G.R. No. 197539, June 02, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANGELITA I. DAUD, HANELITA M. GALLEMIT AND RODERICK GALLEMIT Y TOLENTINO, ACCUSED.[BR][BR]RODERICK GALLEMIT Y TOLENTINO, Accused-Appellant.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
That on or about covering the period from February 2001 up to March 2001, in the City of Parañaque, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and all of them mutually helping and aiding one another, did then and there willfully and feloniously defraud Marcelo de Guzman y Ignacio pertinent to his overseas job employment if he would deliver to them the amount of P545,000.00 by means of other similar deceit knowing it to be false and only made to induce the aforementioned complainant to give and deliver the said amount of P545,000.00 and accused once in possession of the same, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misapply and misappropriate the said amount to their own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of the said MARCELO DE GUZMAN y IGNACIO in the aforementioned amount.4cralawlawlibrary
Crim. Case No. 03-01245
Evangeline I. Relox,
Crim. Case No. 03-01256
Marcelo E. Rayo
Crim. Case No. 03-01267
Brigada A. Rayo
Crim. Case No. 03-01278
Gina T. Decena
Crim. Case No. 03-01289
Nenita F. Policarpio
Crim. Case No. 03-012910
Myrna S. Crisostomo
Crim. Case No. 03-013011
Francisco S. Poserio
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(1) In Criminal Case No. 03-0122, the Court finds accused Roderick Gallemit y Tolentino, GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT as principal of the crime of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale in violation of Section 6 in relation to Section 7 of RA 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 and hereby sentences him to a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).
(2) In Criminal Case No. 03-0123, the Court finds accused Roderick Gallemit y Tolentino GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT as principal of the crime of Estafa under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the Indeterminate Penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months as minimum to thirteen (13) years as maximum which carries with it the accessory penalty of suspension from public office, from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage. The accused is further sentenced to pay complaining witness Marcelo De Guzman y Ignacio the amount of Eighty Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00) plus twelve percent (12%) interest from the date of the filing of the Information on February 3, 2003, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus the costs of suit;
(3) In Criminal Case No. 03-0127, the Court finds accused Roderick Gallemit y Tolentino GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT as principal of the crime of Estafa under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the indeterminate Penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months as minimum to nine (9) years as maximum which carries with it the accessory penalty of suspension from public office, from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage. The accused is further sentenced to pay the costs of suit; and
(4) In Criminal Case No. 03-0130, the Court finds accused Roderick Gallemit y Tolentino GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT as principal of the crime of Estafa under Article 315 paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer the Indeterminate Penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months as minimum to twelve (12) years and two (2) months as maximum which carries with it the accessory penalty of suspension from public office, from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage. The accused is further sentenced to pay costs of suit.
(5) Criminal Case Nos. 03-0124, 03-0125, 03-0126, 03-0128, and 03-0129, for failure to prosecute, are hereby ordered Dismissed, as against accused Roderick Gallemit.
Considering that accused ANGELITA I. DAUD and HANELITA M. GALLEMIT remain at large for more than six (6) months since the issuance and delivery of the warrant of arrest to the proper police or peace officer, the cases against them are hereby ordered ARCHIVED pursuant to Administrative Circular No. 7-A-92. Let an alias warrant of arrest be issued against them.14cralawlawlibrary
Marcelo de Guzman [(De Guzman)], a dentist by profession with a clinic in Bulacan, testified that sometime in January 2001, he was introduced by his patient Modesta Marqueda to her cousin, accused [Daud]. [Daud] encouraged [De Guzman] to apply for work abroad and convinced him that she would be able to send him to Korea. To prove to [De Guzman] that she was capable of sending workers abroad, [Daud] invited him to visit her office located at Taft Avenue, Manila.
A month later, [De Guzman] and his cousins Maricel Rayo, Brigida Rayo, Myrna Crisostomo, Francisco Poserio, Evangeline Relox, [Decena] and Nenita Policarpio, went to see [Daud] at the Jemimah International Manpower Services, located at Taft Avenue, Manila where the latter was then working as a liaison officer. The group was shown job orders and photos of [Daud] with Korean employees to prove that she was indeed sending workers abroad. It was at this office that [De Guzman] first met [appellant] and [Hanelita].
Meanwhile, [Daud], together with [Hanelita] and [appellant], put up their own business named Green Pastures Worldwide Tours and Consultancy Corporation in their residence at No. 4 Sta. Maria Apartment, India St., Better Living Subdivision, Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City.
