fee, a
testimony corroborated by both complaining witnesses Nolie Bongbonga and Millie Passi. His promises and
misrepresentations gave the complainants the distinct impression that he had the authority to engage in
recruitment, thus enabling him to collect from them various amounts for recruitment and placement fees
without license or authority to do so.
Accused-appellant's vain attempt at exculpating himself by pinpointing Hapones as the culprit cannot
mislead this Court from his transparent and obvious machinations. His self-serving statement that he
himself was a victim of Hapones wilts in the face of the complaining-witnesses' testimonies that he made
promises of employment, solicited money from them and even signed receipts as proof of payment. His
protestations notwithstanding, he failed to prove that the complaining witnesses were incited by any
motive to testify falsely against him. It is contrary to human nature and experience for persons to conspire
and accuse a stranger of a crime, or even a casual acquaintance for that matter, that would take the
latter's liberty and send him to prison just to appease their feeling of rejection and assuage the frustration
of their dreams to go abroad. 6 His denials cannot prevail over the positive declaration of the prosecution
witnesses. Accused-appellant's unsubstantiated denials cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the
testimony of credible witnesses who testified on affirmative matters. 7
There is therefore no discernible reason to disturb the findings of the trial court, which is in the best
position to assess the witnesses' credibility and to appreciate complainants' candor and truthfulness. 8

Accused-appellant, recruited at least three (3) persons, giving them the impression that he had the
authority to deploy people abroad. As such, his crime of economic sabotage can be categorized as illegal
recruitment in large scale punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00, now increased to a
minimum of P500,000.00 by virtue of Rep. Act No. 8042, also known as the "Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995." 9
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision finding accused-appellant ALEX BAYTIC guilty of illegal recruitment in
large scale, sentencing him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500,000.00 as well as reimburse
complainants Ofelia Bongbonga, Millie Passi, and Nolie Bongbonga the amounts of P3,500.00, P4,000.00
and P4,000.00, respectively, is AFFIRMED. Costs against accused-appellant. ADHCSE
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. Nos. 95207-17. January 10, 1994.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ENRIQUE TAGUBA AND MIRAFE TAGUBA, accusedappellants.

SYLLABUS
1. CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; NON-POSSESSION OF LICENSE TO RECRUIT MUST BE
PROVED FOR CONVICTION THEREOF. The records shows that the prosecution indeed failed to establish

that the appellants had not been issued licenses to recruit for overseas employment. It had moved to present
Cecilia E. Curso, Chief of the Licensing and Evaluation Division of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency,
so she could testify that the accused were not licensed recruiters, but this was never done. Rule 131 Sec. 2 of
the Rules of Court provides: Sec. 2. Burden of proof in criminal cases. - In criminal cases the burden of proof as
to the offense charged lies on the prosecution. A negative fact alleged by the prosecution need not be proved
unless it is an essential ingredient of the offense. Non-possession of a license to recruit is an essential
ingredient of the crime of illegal recruiting. As it is an indispensable requisite for the conviction of the
pretended recruiter, the burden of establishing this element is upon the prosecution. In the case before us, the
prosecution cannot deny its failure to show that no license had indeed been issued to either of the appellees
by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration .

2. ID.; ID.; LICENSE TO RECRUIT CANNOT BE SUBSTITUTED BY A SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY TO


NEGOTIATE WITH FOREIGN EMPLOYER TO WHICH THE WORKER WERE TO BE ASSIGNED. The
special power of attorney granted to Enrique by RAY/DECO did not operate as a license to recruit workers on
his own behalf, which is what he did. Enrique's authority was confined to negotiating with foreign employers
for the appointment of RAY/DECO as their agency in the recruiting of Filipino workers for employment abroad.
What he was supposed to recruit was not Filipino overseas workers but the foreign employers to which the
workers were to be assigned. It is significant that the only authority the appellants could invoke was this
special power of attorney although he did speak of "several papers." These did not include any license. It
strikes us that if they had been issued a license to recruit, there would have been no reason why they did not
present it in evidence to exculpate them from liability under the Labor Code.

3. ID.; ID.; CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT THEREOF; ESTABLISHED IN CASE AT BAR. The indisputable fact is
that the appellants gave the distinct assurance that they had the ability to send the complainants abroad,

employing false pretenses and imaginary business transactions to beguile their victims. The complainants
willingly gave their hard-earned money to the appellants in hopes of the overseas employment deceitfully
promised them by the latter. It is also evident from the testimonies of the complainants that the deceptions
were practiced on them by both appellants, who cooperated with each other in fleecing the complainants of
their money. A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission
of a felony and decide to commit it. It is clear from the evidence of record that appellants, who were live-in
partners, were moved by a common design to victimize the complainants. As a consequence, they are
enmeshed in the same criminal liability for their conspiracy, which makes the act of one the act of both.

4. ID.; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT ON A LARGE SCALE (P.D. 2018) CANNOT BE APPLIED RETROACTIVELY.

The Court agrees that the appellants cannot be convicted of illegal recruitment on a large scale because only
two of the complainants, Jesus Garcia and Elena Santiago, categorically testified that their recruitment came
after February 10, 1986. This was the date when P.D. 2018, the law defining and penalizing illegal recruitment
in a large scale, took effect. P.D. 2018 has amended Article 38 and 39 of the Labor Code. P.D. 2018 cannot
apply to the appellants retroactively as it would be an ex post facto law as to them. A law is ex post facto if it
refers to a criminal act, punishes an act which was innocent when done, and retroacts to the disadvantage of
the accused. Prior to the said date, recruiting on a large scale was not yet punished with the penalty imposed
in the said decree. Moreover, each of the eight informations for illegal recruitment charged the appellants with
illegally recruiting only one person. It is a basic right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation against him and, if he is found guilty, to be penalized only for the offense specified in the
information or necessarily included in such offense. Under the decree, illegal recruiting on a large scale can
take place only when it is committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group.

DECISION
CRUZ, J p:
Enrique Taguba and Mirafe Taguba were both charged with eight counts of illegal recruitment and three
counts of estafa in separate informations 1 commonly worded (except only as to the date of the offense,
the name of the complainant and the amount involved) as follows:
The undersigned Assistant City Fiscal accuses ENRIQUE C. TAGUBA, MIRAFE TAGUBA and JANE DOE, true
name, real identity and present whereabouts of the last-mentioned accused still unknown, of the crime of
"ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT", committed as follows:
That (date of commission) in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping one another, representing
themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist and recruit workers for employment abroad did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, for a fee recruit and promise employment/job placement to one (name of
complainant), without first securing the required license or authority from the Ministry of Labor and Employment.
Contrary to law.

xxx xxx xxx


The undersigned Assistant City Fiscal accuses ENRIQUE C. TAGUBA, MIRAFE TAGUBA and JANE DOE, true
name, real identity and present whereabouts of the last-mentioned accused still unknown, of the crime of
"ESTAFA," committed as follows:
That (date of commission) in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, the above-named and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping one another,
defrauded and deceived one (name of plaintiff ) in the following manner, to wit: said accused, by means of false
manifestations and fraudulent representation which they made to said complainants to the effect that they have
the capacity and power to recruit and employ complainant abroad and could facilitate the necessary papers in
connection therewith if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, knowing said
manifestations and representations to be false and fraudulent and were made only to induce said complainant to
give and deliver, as in fact the latter did give and deliver to said accused the amount of P______, but said accused,
once in possession of the said amount, with intent to defraud, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert to their own personal use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of the complainant in the aforementioned amount of P________ .
Contrary to law.

Trial of the cases was held jointly.


The complainants, namely, Jesus Garcia, Gilbert Fabrigas, Josefina Sarrion, Myrna Roxas, Elena Santiago,
Federico Sagurit, Manuel Aquiban, Violeta Porte, Renelito Cerbito, Danilo Pacheco, narrated almost
identical versions of the deception practiced on them by the accused.
These witnesses testified that Enrique and Mirafe approached them on separate occasions and assured
them that upon their payment of a specified sum of money they would be sent to Korror, Palau, to work
variously
as
a
waiter, 2 fisherman, 3 master
cutter, 4 dressmaker, 5 farmer, 6 laborer, 7 mason
carpentry 8 or macho dancer. 9
The consideration for their recruitment ranged from P2,200.00 to P20,000.00 while the promised monthly
wages ranged from $300.00 to $500.00.
The required payments were made by them from loans they had contracted or from the proceeds of the
sale of their properties. However, no overseas employment materialized. Only Gilbert Fabrigas and Norman
Sarrion (the son of Josefina Sarrion) were able to reach Korror but after three months, during which they
were not given any work, they were deported to Manila for expired visas. 10 The rest of the complainants
were never even able to leave the Philippines.

In his defense, Enrique Taguba first claimed that he merely happened to be at the RAY/DECO office when
the complainants submitted their papers. RAY/DECO is a corporation licensed to recruit workers for
employment abroad with which he had entered into a joint venture. From the office, the documents were
submitted to the foreign employer, who brought them to Korror. 11
He later declared that a special power of attorney issued to him by RAY/DECO authorized him to recruit and
hire contract workers. It was by virtue of this authorization that he recruited the complainants. At the same
hearing, however, he retracted this statement, reiterating his earlier claim that he had no participation in
the complainants' transactions with the company. The sole exception was when he accompanied Gilbert
Fabrigas and Norman Sarrion to Korror upon RAY/DECO's request. 12
Mirafe, on the other hand, averred that she was working as a domestic helper in Korror when the alleged
irregularities happened. She presented a round-trip Continental Airline ticket issued in her name on May 3,
1985, for Manila-Korror-Manila 13 and a certification issued by the Manager of Air Nauru that on March 3,
1986, she was a passenger on Air Nauru Flight No. 420 bound for Manila from Korror. 14
After trial, Judge Adoracion C. Angeles of the Regional Trial Court in Caloocan City declared them guilty of
all the charges in a decision dated June 4, 1990. 15
For the offense of illegal recruitment on a grand scale, each was sentenced to a penalty of reclusion
perpetua and a fine of P100,000.00. They were also held jointly and severally liable for the reimbursement
of the money they received from the complainants. 16
For each of the three counts of estafa, they were both meted the penalty of four years, two months and
one day of prision correccional. In addition, they were held solidarily liable for the return of the money
given them by the complainants. 17
In their challenge to the decision, the appellants stress what they call the failure of the prosecution to
prove that they were not holders of licenses to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers
abroad; the unrebutted evidence of Mirafe Taguba's absence in the Philippines during the commission of
the alleged crimes; the imposition of a penalty which was not yet in effect and the alleged crime of illegal
recruitment on a grand scale were committed; and the lack of sufficient evidence to support their
conviction for estafa.
The appellants argue that before one can be held guilty of illegal recruitment, two elements have to be
established, to wit, that (1) the offender is not a licensee or holder of authority to lawfully engage in the
recruitment and placement of workers; and (2) the offender undertook the recruitment activities defined
under Article 13(b) or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code. Their
argument is that the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt each of the elements
of the offense charged and that this burden had not been discharged in the cases against them.
The appellants also contend that the penalty of life imprisonment for illegal recruitment committed on a
large scale is not applicable to them because the presidential decree imposing this penalty was published
in the Official Gazette only on February 10, 1986. P.D. 2018 was thus not yet effective at the time of the
alleged commission of the crimes imputed to them. Only two of the eight complainants for illegal
recruitment testified that they were recruited after February 10, 1986. If at all, therefore, the appellants
can only be convicted of eight separate counts of illegal recruitment under Art. 39(c) of the Labor Code,
which is subject to a lesser penalty.
Regarding the charges of estafa, the appellants' claim they had made no representation that they had the
capacity to recruit and send the complainants abroad. This is clear from the testimony of Josefina Sarrion
herself, who declared as follows:
Q.The accused in this case did not say that they had (a) recruitment office to you (sic)?
A.They did not, sir.
Q.The accused did not say to you or represent to you that they had (a) permit to recruit?
A.They did not, sir. 18

The Solicitor General maintains in the appellee's brief that it was incumbent on the accused to prove that
they were licensed to recruit workers, conformably to the well-settled rule that any party who asserts the
affirmative of an issue has the burden of presenting evidence required to obtain a favorable
judgment. 19 He agrees, however, that PD 2018 is inapplicable and that the appellants can only be held
guilty of eight counts of illegal recruitment and penalized in accordance with Sec. 39(c) of the Labor Code.
Our rulings follow.

The record shows that the prosecution indeed failed to establish that the appellants had not been issued
licenses to recruit for overseas employment. It had moved to present Cecilia E. Curso, Chief of the
Licensing and Evaluation Division of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, so she could testify that
the accused were not licensed recruiters, but this was never done.
Rule 131 Sec. 2, of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 2.Burden of proof in criminal cases. In criminal cases the burden of proof as to the offense
charged lies on the prosecution. A negative fact alleged by the prosecution need not be proved unless it is an
essential ingredient of the offense.

Non-possession of a license to recruit is an essential ingredient of the crime of illegal recruiting. As it is an


indispensable requisite for the conviction of the pretended recruiter, the burden of establishing this
element is upon the prosecution. In the case before us, the prosecution cannot deny its failure to show that
no license had indeed been issued to either of the appellees by the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration. prLL
This would have been a fatal omission under ordinary circumstances. Fortunately for the prosecution,
however, this flaw was repaired by appellant Enrique Taguba himself when he testified as follows:
Q.In connection with the operation of your office, do you have the authority to recruit?
A.I have a special power of attorney issued by the general manager of Ray/Deco, International Development
Corporation.
xxx xxx xxx
Q.Mr. Taguba you stated that you were clothed with a special power of attorney, is that correct?
A.Yes, sir.
Q.And according to you the special power of attorney you were then authorized as attorney-in-fact of Ray/Deco to
recruit and hire Filipino contract workers?
A.Yes, sir.
Q.And this is the only evidence or authority for your having recruited Filipino contractual workers?
A.I have submitted several papers, sir.
Q.By virtue of the special power of attorney you recruited all these complainants namely: (At this juncture, the
prosecuting fiscal read the names listed in the information)?
A.Yes, sir. 20

The special power of attorney 21 granted to Enrique by RAY/DECO did not operate as a license to recruit
workers on his own behalf, which is what he did. Besides, the special power of attorney only authorized
him:
1.To represent our Agency, RAY/DECO International Development and Employment Corporation, and to negotiate
and deal with any person, company, Employer or Principal in foreign countries who may be interested in engaging
the services of and appointing our Agency in the recruitment and hiring of Filipino contractual workers for
employment abroad.
2.To enter into such conditions he may deem proper, reasonable and advantageous to the Agency and to see to it
that all documents and papers necessary, required and proper in the appointment of our Agency by the Principal
or Employer as well as in the recruitment and hiring of the workers are all in proper order; and
3.Finally, it is a condition of this Power of Attorney that our aforesaid Legal Representative shall not demand,
collect and receive from the Principal or Employer any fee or sums of money without our prior consent and
approval.

It is clear from the above-quoted document that Enrique's authority was confined to negotiating
with foreign employers for the appointment of RAY/DECO as their agency in the recruiting of Filipino
workers for employment abroad. What he was supposed to recruit was not Filipino overseas workers but
the foreign employers to which the workers were to be assigned.
It is significant that the only authority the appellants could invoke was this special power of attorney
although he did not speak of "several papers". These did not include any license. It strikes us that if they
had been issued a license to recruit, there would have been no reason why they did not present it in
evidence to exculpate them from liability under the Labor Code.

