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Republic of the Philippines workers and employees for abroad and can Administration (POEA) stating that Imelda

SUPREME COURT facilitate the necessary papers in Darvin is neither licensed nor authorized to
Manila connection thereof, did, then and there, recruit workers for overseas employment. 5
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, hire, Accused-appellant was then charged for
THIRD DIVISION recruit and promise a job abroad to one estafa and illegal recruitment by the Office
Macaria Toledo, without first securing the of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite.
necessary license and permit from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Accused-appellant, on the other hand,
G.R. No. 125044 July 13, 1998 Administration to do so, thereby causing testified that she used to be connected with
damage and prejudice to the aforesaid Dale Travel Agency and that in 1992, or
IMELDA DARVIN, petitioner, Macaria Toledo. thereabouts, she was assisting individuals
in securing passports, visa, and airline
vs. Contrary to law. 2 tickets. She came to know Toledo through
Florencio Jake Rivera, Jr. and Leonila
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE The evidence for the prosecution, based on Rivera, alleging that Toledo sought her help
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. the testimony of private respondent, to secure a passport, US visa and airline
Macaria Toledo, shows that sometime in tickets to the States. She claims that she did
March, 1992, she met accused-appellant not promise any employment in the U.S. to
Darvin in the latter's residence at Toledo. She, however, admits receiving the
ROMERO, J.: Dimasalang, Imus, Cavite, through the amount of P150,000.00 from the latter on
introduction of their common friends, April 13, 1992 but contends that it was used
Before us is a petition for review of the Florencio Jake Rivera and Leonila Rivera. for necessary expenses of an intended trip
decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.- In said meeting, accused-appellant to the United States of Toledo and her
G.R. No. 15624 dated January 31, 1996, 1 allegedly convinced Toledo that by giving friend, Florencio Rivera 6 as follows.
which affirmed in toto the judgment of the her P150,000.00, the latter can immediately P45,000.00 for plane fare for one person;
Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, leave for the United States without any P1,500.00 for passport, documentation and
Cavite, convicting accused-appellant, appearance before the U.S. embassy. 3 other incidental expenses for each person;
Imelda Darvin for simple illegal recruitment Thus, on April 13, 1992, Toledo gave Darvin P20,000.00 for visa application cost for
under Article 38 and Article 39, in relation to the amount of P150,000.00, as evidenced each person; and P17,000.00 for services. 7
Article 13 (b) and (c), of the Labor Code as by a receipt stating that the "amount of After receiving the money, she allegedly told
amended. P150,000.00 was for U.S. Visa and Air Toledo that the papers will be released
fare." 4 After receiving the money, Darvin within 45 days. She likewise testified that
Accused-appellant was charged under the assured Toledo that she can leave within she was able to secure Toledo's passport
following information: one week. However, when after a week, on April 20, 1992 and even set up a date for
there was no word from Darvin, Toledo went an interview with the US embassy. Accused
That on our about the 13th day of April to her residence to inquire about any alleged that she was not engaged in illegal
1992, in the Municipality of Bacoor, development, but could not find Darvin. recruitment but merely acted as a travel
Province of Cavite, Philippines and within Thereafter, on May 7, 1992, Toledo filed a agent in assisting individuals to secure
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the complaint with the Bacoor Police Station passports and visa.
above-named accused, through fraudulent against Imelda Darvin. Upon further
representation to one Macaria Toledo to the investigation, a certification was issued by In its judgment rendered on June 17, 1993,
effect that she has the authority to recruit the Philippine Overseas Employment the Bacoor, Cavite RTC found accused-
appellant guilty of the crime of simple illegal accused-appellant. In her direct
recruitment but acquitted her of the crime of Art. 13 of the Labor Code, as amended, examination, she testified as follows:
estafa. The dispositive portion of the provides the definition of recruitment and
judgment reads as follows: placement as: Atty. Alejandro:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, . . .; b) any act of canvassing, enlisting, Q: How did you come to know the
accused Imelda Darvin is hereby found contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or accused?
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime procuring workers, and includes referrals,
of Simple Illegal Recruitment for having contract services, promising or advertising Witness : I was introduced by my two
committed the prohibited practice as defined for employment locally or abroad, whether friends. One of whom is my best friend. That
by paragraph (b) of Article 34 and punished for profit or not: Provided, that any person or according to them, this accused has
by paragraph (c) of Article 39 of the Labor entity which, in any manner, offers or connections and authorizations, that she
Code, as amended by PD 2018. promises for a fee employment to two or can make people leave for abroad, sir.
more persons shall be deemed engaged in
Accused Imelda Darvin is hereby ordered to recruitment and placement. Court : What connections?
suffer the prison term of Four (4) years, as
minimum, to Eight (8) years, as maximum; On the other hand, Article 38 of the Labor Witness : That she has connections
and to pay the fine of P25,000.00. Code provides: with the Embassy and with people whom
she can approach regarding work abroad,
Regarding her civil liability, she is hereby a) Any recruitment activities, including your Honor.
ordered to reimburse the private the prohibited practices enumerated under
complainant the sum of P150,000.00 and Article 34 of this Code, to be undertaken by xxx xxx xxx
attorney's fees of P10,000.00. non-licensees or non-holders of authority
shall be deemed illegal and punishable Q: When you came to meet for the first