Having been convinced by the documents shown to him at the Taft Avenue office, [De Guzman] paid [Daud] the amount of P35,000[.]00 as initial payment for his placement fee at the latter’s office and residence in Parañaque City on February 2, 2001. On February 5, 2001, [De Guzman] gave [Daud] the amount of P15,000[.]00 which was witnessed by Hanelita. He gave another P15,000.00 on February 22, 2001. However, he lost the original receipts.
On March 3, 6 and 7, 2001, [De Guzman] again gave [Daud] x x x different amounts consisting of P35,000.00, P30,000.00 and P15,000.00, respectively, at her office in Parañaque City (Exhibits “A” to “C”). In [De Guzman]’s presence, [Daud] counted the money, issued receipts therefor as “processing fees of Nike applicants”, affixed her signature after signing the receipts in the name of “Nimfa Min”. [Daud] explained to him that “Nimfa Min” was her contact who happened to be the wife of a Korean national. [De Guzman] trusted [Daud] and accepted her explanation. Whenever he gave his payment to [Daud], it was in the presence of Hanelita and [appellant] but he did not require the two to sign as witnesses because he trusted them as they were members of the same family. [De Guzman] was told by [Daud] and [appellant] that he and his group would be leaving in two week’s time.
[De Guzman] and his companions were instructed to appear before the Korean Embassy and were promised that they would be able to leave on March 11, 2001 as trainee workers in Korea where they would earn a monthly salary of US$400, overtime pay, with benefits of free board and lodging and 30-day leave within a year. De Guzman’s group were shown photocopies of their passport and stamped visas for Korea. However, they were not given their working permits and job contracts.
When their departure date was getting near, [Daud] postponed it thrice. Eventually, [De Guzman] asked from accused [Daud] a photocopy of his passport with a stamped Korean Visa. Upon inquiry with the Korean Embassy, [De Guzman] was told that it was fake. He proceeded to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and verified the registration of Green Pastures Worldwide Tour and Consultancy Corporation. The POEA informed them that it was not registered with the POEA and gave [De Guzman] a certification to the effect that the said agency was not licensed to recruit employees for abroad (Exhibit D).
Embarrassed because of the money given by his cousins, [De Guzman] verbally asked [Daud], Hanelita and [appellant] to return the money. They promised him that they would settle the matter but they failed to return the money. x x x.
Gina Decena, for her part testified that sometime in January 2001, she was introduced by her cousin, Maricel Rayo, to accused [Daud], [Hanelita] and [appellant], at the Makati Medical Towers where Maricel had her medical examination. [Decena] again met the three accused at their office at No. 4 Sta. Maria Apartment, Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque City when Maricel obtained a copy of her medical certificate. They enticed [Decena] to apply at their agency by showing her job orders that offered $400 [a] month salary, 150% overtime pay, free board and lodging as well as photographs of prospective Korean employers. [Appellant] even gave her a copy of the job order. The three accused assured [Decena] that they had already sent several applicants for employment abroad. Convinced, [Decena] and her husband Marcelo Rayo applied at their agency. They were instructed to undergo medical examination, to attend a Korean Language seminar, and to pay P70,000.00 processing fee.
Thus, on February 15, 2001, [Decena] and her husband each gave accused [Daud] the amount of P35,000.00 as placement fees. During trial, [Decena] presented her receipt for P35,000.00 which was received and signed by [Daud].
Thereafter, the couple were told to wait for two weeks for the processing of their visas. As two weeks have passed and nothing happened to their applications, [Decena] and her husband went to the POEA to verify the status of the agency. They were informed to the effect that said agency was not licensed to send workers abroad. [Decena] and her husband went back to the agency and tried to look for the accused but they were all gone. They later came to know, through [De Guzman], that [appellant] was apprehended. She identified her sworn statement in court.
Sometime in January 2001, Francisco Poserio [(Poserio)] was brought along by his cousin [De Guzman] to No. 4 Sta. Maria Apt., India St., Better Living Subdivision, Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City. While thereat, [De Guzman] introduced [Daud], Hanelita and [appellant] as the owners of Green Pastures Worldwide Tours and Consultancy and that they were sending workers to Korea. The three accused encouraged [Poserio] to apply for work in Korea where he could get a job which offered a monthly salary of US$400 with free meals and housing, 150% pay on overtime work and vacation leave of thirty (30) days in a two-year contract. To convince [Poserio] that they can send workers to Korea, they showed him job orders from Hyundai Group and Nike requiring workers for Korea, a copy of a Korean visa of one of their job applicants, and photos of [Daud] in Korea with a Korean national who would be [Poserio]’s prospective employer if he applied with their agency. Further, he would be able to earn back his placement fee in three months work.