Mirafe's defense of alibi is not acceptable either. The fact that she left for Korror on May 3, 1985, and
arrived in Manila on March 3, 1986, does not prove that in between these dates, she did not come back to
the Philippines to practice her deceptions. The tickets and certification she submitted were not the best
evidence to establish her absence from the Philippines on the dates the offenses were committed. What
she should have submitted to the trial court was her passport, where the holder's departure/arrivals are
officially indicated.
Curiously, the ticket issued to her on May 3, 1985, by Continental for Manila Korror Manila was used
by her in going to Korror but not in coming back to Manila. She claims to have returned to Manila on March
3, 1986, but via Air Nauru instead. Why she did not avail herself of the pre-paid Continental return trip
ticket to Manila raises some doubt on her credibility. Could it be that she had earlier used the return ticket
in coming back to Manila and that she went back later to Korror, from which she returned to the Philippines
on March 3, 1986, on board Air Nauru Flight 420? At any rate, the certification by the Manager of Air Nauru
is hearsay and inadmissible because he was not presented at the trial to affirm it.
The appellees argue that they cannot be held liable for estafa because they were prevented from
complying with their promise due to their incarceration. This is not true. Enrique Taguba accompanied
Norman Sarrion and Gilbert Fabrigas to Korror on December 29, 1985. After a week, Taguba came back to
the Philippines, leaving the two to stay there for three months and fend for themselves without any work.
All this happened before Enrique and Mirafe were arrested and detained on March 9, 1986 and March 10,
1986, respectively. 22
In the case of Jesus Garcia, the promised employment on March 2, 1986, never came. Learning that
Enrique had been apprehended, Garcia even gave him money for his bail. The money was an additional
consideration for his overseas employment, but even after Enrique's release, Garcia remained
unemployed. In fact, Enrique cannot validly argue that his detention prevented him from fulfilling his
obligation because he had in fact already defaulted prior to his arrest.
The appellants' claim that they had made no representation that they could send complainants abroad is
belied by the following testimonies of the complainants:
Myrna Roxas:
Q.Did you talk with the two accused at that time?
A.Yes, sir.
Q.What did you talk about?
A.They told us, sir, that they are having us employed as dressmakers at Palau.
Q.Who is this who told you that you would be employed at Palau?
A.Enrique Taguba and Mirafe Taguba, your Honor.
Q.What was or what were the conditions for your employment at Palau, Guam?
A.They told us sir that if we give P5,000.00 we will have medical examination, NBI clearance and then
passport. 23
Gilbert Fabrigas:
Q.Did he tell you how you were supposed to go for employment abroad?
A.Yes, sir. He told me as long as I pay.
Q.For how much did he require you to pay for your employment abroad?
A.P20,000.00, sir.
Q.Were you able to comply with that requirement to pay P20,000.00 in order to go abroad for employment?
A.Yes, sir.
Q.When did you pay that or give that amount of P20,000.00 to Atty. Taguba?
A.On November 23, 1985, I gave him P10,000.00 and on December 27, 1985, I gave him another P10,000.00,
sir.24

Substantially similar narrations were made by other complainants.

The indisputable fact is that the appellants gave the distinct assurance that they had the ability to send
the complainants abroad, employing false pretenses and imaginary business transactions to beguile their
victims. The complainants willingly gave their hard-earned money to the appellants in hopes of the
overseas employment deceitfully promised them by the latter.
It is also evident from the testimonies of the complainants that the deceptions were practiced on them by
both appellants, who cooperated with each other in fleecing the complainants of their money. A conspiracy
exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide
to commit it. 25 It is clear from the evidence of record that appellants, who were live-in partners, were
moved by a common design to victimize the complainants. As a consequence, they are enmeshed in the
same criminal liability for their conspiracy, which makes the act of one the act of both. LexLib
The Court agrees that the appellants cannot be convicted of illegal recruitment on a large scale because
only two of the complainants, Jesus Garcia and Elena Santiago, categorically testified that their recruitment
came after February 10, 1986. This was the date when P.D. 2018, the law defining and penalizing illegal
recruitment in a large scale, took effect.
P.D. 2018 has amended Articles 38 and 39 of the Labor Code by providing inter alia as follows:
ART. 38.Illegal Recruitment. . . .
(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 this first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if
committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.

xxx xxx xxx


(d)ART. 39.Penalties. (a) The penalty of the imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein;
xxx xxx xxx
(c)Any person who is neither a licensee nor a holder of authority under this Title 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 years nor more than eight years or a fine of not less than P20,000 nor more
than P100,000 or both such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the Court.

P.D. 2018 cannot apply to the appellants retroactively as it would be an ex post facto law to them. A law
is ex post facto if it refers to a criminal act, punishes an act which was innocent when done, and retroacts
to the disadvantage of the accused. 26 Prior to the said date, recruiting on a large scale was not yet
punished with the penalty imposed in the said decree.
Moreover, each of the eight informations for illegal recruitment charged the appellants with illegally
recruiting only one person. It is a basic right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him and, if he is found guilty, to be penalized only for the offense specified in the
information or necessarily included in such offense. 27 Under the decree, illegal recruiting on a large scale
can take place only when it is committed against three or more persons, individually or as a group.
The proper penalty for the illegal recruitment committed by the appellants is provided for in Art. 39(c) of
the Labor Code, to wit, imprisonment of not less than four years nor more than eight years or fine of not
less than P20,000.00 nor more than P100,000.00 or both such imprisonment and fine, at the court's
discretion. We hereby fix the penalty at from four to eight years and a fine of P50,000.00 for each of the
eight charges. The amounts ordered reimbursed to the complainants are affirmed except the amount
reimbursable to Manuel Aquiban, which is reduced from P10,000.00 to P6,000.00, the amount actually
delivered by him to the appellants.
Regarding the estafa, we shall accept the modification of the penalty as suggested by the Solicitor
General, after applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, to two years, eleven months and ten days
of prision correccional, as minimum, to six years, eight months and twenty days ofprision mayor, as
maximum, for each count of the offense. The monetary awards made by the trial court are affirmed.
Duplicity is condemnable under any circumstance but it becomes doubly deplorable when exercised on the
poor and unemployed, as in the case before us. The complainants were desperate for a living and were
willing to work even away from their families so they could lift themselves from their penury. The
appellants took advantage of their plight and enticed them with dollar earnings abroad. The complainants
succumbed to their wiles and raised the money demanded of them, borrowing what they could and selling
what little they had. All they got was disenchantment. The appellants were like vultures preying on the
victims and feeding on their broken dreams.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, but with the following modifications:
(1)For each of the 8 counts of illegal recruiting in Criminal Cases Nos. C-26359; C-26364; C-26367; C- 26368; C- 26370;
C-26371; C-26374 and C-26389, the appellants are sentenced to a penalty of four to eight years imprisonment and a
fine of P50,000.00. The amounts ordered by the trial court to be reimbursed to the respective complainants are
affirmed except the amount reimbursable to Manuel Aquiban, which is reduced to P6,000.00.
(2)For each of the 3 counts of estafa in Criminal Cases Nos. C-26343; C-26347 and C-26348, the appellants are
sentenced to two years, eleven months and ten days of prision correccional, as minimum, to six years, eight months
and twenty days of prision mayor, as maximum. The amounts ordered reimbursed to the respective complainants are
affirmed.

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 105204. March 9, 1995.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. THELMA REYES and NICK


REYES, accused, THELMA REYES, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Augusto J . Tobias for accused-appellant.
SYLLABUS
1.

REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESS; CONVICTION MAY BE BASED ON THE


TESTIMONY OF A SINGLE WITNESS. An accused can be convicted on the strength of the testimony of
a single witness, if such testimony is credible and positive and produces a conviction beyond reasonable
doubt. That the witness is also the complainant in a case makes little difference so long as the court is
convinced beyond doubt that the witness is telling the truth.

2.

ID.; ID.; ID.; FINDINGS OF TRIAL COURT, GENERALLY RESPECTED. When the issue is the credibility
of witnesses, appellate courts will in general not disturb the findings of the trial court unless certain facts
or circumstances of weight have been overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied which, if considered,
might affect the result of the case. This is because the trial court heard the testimony of the witnesses and
observed their deportment and manner of testifying during trial.

3.

LABOR LAW; RECRUITMENT AND PLACEMENT OF WORKERS; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE


SCALE AND ITS PENALTY, NOT PROPER IN CASE AT BAR. The Labor Code prescribes the penalty of
life imprisonment for illegal recruitment when committed on a "large scale." Art. 38 (b) of the Code
provides that "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." And Art.
39 (a) provides that "the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein." There
are 14 other cases filed/pending in the courts against the accused for illegal recruitment. These cases
cannot be taken into account for the purpose of Art. 38(b). When the Labor Code speaks of illegal
recruitment "committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group," it must be
understood as referring to the number of complainants in each case who are complainants therein,
otherwise, prosecutions for single crimes of illegal recruitment can be cumulated to make out a case of
large scale illegal recruitment. In other words, 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. Moreover, even if Blanza and Garcia had been illegally recruited so as to make the number of
persons illegally recruited four and make the crime that of illegal recruitment on a large scale, since this
was not alleged in the information and this is the more serious offense which includes that which was
charged, the appellant can only be found guilty of the less serious offense charged, pursuant to Rule 120,
Sec. 4.

4.

ID.; ID.; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; PROPER PENALTY IN CASE AT BAR. Appellant must be punished
under Art. 39(c) of the Labor Code which provides that any person who is neither a licensee nor a holder of
authority under this Title 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 years nor more than
eight years or a fine of not less than P20,000 nor more than P100,000 or both such imprisonment and fine,
at the discretion of the court

DECISION
MENDOZA, J p:
This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laguna, Branch 35, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having established the guilt of the accused Thelma Reyes beyond
reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment defined and penalized under Article 38, P.D. No. 442 as
amended, the Court hereby sentences said accused to suffer a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to
pay a fine in the amount of P100,000.00 and to indemnify Rosalino Bitang and Fabian Baradas, Mr.
de Castro, Lorenzo Blanza and Ramon Mendoza the sum of P45,000 and to pay the costs.

Appellant Thelma Reyes was charged together with her husband Nick Reyes, but the latter was
at large and so has remained up to now. Consequently, the trial proceeded only with respect to Thelma
Reyes in view of her plea of not guilty.
The prosecution's first witness, Rosalino Bitang, testified that sometime in 1985, he and five
others (Lorenzo Blanza, Fabian Baradas, Edgardo Garcia, Ramon Mendoza and Dionisio de Castro) went
to the house of the appellant in Los Baos, Laguna, to apply for employment abroad; that he gave
P5,000 to Nick Reyes as downpayment for the recruitment fees; that Nick Reyes handed the money to
his wife Thelma Reyes, and afterward issued a receipt (Exh. A), which reads:
RECEIPT
RECEIVED from MR. RIZALINO BITANG the amount of FIVE THOUSAND (P5,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency.
Manila, September 19, 1985.
(SGD.) NICK N. REYES, SR.

Bitang testified that on January 14, 1986, he and his companions paid P34,000.00 more to the spouses
through Dionisio de Castro. Of this amount, P8,500.00 was for his (witness Bitang's) placement fee, while
the balance was for the payment of his companions' fees. As before Nick Reyes received the amount and
gave it to his wife, Thelma Reyes, after which he issued a receipt (Exh. B) which reads:
RECEIPT
RECEIVED from MR. DIONISIO DE CASTRO the amount of THIRTY-FOUR THOUSAND (P34,000.00) Pesos, Philippine
Currency for the following: Edgardo Garcia, Ramon Mendoza, Lorenzo Blanza, Fabian Baradas, and Rosalino
Bitang.
Manila, January 14, 1986.

(SGD.) NICHOL REYES, SR.

According to complainant, Nick Reyes promised to notify them as soon as they were accepted
for employment so that they could leave for abroad, but this promise was not fulfilled. He said that he
checked with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and found out that the
spouses were not licenses recruiters. A certification to this effect was issued to him by the POEA. (Exh.
C) prcd
The other complainant Fabian Baradas also testified. He stated that he was introduced to
Thelma Reyes sometime in September, 1985 at Lemery, Batangas, while the latter was recruiting
workers for deployment in Saudi Arabia.
On several occasions between September and December, 1985, he and several others went to
appellant's house at Junction, Los Baos, Laguna for overseas employment and were required to submit
travel documents, such as passports, birth certificates and NBI clearances and to pay various amounts
of money.
On January 9, 1986, he gave P6,000.00 to Nick and Thelma Reyes, through his godfather
Dionisio de Castro, for which Nick Reyes issued to him a receipt (Exh. E), reading:
RECEIPT
Received from Mr. Dionisio de Castro the amount of Six Thousand (P6,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency.
Manila, January 9, 1986.
(SGD.) NICK N. REYES

On January 14, 1986, he paid the additional amount of P12,000.00 to Reyes through Dionisio de
Castro as evidenced by Exh. B. The money was supposed to cover the cost of the processing papers.
However, as no job was forthcoming, he went to the POEA to inquire, and, like Rizalino Bitang, he
learned that the spouses were not licensed recruiters. LLpr
The complainants both testified that as soon as they obtained the POEA certification that
appellant and her husband were not licensed to recruit, they demanded from the spouses the return of
their money and when the latter did not give back their money, they filed the complaint in this case.
Only the appellant Thelma Reyes testified in her behalf. She claimed that she met the witnesses
Bitang and Baradas only when they were looking for her husband at their house in Los Baos, Laguna,
between March and May of 1986. She denied having met them before.
She admitted that the receipts (Exhs. A, B and E) were all written and signed by her husband,
but she denied she had anything to do with her husband's activities. She said they had been estranged
since March 1986 precisely because she did not approve of her husband's illegal activities. She claimed
that she had told her husband that, even though they were poor, they could live on their earning and
the monthly support of P10,000.00 which they were receiving from her mother-in-law who lived in the
United States. LibLex
According to appellant, she and her husband saw each other only occasionally, whenever they
visited their children in Los Baos where they were studying because she lived in Singalong, Manila.
She presumed that her husband had told complainants to go to the house in Los Baos which they
were merely renting for their children and that she was included in the complaint only because her
husband could not be located.
On cross-examination she admitted that there were fourteen (14) other cases of Illegal
Recruitment filed and/or pending against her and her husband in different courts of Manila and claimed
that some of the cases had been dismissed or settled after she had refunded the money of the
complainants.
Testifying on rebuttal for the prosecution, Rosalino Bitang stated that it was Thelma Reyes
herself who gave the job applicants the address and sketch of their house in Los Baos, Laguna, and
that she represented to him that she was negotiating for job placements abroad. Bitang reiterated that
money paid to Nick Reyes was given to Thelma Reyes who counted it before Nick Reyes issued
receipts. Cdpr
On the basis of the parties' evidence, the trial court found Thelma Reyes guilty of illegal
recruitment and sentenced her as stated in the beginning. Hence this appeal.
Appellant claims that the trial court erred
1.IN FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION HAS MARSHALLED THE QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE SUFFICIENT TO CONVICT
THE ACCUSED OF THE CRIME OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT UNDER ARTICLE 38, P.D. NO. 442.
2.IN NOT CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO COMPLAINANTS IN THE INFORMATION FILED ON
DECEMBER 11, 1986 AGAINST THE ACCUSED HENCE THEY CANNOT BE PROSECUTED UNDER ARTICLE 38,
P.D. NO. 442.
3.IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE VERBAL TESTIMONIES OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANTS RATHER THAN THE
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE.

We shall now deal with these contentions of appellant.


First. Appellant contends that the testimonies of Bitang and Baradas are insufficient to sustain
conviction. She contends that Dionisio de Castro, who allegedly advanced P34,000.00 for the
complainants and their companions, should have been presented to corroborate the claim of the
claimants.
The contention is without merit. To be sure, an accused can be convicted on the strength of the
testimony of a single witness, if such testimony is credible and positive and produces a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt. 1 That the witness is also the complainant in a case makes little difference so
long as the court is convinced beyond doubt that the witness is telling the truth. For instance,
in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals 2 this Court held:
Petitioner claims that the decision of the trial court is not supported by the evidence, which is contrary to the
findings of the Court of Appeals that said decision is "in accordance with law and the evidence" (Rollo, p. 12). He
points out that the appellate court should not have believed the trial court's conclusion that "the sole testimony
of the offended party would have sufficed to sustain her assertions" (Rollo, p. 47). He claims that self-serving
declarations of a party favorable to himself are not admissible and that none of the alleged witnesses to the
transactions were presented. cdrep
The common objection known as "self-serving" is not correct because almost all testimonies are self-serving. The
proper basis for objection is "hearsay" (Wenke, Making and Meeting Objections, 69).
Petitioner fails to take into account the distinction between self-serving statements and testimonies made in
court. Self-serving statements are those made by a party out of court advocating his own interest; they do not
include a party's testimony as a witness in court (National Development Co. v. Workmen's Compensation
Commission, 19 SCRA 861 [1967]).
Self-serving statements are inadmissible because the adverse party is not given the opportunity for crossexamination, and their admission would encourage fabrication of testimony. This cannot be said of a party's
testimony in court made under oath, with full opportunity on the part of the opposing party for cross-examination.
It is not true that none of the alleged witnesses to the transactions was presented in court ( Rollo, p. 13). Yolanda
Dela Rosa, an eye-witness to some of the transactions, testified for the prosecution. Assuming that Dela Rosa was
not presented as a witness, the testimony of de Leon sufficed to sustain the conviction of petitioner. The
conviction of an accused may be on the basis of the testimony of a single witness (People v. Rumeral, 200 SCRA
194 [1991]). In determining the value and credibility of evidence, witnesses are to be weighed, not counted
(People v. Villalobos, 209 SCRA 304 [1992]).
In the case at bar, the trial court gave weight to the testimonies of complainants because,
Except for the denial of accused Thelma Reyes that she has nothing to do with the recruitment of the complaining
witnesses as well as the collection of the amount from them, said accused failed to sufficiently overthrow the
convincing testimony of the complaining witnesses that accused Thelma Reyes was present and even counted
the money evidenced by Exhibit[s] "A" and "B" after her husband hands it to her and that her husband Nick Reyes
who issued the receipts to the complainants.

