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Republic of the Philippines promise employment/job placement abroad, Paraaque, Metro Manila.

Representing
SUPREME COURT to (1) Rolando Dalida y Piernas, (2) Ernesto herself as the manager of the Clover
Manila Alvarez y Lubangco, (3) Rogelio Salado y Placement Agency, Agustin showed him a
Savillo, (4) Ramona Salado y Alvarez, (5) job order as proof that he could readily be
SECOND DIVISION Dionisio Masaya y de Guzman, (6) Dave deployed for overseas employment. Salado
Rivera y de Leon, (7) Lorenzo Alvarez y learned that he had to pay P5,000.00 as
Velayo, and (8) Nelson Trinidad y Santos, processing fee, which amount he gave
without first having secured the required sometime in April or May of the same year.
G.R. No. 113161 August 29, 1995 license or authority from the Department of He was issued the corresponding receipt. 9
Labor. 1
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff- Also in April or May, 1987, Salado,
appellee, On January 21, 1987, a warrant of arrest accompanied by five other applicants who
vs. was issued against the three accused but were his relatives, went to the office of the
LOMA GOCE y OLALIA, DAN GOCE and not one of them was arrested. 2 Hence, on placement agency at Nakpil Street, Ermita,
NELLY D. AGUSTIN, accused. NELLY D. February 2, 1989, the trial court ordered the Manila where he saw Agustin and met the
AGUSTIN, accused-appellant. case archived but it issued a standing spouses Dan and Loma Goce, owners of
warrant of arrest against the accused. 3 the agency. He submitted his bio-data and
learned from Loma Goce that he had to give
Thereafter, on learning of the whereabouts P12,000.00, instead of the original amount
REGALADO, J.: of the accused, one of the offended parties, of P5,000.00 for the placement fee.
Rogelio Salado, requested on March 17, Although surprised at the new and higher
On January 12, 1988, an information for 1989 for a copy of the warrant of arrest. 4 sum, they subsequently agreed as long as
illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate Eventually, at around midday of February there was an assurance that they could
and in large scale, punishable under Articles 26, 1993, Nelly Agustin was apprehended leave for abroad. 10
38 and 39 of the Labor Code (Presidential by the Paraaque police. 5 On March 8,
Decree No. 442) as amended by Section 1993, her counsel filed a motion to revive Thereafter, a receipt was issued in the
1(b) of Presidential Decree No. 2018, was the case and requested that it be set for name of the Clover Placement Agency
filed against spouses Dan and Loma Goce hearing "for purposes of due process and showing that Salado and his aforesaid co-
and herein accused-appellant Nelly Agustin for the accused to immediately have her day applicants each paid P2,000.00, instead of
in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch in court" 6 Thus, on April 15, 1993, the trial the P5,000.00 which each of them actually
5, alleging court reinstated the case and set the paid. Several months passed but Salado
arraignment for May 3, 1993, 7 on which failed to leave for the promised overseas
That in or about and during the period date of Agustin pleaded not guilty 8 and the employment. Hence, in October, 1987,
comprised between May 1986 and June 25, case subsequently went to trial. along with the other recruits, he decided to
1987, both dates inclusive, in the City of go to the Philippine Overseas Employment
Manila, Philippines, the said accused, Four of the complainants testified for the Administration (POEA) to verify the real
conspiring and confederating together and prosecution. Rogelio Salado was the first to status of Clover Placement Agency. They
helping one another, representing take the witness stand and he declared that discovered that said agency was not duly
themselves to have the capacity to contract, sometime in March or April, 1987, he was licensed to recruit job applicants. Later,
enlist and transport Filipino workers for introduced by Lorenzo Alvarez, his brother- upon learning that Agustin had been
employment abroad, did then and there in-law and a co-applicant, to Nelly Agustin in arrested, Salado decided to see her and to
willfully and unlawfully, for a fee, recruit and the latter's residence at Factor, Dongalo, demand the return of the money he had
paid, but Agustin could only give him placement fee, and in September of that Loma Goce were her neighbors at Tambo,
P500.00. 11 same year, he gave an additional Paraaque and that they were licensed
P10,000.00. He was issued receipts for said recruiters and owners of the Clover
