Crim. Case No. Q-04-125442
That on or about the 9th day of March 2004, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, without any authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously for a fee, enlist, recruit, and promise overseas employment to the following persons, to wit: PRIMO ARVIN S. GUEVARRA, ANTHONY P. AMBROSIO, ROY FERNANDEZ MAGNO and VERONICA G. CAPONPON, without first securing the required license from the Department of Labor and Employment, in violation of said law.
That the above-described crime is committed in large scale, as the same was perpetrated against four (4) persons individually or as a group as penalized under Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995.
Crim. Case Nos. Q-04-125443-45
That on or about the period comprised from January to March 2004, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously defraud [Roy Fernandez Magno, Anthony P. Ambrosio, Primo Arvin S. Guevarra, respectively] in the following manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation which she made to said complainant[s] to the effect that she had the power and capacity to recruit and employ the said complainant[s] in U.K. London as caregiver[s] 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 [complainants] to give and deliver, as in fact, gave and delivered to said accused the amount[s] of [PhP 40,000, PhP 16,000, PhP 40,000, respectively] x x x, on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made to solely [obtain], as in fact she did obtain the amount[s] of [PhP 40,000, PhP 16,000, PhP 40,000, respectively], which amount[s] once in possession, with intent to defraud [said complainants] willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said [complainants] in the aforesaid amount[s] of [PhP 40,000, PhP 16,000, PhP 40,000, respectively] x x x.13
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
(1) In Criminal Case No. 04-125442, the Court finds accused MARY LOU OMICTIN guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT IN LARGE SCALE defined and penalized in Section 6 in relation to Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042, and sentences her to life imprisonment and a fine of One Million Pesos.
(2) In Criminal Case No. 04-125443, the Court finds accused MARY LOU OMICTIN guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to seven (7) years of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Roy Fernandez Mago in the amount of Forty Thousand (P40,000.00) Pesos.
(3) In Criminal Case No. 04-125444, the Court finds accused MARY LOU OMICTIN guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of estafa defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11) months and eleven days of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years, eight (8) months and twenty (20) days of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Anthony Ambrosio in the amount of Sixteen Thousand (P16,000.00) Pesos.
(4) In Criminal Case No. 04-125445, the Court finds accused MARY LOU OMICTIN guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of ESTAFA, defined and penalized in Article 315, paragraph 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code, and sentences her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, eleven (11) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional as minimum to seven (7) years of prision mayor as maximum, and to indemnify complainant Arvin Guevarra in the amount of Forty Thousand (P40,000.00) Pesos.
WHEREFORE, in light of the [foregoing] disquisitions, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, in Criminal Case Nos. Q-04-125442, Q-04-125443, Q-04-125444, and Q-04-125445, finding appellant Mary Lou Omictin, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
We will not review, much less reverse, the factual findings of the Court of Appeals especially where, as in this case, such findings coincide with those of the trial court, since we are not a trier of facts. The established rule is that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals affirming those of the RTC are conclusive and binding on us. We are not wont to review them, save under exceptional circumstances as: (1) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (2) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (3) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (4) when the judgment of the Court of Appeals is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (6) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (7) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; and (8) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of evidence and are contradicted by the evidence on record. (Emphasis supplied.)
The testimony of Primo Guevarra undoubtedly shows that he was not the one who paid the accused-appellant. His testimony, to the effect that the check, issued by a certain Elisa Dotenes, was paid by the bank, clearly falls within the rules proscribing the admission of hearsay evidence. It bears stressing that the failure of the prosecution to present Elisa Dotenes renders the testimony of witness Guevarra as unsubstantiated and hearsay.
Another prosecution witness, Mr. Anthony Ambrosio, testified that he gave the accused-appellant the amount of sixteen thousand (16,000.00) pesos, representing initial payment in consideration of the work abroad. It is borne on record however, that Anthony's testimony was unsubstantiated by any proof that he made such payment, i.e., receipts.
A perusal of the records will show that Anthony's testimony that he was divested of said amount, through the misrepresentation of the accused-appellant, amounts to nothing but a mere uncorroborated and self-serving allegation.
Surely, mere allegation, without proof, is not enough to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
It is submitted that the trial court should have first considered these testimonies before rendering a judgment of conviction.25
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 ).
Self-serving statements are inadmissible because the adverse party is not given the opportunity for cross-examination, 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.
Q So how much did each of the four complainants paid (sic) you for the processing of their visa? A Arvin [Guevarra] and Roy [Mago], P40,000.00 each. Q How about this Anthony Ambrosio? A P16,000.0028
1 Rollo pp. 2-32. Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Myrna Dimaranan Vidal.
2 CA rollo, pp. 14-18.
3 Rollo, p. 7.
4 Also referred to by accused-appellant Omictin as "Dotenes" in her pleadings.
5 Rollo, p. 8.
6 Id. at 8-9.
7 Id. at 9.
8 Id. at 9-10.
9 Id. at 10.
10 Id. at 12.
11 Id. at 11.
12 Id. at 11-12.
13 Id. at 4-7.
14 Id. at 13-14.
15 CA rollo, pp. 60-61.
16 Id. at 64.
17 Id. at 80-94.
18 Referred to as "Dotimas" by the courts a quo.
19 CA rollo, pp. 90-91.
20 Id. at 91.
21 Rollo, pp. 30-31.
22 Id. at 46-48.
23 Id. at 46-47.
24 G.R. No. 165679, October 5, 2009, 603 SCRA 11, 20-21.
25 CA rollo, pp. 91-92.
26 G.R. No. 104874, December 14, 1993, 228 SCRA 429, 436.
27 G.R. No. 139211, February 12, 2003, 397 SCRA 306, 319.
28 CA rollo, p. 116.