Moreover, when the issue is the credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will in general not
disturb the findings of the trial court unless certain facts or circumstances of weight have been
overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. This
is because the trial court heard the testimony of the witnesses and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying during trial. 3
With respect to the fact that Dionisio de Castro was not presented to testify, it is sufficient to
say that there was no necessity for this because there is no question that the amount of P34,000.00
which he had advanced for the complainants and others was received by Nick Reyes.
Second. Appellant contends that the receipts constitute the best evidence to show that only
Nick Reyes received the amounts stated therein because only his signature appears on the receipts.
That the receipts were signed by Nick Reyes alone only proves that it was to him that the amounts
were paid. What, on the other hand, complainants are saying is that appellant is guilty because she
and her husband, conspiring together, acted and made them believe that they were licensed recruiters.
If so, the acts of the husband were likewise those of her. Indeed, the evidence shows that after
receiving the amounts from complainants, Nick Reyes handed the money paid to the appellant and that
Nick Reyes issued the receipts in question only after appellant Thelma Reyes had counted it. cdrep
Appellant claims that she and her husband separated in 1985 precisely because she did not
want to be involved in his illegal activities. This seems to be us to be a convenient way to dissociate
herself, but her mere claim is not enough to overcome the evidence of the prosecution. If there was
anyone whose testimony needed corroboration it was appellant.
Taking another tack, appellant points out that complainants cannot explain why the purpose for
which payment was made is not stated in the receipts nor why the receipts purport to have been
issued in "Manila" and not in Los Baos where they said they had made all the payments. She argues
that if the illegal recruitment was made in Manila, then the Regional Trial Court of Laguna had no
jurisdiction to try the case.
The circumstances pointed out by appellant only underscores the deviousness of appellant and
her husband. Complainants have an elementary education only. It is not for them but for appellant
and her husband to explain these circumstances because it was the latter who made the receipts. It

is not farfetched that they made the receipts this way precisely to create doubt as to their real import.
It is enough that complainants positively identified the appellant and her husband as having illegally
recruited them and collected money from them. Their testimonies have not been successfully rebutted
by the lame denial of appellant.
Third. Appellant contends that in any event the testimonies of the two complainants could not
be the basis for a finding of illegal recruitment on a large scale and for imposing the penalty of life
imprisonment on her. The Labor Code prescribes the penalty of life imprisonment for illegal recruitment
when committed on a "large scale." Art. 38 (b) of the Code provides:
(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.

And Art. 39 (a) provides:


Art. 39.Penalties. (a) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000)
shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein.

We agree with this contention.


In this case the information against appellant mentioned only the two complainants Fabian
Baradas and Rosalino Bitang as having been illegally recruited by appellant and her husband. The trial
Court, however, held appellant guilty of illegal recruitment on a large scale because aside from Baradas
and Bitang, appellant and her husband allegedly recruited others, namely, Lorenzo Blanza, Edgardo
Garcia, Ramon Mendoza, and Dionisio de Castro. LLphil
This is error. To be sure, Blanza and Garcia, according to complainant Baradas were able to
obtain overseas employment. On the other hand, with respect to De Castro there is no evidence that
he, too, had been illegally recruited by the spouses. What appears in the record is that he advanced
the amount of P34,000.00 in behalf of the complainants and the three others. Only two, therefore, had
been illegally recruited.
There are, it is said, 14 other cases filed/pending in the courts against the accused for illegal
recruitment. These cases cannot be taken into account for the purpose of Art. 38(b). When the Labor
Code speaks of illegal recruitment "committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a
group," it must be understood as referring to the number of complainants in each case who are
complainants therein, otherwise, prosecutions for single crimes of illegal recruitment can be
cummulated to make out a case of large scale illegal recruitment. In other words, 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.
Moreover, even if Blanza and Garcia had been illegally recruited so as to make the number of
persons illegally recruited four and make the crime that of illegal recruitment on a large scale, since
this was not alleged in the information and this is the more serious offense which includes that which
was charged, the appellant can only be found guilty of the less serious offense charged, pursuant
to Rule 120, s. 4.
Accordingly, appellant must be punished under Art. 39(c) of the Labor Code which provides:
(c)Any person who is neither a licensee nor a holder of authority under this Title 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 years nor more than eight years or a fine of not less than P20,000 nor more
than P100,000 or both such imprisonment and fine, at the discretion of the court.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is SET ASIDE and another one is rendered, finding
appellant Thelma Reyes guilty of illegal recruitment on two (2) counts and is hereby sentenced for each
crime to suffer imprisonment of 6 years and 1 day to 8 years and pay a fine of P50,000.00; and ordered
to indemnify Rosalino Bitang in the amount of P13,500.00 and Fabian Baradas in the amount of
P18,000.00 and pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 112175. July 26, 1996.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ENGINEER RODOLFO


DIAZ, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Pedro S. Castillo for accused-appellant.
1.

SYLLABUS
CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; DEFINED; HOW COMMITTED. The crime of illegal
recruitment, as defined under Articles 38 (a) in relation to Articles 13 (b) and 34 and penalized under Article 39
of the Labor Code, as amended by Presidential Decree 1920 and Presidential Decree 2018, is any recruitment
activity, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34, undertaken by a non-licensee or nonholder of authority. Thus, in People v. Cabacang this Court ruled that the crime of illegal recruitment is
committed when two elements concur, namely: 1) That 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) That the offender
undertakes either any activity within the meaning of recruitment and placement defined under Article 13(b), or
any prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34.

2.

ID.; THE NUMBER OF PERSONS INVOLVED IS NOT AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT IN ILLEGAL


RECRUITMENT. In People v. Panis, we made the pronouncement that any of the acts mentioned in Article
13(b) will constitute recruitment and placement even if only one prospective worker is involved. The number of
persons dealt with is not an essential ingredient of the act of recruitment and placement. Article 38(a) clearly
shows that illegal recruitment is an offense which is essentially committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of
authority.

3.

ID.; A NON-LICENSEE OR NON-HOLDER OF AUTHORITY; DEFINED. 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. Moreover, recruitment and placement activities
of agents or representatives whose appointments by a licensee or holder of authority were not previously
authorized by the POEA shall likewise constitute illegal recruitment.

4.

ID.; WHEN AN ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT CONSIDERED AN OFFENSE INVOLVING ECONOMIC SABOTAGE.


Illegal recruitment shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage if any of the qualifying

circumstances exist, namely, a] when illegal recruitment is committed by a syndicate, that is, if carried out by
a group of three or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another; or, b] when illegal recruitment
is committed in large scale, that is, if committed against three or more persons individually or as a group.
5.

ID.; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE; ELEMENTS. The elements of the crime of illegal
recruitment in large scale, which are undoubtedly present in this case are: 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.

6.

ID.; A PERSON IS GUILTY OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT WHEN HE GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT HE HAS
THE POWER TO SEND WORKERS ABROAD. The accused's assertion that he only assisted in the
processing of passport and medical certificate is nothing more than a frivolous excuse to divert the truth.
Likewise, it is the settled rule that a person is guilty of illegal recruitment when he gives the impression that he
has the power to send workers abroad. Appellant Diaz manifestly gave that impression to the three
complainants that he had the ability to send workers abroad. Misrepresenting himself as a recruiter of workers
for Brunei, he promised them work for a fee and convinced them to give their money for the purpose of getting
an employment overseas.

7.

REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESS; FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT
AS TO THE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES ARE TO BE GIVEN GREAT WEIGHT AND A HIGH DEGREE OF
RESPECT BY THE APPELLATE COURTS. The findings of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses are

to be given great weight and a high degree of respect by the Appellate Court. In People vs. Reyes (242 SCRA
264), we enunciated the rule that "When the issue is the credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will in
general not disturb the findings of the trial court unless certain facts or circumstances of weight have been
overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. This is
because the trial court heard the testimony of the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of
testifying during trial." In the case at bar, we see no reason to disturb these observations of the trial court. A
careful scrutiny of the records reveals that no facts or circumstances had been overlooked or misapplied by the
trial court which might affect the result of the case when considered.

8.

POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTION; BILL OF RIGHTS; EX POST FACTO LAW; CRIMES ARE PUNISHABLE BY
THE LAWS IN FORCE AT THE TIME OF THEIR COMMISSION. This Court is aware of a new law, RA 8042,
otherwise known as Migrant Workers for Overseas Employment, which was approved on June 07, 1995. It is An
Act to Institute the Policies of Overseas Employment and Establish a Higher Standard of Protection and
Promotion of the Welfare of Migrant Workers, their Families and Overseas Filipinos in Distress and for Other
Purposes. This new law amends the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code of the Philippines and gives a new
definition of the crime of illegal recruitment and provides for its higher penalty. We are not in any way applying
the otherwise restrictive provisions of this new law as it is not applicable in the case at bar, considering the
rule that crimes are punishable by the laws in force at the time of their commission.

DECISION

TORRES, JR., J p:
Rodolfo 'Erwin' Diaz seeks the mandate of this Court to review the decision dated September 2, 1993, of
the Regional Trial Court, 11th Judicial Region, Branch 10, Davao City, 1 in Criminal Case No. 26, 993-92
convicting him of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale, and sentencing him to suffer life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00 plus the costs.
In an Information dated August 15, 1992, Assistant City Prosecutor David W. Natividad of Davao City
charged appellant of violating Articles 38 (a) and 38 (b) in relation to Article 39 of the Labor Code, as
amended, as follows:
"That sometime in the month of July 1992, in the City of Davao, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the abovementioned accused, purporting himself to have the capacity to contract,
enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, particularly Brunei and Japan, did then
and there, willfully, unlawfully recruit and promise employment/job placement abroad to Mary Anne
Navarro, Maria Theresa Fabricante and Maria Elena Ramirez, without first securing the required
license and/or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.
CONTRARY TO LAW." 2

The antecedent facts found by the Court a quo reads:


"Mary Anne Navarro was 22 years old, single and a student of the University of the Immaculate
Concepcion in 1992, taking up Bachelor of Science in Music, Davao City.
Maria Theresa Fabricante was 23 years old, single and jobless in 1992. She is accordingly a
commerce graduate of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City.
Maria Elena Ramirez was 27 years old, married and a businesswoman in 1992. She is accordingly a
college graduate of the University of Mindanao in Davao City where she finished the course of
Bachelor of Science in Commerce, major in management.
From the combined testimonies of these three complainants, the Court has gathered that this is what
happened, which gave rise to this case:
In June 1992 they were all enrolled at the Henichi Techno Exchange Cultural Foundation in Davao City,
studying Niponggo. Their teacher was Mrs. Remedios Aplicador.
One day Mrs. Aplicador told them that if they wanted to go and work abroad, particularly Brunei where
they could earn a salary of "$700.00 for four hours daily work," she would refer them to Mr. Paulo Lim
who knew one Engr. Erwin Diaz who was recruiting applicants for Brunei (tsn 9-7-92 pp. 10-11 & tsn 9-892 p. 34).
Accompanied by Mrs. Aplicador, the three complainants went to Mr. Paulo Lim who explained to them
that he was not the one recruiting workers but Engr. Diaz (tsn 9-8-92 p. 34). Mr. Lim informed them that
his children had already applied with Engr. Diaz and that the requirements were bio-data, passport,
medical checkup, I.D. and income tax return, and P2,500.00 for processing of their papers (tsn 9-7-92
pp. 11 & 23-24 & 9-8-92 pp. 46 & 58). Telling them that he knew "pretty well the recruiter" Engr. Diaz
and that "We don't have to worry we can really go abroad and as a matter of fact he said that his three
children were applying (to go) to Brunei," he offered to accompany them to Engr. Erwin Diaz at the office
of the CIS (tsn 9-7-92 p. 11). They asked Mr. Lim when he was available, and he said July 18 (1992),
Saturday morning (tsn 9-8-92 p. 34).
On July 18, Mr. Paulo Lim and Mrs. Remedios Aplicador accompanied the three complainants to Engr.
Diaz who was then being detained in the CIS Detention Center in Davao City and introduced them to
him. The complainants asked Engr. Diaz why he was "inside the cell." and he explained that four
applicants had filed a case against him "because they could not accept that they were sick of hepatitis
and that the CIS elements are just making money out of it" (tsn 9-8-92 p. 35). They asked him if he was
"recruiting applicants for Brunei" and "he said yes"; they also inquired what were the requirements, and
he said four passport size pictures of each applicant, bio-data, income tax return, medical certificate, NBI
clearance, passport, P2,500.00 for processing of the papers of each applicant, and P65,000.00 as
placement fee, but only P20,000.00 for plane fare was to be paid by each applicant, the balance of
P45,000.00 was to be paid by means of salary deductions (tsn 9-7-92 p. 12; tsn 9-8-92 p. 35 & p. 59).
The P2,500.00 for processing of their respective applications was to be paid at the house of Engr. Diaz at
14 Aries Street, GSIS Heights, Davao City, with telephone no. 8-46-71 (tsn 9-7-92 p. 12).
Mary Anne Navarro paid P2,300.00 to Engr. Diaz at his residence on July 22, 1992 (Exh. "C"). There is no
explanation by her why she paid only P2,300.00 and not P2,500.00.
Maria Theresa Fabricante paid only P2,000.00 to Engr. Diaz also on July 22, 1992 (Exh. "E"). She paid
only that amount because, according to her testimony, she already had a passport and Engr. Diaz said
she was required to pay only P2,000.00 (tsn 9-8-92 p. 35).
Maria Elena Ramirez paid to Engr. Diaz P2,500.00 but she lost her receipt (tsn 9-8-92 p. 59). However, it
was returned to her by Engr. Diaz on August 17, 1992 (Exh. "G").

Exhibit "G" is a RECEIPT signed by the three complainants acknowledging the return to them
respectively of the amounts of P2,300.00, P2,000.00 and P2,500.00 by the accused and his wife who
also signed it as witnesses (tsn 9-8-92 p. 43).
After submitting to the accused all the required papers and undergoing medical examination (before the
return of said amounts to the complainants), they asked him when they could leave. The accused told
them to wait for three to four weeks as his papers were still being processed by the CIS (tsn 9-7-92 p.
15). During this period when the accused had already been released from detention (testimony of the
accused, tsn 4-27-93 pp. 16-17), the complainants kept inquiring from him when they would be leaving
for Brunei, going to his house several times where they saw many other applicants like them. But the
accused just kept saying that his papers were still with the CIS (tsn 9-7-92 p. 15).
When he was still detained, he told the complainants that "the name of his agency is confidential but the
owner thereof is Erlinda Romualdez" who "used to be her (sic) mistress" assuring them that "we don't
have to worry about it because he said it is government project and then he said he will escort us to
Philippine Plaza Hotel for briefing before leaving for abroad and after the briefing at the Philippine Plaza
Hotel we will proceed to POEA where we will sign a contract that is the time we will give him the amount
of P20,000.00 and then we will proceed to the residence of Erlinda Romualdez where we will be staying
for three days" (tsn 9-8-92 pp. 40-41).
Mary Anne Navarro asked her father for P20,000.00 for her plane fare, and so they mortgaged their
piano for P30,000.00 to Serve Loan Mart as evidenced by a promissory note for P30,000.00 (Exh. "D" &
tsn 9-7-92 p. 16).
From the borrowed P30,000.00, Mary Anne Navarro set aside P20,000.00 "for placement fee and the
remaining P10,000.00 I used in buying traveling bag, dresses, shoes and of course make up (sic)
because we were told that we will be working there as salesgirls. Then hairband, pair of earrings and
ring" (tsn 9-7-92 pp. 16-17). It was the accused who told them that they would be working in one of the
department stores in Brunei and receiving a monthly pay of $700.00 for working only four hours a day
(tsn 9-7-92 p. 17). Earlier, she said Engr. Diaz told her and her co-complainants herein that the
P20,000.00 was for plane fare (tsn 9-7-92 p. 12).
Maria Theresa Fabricante went home to Cotabato to secure the required P20,000.00. Her father sold a
horse for P5,000.00. As for the balance of P15,000.00 "Our plan was to mortgage our five hectare land to
a friend of my father."
"QWas the land actually mortgage?
"AThe money was ready for release.
"QNow, was the money release?
"ANo, sir.
"QWhy?
"AThe money was supposed to be released on August 6, but before that date August 3, I came back to
Davao and went to the office of POEA and verify whether Engr. Diaz was indeed a licensed
recruiter.
"QWhat did you find out when you go there?
"AHe is not registered or in the list. His name does not appear on the list.
"QWith whom did you talk to with the POEA?
"AAtty. Evangelio.
"QNow, upon learning that Mr. Diaz is not included in the masters list, what did you do?
"AAfter knowing that I went to my two companions Ma. Elena Ramirez and Mary Anne Navarro and
informed them of what I found out that the agency represented by Engr. Diaz was a fake agency
and I advised them they too should follow it up by themselves.
"QNow, of your own knowledge, did they do?
"AYes, sir.
"QWhat about you?
""AYes, sir, we set a date to go to the POEA but before that we agreed that we will go and see Engr. Diaz
to get back the money that we paid as well as the papers.
"QDid you actually go to Engr. Diaz?
"AYes, sir.
"QWhat happened?

