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G.R. No.

129577-80

February 15, 2000

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. B L !HO"# R$, accused-appellant. P NO, J.: In November 1995, Bulu Chowduly and osephine !n" were char"ed before the #e"ional $rial Court of %anila with the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale committed as follows& $hat sometime between the period from 'u"ust 199( to !ctober 199( in the City of %anila, )hilippines and within the *urisdiction of this +onorable Court, the above-named accused, representin" themselves to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport wor,ers for employment abroad, conspirin", confederatin" and mutually helpin" one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously recruit the herein complainants& -strella B. Calle*a, %elvin C. %iranda and 'ser .. .asis, individually or as a "roup for employment in /orea without first obtainin" the re0uired license and1or authority from the )hilippine !verseas -mployment 'dministration.1 $hey were li,ewise char"ed with three counts of estafa committed a"ainst private complainants.2 $he .tate )rosecutor, however, later dismissed the estafa char"es a"ainst Chowdury3 and filed an amended information indictin" only !n" for the offense.( Chowdury was arrai"ned on 'pril 14, 1994 while !n" remained at lar"e. +e pleaded 5not "uilty5 to the char"e of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale.5 $rial ensued. $he prosecution presented four witnesses& private complainants 'ser .asis, -strella Calle*a and %elvin %iranda, and 6abor -mployment !fficer 'bbelyn Ca"uitla. Sasis testified that he first met Chowdury in 'u"ust 199( when he applied with Craftrade !verseas 7evelopers 8Craftrade9 for employment as factory wor,er in .outh /orea. Chowdury, a consultant of Craftrade, conducted the interview. 7urin" the interview, Chowdury informed him about the re0uirements for employment. +e told him to submit his passport, NBI clearance, passport si:e picture and medical certificate. +e also re0uired him to under"o a seminar. +e advised him that placement would be on a first-come-first-serve basis and ur"ed him to complete the re0uirements immediately. .asis was also char"ed a processin" fee of )25,;;;.;;. .asis completed all the re0uirements in .eptember 199(. +e also paid a total amount of )14,;;;.;; to Craftrade as processin" fee. 'll payments were received by !n" for which she issued three receipts.4 Chowdury then processed his papers and convinced him to complete his payment.< .asis 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 lon"er be deployed for employment abroad. $his prompted him to

withdraw his payment but he could no lon"er find Chowdury. 'fter two unsuccessful attempts to contact him, he decided to file with the )hilippine !verseas -mployment 'dministration 8)!-'9 a case for ille"al recruitment a"ainst Chowdury. >pon verification with the )!-', he learned that Craftrade=s license had already e?pired and has not been renewed and that Chowdury, in his personal capacity, was not a licensed recruiter.@ Calleja testified that in une 199(, she applied with Craftrade for employment as factory wor,er in .outh /orea. .he was interviewed by Chowdury. 7urin" the interview, he as,ed 0uestions re"ardin" her marital status, her a"e and her province. $oward the end of the interview, Chowdury told her that she would be wor,in" in a factory in /orea. +e re0uired her to submit her passport, NBI clearance, I7 pictures, medical certificate and birth certificate. +e also obli"ed her to attend a seminar on overseas employment. 'fter she submitted all the documentary re0uirements, Chowdury re0uired her to pay )2;,;;;.;; as placement fee. Calle*a made the payment on 'u"ust 11, 199( to !n" for which she was issued a receipt.9 Chowdury assured her that she would be able to leave on the first wee, of .eptember but it proved to be an empty promise. Calle*a was not able to leave despite several follow-ups. $hus, she went to the )!-' where she discovered that Craftrade=s license had already e?pired. .he tried to withdraw her money from Craftrade to no avail. Calle*a filed a complaint for ille"al recruitment a"ainst Chowdury upon advice of )!-'=s le"al counsel.1; Miranda testified that in .eptember 199(, his cousin accompanied him to the office of Craftrade in -rmita, %anila and introduced him to Chowdury who presented himself as consultant and interviewer. Chowdury re0uired him to fill out a bio-data sheet before conductin" the interview. Chowdury told %iranda durin" the interview that he would send him to /orea for employment as factory wor,er. $hen he as,ed him to submit the followin" documents& passport, passport si:e picture, NBI clearance and medical certificate. 'fter he complied with the re0uirements, he was advised to wait for his visa and to pay )25,;;;.;; as processin" fee. +e paid the amount of )25,;;;.;; to !n" who issued receipts therefor.11 Craftrade, however, failed to deploy him. +ence, %iranda filed or complaint with the )!-' a"ainst Chowdury for ille"al recruitment.12 6abor -mployment !fficer Abbelyn Caguitla of the 6icensin" Branch of the )!-' testified that she prepared a certification on une 9, 1994 that Chowdury and his co-accused, !n", were not, in their personal capacities, licensed recruiters nor were they connected with any licensed a"ency. .he nonetheless stated that Craftrade was previously licensed to recruit wor,ers for abroad which e?pired on 7ecember 15, 1993. It applied for renewal of its license but was only "ranted a temporary license effective 7ecember 14, 1993 until .eptember 11, 199(. Arom .eptember 11, 199(, the )!-' "ranted Craftrade another temporary authority to process the e?pirin" visas of overseas wor,ers who have already been deployed. $he )!-' suspended Craftrade=s temporary license on 7ecember 4, 199(.13 For his defense, Chowdury testified that he wor,ed as interviewer at Craftrade from 199; until 199(. +is primary duty was to interview *ob applicants for abroad. 's a mere employee, he only followed the instructions "iven by his superiors, %r. -mmanuel Beslani, the a"ency=s )resident and Beneral %ana"er, and %r. >t,al Chowdury, the a"ency=s %ana"in" 7irector. Chowdury admitted that he interviewed private complainants on different dates. $heir office secretary handed him their bio-data and thereafter he led them to his room where he conducted the