Enticed, [Poserio] mortgaged his property to get funds for his job application. [Daud] and Hanelita informed him to undergo a medical examination and seminar and even gave him a referral. On January 27, 2001, he gave his passport, medical examination result, seminar result and certification for employment. He was then told to pay P100,000.00 as processing fee for his job application. On March 3, 2001, he gave his downpayment of P25,000.00 to [Daud] in the presence of Hanelita and [appellant]. He was told to wait for two weeks for the processing of his papers. On July 2001, he was informed that additional amount was needed to process his papers. Thus, on July 5, 2001, he gave P45,000.00 as additional payment to [Daud] in the presence of Hanelita. He was again told to wait for another three weeks. He was even promised that they would return his money if he would not be sent abroad. A year after his payment, [Poserio] was still not able to leave the country. Upon verification with the POEA, he and the other job applicants discovered that the said agency was not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment. He talked over the phone with the accused and demanded the return of his money. When they failed to return his money, he filed a complaint with the Parañaque police.
All three complainants positively identified [appellant] in court.16 (Citations omitted.)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Roderick Gallemit [(appellant)] denied owning the agency, undertaking any recruitment act or receiving any amount from the complainants considering that his name did not appear in the receipts. He admitted that he is married to co-accused [Hanelita] and that co-accused [Daud] is his mother-in-law.
He knew private complainants [De Guzman] and [Poserio] who were introduced to him by [Daud] who was then working as a liaison officer at Jemimah International Manpower Services located in Taft Avenue, Manila. [Appellant] denied knowing the other complainants. He was just brought along by [Daud] since he was also one of the job seekers applying at the Jemimah International Manpower Services where [Daud] worked. [Daud] told him that private complainant [De Guzman] is her business partner. [Poserio] was one of those applying for a job abroad and [De Guzman] would refer them to [Daud]. Thus, [De Guzman] frequented their apartment in Parañaque.
He admitted that, from February 2001 to August 2001, he had been staying at the apartment in India Street, Better Living Subdivision, Parañaque City he shared with his wife Hanelita, their child and his mother-in-law [Daud]. He and his wife were not employed since they were applying for a job abroad. His siblings help him out by sending him money for his job application. He was aware that his mother-in-law [Daud] was a recruiter and owned an agency named Green Pasture Worldwide Travel and Tours which she operated in the same apartment. He claimed that [Daud] has only one employee, a certain Badjong, who processed documents. At first he did not apply with [Daud] because her business was still new. He applied with her when she convinced him that she could process his passport and papers to Korea.
He denied he was present when the complainants gave their payments to [Daud]. He insisted that he was not involved with [Daud]’s business and that he was always out of the house as he would often go to Cavite to ask for financial help from his siblings. x x x.17 (Citations omitted.)
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision finding accused-appellant RODERICK GALLEMIT y TOLENTINO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale and of Estafa is AFFIRMED with modification with respect to the indeterminate penalties imposed on appellant for the three counts of estafa, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary(1) In Criminal Case No. 03-0123, appellant is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional as minimum to thirteen (13) years of reclusion temporal as maximum.
(2) In Criminal Case No. 03-0127, appellant is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional as minimum to nine (9) years of prision mayor as maximum.
(3) In Criminal Case No. 03-0130, appellant is sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional as minimum to twelve (12) years of prision mayor as maximum.
In all other respects, the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED.18
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF LARGE-SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT AND ESTAFA DESPITE THE PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF ESTAFA DESPITE THE ABSENCE [OF] THE ELEMENT OF DECEIT.
SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That 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 engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts, whether committed by any person, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x x x
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the deployment does not actually take place without the worker’s fault. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.
First, neither the agency “Green Pastures World Wide Tours and Consultancy” nor appellant himself had a valid license or authority to engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. This was established by the POEA certification stating that the said agency located in that apartment was not licensed to recruit employees for abroad. 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 entity. It is the lack of the necessary license or authority that renders the recruitment activity, as in this case, unlawful or criminal.
Second, despite not having such authority, appellant, along with his co-accused, nevertheless engaged in recruitment activities, offering and promising jobs to private complainants and collecting from them various amounts as placement fees. This is substantiated by the respective testimonies of the three private complainants who fell victim to their illegal activities. Marcelo de Guzman testified that appellant was physically present during the time that he and his companions were being shown job orders and while he was paying for the fees for himself and in behalf of his companions. Francisco Poserio testified that appellant was one of those who apprised him of job benefits and tried to convince him to apply for overseas employment through their agency. Gina Decena mentioned that [appellant] even gave her a copy of the job order.