"AWe went to see Eng. Diaz and when we met him, he greet us by saying: "If you are ready to leave?"
But we told him that we are not going to leave and we are withdrawing our applications
because we found from the office of the POEA that he is a fake recruiter and so he got angry
and said that if our purpose in going there was to withdraw, he said we can and we can get
back our documents the next day but he said we will have to pay him charges. And we said,
what for? He said for labor because he already secured a plane ticket for us and when I asked
where the plane tickets are? He said it is in Cagayan" (tsn 9-8-92 pp. 38-39).

At the POEA the three complainants learned that the "agency represented by Engr. Diaz was a fake
agency" (tsn 9-8-92 p. 38). The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration issued a
CERTIFICATION (Exh. "A") which reads:
"This is to certify that Eng'r. Diaz a.k.a. Erwin, Rudy, Edwin, Rodolfo, Ariel Mateo of Aries St., GSIS Subd.,
Matina, Davao City; Mr. Paulo Lim and Remedios Aplicador both of Sto. Rosario St., Buhangin, Davao City
were never granted an authority to conduct recruitment for overseas employment in Davao City or in
any part of Region XI, and that the agency of the former known as Phil Jap Constr'n and Tanaka and Diaz
Asso. were never been a licensed agency for overseas recruitment.
"This certification is being issued upon the written request of Ma. Elena Ramirez, Mary Anne Navarro and
Ma. Theresa Fabricante for whatever legal purpose it may serve them best.
"14 August 1992 Davao City Philippines.
(Sgd) GAUDENCIO DELA PEA
Unit Coordinator"

The three complainants withdrew their applications from Engr. Diaz without paying his charges. The
amounts they paid for processing fees were all returned to them by Engr. Diaz (Exh. "G"). 3

On September 2, 1993 the trial court rendered a decision finding the appellant guilty of the crime charged,
the dispositive portion of which states:
"WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Rodolfo 'Erwin' Diaz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the offense of large scale illegal recruitment and sentences him to suffer life imprisonment and to
pay a fine of P100,000.00, plus the costs."

Accused-appellant Diaz predicated the instant appeal on the following assignment of errors:
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED NOT ONLY CONFINED HIMSELF TO FACILITATING THE
PASSPORT AND MEDICAL EXAMINATION OF THE COMPLAINANTS BUT ALSO PROMISED THEM EMPLOYMENT
ABROAD.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED WAS MERELY A FACILITATOR OF TRAVEL
DOCUMENTS AND NOT AN ILLEGAL RECRUITER.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED OF THE CRIME CHARGED. 4

The foregoing assigned errors, being intertwined, shall be discussed together.


The crime of illegal recruitment, as defined under Article 38 (a) in relation to Articles 13 (b) and 34 and
penalized under Article 39 of the Labor Code, as amended by Presidential Decree 1920 and Presidential
Decree 2018, is any recruitment activity, including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34,
undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority.
Thus, in People v. Cabacang 5 this Court ruled that the crime of illegal recruitment is committed when two
elements concur, namely:
1]That 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]That the offender undertakes either any activity within the meaning of recruitment and placement
defined under Article 13(b), or any prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34.

Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code, provides for the statutory definition of "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."

In People v. Panis, 6 we made the pronouncement that any of the acts mentioned in Article 13(b) will
constitute recruitment and placement even if only one prospective worker is involved. The number of
persons dealt with is not an essential ingredient of the act of recruitment and placement.
Article 38(a) clearly shows that illegal recruitment is an offense which is essentially committed by a nonlicensee or non-holder of authority.
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. 7
Moreover, recruitment and placement activities of agents or representatives whose appointments by a
licensee or holder of authority were not previously authorized by the POEA shall likewise constitute illegal
recruitment. 8
We ruled in People vs. Goce, in this wise:
"Article 38 (b) of the Labor Code, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 2018, provides that any
recruitment activity, including the prohibited practices enumerated in Article 34 of said Code,
undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable
under Article 39 thereof. The same article further provides that illegal recruitment shall be
considered an offense involving economic sabotage if any of the qualifying circumstances exist,
namely,
a]when illegal recruitment is committed by a syndicate, that is, if carried out by a group of three or
more persons conspiring or confederating with one another; or,
b]when illegal recruitment is committed in large scale, that is, if committed against three or more
persons individually or as a group. 9

Considering the clear import of the foregoing doctrine which spells the unmistakable intent of the specific
provision applicable at bar, the instant case without doubt involves illegal recruitment in large scale.
The elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, which are undoubtedly present in this case
are:
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. 10

As can be ascertained after a thorough reading of the records, appellant Diaz was neither a licensee nor a
holder of authority to qualify him to lawfully engage in recruitment and placement activity.
Pursuant to the Certification issued by the POEA dated 14th of August 1992, 11 duly signed by Gaudencio
de la Pea, Unit Coordinator, appellant was never granted an authority to conduct recruitment for overseas
employment.
As to the third element of the crime, there were obviously three persons who were victims of the
appellant's nefarious act of large scale illegal recruitment.
Relative to the question of whether or not appellant Diaz was engaged in recruitment activity, it is clear
from the testimonies of the three complainants that appellant undertook to recruit them, thus:
Maria Elena Ramirez testified in the following tenor:
Q:When you went to see Mr. Diaz, what happened?
A:We were introduced by Mr. Lim to Diaz; and then we asked Diaz if it is true that he's recruiting applicants for
abroad. He said that he is recruiting applicants for Japan or Brunei and if we have P20,000 we can go to
Brunei and we will be given priority if we have the amount.
Q:What else did you ask Mr. Diaz?

A:We asked him what were the requirements.


Q:And what did he answer?
A:Well, he told us that we are required to submit 8 copies of passport, ID photos, income tax return, passport,
medical certificate and the amount of P2,500 and he further said that our placement fee will be P65,000
but all we have to pay in advance is the amount of P20,000 and the remaining balance of P45,000 shall
be given through salary deductions. 12

Maria Theresa Fabricante testified in the following manner:


She declared:
Q:What else did you ask Mr. Diaz?
A:We asked him if he is indeed recruiting applicants for Brunei. And he said, Yes. After that we asked him what are
the requirements and he told us that we need passport, four passport size ID pictures, income tax return
and NBI clearance, and if we have diplomas to attach with other documents.
Q:What else did Mr. Diaz tell you to do?
A:He said that if we are interested, he will take care of the processing of the documents by giving him the amount
of P2,500, and that he explained that our placement fee will be in the sum of P65,000 and we will just
have to raise P20,000 for the processing of our visa, plane tickets and POEA expenses.13

She continued:
Q:What about your work in Brunei, what did you ask him?
A:I asked Engr. Diaz whether our work would be contract worker and he said yes and we did not have to worry
about it because he said it was a government project and then he said he would escort us to Philippine
Plaza Hotel for briefing before leaving for abroad and after the briefing we will proceed to the POEA
where we would sign our contract and after signing that is the time we would give the amount of
P20,000 and then we would proceed to the residence of Erlinda Romualdez where we would be staying
for three days. 14

The same thing was testified to by Mary Anne Navarro. Appellant told her that he was recruiting contract
workers for abroad, particularly Brunei, and promised her a job opportunity if she can produce various
amounts of money for expenses and processing of documents. 15
Testifying in his behalf, appellant denied these complainants' allegations. He asserted that he never made
a promise in favor of complainants for employment abroad but assisted them in the procurement of
passports and medical certificates.
This Court is not, however, persuaded by appellant's bare denials.
Evidently, greater weight must generally be given to the positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
than to the denial of the defendant in weighing contradictory declarations and statements. 16 We stated
this rule with curt emphasis in Goce (supra) that
"The lame defense consisting of such bare denials by appellant cannot overcome the evidence presented by the
prosecution proving her guilt beyond reasonable doubt." 17

The acts of the appellant, which were clearly described in the lucid testimonies of the three victims, such
as collecting from each of the complainants payment for passport, medical tests, placement fee, plane
tickets and other sundry expenses, promising them employment abroad, contracting and advertising for
employment, unquestionably constitute acts of large scale illegal recruitment.
Appellant sought refuge in the testimonies of his three witnesses that would give credence to the claim
that he was only a facilitator of travel documents and not a recruiter.
The trial court did not give weight to appellant's allegations.
As observed by the trial court, the testimony of Edgar Macomao, is incredible which would raise serious
doubts about his motive as a witness. 18 It also describes the testimony of Paulo Lim as unclear and
confusing. 19 Neither was the testimony of Abednigo Neri given much credit by the trial court.
Admittedly, the findings of the trial court as to the credibility of witnesses are to be given great weight and
a high degree of respect by the Appellate Court.
In People vs. Reyes (242 SCRA 264), we enunciated the rule that

"When the issue is the credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will in general not disturb the
findings of the trial court unless certain facts or circumstances of weight have been overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. This is because
the trial court heard the testimony of the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of
testifying during trial." 20

In the case at bar, we see no reason to disturb these observations of the trial court. A careful scrutiny of
the records reveals that no facts or circumstances had been overlooked or misapplied by the trial court
which might affect the result of the case when considered.
As aptly pointed out by the Solicitor General, to wit:
"With the evidence on record, it is hard to believe that services promised by the appellant to the
three complainants were to consist only of his assistance in the procurement of passports and
medical certificates for each of them for they themselves could have easily secured these
documents at a lesser cost. Moreover, the fact that the appellant still collected P2,000 from Theresa
Fabricante who already had a passport belies his claim that his services were limited only to
procuring a passport and medical certificate." 21

The accused's assertion that he only assisted in the processing of passport and medical certificate is
nothing more than a frivolous excuse to divert the truth.
Likewise, it is the settled rule that a person is guilty of illegal recruitment when he gives the impression
that he has the power to send workers abroad. 22 Appellant Diaz manifestly gave that impression to the
three complainants that he had the ability to send workers abroad. Misrepresenting himself as a recruiter
of workers for Brunei, he promised them work for a fee and convinced them to give their money for the
purpose of getting an employment overseas.
The findings of the trial court, to which agree, were arrived at with meticulous care, to wit:
"There is no direct and express denial by Mr. Diaz of the following testimonies of the complainants:
1]That they had asked Mr. Diaz if he was 'recruiting applicants for Brunei' and he said 'Yes'.
2]That when asked what his requirements were, he said four passport size pictures, bio-data, income tax returns,
medical certificates, NBI clearance, passport, P2,500 for processing fee, and P65,000 as placement fee, but only
P20,000 for plane fare was to be paid as the balance of P45,000 was payable by salary deductions.
3]That he was asked by the complainants as to what agency he would be referring them, he said 'the name of the
agency is confidential but the owner thereof is one Erlinda Romualdez, who used to be his mistress'; that the
complainants did not have to worry because 'it is a government project and then he said he'd escort us to the
Philippine Plaza Hotel for briefing before leaving for abroad and after the briefing we will proceed to POEA where
we will sign our contract and after the signing that is the time we will give the P20,000, and then we will proceed
to the residence of Erlinda Romualdez where we will be staying for three days.'
4]That Mr. Diaz told the complainants that they would be working 'as salesgirls in one of the department stores in
Brunei, that they will be getting $700 a month and they will be only working four hours a day.'
These are definitely prohibited practices or activities constituting large scale illegal recruitment according to the
above quoted provisions of the law. There is no denial of these by the accused." 23

This Court is aware of a new law, RA 8042, otherwise known as Migrant Workers for Overseas Employment,
which was approved on June 07, 1995. It is An Act to Institute the Policies of Overseas Employment and
Establish a Higher Standard of Protection and Promotion of the Welfare of Migrant Workers, their Families
and Overseas Filipinos in Distress and for Other Purposes. This new law, amends the pertinent provisions of
the Labor Code of the Philippines and gives a new definition of the crime of illegal recruitment and
provides for its higher penalty.
We are not in any way applying the otherwise restrictive provisions of this new law as it is not applicable in
the case at bar, considering the rule that crimes are punishable by the laws in force at the of their
commission.
In synthesis, considering the positive testimonies of the complainants against the negative bare denials of
accused-appellant, no other conclusion could be arrived at but to sustain the conviction of accusedappellant finding the latter guilty of large scale illegal recruitment beyond reasonable doubt.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES, the Decision appealed from dated September 2, 1993 is hereby
AFFIRMED in all respects, with costs against accused-appellant Rodolfo Diaz.
SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 120389. November 21, 1996.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ALEXANDER "ALEX" BENEMERITO and


PRECY BENEMERITO (at large), accused and ALEXANDER "ALEX" BENEMERITO, accusedappellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Abdula A. Basar for accused-appellant.
1.

SYLLABUS
CRIMINAL LAW; CONSPIRACY; CAN BE INFERRED FROM THE ACTS OF THE ACCUSED WHEN SUCH
POINT TO A JOINT PURPOSE AND DESIGN. The evidence overwhelmingly established the fact that both

the accused-appellant and his sister Precy Benemerito were engaged in the business of illegal recruitment. In
their testimonies, Fernando Arcal and Carlito Gumarang were positive, categorical and firm, even under
grueling cross-examination, that the accused-appellant actively participated in the recruitment process. The
latter was present when each complainant was offered a job in Japan, and the accused-appellant even made
representations as to the existence of such jobs and accompanied the complainants for their medical
examinations. The accused-appellant likewise received installment payments from the complainants. These
acts demonstrated beyond doubt that the accused-appellant was not merely an applicant for a job or an
unwitting victim of his sister; on the contrary, he was a knowing and willing participant in the recruitment
activities, which were obviously conducted for profit. We do not then hesitate to rule, as did the trial court, that
the accused-appellant and his sister Precy Benemerito, who is still at large, were co-conspirators in the
recruitment business which, as hereunder discussed, was illegal and on a large scale. Conspiracy exists when
two or more people come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. It
can be inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when such point to a joint purpose and design,
concerted action and community of interest. Once conspiracy is established, the act of one conspirator is the
act of the others.
2.

3.

4.

ID.; ESTAFA; ELEMENTS THEREOF; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. The elements of estafa in general are:
(1) that the accused defrauded another: (a) by abuse of confidence, or (b) by means of deceit; and (2) that
damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to the offended party or third person. All these
elements are present in the instant case: the accused-appellant deceived the complainants into believing that
he had the authority and capability to send them abroad for employment; that there were available jobs for
them in Japan for which they would be hired; and that by reason or on the strength of such assurance, the
complainants parted with their money in payment of the various processing and placement fees. As all these
representations of the accused-appellant proved false, paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code is
thus applicable. P
rcd
ID.; ID.; PENALTY IMPOSABLE DEPENDS ON THE AMOUNT DEFRAUDED. The penalty for estafa
depends on the amount defrauded. The amount proved to have been defrauded in Criminal Case No. Q-9351513 and Criminal Case No. Q-93-51514 was P50,000.00 in each case. Hence, the penalty prescribed above
should be imposed in its maximum period. The maximum period thereof following the rule prescribed in the
last paragraph of Article 77 of the Revised Penal Code ranges from six (6) years, eight (8) months and twentyone (21) days to eight (8) years. We add to it two (2) years and nine (9) months for the amount beyond the
first P22,000.00 (at the rate of one (1) year for every P10,000.00 and nine (9) months for the remaining
P8,000.00 by ratio and proportion). Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the accused-appellant can be
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty whose minimum shall be within the range of the penalty next lower in
degree than that prescribed by law, viz., prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods (six (6)
months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months) and whose maximum shall be the
abovementioned imposable penalty. The indeterminate penalty can range, therefore, from two (2) years,
eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to ten (10) years and nine (9)
months of prision mayor, as maximum. In Criminal Case No. Q-93-51515, the amount proved to have been
defrauded is only P85,000.00, as the receipt for the P10,000.00 is in the name of Shally Flor Gumarang, not
the complainant Carlito Gumarang. The principal penalty imposable is likewise the maximum of the prescribed
penalty provided for in Article 315 as stated in the immediately preceding paragraph, plus six (6) years and
three (3) months for the amounts beyond the first P22,000.00 (at the rate of one (1) year for every additional
P10,000.00 and three (3) months for the remaining P3,000.00). Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and
the foregoing disquisition, the accused-appellant can be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from
four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and three (3)
months of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WEIGHT AND SUFFICIENCY; NON-FLIGHT; MAY NOT BE POSITIVELY
CONSTRUED AS AN INDICATION OF INNOCENCE. Neither are we persuaded by his plea of innocence
allegedly evidenced by non-flight. The converse of the evidentiary principle of flight as indicative of guilt, does
not necessarily hold true. Non-flight may not be positively construed as an indication of innocence.