interviews. 7urin" the interviews, he had with him a form containin" the 0ualifications for the *ob and he filled out this form based on the applicant=s responses to his 0uestions. +e then submitted them to %r. >t,al Chowdury who in turn evaluated his findin"s. +e never received money from the applicants. +e resi"ned from Craftrade on November 12, 199(.1( 'nother defense witness, Emelita Masangkay who wor,ed at the 'ccreditation Branch of the )!-' presented a list of the accredited principals of Craftrade !verseas 7evelopers15 and a list of processed wor,ers of Craftrade !verseas 7evelopers from 19@@ to 199(.14 $he trial court found Chowdury guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale. It sentenced him to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of )1;;,;;;.;;. It further ordered him to pay 'ser .asis the amount of )14,;;;.;;, -strella Calle*a, )2;,;;;.;; and %elvin %iranda, )25,;;;.;;. $he dispositive portion of the decision reads& C+-#-A!#-, in view of the fore"oin" considerations, the prosecution havin" proved the "uilt of the accused Bulu Chowdury beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Ille"al #ecruitment in lar"e scale, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of )1;;,;;;.;; under 'rt. 39 8b9 of the New 6abor Code of the )hilippines. $he accused is ordered to pay the complainants 'ser .asis the amount of )14,;;;.;;D -strella Calle*a the amount of )2;,;;;.;;D %elvin %iranda the amount of )25,;;;.;;.1< Chowdury appealed. $he elements of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale are& 819 $he accused undertoo, any recruitment activity defined under 'rticle 13 8b9 or any prohibited practice enumerated under 'rticle 3( of the 6abor CodeD 829 +e did not have the license or authority to lawfully en"a"e in the recruitment and placement of wor,ersD and 839 +e committed the same a"ainst three or more persons, individually or as a "roup.1@ $he last para"raph of .ection 4 of #epublic 'ct 8#'9 @;(219 states who shall be held liable for the offense, thus& $he 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. $he #evised )enal Code which supplements the law on ille"al recruitment2; defines who are the principals, accomplices and accessories. $he principals are& 819 those who ta,e a direct part in the e?ecution of the actD 829 those who directly force or induce others to commit itD and 839 those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been accomplished.21 $he accomplices are those persons who may not be considered as principal

as defined in .ection 1< of the #evised )enal Code but cooperate in the e?ecution of the offense by previous or simultaneous act.22 $he accessories are those who, havin" ,nowled"e of the commission of the crime, and without havin" participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, ta,e part subse0uent to its commission in any of the followin" manner& 819 by profitin" themselves or assistin" the offenders to profit by the effects of the crimeD 829 by concealin" or destroyin" the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discoveryD and 839 by harborin", concealin", or assistin" 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 "uilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt at the life of the chief e?ecutive, or is ,nown to be habitually "uilty of some other crime.23 Citin" the second sentence of the last para"raph of .ection 4 of #' @;(2, 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 tas,s assi"ned to him by his superiors. +e ar"ues that the ones who should be held liable for the offense are the officers havin" control, mana"ement and direction of the a"ency. 's stated in the first sentence of .ection 4 of #' @;(2, the persons who may be held liable for ille"al recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. 'n employee of a company or corporation en"a"ed in ille"al recruitment may be held liable as principal, to"ether with his employer,2( if it is shown that he actively and consciously participated in ille"al recruitment.25 It has been held that the e?istence of the corporate entity does not shield from prosecution the corporate a"ent who ,nowin"ly and intentionally causes the corporation to commit a crime. $he corporation obviously acts, and can act, only by and throu"h its human a"ents, and it is their conduct which the law must deter, $he employee or a"ent of a corporation en"a"ed in unlawful business naturally aids and abets in the carryin" on of such business and will be prosecuted as principal if with ,nowled"e of the business, its purpose and effect, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct and promotion, however sli"ht his contribution may be.24 $he law of a"ency, 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 "round that he simply acted as an a"ent of any party.2< $he culpability of the employee therefore hin"es on his ,nowled"e of the offense and his active participation in its commission. Chere it is shown that the employee was merely actin" 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.2@ $he fundamental issue in this case, therefore, is whether accused-appellant ,nowin"ly and intentionally participated in the commission of the crime char"ed. Ce find that he did not. -vidence shows that accused-appellant interviewed private complainants in the months of une, 'u"ust and .eptember in 199( at Craftrade=s office. 't that time, he was employed as interviewer of Craftrade which was then operatin" under a temporary authority "iven by the )!-' pendin" renewal of its license.29 $he temporary license included the authority to recruit wor,ers.3; +e was convicted based on the fact that he was not re"istered with the )!-' as