She is hereby acquitted of the crime of under Article 39 of this Code. The Ministry time in Imus, Cavite, what transpired in that
Estafa. of Labor and Employment or any law meeting of yours?
enforcement officer may initiate complaints
SO ORDERED. 8 under this Article. A: When I came to her house, the
accused convinced me that by means of
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed xxx xxx xxx P150,000.00, I will be able to leave
the decision of the trial court in toto, hence immediately without any appearance to any
this petition. Applied to the present case, to uphold the embassy, non-appearance, Sir.
conviction of accused-appellant, two
Before this Court, accused-appellant assails elements need to be shown: (1) the person Q: When you mentioned non-
the decision of the trial and appellate courts charged with the crime must have appearance, as told to you by the accused,
in convicting her of the crime of simple undertaken recruitment activities; and (2) precisely, what do you mean by that?
illegal recruitment. She contends that based the said person does not have a license or
on the evidence presented by the authority to do so. 9 A: I was told by the accused that non-
prosecution, her guilt was not proven appearance, means without working
beyond reasonable doubt. In this case, private respondent, Macaria personally for my papers and through her
Toledo alleged that she was offered a job in efforts considering that she is capacitated
We find the appeal impressed with merit. the United States as nursing aide 10 by
as according to her I will be able to leave private respondent the distinct impression cast reasonable doubt on the guilt of the
the country, Sir. that she had the power or ability to send the accused.
private respondent abroad for work such
xxx xxx xxx that the latter was convinced to part with her This Court can hardly rely on the bare
money in order to be so employed. allegations of private respondent that she
Atty. Alejandro : What transpired after was offered by accused-appellant
the accused told you all these things that In this case, we find no sufficient evidence employment abroad, nor on mere
you will be able to secure all the documents to prove that accused-ppellant offered a job presumptions and conjectures, to convict
without appearing to anybody or to any to private respondent. It is not clear that the latter. No sufficient evidence was shown
embassy and that you will be able to work accused gave the impression that she was to sustain the conviction, as the burden of
abroad? capable of providing the private respondent proof lies with the prosecution to establish
work abroad. What is established, however, that accused-appellant indeed engaged in
Witness : She told me to get ready with is that the private respondent gave recruitment activities, thus committing the
my P150,000.00, that is if I want to leave accused-appellant P150,000.00. The claim crime of illegal recruitment.
immediately, Sir. of the accused that the P150,000.00 was for
payment of private respondent's air fare and In criminal cases, the burden is on the
Atty. Alejandro : When you mentioned US visa and other expenses cannot be prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable
kaagad, how many days or week? ignored because the receipt for the doubt, the essential elements of the offense
P150,000.00, which was presented by both with which the accused is charged; and if
Witness : She said that if I will able to parties during the trial of the case, stated the proof fails to establish any of the
part with my P150,000.00. I will be able to that it was "for Air Fare and Visa to USA." essential elements necessary to constitute a
leave in just one week time, Sir. 13 Had the amount been for something else crime, the defendant is entitled to an
in addition to air fare and visa expenses, acquittal. Proof beyond reasonable doubt
xxx xxx xxx 11 such as work placement abroad, the receipt does not mean such a degree of proof as,
should have so stated. excluding the possibility of error, produces
The prosecution, as evidence, presented absolute certainty. Moral certainty only is
the certification issued by the POEA that By themselves, procuring a passport, airline required, or that degree of proof which
accused-appellant Imelda Darvin is not tickets and foreign visa for another produces conviction in an unprejudiced
licensed to recruit workers abroad. individual, without more, can hardly qualify mind. 14
as recruitment activities. Aside from the
It is not disputed that accused-appellant testimony of private respondent, there is At best, the evidence proffered by the
does not have a license or authority to nothing to show that accused-appellant prosecution only goes so far as to create a
engage in recruitment activities. The pivotal engaged in recruitment activities. We also suspicion that accused-appellant probably
issue to be determined, therefore, is note that the prosecution did not present the perpetrated the crime charged. But
whether the accused-appellant indeed testimonies of witnesses who could have suspicion alone is insufficient, the required
engaged in recruitment activities, as defined corroborated the charge of illegal quantum of evidence being proof beyond
under the Labor Code. Applying the rule laid recruitment, such as Florencio Rivera, and reasonable doubt. When the People's
down in the case of People v. Goce, 12 to Leonila Rivera, when it had the opportunity evidence fail to indubitably prove the
prove that accused-appellant was engaged to do so. As it stands, the claim of private accused' s authorship of the crime of which
in recruitment activities as to commit the respondent that accused-appellant he stands accused, then it is the Court's
crime of illegal recruitment, it must be promised her employment abroad is duty, and the accused's right, to proclaim
shown that the accused appellant gave uncorroborated. All these, taken collectively,
his innocence. Acquittal, therefore, is in
order. 15

WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby

GRANTED and the decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 15624 dated
January 31, 1996, is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accused-appellant Imelda Darvin is
hereby ACQUITTED on ground of
reasonable doubt. Accordingly, let the
accused be immediately released from her
place of confinement unless there is reason
to detain her further for any other legal or
valid cause. No pronouncement as to costs.