5.

ID.; ID.; ID.; EQUIPOISE RULE; APPLICATION THEREOF. The accused-appellant's plea for the application

of the "equipoise rule" must likewise fail. This rule provides that where the evidence of the parties in a criminal
case is evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt the scales in favor of the
accused. There is, therefore, no equipoise if the evidence is not "evenly balanced." Not even a semblance of
parity is present in this case. Against the direct, positive and convincing evidence for the prosecution, the
accused-appellant could only offer a mere denial and the incredible claim that he was an unwitting victim of
his sister Precy Benemerito. He miserably failed to overcome the prosecutions' evidence, hence the rule is
unavailable to him.
6.

7.

8.

LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; LABOR CODE; RECRUITMENT AND PLACEMENT; ILLEGAL
RECRUITMENT; ELEMENTS THEREOF. To prove illegal recruitment, only two elements need be

shown, viz., (1) the person charged with the crime must have undertaken recruitment activities (or any of the
activities enumerated in Article 34 of the Labor Code, as amended); and (2) the said person does not have a
license or authority to do so. It is not required that it be shown that such person wrongfully represented himself
as a licensed recruiter. A license is a document issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
authorizing a person or entity to operate a private employment agency, while an authority is a document
issued by the DOLE authorizing a person or association to engage in recruitment and placement activities as a
private recruitment agency.
D
ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN CONSIDERED AS LARGE SCALE. There is large scale illegal recruitment if it is
committed against "three (3) or more persons individually or as a group"; its elements, therefore, are the two
above mentioned plus the fact that it is committed against three or more persons. Large scale illegal
recruitment involves economic sabotage, and is penalized by Article 39(a) of the Labor Code, as amended,
with life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00. The accused-appellant having recruited at least three
persons, giving them the impression of his ability to send workers abroad, assuring them of their employment
in Japan, and collecting various amounts for alleged processing and placement fees, without license nor
authority to so recruit or offer job placements abroad, thus committed large scale illegal recruitment.

ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; A PERSON WHO COMMITS ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT MAY BE CHARGED SEPARATELY
OF ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT AND ESTAFA. It is settled in our jurisdiction that a person who commits

illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment and estafa under paragraph
2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as the former 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
necessary for conviction. In short, a conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar punishment for
offenses punishable by other laws. cDTACE

DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J p:
This is an appeal by accused-appellant Alexander "Alex" Benemerito from the Joint Decision 1 of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 91, convicting him of illegal recruitment and three counts of
estafa. The dispositive portion of the decision reads, as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1.Finding accused Alexander "Alex" Benemerito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the
crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale, as defined in Article 38, in relation to Article 39, of the
Labor Code, as amended by P.D. No. 2018 in Crim. Case No. Q-93-51511 and sentencing him to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment, to pay a fine of P100,000.00, and to pay the costs;
2.Finding accused Alexander "Alex" Benemerito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the
crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. Q-93-51513 and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty
of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as
maximum; to indemnify Benjamin Quitoriano in the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay the costs;
3.Finding accused Alexander "Alex" Benemerito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the
crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. Q-93-51514 and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty
of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as
maximum, to indemnify Fernando Arcal in the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay the costs;
4.Finding accused Alexander "Alex" Benemerito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principal, of the
crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. Q-93-51515 and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty
of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to fifteen (15) years of reclusion
temporal, as maximum, to indemnify Carlito Gumarang in the amount of P95,000.00 and to pay the
costs; and,
5.Acquitting accused Alexander "Alex" Benemerito of the crime of Estafa in Crim. Case No. Q-9351512 for lack of evidence. 2

The amended information in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51511 charged the accused-appellant and his sister,
Precy Benemerito, with the crime of Large Scale Illegal Recruitment allegedly committed, as follows:
That sometime during the months comprised from February to August 1993 in Quezon City, Philippines, the
abovenamed accused, conspiring together,confederating with and mutually helping each other, without any

authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit and promise employment to Brunei
to the persons of FERNANDO ARCAL, ROLANDO ESPINO, CARLITO B. GUMARANG, BENJAMIN J. QUITORIANO, JULIO
CABALLA and JOSE AQUINO, JR., by then and there requiring them to submit certain documentary requirements
and exacting from them the total amount of P583,000.00, Philippine Currency as recruitment fees without the
required necessary license or authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.
That the crime described above is committed in large scale as the same was perpetrated against six (6) persons
individually or as a group as penalized under Article 38 in relation to Article 39 as amended by P.D. No. 2018 of
the Labor Code.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

The amended information in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51512 charged them with Estafa allegedly committed,
thus:
That sometime during the months comprised from February to August 1993 in Quezon City, Philippines, the said
accused conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each other, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously defraud JOSE N. AQUINO, JR. in the following manner, to wit: representation which they
made to said JOSE N. AQUINO, JR. to the effect that they had the power and capacity to recruit and employ JOSE
N. AQUINO, JR. as worker and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent papers if given the necessary
amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in
inducing said JOSE N. AQUINO, JR. to give and deliver, as in fact gave and delivered to said accused the amount of
P17,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same
were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact did obtain the amount of P17,000.00 which
amount once in possession, with intent to defraud him, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated,
misapplied and converted to their own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said JOSE N.
AQUINO, JR. in the aforesaid amount of P17,000.00 Philippine Currency.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 4

The informations in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-93-51513, Q-93-51514 and Q-93-51515, charging the accusedappellant and Precy Benemerito with Estafa in each case, contain substantially the same allegations as
that in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51512, except as to the names of the complainants and the amounts
involved viz., (a) Benjamin Quitoriano and P50,000.00 in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51513; 5 (b) Fernando
Arcal and P50,000.00 in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51514; 6 and (c) Carlito Gumarang and P105,000.00 in
Criminal Case No. Q-93-51515. 7
Only the accused-appellant was arrested, while Precy Benemerito has remained at large up to the present.
These cases were consolidated and joint trial thereon was had only against the accused-appellant after he
entered a plea of innocence in the five cases on 27 April 1994.
The witnesses presented by the prosecution were complainants Benjamin Quitoriano, Fernando Arcal and
Carlito Gumarang; and Graciano Oco, the Senior Labor and Employment Officer of the Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA). Fernando Arcal was recalled as a rebuttal witness.
The trial court summarized the evidence for the prosecution as follows:
Benjamin Quitoriano claims to have known both Alex and Precy Benemerito since birth as they are townmates in
Gonzaga, Cagayan. Sometime in February, 1993, he met Alex and Precy Benemerito in Gonzaga, Cagayan and
the two offered him a job as helper mechanic in Japan and Alex said that they would leave together as he was
also applying for a job there. Alex told him to prepare his passport, pictures and certificate of former employment.
On March 8, 1993, he went to the residence of Alex and Precy Benemerito at 150-A Scout Hernandez, Kamuning,
Quezon City and he submitted the papers to them. Precy told him to pay a placement fee of P100,000.00 but he
said that he had only P50,000.00, which he gave to Precy. Precy asked Alex to count the money and told him to
deposit the same in the bank and she issued a receipt for said amount (Exh. "A"). With respect to the balance of
P50,000.00, Benjamin Quitoriano requested that he be allowed to pay the same in installment by way of salary
deduction. Precy then asked him to sign a two-year contract which provided for a salary of one "lapad" or 10,000
yen a day and medical and housing benefits. Precy gave him a referral for medical examination and told Alex to
accompany him to the clinic. Alex accompanied him to the clinic and assured him of the promised job as they
would leave together.
Carlito Gumarang, another townmate of Alex and Precy Benemerito, was told by the latter's mother sometime in
February, 1993 that her children were recruiting people for employment and gave him their address at 150-A
Scout Fernandez, Kamuning, Quezon City where he could see them if he was interested. He went to said address
and talked to Alex and Precy who told him that he could leave for Japan to work as helper mechanic within fortyfive (45) days after full payment of the placement fee of P105,000.00. He paid the amount of P105,000.00 in four
(4) installments to Precy in the presence of Alex, who counted the money, and Precy gave him the corresponding
receipts (Exh. "H", "I" "J" and "K"). He also submitted the necessary documents, such as application form,
passport, NBI clearance and certificate of employment to Alex. He was asked by Alex to sign a contract of
employment as helper mechanic which provided for a salary of one "lapad" or the equivalent of P2,500.00 a day.
Fernando Arcal was accompanied by his friend, Marcelo Leal, to the house of Alex and Precy at 150-A Scout
Fernandez, Kamuning, Quezon City sometime in August, 1992 but the two told him that there was no available
job. He returned to said place in March, 1993 and he was shown by Alex and Precy a job order for fifty (50)
mechanic helpers for Japan with a salary rate of one "lapad" or P2,500.00 a day. Alex told him to have a medical
examination and accompanied him to the clinic in Malate. After three days, Alex and Precy told him that he
passed the medical examination and to raise money for the processing of his application. He paid the total
amount of P50,000.00 in five installments, as evidenced by four (4) receipts issued by Precy (Exhs. "C", "D", "E",
and "F'), while his last payment in the amount of P5,000.00 on June 15, 1993 was received by Alex who issued
the corresponding receipt (Exh. "G"), as Precy had already left for Brunei. Alex asked him to sign the contract,

attended to the processing of his papers, counted the money given by him as placement fee and assured him
that he would be able to leave.
As the complainants were not able to leave for Japan as promised, Benjamin Quitoriano, Carlito Gumarang and
Fernando Arcal, together with other job applicants, filed a complaint against Alex and Precy Benemerito before
the NBI. They likewise secured a Certification from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration that
Alexander Benemerito and Precy Benemerito are not licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas
employment (Exhs. "B" and "B-1"), which was confirmed in open court by Graciano Oco, Senior Labor and
Employment Officer who personally verified the same from the records of the Office. 8

The defense presented the accused-appellant whose testimony is summarized by the trial court as follows:
Alexander Benemerito tried to show that after graduating from high school, he worked as jeepney conductor in
his hometown, Binanga, Gonzaga, Cagayan. In December, 1992, his sister Precy visited their place and convinced
him to work abroad. On January 7, 1993, he went to the apartment at 150-A Scout Fernandez, Kamuning, Quezon
City, which Precy was sharing with the owner, Mrs. Susie Mana and the latter's son and four maids. He applied for
a janitorial work in Brunei and submitted the required documents to Precy, who offered to shoulder the expenses.
Precy likewise told him to stay in said apartment while his papers were being processed and he helped in the
household chores and in the store of Susie Mana located at Agham Road, Quezon City, for which he was paid
P50.00 a day by the latter. He admitted having seen Benjamin Quitoriano, Carlito Gumarang and Fernando Arcal
in said apartment when they talked to Precy in connection with their application for overseas employment and
that he accompanied Benjamin Quitoriano to the clinic upon the latter's request. However, he denied having
participated in the transaction of Precy with the three complainants or having issued the receipt in favor of
Fernando Arcal (Exh. "G") as he was outside the apartment cleaning the vehicle of Susie Mana or watering the
plants while they talked with Precy. He further claimed that the complainants admitted before the NBI agents who
arrested him that he had nothing to do with their transaction with Precy Benemerito, who left for Brunei in
August, 1993, and that its was only before the Inquest Fiscal that the complainants pointed to him as the one who
received the money, which he denied. Jaime Roblegado claimed to have gone to the house of Precy Benemerito in
February, March and April, 1993 in connection with his application for employment as computer programmer in
Brunei, that it was only Precy who entertained him and the other applicants, including Fernando Arcal, whom he
saw in the house and although Alex Benemerito was also in said place, he did not see the latter entertain any
applicant as Alex was either cleaning a car or the living room of the house; and that he had a chance to ask Alex
why he was in said place and the latter told him that Precy is his sister and that he was also an applicant and
following up his papers. 9

In its Joint Decision 10 dated 2 May 1995 and promulgated the following day, the trial court declared that
the testimonies of the complainants were "positive and credible," and found that "accused Alex
Benemerito, together with his sister Precy Benemerito, [was] positively identified by Benjamin Quitoliano,
Carlito Gumarang and Fernando Arcal as having promised them employment abroad for a fee [and that]
[a]s shown by a Certification of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, both Alex and Precy
Benemerito are neither licensed nor authorized by said office to recruit workers for overseas employment
(Exhibits "B" and "B-1")."
The trial court further observed that "accused Alex Benemerito has not denied that he is a townmate of
both Benjamin Quitoriano and Carlito Gumarang and it is difficult to believe that said complainants would
fabricate a story that would result in the imprisonment for life of the accused." With respect to Fernando
Arcal, while he did not know the accused personally, it was against human nature and experience for a
stranger to accuse another stranger of a most serious crime merely to mollify his hurt feelings. 11
The trial court debunked the accused-appellant's testimony as inherently weak for being a mere denial and
that Susie Mana did not corroborate his claim that he worked as her houseboy and stayed in he
apartment. 12
The trial court then concluded that the evidence for the prosecution established all the elements of the
crimes charged, thus:
Thus, the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale is committed when a person (a) undertakes any recruitment
activity defined under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (b)
does not have a license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (c)
commits the same against three or more persons, individually or as a group. (People vs. Coronacion, 237 SCRA
227, 239). 13
On the other hand, the elements of estafa in general are (1) that the accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of
confidence, or (b) by means of deceit, and (2) that damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is
caused to the offended party (People vs. Ong, 204 SCRA 942).
In the cases at bar, accused Alex Benemerito and his sister Precy gave the complainants the impression that they
could give them employment abroad so that the complainants were convinced to give them the money they
demanded in their desire to be able to earn one "lapad" or the equivalent of P2,500.00 a day as represented to
them. Benjamin Quitoriano and Fernando Arcal each gave accused Alex Benemerito and his sister the amount of
P50,000.00, as evidenced by the receipts issued to them (Exhs. "A", "C" to "G"). With respect to Carlito
Gumarang, he presented receipts evidencing his payment of a total amount of P95,000.00 (Exhs. "I", "J" and "K").
The receipts dated August 24, 1992 for the amount of P10,000.00 (Exh. "I") is in the name of Shally Flor
Gumarang, a sister of Carlito Gumarang and likewise an applicant, and cannot thus be considered as part of the
payment of Carlito Gumarang. The fact that the receipts were signed only by Precy Benemerito is of no moment,
in view of the insistence of the complainants that the money was given by them to both Alex and Precy
Benemerito in consideration of their promise of overseas employment as the money was counted first by Alex
Benemerito after which Precy Benemerito issued the receipts to the complainant. Thus, the acts of accused Alex
Benemerito and his sister establish a common criminal design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful
purpose, evidencing conspiracy between them. 14

The complainant in Civil Case No. Q-93-51512, however, was unable to testify; hence, the trial court
declared that the "case must perforce fail for lack of evidence."15 The trial court then rendered judgment
as quoted in the opening paragraph of this ponencia.
In due time, the accused-appellant filed his appeal and in his Appellant's Brief 16 contends that the trial
court committed the following errors:
I.
. . . IN HOLDING THAT A CONSPIRACY EXISTS BETWEEN ACCUSED-APPELLANT ALEX BENEMERITO AND HIS COACCUSED SISTER PRECY BENEMERITO; AND IN CONVICTING HIM OF THE CRIME AS PRINCIPAL.
II.
. . . IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON GROUNDS OF REASONABLE DOUBT BY APPLYING THE
"EQUIPOISE RULE." 17