employee of Craftrade. Neither was he, in his personal capacity, licensed to recruit overseas wor,ers. .ection 1; #ule II Boo, II of the #ules and #e"ulation Bovernin" !verseas -mployment 819919 re0uires that every chan"e, termination or appointment of officers, representatives and personnel of licensed a"encies be re"istered with the )!-'. '"ents or representatives appointed by a licensed recruitment a"ency whose appointments are not previously approved by the )!-' are considered 5non-licensee5 or 5non-holder of authority5 and therefore not authori:ed to en"a"e in recruitment activity. 31 >pon e?amination of the records, however, we find that the prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant was aware of Craftrade=s failure to re"ister his name with the )!-' and that he actively en"a"ed in recruitment despite this ,nowled"e. $he obli"ation to re"ister its personnel with the )!-' belon"s to the officers of the a"ency.32 ' mere employee of the a"ency cannot be e?pected to ,now the le"al re0uirements for its operation. $he evidence at hand shows that accused-appellant carried out his duties as interviewer of Craftrade believin" that the a"ency was duly licensed by the )!-' and he, in turn, was duly authori:ed by his a"ency to deal with the applicants in its behalf. 'ccused-appellant in fact confined his actions to his *ob description. +e merely interviewed the applicants and informed them of the re0uirements for deployment but he never received money from them. $heir payments were received by the a"ency=s cashier, osephine !n". Aurthermore, he performed his tas,s under the supervision of its president and mana"in" director. +ence, 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 ille"al recruitment. +is conviction, therefore, is without basis. $his is not to say that private complainants are left with no remedy for the wron" committed a"ainst them. $he 7epartment of ustice may still file a complaint a"ainst the officers havin" control, mana"ement or direction of the business of Craftrade !verseas 7evelopers 8Craftrade9, so lon" as the offense has not yet prescribed. Ille"al recruitment is a crime of economic sabota"e which need to be curbed by the stron" arm of the law. It is important, however, to stress that the "overnment=s action must be directed to the real offenders, those who perpetrate the crime and benefit from it. IN EI-C C+-#-!A, the assailed decision of the #e"ional $rial Court is #-E-#.-7 and .-$ '.I7-. 'ccused-appellant is hereby 'CF>I$$-7. $he 7irector of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to #-6-'.- accused-appellant unless he is bein" held for some other cause, and to #-)!#$ to this Court compliance with this order within ten 81;9 days from receipt of this decision. 6et a copy of this 7ecision be furnished the .ecretary of the 7epartment of ustice for his information and appropriate action. !wphi "n#t .! !#7-#-7.

G.R. No. 187052

Se%&e'ber 1(, 2012

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, )laintiff-'ppellee, vs. )ELISS* !H * a.+.a. !,ar-&a N. !/ua, 'ccused-'ppellant. 7-CI.I!N 0ILL*R*)*, 1R., J.: Before us is an appeal from the .eptember 15, 2;;@ 7ecision1 of the Court of 'ppeals in C'B.#. C#-+.C. No. ;1;;4. $he Court of 'ppeals had affirmed with modification the 7ecision2 of the #e"ional $rial Court 8#$C9 of %anila, Bnmch 33, in Criminal Case No. ;3-21<999-(;3. $he #$C found appellant %elissa Chua, a.,.a. Clarita N" Chua, "uilty beyond reasonable doubt of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale and four counts of estafa. $he Court of 'ppeals modified the penalty imposed upon appellant for each count of estafa to an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment for ( years and 2 months of prision correccional. as minimum, to 13 years of reclusion temporal, as ma?imum. 'ppellant %elissa Chua was char"ed on %ay 4, 2;;3, with the crime of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale in an Information3 which alle"ed& $hat on or about and durin" the period comprised between uly 29, 2;;2 and 'u"ust 2;, 2;;2, both dates inclusive, in the City of %anila, )hilippines, the said accused, representin" herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and transport Ailipino wor,ers overseas particularly to $aiwan, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, for fee, recruit and promise employment1*ob placement to #-G ). $' '7'!, BI66G #. 7'N'N,( #!G6'N '. >#.>6>% and '6B-#$! '. 'B6'N'! without first havin" secured the re0uired license from the 7epartment of 6abor and -mployment as re0uired by law, and char"e or accept directly or indirectly from said complainants various amounts as placement fees in consideration for their overseas employment, which amounts are in e?cess of or "reater than that specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the )!-', and without valid reasons and without the fault of said complainants, failed to actually deploy them and failed to reimburse e?penses incurred in connection with their documentation and processin" for purposes of their deployment. Contrary to law. 'ppellant was also char"ed with four counts of estafa in separate Informations, which, save for the date and the names of private complainants, uniformly read& $hat on or about 'u"ust 1;, 2;;2, in the City of %anila, )hilippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud '6B-#$! '. 'B6'N'! in the followin" manner, to wit& the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation which she made to said '6B-#$! '. 'B6'N'! prior to and even simultaneous with the commission of the fraud, to the effect that she has the power and capacity