Ramona Salado, the wife of Rogelio Salado, amounts and was advised to go to the Placement Agency. Previously, the Goce
came to know through her brother, Lorenzo placement office once in a while to follow up couple was able to send her son, Reynaldo
Alvarez, about Nelly Agustin. Accompanied his application, which he faithfully did. Much Agustin, to Saudi Arabia. Agustin met the
by her husband, Rogelio, Ramona went to to his dismay and chagrin, he failed to leave aforementioned complainants through
see Agustin at the latter's residence. Agustin for abroad as promised. Accordingly, he was Lorenzo Alvarez who requested her to
persuaded her to apply as a cutter/sewer in forced to demand that his money be introduce them to the Goce couple, to which
Oman so that she could join her husband. refunded but Loma Goce could give him request she acceded. 18
Encouraged by Agustin's promise that she back only P4,000.00 in installments. 15
and her husband could live together while Denying any participation in the illegal
working in Oman, she instructed her As the prosecution's fourth and last witness, recruitment and maintaining that the
husband to give Agustin P2,000.00 for each Ernesto Alvarez took the witness stand on recruitment was perpetrated only by the
of them as placement fee, or the total sum June 7, 1993. He testified that in February, Goce couple, Agustin denied any
of P4,000.00. 12 1987, he met appellant Agustin through his knowledge of the receipts presented by the
cousin, Larry Alvarez, at her residence in prosecution. She insisted that the
Much later, the Salado couple received a Paraaque. She informed him that complainants included her in the complaint
telegram from the placement agency "madalas siyang nagpapalakad sa Oman" thinking that this would compel her to reveal
requiring them to report to its office because and offered him a job as an ambulance the whereabouts of the Goce spouses. She
the "NOC" (visa) had allegedly arrived. driver at the Royal Hospital in Oman with a failed to do so because in truth, so she
Again, around February, or March, 1987, monthly salary of about $600.00 to $700.00. claims, she does not know the present
Rogelio gave P2,000.00 as payment for his 16 address of the couple. All she knew was
and his wife's passports. Despite follow-up that they had left their residence in 1987. 19
of their papers twice a week from February On March 10, 1987, Alvarez gave an initial
to June, 1987, he and his wife failed to amount of P3,000.00 as processing fee to Although she admitted having given
leave for abroad. 13 Agustin at the latter's residence. In the P500.00 each to Rogelio Salado and
same month, he gave another P3,000.00, Alvarez, she explained that it was entirely
Complainant Dionisio Masaya, this time in the office of the placement for different reasons. Salado had
accompanied by his brother-in-law, Aquiles agency. Agustin assured him that he could supposedly asked for a loan, while Alvarez
Ortega, applied for a job in Oman with the leave for abroad before the end of 1987. He needed money because he was sick at that
Clover Placement Agency at Paraaque, returned several times to the placement time. 20
the agency's former office address. There, agency's office to follow up his application
Masaya met Nelly Agustin, who introduced but to no avail. Frustrated, he demanded On November 19, 1993, the trial court
herself as the manager of the agency, and the return of the money he had paid, but rendered judgment finding herein appellant
the Goce spouses, Dan and Loma, as well Agustin could only give back P500.00. guilty as a principal in the crime of illegal
as the latter's daughter. He submitted Thereafter, he looked for Agustin about recruitment in large scale, and sentencing
several pertinent documents, such as his eight times, but he could no longer find her. her to serve the penalty of life
bio-data and school credentials. 14 17 imprisonment, as well as to pay a fine of
P100,000.00. 21
In May, 1986, Masaya gave Dan Goce Only herein appellant Agustin testified for
P1,900.00 as an initial downpayment for the the defense. She asserted that Dan and
In her present appeal, appellant Agustin Licensing and Regulation Office of the interview of a selected applicant for
raises the following arguments: (1) her act Philippine Overseas Employment employment to a selected employer,
of introducing complainants to the Goce Administration, on November 10, 1987. Said placement officer or bureau. 26
couple does not fall within the meaning of certification states that Dan and Loma Goce
illegal recruitment and placement under and Nelly Agustin are neither licensed nor Hence, the inevitable query is whether or