As to his first assigned error, the accused-appellant maintains that his conviction was based mainly on his
association with Precy Benemerito, his sister and co-accused, which the trial court appreciated as evidence
of conspiracy. He claims such a conclusion to be erroneous for even assuming he helped his sister
entertain the complainants, he did so only because, like the complainants, he was also an applicant eager
to work abroad, and his sister promised to pay for his placement fee. Further, he had no knowledge of his
sister's criminal intent and might even be considered "a victim of his sister."
The accused-appellant also argues that some of the complainants knew that he was not a part of any
conspiracy, hence they did not include his name in the complaint filed with the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI), and if he were, he would have gone into hiding instead of facing his accusers. 18
In the second assigned error, the accused-appellant asserts that he should be acquitted under the
"equipoise rule" in view of the doubts as to his guilt as shown in his arguments under the first assigned
error, and that the evidence points in fact to his sister Precy Benemerito as the recruiter who received the
money from the complainants. 19
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, disagrees with the accused-appellant and
recommends that we affirm in toto the impugned decision.
A careful review of the record discloses that the trial court's findings of fact are supported by the evidence
and its conclusions are in accord with the law and jurisprudence. We hold, therefore, that the crimes of
large scale illegal recruitment and three counts of estafa were committed, and that the accused-appellant
is guilty thereof beyond reasonable doubt. We have no alternative but to dismiss the appeal and affirm the
judgment, subject to modifications on the penalties imposed in the cases for estafa.
Indeed, the evidence overwhelmingly established the fact that both the accused-appellant and his sister
Precy Benemerito were engaged in the business of illegal recruitment. In their testimonies, Fernando Arcal
and Carlito Gumarang were positive, categorical and firm, even under grueling cross examination, that the
accused-appellant actively participated in the recruitment process. The latter was present when each
complainant was offered a job in Japan, and the accused-appellant even made representations as to the
existence of such jobs 20 and accompanied the complainants for their medical examinations. 21 The
accused-appellant likewise received installment payments from the complainants. 22 These acts
demonstrated beyond doubt that the accused-appellant was not merely an applicant for a job or an
unwitting victim of his sister; on the contrary, he was a knowing and willing participant in the recruitment
activities, which were obviously conducted for profit. We do not then hesitate to rule, as did the trial court
that the accused-appellant and his sister Precy Benemerito, who is still at large, were co-conspirators in
the recruitment business which, as hereunder discussed, was illegal and on a large scale. Conspiracy exists
when two or more people come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to
commit it. 23 It can be inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when such point to a joint
purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. 24 Once conspiracy is established, the
act of one conspirator is the act of the others. 25
That the accused-appellant's name was not included in the statement of Fernando Arcal filed with the NBI
is of no moment. As correctly ruled by the trial court, this omission was satisfactorily explained by
complainant Fernando Arcal; moreover, all the complainants "identified [the accused-appellant] before the
Inquest Fiscal as the one who received the money from them." 26
Neither are we persuaded by his plea of innocence allegedly evidenced by non-flight. The converse of the
evidentiary principle of flight as indicative of guilt, 27 does not necessarily hold true. 28 Non-flight may not
be positively construed as an indication of innocence. 29
The accused-appellant's plea for the application of the "equipoise rule" must likewise fail. This rule
provides that where the evidence of the parties in a criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional
presumption of innocence should tilt the scales in favor of the accused. 30 There is, therefore, no equipoise

if the evidence is not ''evenly balanced." Not even a semblance of parity is present in this case. Against the
direct, positive and convincing evidence for the prosecution, the accused-appellant could only offer a mere
denial and the incredible claim that he was an unwitting victim of his sister Precy Benemerito. He
miserably failed to overcome the prosecution's evidence, hence the rule is unavailable to him. 31
We now turn to the criminal liability of the accused-appellant.
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 Ministry of Labor and Employment or any law
enforcement officer may initiate complaints under this Article.

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

To prove illegal recruitment, only two elements need be shown, viz., (1) the person charged with the crime
must have undertaken recruitment activities (or any of the activities enumerated in Article 34 of the Labor
Code, as amended); and (2) the said person does not have a license or authority to do so. It is not required
that it be shown that such person wrongfully represented himself as a licensed recruiter. 32 A license is a
document issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) authorizing a person or entity to
operate a private employment agency, while an authority is a document issued by the DOLE authorizing a
person or association to engage in recruitment and placement activities as a private recruitment
agency. 33
There is large scale illegal recruitment if it is committed against "three (3) or more persons individually or
as a group"; its elements, therefore, are the two above mentioned plus the fact that it is committed
against three or more persons. 34
Large scale illegal recruitment involves economic sabotage, 35 and is penalized by Article 39(a) of the
Labor Code, as amended, with life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00.
The accused-appellant having recruited at least three persons, giving them the impression of his ability to
send workers abroad, assuring them of their employment in Japan, and collecting various amounts for
alleged processing and placement fees, without license nor authority to so recruit or offer job placements
abroad, thus committed large scale illegal recruitment.
It is settled in our jurisdiction that a person who commits illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted
separately of illegal recruitment and estafa underparagraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as
the former 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 necessary for conviction. 36 In
short, a conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar punishment for offenses punishable by
other laws. 37
The elements of estafa in general are: (1) that the accused defrauded another: (a) by abuse of confidence,
or (b) by means of deceit; and (2) that damage of prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is caused to
the offended party or third person. 38
All these elements are present in the instant case: the accused-appellant deceived the complainants into
believing that he had the authority and capability to send them abroad for employment; that there were
available jobs for them in Japan for which they would be hired; and that by reason or on the strength of
such assurance, the complainants parted with their money in payment of the various processing and
placement fees. As all these representations of the accused-appellant proved false, paragraph 2(a), Article
315 of the Revised Penal Code is thus applicable.
The penalty for estafa depends on the amount defrauded. The opening paragraph of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides:

[T]he penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount
of the fraud is over 12,000 but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the
penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such a case, and in
connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed, and for the purpose of the other provisions of
this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.

The amount proved to have been defrauded in Criminal Case No. Q-93-51513 and Criminal Case No. Q-9351514 was P50,000.00 in each case. Hence, the penalty prescribed above should be imposed in its
maximum period. The maximum period thereof following the rule prescribed in the last paragraph
of Article 77 of the Revised Penal Code 39 ranges from six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21)
days to eight (8) years. We add to it two (2) years and nine (9) months for the amount beyond the first
P22,000.00 (at the rate of one (1) year for every P10,000.00 and nine (9) months for the remaining
P8,000.00 by ratio and proportion). Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the accused-appellant can
be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty whose minimum shall be within the range of the penalty next
lower in degree than that prescribed by law, viz., prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods
(six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months) and whose maximum shall be the
abovementioned imposable penalty. The indeterminate penalty can range, therefore, from two (2) years,
eleven (11) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to ten (10) years and; nine (9)
months of prision mayor, as maximum.
In Criminal Case No. Q-93-51515, the amount proved to have been defrauded is only P85,000.00, as the
receipt for the P10,000.00 is in the name of Shally Flor Gumarang, not the complainant Carlito Gumarang.
The principal penalty imposable is likewise the maximum of the prescribed penalty provided for in Article
315 as stated in the immediately preceding paragraph, plus six (6) years and three (3) months for the
amounts beyond the first P22,000.00 (at the rate of one (1) year for every additional P10,000.00 and three
(3) months for the remaining P3,000.00). Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and the foregoing
disquisition, the accused-appellant can be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from four (4)
years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and three (3) months
of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
WHEREFORE, the Joint Decision in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-93-51511, Q-93-51512, Q-93-51513, Q-93-51514
and Q-93-51515 is AFFIRMED, except as to the penalties imposed in the last three cases which are
modified, as stated above. As modified, accused-appellant ALEXANDER "ALEX" BENEMERITO is thus
sentenced in the said cases to suffer, as follows:
1.In Criminal Case No. Q-93-51513, an indeterminate penalty ranging from Two (2) years, Eleven (11)
months and Ten (10) days of prision correccional as minimum, to a total of Ten (10) years
and Nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Benjamin
Quitoriano in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos;
2. In Criminal Case No. Q-93-51514, an indeterminate penalty ranging from Two (2) years, Eleven
(11) months and Ten (10) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to a total of Ten (10)
years and Nine (9) months of prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify complainant
Fernando Arcal in the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos; and
3.In Criminal Case No. Q-93-51515, an indeterminate penalty ranging from Four (4) years and Two
(2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to a total of Fourteen (14) years and Three
(3) months of reclusion temporal maximum, and to indemnify complainant Carlito Gumarang
in the amount of Eighty-Five thousand (P85,000.00) Pesos.

Costs against the accused-appellant.


SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 107084. May 15, 1998.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DELIA SADIOSA y CABENTA, accusedappellant.


The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Pablo M. Laguines for accused-appellant.
SYNOPSIS
Accused-appellant Sadiosa was charged with "illegal recruitment" in an information filed against her. It appears that
when the four complainants applied for work as domestic helpers abroad, Sadiosa assured them that she could
dispatch them to Kuwait. She promised them that upon payment of the required fees, they would be able to leave for
Kuwait immediately. However, after paying Sadiosa, not one of them was able to leave for Kuwait. After trial, Sadiosa
was found guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale defined by Article 38(b) and penalized under Article 39(a) of the
Labor Code, as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 1920 and 2018. In her appeal, appellant focuses on the validity
and sufficiency of both the information filed against her and the decision rendered by the trial court. HEIcDT
The Supreme Court held that the information filed against accused-appellant sufficiently shows that it is for the crime
of illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined in Art. 38(b) of the Labor Code and penalized in Art. 39 of the same
Code although it is designated as for "illegal recruitment" only. The purpose of the requirement under Sec. 8, Rule 110
to inform and apprise the accused of the true crime of which she was charged, has been complied with.
The questioned decision of the court a quo explained the factual findings and legal justifications, at least in minimum
essence, which led to the conviction of accused-appellant. It discussed the facts comprising the elements of the
offense of illegal recruitment in large scale that was charged in the information; and accordingly, rendered a verdict
and imposed the corresponding penalty. The dispositive portion of the decision clearly states that appellant was found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the charge in the information, meaning that of illegal recruitment in large scale.

SYLLABUS
1.

REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES; SUFFICIENCY OF


INFORMATION. An Information is sufficient where it clearly states the designation of the offense by the
statute and the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense. However, there is no need to
specify or refer to the particular section or subsection of the statute that was violated by the accused. No law
requires that in order that an accused may be convicted, the specific provision penalizing the act charged
should be mentioned in the information. What identifies the charge is the actual recital of the facts and not
that designated by the fiscal in the preamble thereof. It is not even necessary for the protection of the
substantial rights of the accused, nor the effective preparation of his defense, that the accused be informed of
the technical name of the crime of which he stands charged. He must look to the facts alleged.

2.

HIC
ID.; ID.; ID.; DESIGNATION OF OFFENSES; PURPOSE; SUFFICIENCY COMPLIED WITH. In the instant
case, the information filed against accused-appellant sufficiently shows that it is for the crime of illegal
recruitment in large scale, as defined in Art. 38(b) of the Labor Code and penalized in Art. 39 of the same Code
although it is designated as for "illegal recruitment" only. 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. When the persons recruited are three or more, the crime becomes illegal recruitment in large scale
under Art. 38(b) of the Labor Code. In both bases, it is the lack of a necessary license or permit that renders
such recruitment activities unlawful and criminal. All the elements for the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large
Scale are to be found in the information. It alleges that accused-appellant, knowing fully well that she was "not
a duly licensed job recruiter," falsely represented that she could "secure employment as domestic helpers
abroad" for the four complainants. As such, the purpose of the requirement under Sec. 8, Rule 110 to inform
and apprise the accused of the true crime of which she was charged, has been complied with. The main
purpose of the requirement that the acts or omissions complained of as constituting an offense must be stated
in ordinary and concise language is to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is
intended to be charged so that he could suitably prepare for his defense. It is also required so that the trial
court could pronounce the proper judgment. This gives substance to the constitutional guarantee that in all
criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

3.

4.

5.

LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; PERSON CHARGED THEREOF MAY ALSO
BE CHARGED OF ESTAFA. A person who has committed illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted

separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
The crime 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 necessary for conviction.
In other words, a person convicted under the Labor Code may be convicted of offenses punishable by other
laws. DACcI
H
ID.; ID.; KINDS; ELABORATED. There are at least four kinds of illegal recruitment under the law. One is
simple illegal recruitment committed by a licensee or holder of authority. The law penalizes such offender with
imprisonment of "not less than two years nor more than five years or a fine of not less than P10,000 nor more
than P50,000, or both such imprisonment and fine." Any person "who is neither a licensee nor a holder of
authority" commits the second type of illegal recruitment. The penalty imposed for such offense is
"imprisonment of not less than four years nor more than eight years or a fine of not less than P20,000 nor
more than P100,000 or both imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court." The third type of illegal
recruitment refers to offenders who either commit the offense alone or with another person against three or
more persons individually or as a group. A syndicate or a group of three or more persons conspiring and
confederating with one another in carrying out the act circumscribed by the law commits the fourth type of
illegal recruitment by the law. For the third and fourth types of illegal recruitment the law prescribes the
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT; REQUIREMENT THAT DECISIONS MUST STATE


DISTINCTLY AND CLEARLY THE FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASES THEREFOR; COMPLIED WITH IN CASE AT
BAR. The constitutional requirement that every decision must state distinctly and clearly the factual and
legal bases therefor should indeed be the primordial concern of courts and judges. Be that as it may, there
should not be a mechanical reliance on this constitutional provision. The courts and judges should be allowed
to synthesize and to simplify their decisions considering that at present, courts are harassed by crowded
dockets and time constraints.

6.

ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. The questioned decision of the court a quo explained the factual findings and legal
justifications, at least in minimum essence, which led to the conviction of accused-appellant. Thus, the subject
decision after quoting the information for "Illegal Recruitment" and stating accused's plea of not guilty; goes
on to summarize the evidence for the prosecution and the defense as testified to by their respective
witnesses. TSADaI

DECISION
ROMERO, J p:
Accused-appellant Delia Sadiosa was charged with "illegal recruitment" in an information that reads: cda
"That on or about and during the period comprise (sic) from January 1992 to March 1992, in Pasay City, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused Delia Sadiosa y
Cabenta, well knowing that she is not a duly licensed job recruiter, by means of false representations and
fraudulent allegations to the effect that she could secure employment as domestic helpers abroad for Benilda
Sabado y Domingo, Marcela Tabernero y Manzano, Erly Tuliao y Sabado and Cely Navarro y Manzano, did then
and there wilfully (sic), unlawfully and feloniously recruit aforesaid persons and collected from them the amount
of P8,000.00 each, which amount were given to the accused by the aforesaid complainants upon receipt of which,
far from complying with her obligation aforestated, accused appropriated for herself the said amount and failed to
deploy complainants abroad.
Contrary to law." 1

Upon arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded "not guilty." 2 At the trial that ensued, the prosecution
proved the following operative facts and circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime:
Arsenia Conse went to Bayombong, Nueva Ecija in early 1992 where she met the four complainants, Cely
Navarro, Marcela Manzano, Erly Tuliao and Benilda Domingo. She enticed the four to apply for overseas
employment informing them that she had a cousin who could send them to Kuwait as domestic helpers.