to recruit and employ the latter in $aiwan as a factory wor,er and could facilitate the processin" of the pertinent papers if "iven the necessary amount to meet the re0uirements thereof, induced and succeeded in inducin" the said '6B-#$! '. 'B6'N'! to "ive and deliver, as in fact he "ave and delivered to the said accused the amount of ) @;,;;;.;; on the stren"th of the said manifestations and representations, said accused well ,nowin" that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount of ) @;,;;;.;; which amount, once in her possession, with intent to defraud, they willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted the same to her own personal use and benefit, to the dama"e and pre*udice of said '6B-#$! '. 'B6'N'! in the aforesaid amount of ) @;,;;;.;;, )hilippine Currency. Contrary to law.5 !n arrai"nment, appellant pleaded not "uilty to all char"es. ' *oint trial of the cases ensued. 't the trial, private complainant #ey ). $a*adao testified that in 'u"ust 2;;2, his fellow complainant, 'lberto '. '"lanao, introduced him to appellant Chua. By then, '"lanao had already submitted his application for employment abroad with appellant. .ince $a*adao was also interested to wor, overseas, he su""ested that $a*adao apply as well. .oon after, $a*adao met with appellant, who offered him a *ob as a factory wor,er in $aiwan for deployment within the month. 'ppellant then re0uired him to under"o medical e?amination and pay a placement fee of ) @;,;;;. Chua assured $a*adao that whoever pays the application fee the earliest can leave sooner. $hus, $a*adao delivered to appellant sta""ered payments of ) (;,;;;, ) 35,;;; and ) 5,;;; at the Bolden Bate International 8Bolden Bate9 !ffice in )ara"on $ower, -rmita, %anila. .aid payments are evidenced by a voucher4 si"ned by appellant. 'fter completin" payment, $a*adao was made to si"n a contract containin" stipulations as to salary and conditions of wor,. !n several occasions, thereafter, he returned to appellantHs office to follow-up on his application. 'fter several visits, however, $a*adao noticed that all the properties of Bolden Bate in its )ara"on $ower !ffice were already "one. $a*adao filed a complaint for ille"al recruitment a"ainst appellant before the )hilippine !verseas -mployment '"ency 8)!-'9. It was only then that he learned that appellant Chua was not licensed to recruit wor,ers for overseas employment. 'nother private complainant, Billy #. 7anan, testified that Chua also offered employment abroad but failed to deploy him. +e recalled meetin" appellant on 'u"ust 4, 2;;2 at the Bolden Bate !ffice in -rmita, %anila. 7anan in0uired about the prospect of findin" wor, in $aiwan as a factory wor,er, and appellant confirmed there was a standin" 5*ob order.5 $he latter advised 7anan to obtain a passport, under"o medical e?amination, secure an NBI clearance and prepare the amount of ) @;,;;;. !n 'u"ust 1;, 2;;2, 7anan paid appellant in full as evidenced by a cash voucher si"ned by the latter. ' month passed, however, and he was still unable to leave for $aiwan. 'ppellant informed 7anan that his departure would be re-scheduled because $aiwan had suspended admission of