Article 13(b) in relation to Article 34 of the authorized to recruit workers for overseas not appellant Agustin merely introduced
Labor Code; (2) there is no proof of employment. 23 Appellant does not dispute complainants to the Goce couple or her
conspiracy to commit illegal recruitment this. As a matter of fact her counsel agreed actions went beyond that. The testimonial
among appellant and the Goce spouses; to stipulate that she was neither licensed evidence hereon show that she indeed
and (3) there is no proof that appellant nor authorized to recruit applicants for further committed acts constitutive of illegal
offered or promised overseas employment overseas employment. Appellant, however, recruitment. All four prosecution witnesses
to the complainants. 22 These three denies that she was in any way guilty of testified that it was Agustin whom they
arguments being interrelated, they will be illegal recruitment. 24 initially approached regarding their plans of
discussed together. working overseas. It was from her that they
It is appellant's defensive theory that all she learned about the fees they had to pay, as
Herein appellant is accused of violating did was to introduce complainants to the well as the papers that they had to submit. It
Articles 38 and 39 of the Labor Code. Article Goce spouses. Being a neighbor of said was after they had talked to her that they
38 of the Labor Code, as amended by couple, and owing to the fact that her son's met the accused spouses who owned the
Presidential Decree No. 2018, provides that overseas job application was processed and placement agency.
any recruitment activity, including the facilitated by them, the complainants asked
prohibited practices enumerated in Article her to introduce them to said spouses. As correctly held by the trial court, being an
34 of said Code, undertaken by non- Allegedly out of the goodness of her heart, employee of the Goces, it was therefore
licensees or non-holders of authority shall she complied with their request. Such an logical for appellant to introduce the
be deemed illegal and punishable under act, appellant argues, does not fall within applicants to said spouses, they being the
Article 39 thereof. The same article further the meaning of "referral" under the Labor owners of the agency. As such, appellant
provides that illegal recruitment shall be Code to make her liable for illegal was actually making referrals to the agency
considered an offense involving economic recruitment. of which she was a part. She was therefore
sabotage if any of these qualifying engaging in recruitment activity. 27
circumstances exist, namely, (a) when Under said Code, recruitment and
illegal recruitment is committed by a placement refers to any act of canvassing, Despite Agustin's pretensions that she was
syndicate, i.e., if it is carried out by a group enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, but a neighbor of the Goce couple, the
of three or more persons conspiring and/or hiring or procuring workers, and includes testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
confederating with one another; or (b) when referrals, contract services, promising or paint a different picture. Rogelio Salado and
illegal recruitment is committed in large advertising for employment, locally or Dionisio Masaya testified that appellant
scale, i.e., if it is committed against three or abroad, whether for profit or not; provided, represented herself as the manager of the
more persons individually or as a group. that any person or entity which, in any Clover Placement Agency. Ramona Salado
manner, offers or promises for a fee was offered a job as a cutter/sewer by
At the outset, it should be made clear that employment to two or more persons shall Agustin the first time they met, while
all the accused in this case were not be deemed engaged in recruitment and Ernesto Alvarez remembered that when he
authorized to engage in any recruitment placement. 25 On the other hand, referral is first met Agustin, the latter represented
activity, as evidenced by a certification the act of passing along or forwarding of an herself as "nagpapaalis papunta sa Oman."
issued by Cecilia E. Curso, Chief of the applicant for employment after an initial 28 Indeed, Agustin played a pivotal role in
the operations of the recruitment agency, of P10,000.00 for placement fee and duly process. Their testimonies in this regard,
working together with the Goce couple. signed by appellant, was presented by the being clear and positive, were declared
prosecution. Another receipt, identified as sufficient to establish that factum
There is illegal recruitment when one gives Exhibit E, 33 was issued and signed by probandum.