Apparently convinced by Arsenia Conse, the four went with her on February 5, 1992 to Manila. Upon
arrival, they proceeded to Room 210, Diamond Building, Libertad St., Pasay City where Arsenia Conse
introduced the group to accused-appellant Delia Sadiosa. The four then applied for work as domestic
helpers. 3
On that occasion, accused-appellant assured the four that she could dispatch them to Kuwait 4 and
forthwith demanded P8,000.00 from each of them for processing fee and P1,000.00 for passport
(P1,500.00 from complainant Cely Navarro). 5 She assured the group that she would facilitate the
processing of all the necessary documents needed by them. She further promised them that upon
payment of the required fees, they would be able to leave for Kuwait immediately.
The four did give accused-appellant the money demanded although on different dates. The latter issued
the corresponding receipts 6 therefor. Again, she assured them that they could leave for Kuwait on
different dates: Cely Navarro and Erly Tuliao on February 17, 1992 which was rescheduled twice on
February 19, 1992 and on February 25, 1992, 7 and Benilda Domingo and Marcela Manzano on March 17,
1992 which was moved twice on February 24, 1992 and on March 17, 1992. 8However, not one of them
was able to leave for Kuwait. When they asked for the return of their money, accused-appellant refused
and ignored their demand. Consequently, the four filed the complaint for illegal recruitment against
accused-appellant.
In addition to the complainants' testimonies, the prosecution presented Virginia Santiago, a Senior Officer
in the Licensing Branch and Inspection Division of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA). She testified that accused-appellant was neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for
overseas employment. 9
Accused-appellant herself took the witness stand and testified in her defense. She resolutely denied having
a hand in the illegal recruitment, claiming that she merely received the money on behalf of one Mrs.
Ganura 10 who owned the recruitment agency called Staff Organizers, Inc. She accepted the money in her
capacity as an officer of the said recruitment agency. To bolster this claim, she presented evidence that
she remitted the money to Mrs. Ganura worth P25,000.00 11 although she failed to remit the remaining
amount of P8,000.00 since she was already in detention. 12 Accused-appellant further claimed that
although she was not listed in the POEA as an employee of the recruitment agency of Mrs. Ganura, she had
a special power of attorney issued by her employer to receive payments from applicants.
The trial court found accused-appellant guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale defined by Article 38 (b)
and penalized under Article 39 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 1920 and
2018 and disposed of said case as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the accused is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the charge in the information and is
hereby sentenced to life imprisonment and pay a fine of P100,000.00. The accused is hereby ordered to
indemnify Benilda Sabado y Domingo, the sum of P8,000.00; Marcela Tabernero y Manzano, the sum of
P8,000.00; Erly Tuliao y Sabado, the sum of P8,000.00 and Cely Navarro y Manzano, the sum of P8,000.00. To pay
the costs." 13

Accused-appellant now assails the trial court's Decision with the following assignment of errors:
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT STATING CLEARLY AND DISTINCTLY THE FACTS AND THE LAW ON WHICH ITS
JUDGMENT CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT WAS BASED;
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING MOTU PROPRIO THE INFORMATION FOR NOT CONFORMING
SUBSTANTIALLY TO THE PRESCRIBED FORM, PARTICULARLY AS TO THE DESIGNATION OF THE OFFENSE AND
CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION;
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DISMISSING MOTU PROPRIO THE INFORMATION IN VIEW OF ITS INCONSISTENT
AND CONTRADICTORY, CONFLICTING AND IRRECONCILABLE CHARGES OF "ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT", ESTAFA
UNDER ARTICLE 315, PARAGRAPH 1(b) AND ESTAFA UNDER THE SAME ARTICLE BUT UNDER PARAGRAPH 2(a) OF
THE REVISED PENAL CODE AND IN CONDUCTING TRIAL THEREUNDER;
IV
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND IN CONVICTING HER OF THE "THE
CHARGE IN THE INFORMATION";
V
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE LIABILITY OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT, IF ANY, IS ONLY
CIVIL, NOT CRIMINAL IN NATURE;

VI
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO INDEMNIFY THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANTS
THE SUM OF P8,000.00 EACH.

Appellant clearly focuses on the validity and sufficiency of both the information filed against her and the
decision rendered in due course by the trial court. She asserts that there was a violation of the
constitutional mandate that a judgment of conviction must state clearly and distinctly the facts and the
law on which it is based. With regard to the information filed against her, appellant contends that it did not
substantially conform to the prescribed form, particularly as to the designation of the offense and cause of
accusation. It should be observed in the aforequoted information that its caption indicates that she is being
charged with "illegal recruitment" only while the allegations therein substantiate the crimes of illegal
recruitment and estafa committed by fraud or deceit. cda
It is well-settled in our jurisprudence that the information is sufficient where it clearly states the
designation of the offense by the statute and the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense. 14 However, there is no need to specify or refer to the particular section or subsection of the
statute that was violated by the accused. No law requires that in order that an accused may be convicted,
the specific provision penalizing the act charged should be mentioned in the information. 15 What
identifies the charge is the actual recital of the facts and not that designated by the fiscal in the preamble
thereof. It is not even necessary for the protection of the substantial rights of the accused, nor the
effective preparation of his defense, that the accused be informed of the technical name of the crime of
which he stands charged. He must look to the facts alleged. 16
In the instant case, the information filed against accused-appellant sufficiently shows that it is for the
crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, as defined in Art. 38 (b) of the Labor Code and penalized in Art.
39 of the same Code although it is designated as for "illegal recruitment" only. Under the Code, the
essential elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale are as follows:
"(1)the accused engages in the recruitment and placement of workers, as defined under Article 13 (b) or in any
prohibited activities under Article 34 of the Labor Code;
(2)accused has not complied with the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly
with respect to the securing of a license or an authority to recruit and deploy workers, whether locally or
overseas; and
(3)accused commits the same against three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group." 17

All these elements are to be found in the information. It alleges that accused-appellant, knowing fully well
that she was "not a duly licensed job recruiter," falsely represented that she could "secure employment as
domestic helpers abroad" for the four complainants.
As such, the purpose of the requirement under Sec. 8, Rule 110 18 to inform and apprise the accused of
the true crime of which she was charged, 19 has been complied with. The main purpose of the requirement
that the acts or omissions complained of as constituting an offense must be stated in ordinary and concise
language is to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged
so that he could suitably prepare for his defense. It is also required so that the trial court could pronounce
the proper judgment. 20 This gives substance to the constitutional guarantee that in all criminal
prosecutions, the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. 21
In the instant case, the Court agrees with the Solicitor General that accused-appellant was fully accorded
the right to be informed of the charges against her. The fact that she put up the defense of having
accepted the money only in her capacity as an officer of the recruitment agency shows that she fully
understood the nature and cause of the accusation against her.
Furthermore, it is incorrect for accused-appellant to maintain that the information filed against her
contained conflicting and irreconcilable charges of illegal recruitment, estafa under Article 315 par. 1(b) of
the Revised Penal Code and estafa under the same article but under par. 2 (a) thereof. While on its face the
allegations in the information may constitute estafa, this Court agrees with the Solicitor General that it
merely describes how accused-appellant was able to consummate the act of illegal recruitment through
false and fraudulent representation by pretending that she was a duly-licensed recruiter who could secure
employment for complainants in Kuwait. These allegations in the information therefore do not render the
information defective or multiplicitous.
It is apropos to underscore the firmly established jurisprudence that a person who has committed illegal
recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and
estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. 22 The crime 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 necessary for conviction. 23
In other words, a person convicted under the Labor Code may be convicted of offenses punishable by other
laws. 24 However, 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. 25 When the persons
recruited are three or more, the crime becomes illegal recruitment in large scale under Art. 38 (b) of the
Labor Code. In both bases, it is the lack of a necessary license or permit that renders such recruitment
activities unlawful and criminal. 26
In the case at bar, accused-appellant could have been validly charged separately with estafa under the
same set of facts in the illegal recruitment case, but she was fortunate enough not to have been so
charged. Nevertheless, there is no doubt from a reading of the information, that it accurately and clearly
avers all of the ingredients that constitute illegal recruitment in large scale. The prosecutor simply
captioned the information with the generic name of the offense under the Labor Code illegal
recruitment. No misconceptions would have been engendered had he been more accurate in the drafting
of the information considering that there are at least four kinds of illegal recruitment under the law. 27 One
is simple illegal recruitment committed by a licensee or holder of authority. The law penalizes such
offender with imprisonment of "not less than two years nor more than five years or a fine of not less than
P10,000 nor more than P50,000, or both such imprisonment and fine." Any person "who is neither a
licensee nor a holder of authority" commits the second type of illegal recruitment. The penalty imposed for
such offense is "imprisonment of not less than four years nor more than eight years or a fine of not less
than P20,000 nor more than P100,000 or both such imprisonment and fine at the discretion of the court."
The third type of illegal recruitment refers to offenders who either commit the offense alone or with
another person against three or more persons individually or as a group. A syndicate or a group of three or
more persons conspiring and confederating with one another in carrying out the act circumscribed by the
law commits the fourth type of illegal recruitment by the law. For the third and fourth types of illegal
recruitment the law prescribes the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.
Hence, to avoid misconception and misinterpretation of the information, the prosecutor involved in this
case should have indicated in its caption, the offense he had clearly alleged in its body, that the crime
charged was for illegal recruitment in large scale. However, such omission or lack of skill of the prosecutor
who crafted the information should not deprive the people of the right to prosecute a crime with so grave a
consequence against the economic life of the aggrieved parties. What is important is that he did allege in
the information the facts sufficient to constitute the offense of illegal recruitment in large scale.
As regards accused-appellant's contention that the questioned decision is void because it failed to state
clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it was based, this Court is not inclined to grant
credence thereto.
The constitutional requirement that every decision must state distinctly and clearly the factual and legal
bases therefor should indeed be the primordial concern of courts and judges. Be that as it may, there
should not be a mechanical reliance on this constitutional provision. The courts and judges should be
allowed to synthesize and to simplify their decisions considering that at present, courts are harassed by
crowded dockets and time constraints. Thus, the Court held in Del Mundo v. Court of Appeals:
"It is understandable that courts with heavy dockets and time constraints, often find themselves with little to
spare in the preparation of decisions to the extent most desirable. We have thus pointed out that judges might
learn to synthesize and to simplify their pronouncements. Nevertheless, concisely written such as they may be,
decisions must still distinctly and clearly express at least in minimum essence its factual and legal bases." 28

In Nicos Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 29 the Court states the reason for the constitutional
requirement thus:
"It is a requirement of due process that the parties to a litigation be informed of how it was decided, with an
explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the court. The court cannot simply say
that judgment is rendered in favor of X and against Y and just leave it at that without any justification whatsoever
for its action. The losing party is entitled to know why he lost, so he may appeal to a higher court, if permitted,
should he believe that the decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on which it is
based leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was reached and is especially prejudicial to the losing party, who
is unable to pinpoint the possible errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal." 30

Under Art. X, Sec. 9 of the 1973 Constitution that contained a provision similar to Art. VIII, Sec. 14 of the
present Constitution, the Court expresses in Bernabe v.Geraldez the following rationale as to the wide
discretion enjoyed by a court in framing its decision:
". . . In the . . . case of Mendoza v. Court of First Instance of Quezon City, (L-5612, June 27, 1973, 51 SCRA 369) citing Jose v.
Santos, (L-25510, October 30, 1970, 35 SCRA 538) it was pointed out that the standard 'expected of the judiciary "is that the
decision rendered makes clear why either party prevailed under the applicable law to the facts as established. Nor is there any
rigid formula as to the language to be employed to satisfy the requirement of clarity and distinctness. The discretion of the
particular judge in this respect, while not unlimited, is necessarily broad. There is no sacramental form or words which he must
use upon pain of being considered as having failed to abide by what the Constitution directs.'" (51 SCRA 369 at 375) 31

After careful reflection, this Court finds that the questioned decision of the court a quo explained the
factual findings and legal justifications, at least in minimum essence, which led to the conviction of
accused-appellant. Thus, the subject decision of Judge Baltazar Relativo Dizon, after quoting the
information for "Illegal Recruitment" and stating accused's plea of not guilty, goes on to summarize the
evidence for the prosecution and the defense as testified to by their respective witnesses. Before drawing
a conclusion, it gives an "ANALYSIS OF EVIDENCE ON RECORD" as follows:

The testimony of the four complaining witnesses are found to be credible and reliable observing that they
answered the questions propounded by the prosecutor and the defense counsel in a categorical, straightforward,
spontaneous and frank manner and they remained consistent, calm and cool on cross-examination. That even
with the rigid cross-examination conducted by the defense counsel the more their testimonies became firmer and
clearer that they were victims of false pretenses or fraudulent acts of the accused. The herein accused falsely
pretended to have possessed power, influence and qualifications to secure employment as domestic helpers
abroad. And because of her fraudulent acts accused was able to collect from the four victims the sum of
P8,000.00 each [Exh. A, C, E, F (4)].
Verily, the accused admitted that she managed a consultancy firm under the business name of DCS Service
Management and the nature of her work is to recruit domestic helpers for employment abroad. She further
admitted having received the amount of P8,000.00 from each of the complainants as processing fee, although
she is shifting responsibility to a certain Mrs. Ganura to whom she delivered the sum of P25,000.00 (Exh. 1, 1-A).
She miserably failed to present this Mrs. Ganura to testify in this regard despite all efforts exerted by this court,
hence, such assertion of the accused is disregarded, not being reliable. The fact remains that it was she who
transacted with the complainants, and that accused is neither licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for
overseas employment (Exhibit G). 32

While it may be true that the questioned decision failed to state the specific provisions of law violated by
accused-appellant, it however clearly stated that the crime charged was "Illegal Recruitment." It discussed
the facts comprising the elements of the offense of illegal recruitment in large scale that was charged in
the information, and accordingly rendered a verdict and imposed the corresponding penalty. The
dispositive portion of the decision quoted earlier, clearly states that appellant was found "guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the charge in the information." As earlier stated, the "charge in the information"
referred to by the decision could mean only that of illegal recruitment in large scale and not to any other
offense.
The situation would have been altogether different and in violation of the constitutional mandate if the
penalty imposed was for illegal recruitment based on established facts constituting simple illegal
recruitment only. As it is, the trial court's omission to specify the offense committed, or the specific
provision of law violated, is not in derogation of the constitutional requirement that every decision must
clearly and distinctly state the factual and legal bases for the conclusions reached by the trial court. The
trial court's factual findings based on credible prosecution evidence supporting the allegations in the
information and its imposition of the corresponding penalty imposed by the law on such given facts are
therefore sufficient compliance with the constitutional requirement.
This Court agrees with the trial court that the prosecution evidence has shown beyond reasonable doubt
that accused-appellant engaged in unlawful recruitment and placement activities. Accused-appellant
promised the four complainants employment as domestic helpers in Kuwait. Article 13 (b) of the Labor
Code defines recruitment and placement as referring 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." 33 All the essential elements of the crime of illegal recruitment in
large scale, which we have enumerated above, are present in this case.
The prosecution clearly established the fact that accused-appellant had no license to recruit from the
POEA. Yet, the latter entertained the four complainants when they applied, promised them jobs as
domestic helpers in Kuwait, and collected fees from them for processing travel documents only to renege
can her promise and fail to return the money she collected from complainants despite several demands.
As with the trial court, this Court entertains serious doubts regarding accused-appellant's claim that she
was only acting in behalf of a certain Mrs. Ganura. Accused-appellant failed to present evidence to
corroborate her testimony. Neither did she present Mrs. Ganura despite several opportunities given her by
the trial court. The undisputed fact is that appellant was positively identified as the person who transacted
with the four complainants, promised them jobs and received money from them. On this score, the court a
quo found the prosecution evidence "credible and reliable" and observed that the complaining witnesses
testified and answered questions "in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank" manner. 34 As
this Court has consistently held in a long line of cases, the trial court was concededly in the best position
to test the credibility of appellant. Since the trial court did not give credence to accused-appellant's
version, this Court is not persuaded by her arguments.
For engaging in recruitment of the four complainants without first obtaining the necessary license from the
POEA, accused-appellant, therefore, is guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale, an offense involving
economic sabotage. She should, accordingly, be punished with life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000
under Article 39 (a) of the Labor Code, as amended.
In light of the above disquisition, there is no more need to resolve the other assigned errors.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 113 finding appellant
Delia Sadiosa y Cabenta GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale
and imposing on her life imprisonment, the payment of the fine of P100,000.00 and the reimbursement of
the amounts defrauded from complainants is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. Nos. 129577-80. February 15, 2000.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. BULU CHOWDURY, accused-appellant.


The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Viray, Senson & Associates for accused-appellant.
SYNOPSIS
In November 1995, Bulu Chowdury and Josephine Ong were charged before the Regional Trial Court of Manila with the
crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. Chowdury was arrested while Ong remained at large. During trial, the
prosecution established through testimonies of private complainants Aser Sasis, Estrella Calleja and Melvin Miranda
that sometime in 1994, they applied with Craftrade Overseas Developers for employment as factory workers in South
Korea. Chowdury interviewed them and he required them to submit some documents and to undergo a seminar. After
private complainants submitted their requirements to Craftrade, each of them were required to pay a
processing/placement fee ranging from P20,000.00 to P25,000.00. Sasis paid the partial amount of P16,000.00 while
Calleja and Miranda paid the full amount to Ong who issued the corresponding receipts. Craftrade failed to deploy
them to Korea for employment. The Labor Employment Officer also testified that the license of Craftrade to recruit
workers for abroad had expired on December 15, 1993. For his defense, Chowdury claimed that he was just a mere
employee of Craftrade. However, the trial court convicted Chowdury for the offense charged and the penalty of life
imprisonment was imposed upon him.
In this appeal, the Court ruled that under the first sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be held
liable for illegal recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. An employee of a company or corporation
engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal, together with his employer, if it is shown that he actively
and consciously participated in illegal recruitment. The culpability of the employee, therefore, hinged on his knowledge
of the offense and his active participation in its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting

under the direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally
liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer.
Upon examination of the records, however, the prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant was aware of
Craftrade's failure to register his name with the POEA and that he actively engaged in recruitment despite this
knowledge. The obligation to register its personnel with the POEA belongs to the officers of the agency. A mere
employee of the agency cannot be expected to know the legal requirements for its operation. The evidence at hand
showed that accused-appellant carried out his duties as interviewer of Craftrade believing that the agency was duly
licensed by the POEA and he, in turn, was duly authorized by his agency to deal with the applicants in its behalf.
Accused-appellant in fact confined his actions to his job description. He merely interviewed the applicants and
informed them of the requirements for deployment, but he never received money from them. Their payments were
received by the agency's cashier, Josephine Ong. Furthermore, he performed his tasks under the supervision of its
president and managing director. Hence, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt accused-appellant's
conscious and active participation in the commission of the crime of illegal recruitment. His conviction, therefore, was
without basis and he was acquitted of the crime charged.