overseas wor,ers until after the festival. 'fter appellant advanced this e?planation several times, 7anan decided to verify whether she was licensed to recruit.>pon learnin" otherwise, 7anan lod"ed a complaint for ille"al recruitment a"ainst appellant with the )!-'. $he third private complainant, 'lberto '"lanao, testified that he met appellant Chua on 'u"ust 5, 2;;2. 6i,e $a*adao and 7anan, '"lanao applied for wor, as a factory wor,er in $aiwan. 'ppellant similarly assured '"lanao of employment abroad upon payment of ) @;,;;;. But despite payment< of said amount on 'u"ust 1;, 2;;2, appellant failed to deploy '"lanao to $aiwan. #oylan >rsulum,@ the fourth private complainant, testified that he too went to the Bolden Bate !ffice in -rmita, %anila to see, employment as a factory wor,er. +e was introduced by .hirley %ontano to appellant Chua. $he latter told >rsulum that the first applicants to pay the placement fee of ) @;,;;; shall be deployed ahead of the others. $hus, >rsulum obtained a loan of ) @;,;;; to cover the placement fee, which he alle"edly "ave appellant in two installments of ) (;,;;; each. 's with the rest of the private complainants, >rsulum never made it to $aiwan. >rsulum did not submit proof of payment but presented, instead, ten te?t messa"es on his mobile phone supposedly sent by appellant. !ne of said te?t messa"es reads, 5.i"uro anon" la,in" saya nyo pa" namatay na ,o.5 $he prosecution li,ewise presented as witness .everino %aranan, .enior 6abor -mployment !fficer of the )!-'. %aranan confirmed that appellant Chua was neither licensed nor authori:ed to recruit wor,ers for overseas employment. In support, he presented to the court a certification issued by the )!-' to that effect. In her defense, appellant Chua denies havin" recruited private complainants for overseas employment. 'ccordin" to appellant, she was only a cashier at Bolden Bate, which is owned by %arilen Calluen". +owever, she alle"edly lost to a robbery her identification card evidencin" her employment with the a"ency. 'ppellant denied any ,nowled"e of whether the a"ency was licensed to recruit wor,ers durin" her tenure as it has been delisted. In a 7ecision dated %arch 2@, 2;;5, the #$C of %anila, Branch 33, found appellant %elissa Chua, a.,.a. Clarita N" Chua, "uilty beyond reasonable doubt of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale and four counts of estafa. $he fallo of the #$C decision reads& C+-#-A!#-, the prosecution havin" established the "uilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, *ud"ment is hereby rendered C!NEIC$INB the accused as principal in the crime of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale and estafa 8four counts9 and she is sentenced to suffer the penalty of 6IA- I%)#I.!N%-N$ and a fine of Aive +undred $housand )esos 8)hp5;;,;;;.;;9 for ille"al recruitment in lar"e scaleD and the indeterminate penalty of four 8(9 years and two 829 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to $welve 8129 years of prision mayor as ma?imum for -'C+ count of -stafa. $he accused is also ordered to pay each of the complainantIsJ the amount of ) @;,;;;.;;.

In the service of the sentence, the accused is credited with a ? ? ? the full e?tent of her preventive imprisonment if she a"rees in writin" to observe the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisonersD otherwise, only (15 of the time of such preventive imprisonment shall be credited to her. .! !#7-#-7.9 $he trial court relied on the testimony of .everino %aranan, .enior 6abor -mployment !fficer of the )!-', that appellant is not licensed to recruit wor,ers for overseas employment at the time she promised but failed to place the four private complainants for wor, abroad. It accorded "reater wei"ht to the testimonies of private complainants who positively identified appellant as the person who recruited them for employment in $aiwan and received the placement fees. $he court a 0uo li,ewise found appellant "uilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa for misrepresentin" herself as havin" the power and capacity to recruit and place private complainants as factory wor,ers in $aiwan. .uch misrepresentation, the trial court stressed, induced private complainants to part with their money. $he #$C brushed aside appellantHs defense that she was merely a cashier of Bolden Bate and that the same is owned by %arilen Calluen". It "ave little wei"ht to the receipts submitted by appellant to prove that she turned over the placement fees to Calluen". $he trial court observed nothin" in said receipts indicatin" that the money came from private complainants. 7issatisfied, appellant Chua filed a Notice of 'ppeal1; on 'pril 15, 2;;5. By 7ecision dated .eptember 15, 2;;@, the Court of 'ppeals affirmed with modification the #$C rulin". It modified the penalty for each of the four counts of estafa by imposin" upon appellant an indeterminate sentence of ( years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 13 years of reclusion temporal, as ma?imum, for each count of estafa. $he appellate court held that the prosecution has established by proof beyond reasonable doubt that appellant had no license to recruit at the time she promised employment to and received placement fees from private complainants. It dismissed appellantHs defense that she was only a cashier of Bolden Bate and that she remitted the placement fees to 5the a"encyHs treasurer.5 $he Court of 'ppeals e?plained that in order to hold a person liable for ille"al recruitment, it is enou"h that he or she promised or offered employment for a fee, as appellant did. $he appellate court held further that the same pieces of evidence which establish appellantHs commission of ille"al recruitment also affirm her liability for estafa. It pointed out that appellant defrauded private complainants when she misrepresented that they would be hired abroad upon payment of the placement fee. $he Court of 'ppeals perceived no ill motive on the part of private complainants to testify falsely a"ainst appellant. 6astly, the appellate court modified the penalty imposed by the trial court upon appellant Chua for each count of estafa. It raised the ma?imum period of appellantHs indeterminate sentence from 12 years of prision mayor to 13 years of reclusion temporal.