the impression of having the ability to send appellant on February 5, 1987 to
a worker abroad." 29 It is undisputed that acknowledge receipt of P4,000.00 from Indeed, the trial court was justified and
appellant gave complainants the distinct Rogelio and Ramona Salado for correct in accepting the version of the
impression that she had the power or ability "processing of documents for Oman." Still prosecution witnesses, their statements
to send people abroad for work such that another receipt dated March 10, 1987 and being positive and affirmative in nature. This
the latter were convinced to give her the presented in evidence as Exhibit F, shows is more worthy of credit than the mere
money she demanded in order to be so that appellant received from Ernesto Alvarez uncorroborated and self-serving denials of
employed. 30 P2,000.00 for "processing of documents for appellant. The lame defense consisting of
Oman." 34 such bare denials by appellant cannot
It cannot be denied that Agustin received overcome the evidence presented by the
from complainants various sums for Apparently, the original copies of said prosecution proving her guilt beyond
purpose of their applications. Her act of receipts/vouchers were lost, hence only reasonable doubt. 37
collecting from each of the complainants xerox copies thereof were presented and
payment for their respective passports, which, under the circumstances, were The presence of documentary evidence
training fees, placement fees, medical tests admissible in evidence. When the original notwithstanding, this case essentially
and other sundry expenses unquestionably writing has been lost or destroyed or cannot involves the credibility of witnesses which is
constitutes an act of recruitment within the be produced in court, upon proof of its best left to the judgment of the trial court, in
meaning of the law. In fact, appellant execution and loss or destruction, or the absence of abuse of discretion therein.
demanded and received from complainants unavailability, its contents may be proved by The findings of fact of a trial court, arrived at
amounts beyond the allowable limit of a copy or a recital of its contents in some only after a hearing and evaluation of what
P5,000.00 under government regulations. It authentic document, or by the recollection of can usually be expected to be conflicting
is true that the mere act of a cashier in witnesses. 35 testimonies of witnesses, certainly deserve
receiving money far exceeding the amount respect by an appellate court. 38 Generally,
allowed by law was not considered per se Even assuming arguendo that the xerox the findings of fact of the trial court on the
as "recruitment and placement" in copies presented by the prosecution as matter of credibility of witnesses will not be
contemplation of law, but that was because secondary evidence are not allowable in disturbed on appeal. 39
the recipient had no other participation in court, still the absence thereof does not
the transactions and did not conspire with warrant the acquittal of appellant. In People In a last-ditch effort to exculpate herself
her co-accused in defrauding the victims. 31 vs. Comia, 36 where this particular issue from conviction, appellant argues that there
That is not the case here. was involved, the Court held that the is no proof of conspiracy between her and
complainants' failure to ask for receipts for the Goce couple as to make her liable for
Appellant further argues that "there is no the fees they paid to the accused therein, as illegal recruitment. We do not agree. The
evidence of receipts of collections/payments well as their consequent failure to present evidence presented by the prosecution
from complainants to appellant." On the receipts before the trial court as proof of the clearly establish that appellant confabulated
contrary, xerox copies of said said payments, is not fatal to their case. The with the Goces in their plan to deceive the
receipts/vouchers were presented by the complainants duly proved by their complainants. Although said accused
prosecution. For instance, a cash voucher respective testimonies that said accused couple have not been tried and convicted,
marked as Exhibit D, 32 showing the receipt was involved in the entire recruitment
nonetheless there is sufficient basis for
appellant's conviction as discussed above.

In People vs. Sendon, 40 we held that the


non-prosecution of another suspect therein
provided no ground for the appellant
concerned to fault the decision of the trial
court convicting her. The prosecution of
other persons, equally or more culpable
than herein appellant, may come later after
their true identities and addresses shall
have been ascertained and said malefactors
duly taken into custody. We see no reason
why the same doctrinal rule and course of
procedure should not apply in this case.

WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of


the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED in toto,
with costs against accused-appellant Nelly
D. Agustin.

SO ORDERED.