SYLLABUS
1.

CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE; ELEMENTS. The elements of illegal
recruitment in large scale are: (1) The accused undertook any recruitment activity defined under Article 13 (b)
or any prohibited practice enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) He did not have the license or
authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) He committed the same
against three or more persons, individually or as a group.

2.

ID.; ID.; PERSONS LIABLE. The last paragraph of Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 8042 states who shall be
held liable for the offense, thus: "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."

3.

ID.; PERSONS CRIMINALLY LIABLE; PRINCIPALS; DEFINED. The principals are: (1) those who take a
direct part in the execution of the act; (2) those who directly force or induce others to commit it; and (3) those
who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been
accomplished.

4.

ID.; ID.; ACCOMPLICES; DEFINED. The accomplices are those persons who may not be considered as
principal as defined in Section 17 of the Revised Penal Code but cooperate in the execution of the offense by
previous or simultaneous act.

5.

ID.; ID.; ACCESSORIES; DEFINED. The accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of
the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to
its commission in any of the following manner: (1) by profiting themselves or assisting the offenders to profit
by the effects of the crime; (2) by concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments
thereof, in order to prevent its discovery; and (3) by harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the
principal of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of
the crime is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt at the life of the chief executive, or is known to
be habitually guilty of some other crime.

6.

ID.; ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE; AN EMPLOYEE WHO ACTIVELY AND CONSCIOUSLY
PARTICIPATED IN ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT ACTIVITIES OF A COMPANY COULD BE HELD LIABLE
THEREFOR. An employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as

principal, together with his employer, if it is shown that he actively and consciously participated in illegal
recruitment. It has been held that the existence of the corporate entity does not shield from prosecution the
corporate agent who knowingly and intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. The corporation
obviously acts, and can act, only by and through its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law must
deter. The employee or agent of a corporation engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the
carrying on of such business and will be prosecuted as principal if, with knowledge of the business, its purpose
and effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however slight his contribution
may be. The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application in criminal cases, and no man can
escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime upon the ground that he simply acted
as an agent of any party. The culpability of the employee therefore hinges on his knowledge of the offense and
his active participation in its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting under the
direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally
liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer.
7.

ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT PROVED IN CASE AT BAR. Upon examination of the records, however, we find that the

prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant was aware of Craftrade's failure to register his name with
the POEA and that he actively engaged in recruitment despite this knowledge. The obligation to register its
personnel with the POEA belongs to the officers of the agency. A mere employee of the agency cannot be
expected to know the legal requirements for its operation. The evidence at hand shows that accused-appellant
carried out his duties as interviewer of Craftrade believing that the agency was duly licensed by the POEA and
he, in turn, was duly authorized by his agency to deal with the applicants in its behalf. Accused-appellant in
fact confined his actions to his job description. He merely interviewed the applicants and informed them of the
requirements for deployment but he never received money from them. Their payments were received by the
agency's cashier, Josephine Ong. Furthermore, he performed his tasks under the supervision of its president
and managing director. Hence, we hold that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt accusedappellant's conscious and active participation in the commission of the crime of illegal recruitment. His
conviction, therefore, is without basis.

8.

ID.; ID.; GOVERNMENT'S ACTION MUST BE DIRECTED TO REAL OFFENDERS. This is not to say that
private complainants are left with no remedy for the wrong committed against them. The Department of
Justice may still file a complaint against the officers having control, management or direction of the business of
Craftrade Overseas Developers (Craftrade), so long as the offense has not yet prescribed. Illegal recruitment is
a crime of economic sabotage which need to be curbed by the strong arm of the law. It is important, however,
to stress that the government's action must be directed to the real offenders, those who perpetrate the crime
and benefit from it.

9.

LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATIONS; RULES AND REGULATION GOVERNING OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT;
SECTION 10; REQUIRES THAT EVERY CHANGE, TERMINATION OR APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS,
REPRESENTATIVES AND PERSONNEL OF LICENSED AGENCIES BE REGISTERED WITH THE POEA.

Section 10 Rule II Book II of the Rules and Regulation Governing Overseas Employment (1991) requires that
every change, termination or appointment of officers, representatives and personnel of licensed agencies be
registered with the POEA. Agents or representatives appointed by a licensed recruitment agency whose
appointments are not previously approved by the POEA are considered "non-licensee" or "non-holder of
authority" and therefore not authorized to engage in recruitment activity.

DECISION
PUNO, J p:
In November 1995, Bulu Chowdury and Josephine Ong were charged before the Regional Trial Court of
Manila with the crime of illegal recruitment in large scalecommitted as follows: LibLex
"That sometime between the period from August 1994 to October 1994 in the City of Manila, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, representing themselves to have the
capacity to contract, enlist and transport workers for employment abroad, conspiring, confederating and mutually
helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the herein complainants:
Estrella B. Calleja, Melvin C. Miranda and Aser S. Sasis, individually or as a group for employment in Korea without
first obtaining the required license and/or authority from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration." 1

They were likewise charged with three counts of estafa committed against private complainants. 2 The
State Prosecutor, however, later dismissed the estafa charges against Chowdury 3 and filed an amended
information indicting only Ong for the offense. 4
Chowdury was arraigned on April 16, 1996 while Ong remained at large. He pleaded "not guilty" to the
charge of illegal recruitment in large scale. 5
Trial ensued. LexLib
The prosecution presented four witnesses: private complainants Aser Sasis, Estrella Calleja and Melvin
Miranda, and Labor Employment Officer Abbelyn Caguitla. cdrep
Sasis testified that he first met Chowdury in August 1994 when he applied with Craftrade Overseas
Developers (Craftrade) for employment as factory worker in South Korea. Chowdury, a consultant of
Craftrade, conducted the interview. During the interview, Chowdury informed him about the requirements
for employment. He told him to submit his passport, NBI clearance, passport size picture and medical
certificate. He also required him to undergo a seminar. He advised him that placement would be on a firstcome-first-serve basis and urged him to complete the requirements immediately. Sasis was also charged a
processing fee of P25,000.00. Sasis completed all the requirements in September 1994. He also paid a
total amount of P16,000.00 to Craftrade as processing fee. All payments were received by Ong for which
she issued three receipts. 6 Chowdury then processed his papers and convinced him to complete his
payment. 7
Sasis further said that he went to the office of Craftrade three times to follow up his application but he was
always told to return some other day. In one of his visits to Craftrade's office, he was informed that he
would no longer be deployed for employment abroad. This prompted him to withdraw his payment but he
could no longer find Chowdury. After two unsuccessful attempts to contact him, he decided to file with the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) a case for illegal recruitment against Chowdury.
Upon verification with the POEA, he learned that Craftrade's license had already expired and has not been
renewed and that Chowdury, in his personal capacity, was not a licensed recruiter. 8
Calleja testified that in June 1994, she applied with Craftrade for employment as factory worker in South
Korea. She was interviewed by Chowdury. During the interview, he asked questions regarding her marital
status, her age and her province. Toward the end of the interview, Chowdury told her that she would be
working in a factory in Korea. He required her to submit her passport, NBI clearance, ID pictures, medical
certificate and birth certificate. He also obliged her to attend a seminar on overseas employment. After,
she submitted all the documentary requirements, Chowdury required her to pay P20,000.00 as placement
fee. Calleja made the payment on August 11, 1994 to Ong for which she was issued a receipt. 9 Chowdury
assured her that she would be able to leave on the first week of September but it proved to be an empty
promise. Calleja was not able to leave despite several follow-ups. Thus, she went to the POEA where she

discovered that Craftrade's license had already expired. She tried to withdraw her money from Craftrade to
no avail. Calleja filed a complaint for illegal recruitment against Chowdury upon advice of POEA's legal
counsel. 10
Miranda testified that in September 1994, his cousin accompanied him to the office of Craftrade in Ermita,
Manila and introduced him to Chowdury who presented himself as consultant and interviewer. Chowdury
required him to fill out a bio-data sheet before conducting the interview. Chowdury told Miranda during the
interview that he would send him to Korea for employment as factory worker. Then he asked him to submit
the following documents: passport, passport size picture, NBI clearance and medical certificate. After he
complied with the requirements, he was advised to wait for his visa and to pay P25,000.00 as processing
fee. He paid the amount of P25,000.00 to Ong who issued receipts therefor. 11 Craftrade, however, failed
to deploy him. Hence, Miranda filed a complaint with the POEA against Chowdury for illegal recruitment. 12
Labor Employment Officer Abbelyn Caguitla of the Licensing Branch of the POEA testified that she
prepared a certification on June 9, 1996 that Chowdury and his co-accused, Ong, were not, in their
personal capacities, licensed recruiters nor were they connected with any licensed agency. She
nonetheless stated that Craftrade was previously licensed to recruit workers for abroad which expired on
December 15, 1993. It applied for renewal of its license but was only granted a temporary license effective
December 16, 1993 until September 11, 1994. From September 11, 1994, the POEA granted Craftrade
another temporary authority to process the expiring visas of overseas workers who have already been
deployed. The POEA suspended Craftrade's temporary license on December 6, 1994. 13
For his defense, Chowdury testified that he worked as interviewer at Craftrade from 1990 until 1994. His
primary duty was to interview job applicants for abroad. As a mere employee, he only followed the
instructions given by his superiors, Mr. Emmanuel Geslani, the agency's President and General Manager,
and Mr. Utkal Chowdury, the agency's Managing Director. Chowdury admitted that he interviewed private
complainants on different dates. Their office secretary handed him their bio-data and thereafter he led
them to his room where he conducted the interviews. During the interviews, he had with him a form
containing the qualifications for the job and he filled out this form based on the applicant's responses to
his questions. He then submitted them to Mr. Utkal Chowdury who in turn evaluated his findings. He never
received money from the applicants. He resigned from Craftrade on November 12, 1994. 14
Another defense witness, Emelita Masangkay who worked at the Accreditation Branch of the POEA
presented a list of the accredited principals of Craftrade Overseas Developers 15 and a list of processed
workers of Craftrade Overseas Developers from 1988 to 1994. 16
The trial court found Chowdury guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal recruitment in large
scale. It sentenced him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100,000.00. It further ordered him to pay
Aser Sasis the amount of P16,000.00, Estrella Calleja, P20,000.00 and Melvin Miranda, P25,000.00. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads: LLpr
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the prosecution having proved the guilt of the accused
Bulu Chowdury beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in large scale, he is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00 under Art. 39 (b) of the New Labor
Code of the Philippines. The accused is ordered to pay the complainants Aser Sasis the amount of P16,000.00;
Estrella Calleja the amount of P20,000.00; Melvin Miranda the amount of P25,000.00. 17

Chowdury appealed.
The elements of illegal recruitment in large scale are: LibLex
(1)The accused undertook any recruitment activity defined under Article 13 (b) or any prohibited practice
enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code;
(2)He did not have the license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; and
(3)He committed the same against three or more persons, individually or as a group. 18

The last paragraph of Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 8042 19 states who shall be held liable for the offense,
thus: LLpr
"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." cdasia

The Revised Penal Code which supplements the law on illegal recruitment 20 defines who are the
principals, accomplices and accessories. The principals are: (1) those who take a direct part in the
execution of the act; (2) those who directly force or induce others to commit it; and (3) those who
cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been
accomplished. 21 The accomplices are those persons who may not be considered as principal as defined in
Section 17 of the Revised Penal Code but cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or
simultaneous act. 22 The accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime,
and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its

commission in any of the following manner: (1) by profiting themselves or assisting the offenders to profit
by the effects of the crime; (2) by concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or
instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery; and (3) by harboring, concealing, or assisting in the
escape of the principal of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or
whenever the author of the crime is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt at the life of the
chief executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime. 23
Citing the second sentence of the last paragraph of Section 6 of RA 8042, accused-appellant contends that
he may not be held liable for the offense as he was merely an employee of Craftrade and he only
performed the tasks assigned to him by his superiors. He argues that the ones who should be held liable
for the offense are the officers having control, management and direction of the agency. llcd
As stated in the first sentence of Section 6 of RA 8042, the persons who may be held liable for illegal
recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. An employee of a company or corporation
engaged in illegal recruitment may be held liable as principal, together with his employer, 24 if it is shown
that he actively and consciously participated in illegal recruitment. 25 It has been held that the existence
of the corporate entity does not shield from prosecution the corporate agent who knowingly and
intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. The corporation obviously acts, and can act, only
by and through its human agents, and it is their conduct which the law must deter. The employee or agent
of a corporation engaged in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the carrying on of such business
and will be prosecuted as principal if, with knowledge of the business, its purpose and effect, he
consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however slight his contribution may
be. 26 The law of agency, as applied in civil cases, has no application in criminal cases, and no man can
escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime upon the ground that he simply
acted as an agent of any party. 27 The culpability of the employee therefore hinges on his knowledge of
the offense and his active participation in its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely
acting under the direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not
be held criminally liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer. 28
The fundamental issue in this case, therefore, is whether accused-appellant knowingly and intentionally
participated in the commission of the crime charged. LLpr
We find that he did not.
Evidence shows that accused-appellant interviewed private complainants in the months of June, August
and September in 1994 at Craftrade's office. At that time, he was employed as interviewer of Craftrade
which was then operating under a temporary authority given by the POEA pending renewal of its
license. 29 The temporary license included the authority to recruit workers. 30 He was convicted based on
the fact that he was not registered with the POEA as employee of Craftrade. Neither was he, in his personal
capacity, licensed to recruit overseas workers. Section 10 Rule II Book II of the Rules and Regulation
Governing Overseas Employment (1991) requires that every change, termination or appointment of
officers, representatives and personnel of licensed agencies be registered with the POEA. Agents or
representatives appointed by a licensed recruitment agency whose appointments are not previously
approved by the POEA are considered "non-licensee" or "non-holder of authority" and therefore not
authorized to engage in recruitment activity. 31
Upon examination of the records, however, we find that the prosecution failed to prove that accusedappellant was aware of Craftrade's failure to register his name with the POEA and that he actively engaged
in recruitment despite this knowledge. The obligation to register its personnel with the POEA belongs to
the officers of the agency. 32 A mere employee of the agency cannot be expected to know the legal
requirements for its operation. The evidence at hand shows that accused-appellant carried out his duties
as interviewer of Craftrade believing that the agency was duly licensed by the POEA and he, in turn, was
duly authorized by his agency to deal with the applicants in its behalf. Accused-appellant in fact confined
his actions to his job description. He merely interviewed the applicants and informed them of the
requirements for deployment but he never received money from them. Their payments were received by
the agency's cashier, Josephine Ong. Furthermore, he performed his tasks under the supervision of its
president and managing director. Hence, we hold that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable
doubt accused-appellant's conscious and active participation in the commission of the crime of illegal
recruitment. His conviction, therefore, is without basis. cdphil
This is not to say that private complainants are left with no remedy for the wrong committed against them.
The Department of Justice may still file a complaint against the officers having control, management or
direction of the business of Craftrade Overseas Developers (Craftrade), so long as the offense has not yet
prescribed. Illegal recruitment is a crime of economic sabotage which need to be curbed by the strong arm
of the law. It is important, however, to stress that the government's action must be directed to the real
offenders, those who perpetrate the crime and benefit from it.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accusedappellant is hereby ACQUITTED. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to RELEASE accusedappellant unless he is being held for some other cause, and to REPORT to this Court compliance with this

order within ten (10) days from receipt of this decision. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the
Secretary of the Department of Justice for his information and appropriate action.
SO ORDERED. d