!n !ctober 4, 2;;@, appellant Chua elevated the case to this Court byfilin" a Notice of 'ppeal.11 In a #esolution12 dated uly 1, 2;;9, we re0uired the parties to file their respective supplemental briefs, if they so desire. !n 'u"ust 24, 2;;9, appellant Chua filed a %anifestation 8In lieu of .upplemental Brief913 by which she repleaded and adopted all the defenses and ar"uments raised in her 'ppellantHs Brief.1( !n .eptember 3, 2;;9, the !ffice of the .olicitor Beneral, for the )eople, filed a %anifestation15 that it will no lon"er file a supplemental brief since it has discussed in its 'ppelleeHs Brief14 all the matters and issues raised in the 'ppellantHs Brief. Before us, appellant %elissa Chua presents a lone assi"nment of error& $+- $#I'6 C!>#$ B#'E-6G -##-7 IN AIN7INB $+- 'CC>.-7-'))-66'N$ B>I6$G !A $+- !AA-N.- !A I66-B'6 #-C#>I$%-N$ IN 6'#B- .C'6- 'N7 A!># 8(9 C!>N$. !A -.$'A' 7-.)I$- $+- IN.>AAICI-NCG !A $+- -EI7-NCA!# $+- )#!.-C>$I!N.1< $he !ffice of the .olicitor Beneral, for the people, submits that it has established all the elements necessary to hold appellant Chua liable for ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale and estafa. It cites the testimony of .everino %aranan, .enior 6abor -mployment !fficer of the )!-', and the certification issued by Aelicitas F. Bay, 7irector II of the )!-', to the effect that appellant was not authori:ed to en"a"e in recruitment activities.$he !.B ar"ues a"ainst appellantHs defense that she was only a cashier of Bolden Bate on the ar"ument that her act of representin" to the four private complainants that she could send them to $aiwan as factory wor,ers constitutes recruitment. It stresses that the crime of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale is malum prohibitumD hence, mere commission of the prohibited act is punishable and criminal intent is immaterial. 6astly, the !.B points out that appellant failed to show any ill motive on the part of private complainants to testify falsely a"ainst her. Aor her part, appellant Chua maintains that she was merely a cashier of Bolden Bate International. .he disowns liability for alle"edly 5merely actin" under the direction of her superiors51@ and for bein" 5unaware that her acts constituted a crime.519 'ppellant be"s the Court to review the factual findin"s of the court a 0uo. $he crime of ille"al recruitment is defined and penali:ed under .ections 4 and < of #epublic 'ct 8#.'.9 No. @;(2, or the %i"rant Cor,ers and !verseas Ailipinos 'ct of 1995, as follows& .-C. 4. 7efinition. K Aor purposes of this 'ct, ille"al recruitment shall mean any act of canvassin", enlistin", contractin", transportin", utili:in", hirin", or procurin" wor,ers and includes referrin", contract services, promisin" or advertisin" for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when underta,en by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under 'rticle 13 8f9 of )residential 7ecree No. ((2, as amended, otherwise ,nown as the 6abor Code of the )hilippines& )rovided, $hat any such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so en"a"ed. It shall li,ewise include the followin" acts, ? ? ?&

???? Ille"al recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a "roup of three 839 or more persons conspirin" or confederatin" with one another. It is deemed committed in lar"e scale if committed a"ainst three 839 or more persons individually or as a "roup. $he persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals, accomplices and accessories. In case of *uridical persons, the officers havin" control, mana"ement or direction of their business shall be liable. .-C. <. )enalties. K 8a9 'ny person found "uilty of ille"al recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than si? 849 years and one 819 day but not more than twelve 8129 years and a fine of not less than $wo hundred thousand pesos 8) 2;;,;;;.;;9 nor more than Aive hundred thousand pesos 8) 5;;,;;;.;;9. 8b9 $he penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Aive hundred thousand pesos 8) 5;;,;;;.;;9 nor more than !ne million pesos 8) 1,;;;,;;;.;;9 shall be imposed if ille"al recruitment constitutes economic sabota"e as defined herein. )rovided, however, $hat the ma?imum penalty shall be imposed if the person ille"ally recruited is less than ei"hteen 81@9 years of a"e or committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority. In order to hold a person liable for ille"al recruitment, the followin" elements must concur& 819 the offender underta,es any of the activities within the meanin" of 5recruitment and placement5 under 'rticle 138b92; of the 6abor Code, or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under 'rticle 3(21 of the 6abor Code 8now .ection 4 of #epublic 'ct No. @;(29 and 829 the offender has no valid license or authority re0uired by law to enable him to lawfully en"a"e in recruitment and placement of wor,ers.22 In the case of ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale, a third element is added& that the offender commits any of the acts of recruitment and placement a"ainst three or more persons, individually or as a "roup.23 'll three elements are present in the case at bar. Inar"uably, appellant Chua en"a"ed in recruitment when she represented to private complainants that she could send them to $aiwan as factory wor,ers upon submission of the re0uired documents and payment of the placement fee. $he four private complainants positively identified appellant as the person who promised them employment as factory wor,ers in $aiwan for a fee of ) @;,;;;. %ore importantly, .everino %aranan the .enior 6abor -mployment !fficer of the )!-', presented a Certification dated 7ecember 5, 2;;2, issued by 7irector Aelicitas F. Bay, to the effect that appellant Chua is not licensed by the )!-' to recruit wor,ers for overseas employment.

$he Court finds no reason to deviate from the findin"s and conclusions of the trial court and appellate court. $he prosecution witnesses were positive and cate"orical in their testimonies that they personally met appellant and that the latter promised to send them abroad for employment. In fact, the substance of their testimonies corroborate each other on material points, such as the amount of the placement fee, the country of destination and the nature of wor,. Cithout any evidence to show that private complainants were propelled by any ill motive to testify falsely a"ainst appellant, we shall accord their testimonies full faith and credit. 'fter all, the doctrinal rule is that findin"s of fact made by the trial court, which had the opportunity to directly observe the witnesses and to determine the probative value of the other testimonies, are entitled to "reat wei"ht and respect because the trial court is in a better position to assess the same, an opportunity not e0ually open to the appellate court.2( $he absence of any showin" that the trial court plainly overloo,ed certain facts of substance and value that, if considered, mi"ht affect the result of the case, or that its assessment was arbitrary, impels the Court to defer to the trial courtHs determination accordin" credibility to the prosecution evidence.25 'ppellant cannot escape liability by conveniently limitin" her participation as a cashier of Bolden Bate. $he provisions of 'rticle 138b9 of the 6abor Code and .ection 4 of #.'. No. @;(2 are une0uivocal that ille"al recruitment may or may not be for profit. It is immaterial, therefore, whether appellant remitted the placement fees to 5the a"encyHs treasurer5 or appropriated them. $he same provision li,ewise provides that the persons criminally liable for ille"al recruitment are the principals, accomplices and accessories. ust the same, therefore, appellant can be held liable as a principal by direct participation since she personally undertoo, the recruitment of private complainants without a license or authority to do so. Corth stressin", the %i"rant Cor,ers and !verseas Ailipinos 'ct of 1995 is a special law, a violation of which is malum prohibitum, not mala in se. Intent is thus, immaterial24 and mere commission of the prohibited act is punishable. Aurthermore, we a"ree with the appellate court that the same pieces of evidence which establish appellantHs liability for ille"al recruitment in lar"e scale li,ewise confirm her culpability for estafa. It is well-established in *urisprudence that a person may be char"ed and convicted for both ille"al recruitment and estafa. $he reason therefor is not hard to discern& ille"al recruitment is malum prohibitum, while estafa is mala in se. In the first, the criminal intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction. In the second, such intent is imperative. -stafa under 'rticle 315, para"raph 28a9 of the #evised )enal Code is committed by any person who defrauds another by usin" fictitious name, or falsely pretends to possess power, influence, 0ualifications, property, credit, a"ency, business or ima"inary transactions, or by means of similar deceits e?ecuted prior to or simultaneously with the commission of fraud.2< $he elements of estafa by means of deceit are the followin"& 8a9 that there must be a false pretense or fraudulent representation as to his power, influence, 0ualifications, property, credit, a"ency, business or ima"inary transactionsD 8b9 that such false pretense or fraudulent representation was made or e?ecuted prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraudD 8c9 that the offended party relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means

and was induced to part with his money or propertyD and 8d9 that, as a result thereof, the offended party suffered dama"e.2@ In this case, the prosecution has established that appellant defrauded the complainin" witnesses by leadin" them to believe that she has the capacity to send them to $aiwan for wor,, even as she does not have a license or authority for the purpose. .uch misrepresentation came before private complainants delivered ) @;,;;; as placement fee to appellant. Clearly, private complainants would not have parted with their money were it not for such enticement by appellant. 's a conse0uence of appellantHs false pretenses, the private complainants suffered dama"es as the promised employment abroad never materiali:ed and the money they paid were never recovered.29 In an effort to e?culpate herself, appellant presented in evidence 11 vouchers3; amountin" to ) 31(,;3;, which was alle"edly received by %arilen Calluen", the supposed owner of Bolden Bate. Notably, the dates on which said vouchers were issued and the amounts purportedly remitted to Calluen" by way thereof do not correspond with the placement fee "iven by private complainants and the dates on which they paid the same to appellant. Aor instance, private complainants '"lanao and 7anan delivered ) @;,;;; to appellant on 'u"ust 1;, 2;;2 but none of the vouchers presented by appellant was issued on said date. !n 'u"ust 2;, 2;;2, private complainant $a*adao paid ) (;,;;; to appellant but the latterHs voucher for said date covers only ) 22,(@;. %ore importantly, there is nothin" in appellantHs vouchers to indicate that the amounts listed therein were received from private complainants. !n the other hand, while the vouchers presented by private complainants '"lanao, 7anan and $a*adao do not bear their names, they could not have come into possession of said form e?cept throu"h appellant. +ence, appellant admitted in open court that she received ) @;,;;; from private complainants and that she was authori:ed to issue receipts, thus& '$$G& B-$IC& F& Cere you authori:ed to issue receipts in behalf of that '"encyL '& yes, .ir. ???? F& Now, you said that you were employed with Bolden Bate '"ency owned and operated by %arilen Calluen", and as a cashier did you happen to come across private complainants, Billy #. 7aInJan, 'lberto '"lanao and #ey $a*adaoL '& Ges, .ir before they were as,ed to si"n a contract they paid to me. F& 7o you ,now how much were paid or "iven by the persons I have mentionedL '& -i"hty $housand )esos !nly 8) @;,;;;.;;9 .ir. F& -achL

'& Ges, .ir.31 Be that as it may, we ta,e e?ception as re"ards private complainant #oylan >rsulum. $he Court finds that the prosecution failed to establish the presence of the third and fourth elements of estafa as re"ards the incident with #oylan >rsulum. Chile >rsulum claims that he delivered to Chua two installments of ) (;,;;; each on uly 29, 2;;2 and 'u"ust 3, 2;;2, he failed to produce receipts to substantiate the same. Instead, >rsulum relies on ten te?t messa"es alle"edly sent by appellant as evidence of their transaction. !ut of said series of messa"es, >rsulum presented only one which reads, 5.i"uro anon" la,in" saya nyo pa" namatay na ,o.5 Notably, the prosecution did not present evidence to confirm whether said te?t messa"e actually emanated from appellant. 'ssumin" ar"uendo that it did, still, said messa"e alone does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that appellant was able to obtain ) @;,;;; from >rsulum as a result of her false pretenses. >nli,e in ille"al recruitment where profit is immaterial, a conviction for estafa re0uires a clear showin" that the offended party parted with his money or property upon the offenderHs false pretenses, and suffered dama"e thereby. In every criminal prosecution, the .tate must prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime char"ed and the complicity or participation of the accused.32 It is imperative, therefore, that dama"e as an element of estafa under 'rticle 315, para"raph 28a9 be proved as conclusively as the offense itself. $he failure of the prosecution to dischar"e this burden concernin" the estafa alle"edly committed a"ainst >rsulum warrants the ac0uittal of appellant on the said char"e. Now on the matter of the appropriate penalty. >nder .ection 4, #.'. No. @;(2, ille"al recruitment when committed in lar"e scale shall be considered as an offense involvin" economic sabota"e. 'ccordin"ly, it shall be punishable by life imprisonment and a fine of not less than ) 5;;,;;; nor more than ) 1,;;;,;;;. $he law provides further that the ma?imum penalty shall be imposed if ille"al recruitment is committed by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority. In the case at bar, the trial court imposed upon appellant Chua the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of ) 5;;,;;;. +owever, considerin" that appellant is a non-licensee or non-holder of authority, we deem it proper to impose upon her the ma?imum penalty of life imprisonment and fine of ) 1,;;;,;;;. %eanwhile, the penalty for estafa under 'rticle 315 of the #evised )enal Code is prision correccional in its ma?imum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over ) 12,;;; but does not e?ceed ) 22,;;;. If the amount e?ceeds ) 22,;;;, the penalty shall be imposed in its ma?imum period, addin" one year for each additional ) 1;,;;;. But, the total penalty imposed shall not e?ceed 2; years. $he ran"e of penalty provided for in 'rticle 315 is composed of only two periods. !wphi $hus, to "et the ma?imum period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years included in the two periods should be divided into three e0ual periods of time, formin" one period for each of the three portions. $he ma?imum, medium and minimum periods of the prescribed penalty are therefore&

%inimum period - ( years, 2 months and 1 day to 5 years, 5 months and 1; days %edium period - 5 years, 5 months and 11 days to 4 years, @ months and 2; days %a?imum period - 4 years, @ months and 21 days to @ years.33 In this case, the amount by which appellant defrauded private complainants '"lanao, 7anan and $a*adao is ) @;,;;;, which e?ceeds ) 22,;;;. +ence, the penalty should be imposed in the ma?imum period of 4 years, @ months and 21 days to @ years. .ince the total amount of fraud in this case e?ceeds the threshold amount of ) 22,;;; by ) 5@,;;;, an additional penalty of five years imprisonment should be imposed. $hus, the ma?imum period of appellant=s indeterminate sentence should be 13 years of reclusion temporal. $he minimum period of the indeterminate sentence, on the other hand, should be within the nm"e ofpenaity ne?t lower to that prescribed by 'rticle 315, para"raph 28a9 of the #evised )enal Code for the crime committed.$he penalty ne?t lower to prision correccional ma?imum to prision mayor minimum is prision correccional minimum 84 months and 1 day to 2 years and ( months9 to prision correccional medium 82 years, ( months and 1 day to ( years and 2 months9. $hus, the appellate court correctly modified the minirnum period of appellant=s sentence to ( years and 2 months of prision correccional. C+-#-A!#-, the appeal is )'#$6G B#'N$-7. 'ppellant %elissa Chua, a.,.a. Clarita N" Chua is 'CF>I$$-7 of one count of estafa filed by private complainant #oylan >rsulum in Criminal Case No. ;3-21 <999-(;3. $he 7ecision dated .eptember I5, 2;;@ of the Court of 'ppeals in C'-B.#. C#-+.C. No. ;1;;4 is 'AAI#%-7 with %!7IAIC'$I!N in that the appellant is ordered to pay a fine of ) 1,;;;,;;; and to indemnify each of the private complainants 'lberto '. '"lanao, Billy #. 7anan and #ey ). $a*adao in the amount of )-@;,;;;. Cith costs a"ainst the accused-appellant. .! !#7-#-7.