We find no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the lower court that there was conspiracy among the accused in the commission of the offense. Direct proof of previous agreement to commit a crime is not necessary. It may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the accused which point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. Conspiracy exists where the participants performed specific acts with such closeness and coordination as unmistakably to indicate a common purpose or design in committing the crime.
The testimonies of the complainants on the matter are affirmative in nature and sufficiently corroborative of each other to be less than credible. It would be contrary to human nature and experience for several persons to conspire and accuse appellant of a crime and send him to prison just to appease their feeling of rejection and vindicate the frustration of their dreams to work abroad if all he did was just to reside in the same apartment where his mother-in-law [Daud] operated her recruitment agency. It is in this light that We find any inconsistencies that accused-appellant harps on in the tesimonines of the complainants to be inconsequential. What is important is that they have positively identified accused-appellant as one of those who enticed them to part with their money in exchange for promised jobs abroad.
The crime of illegal recruitment, according to the Supreme Court is committed when, among other things, a person, who without being duly authorized according to law, represents or gives the distinct impression that he or she has the power or the ability to provide work abroad convincing those to whom the representation is made or to whom the impression is given to thereupon part with their money in order to be assured of that employment. This is what obtains in this case.
Contrary to appellant’s mistaken notion, it is not the issuance or signing of receipts for the placement fees that makes a case for illegal recruitment, but rather the undertaking of recruitment activities without the necessary license or authority. The absence of receipts to evidence payment is not necessarily fatal to the prosecution’s cause. A person charged with the illegal recruitment may be convicted on the strength of the testimony of the complainants, if found to be credible and convincing.
Considering the evidence on record, We agree with the trial court that accused-appellant engaged in recruitment of workers which was illegal and in large scale. Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three or more persons individually or as a group. In this case, three complainants testified against appellant’s acts of illegal recruitment.22 (Citations omitted.)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Sec. 7. Penalties. –
(a) Any person found guilty of illegal recruitment shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).
(b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined herein. (Emphasis ours.)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The offense 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 crucial for conviction. Conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not bar conviction for offenses punishable by other laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code does not bar a conviction for illegal recruitment under the Labor Code. It follows that one’s acquittal of the crime of estafa will not necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large scale, and vice versa. (Citations omitted.)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow x x x:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
x x x x
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(a) By using a fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other similar deceits.
Although not all of the amounts testified to by complainants were covered by receipts, the fact that there were no receipts for some of the amounts delivered to him does not mean that appellant did not accept or receive such payments. This Court has ruled in several cases that the absence of receipts in a criminal case for illegal recruitment does not warrant the acquittal of the accused and is not fatal to the case of the prosecution. As long as the witnesses had positively shown through their respective testimonies that the accused is the one involved in the prohibited recruitment, he may be convicted of the offense despite the want of receipts.
The Statute of Frauds and the rules of evidence do not require the presentations of receipts in order to prove the existence of a recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal recruitment cases. The amounts may consequently be proved by the testimony of witnesses. (Citation omitted.)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
1st. The 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 pesos 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 cases, 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[.]
1Rollo, pp. 2-22; penned by Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente with Associate Justices Romeo F. Barza and Manuel M. Barrios, concurring.
2 CA rollo, pp. 32-43; penned by Judge Aida Estrella Macapagal.
3 Records, p. 2.
4 Id. at 46.
5 Id. at 49.
6 Id. at 52.
7 Id. at 55.
8 Id. at 58.
9 Id. at 61.
10 Id. at 64.
11 Id. at 67.
12 Id. at 403.
13 Id. at 394.
14 CA rollo, pp. 41-42.
15 Records, p. 509.
16Rollo, pp. 7-10.
17 Id. at 10.
18 Id. at 21.
19 CA rollo, pp. 138-139.
20People v. Alvarez, 436 Phil. 255, 265 (2002).
21People v. Gamboa, 395 Phil. 675, 684 (2000).
22Rollo, pp. 17-18.
23People v. Gamboa, supra note 21 at 685.
24People v. Gallo, G.R. No. 187730, June 29, 2010, 622 SCRA 439, 458.
25People v. Ocden, G.R. No. 173198, June 1, 2011, 650 SCRA 124, 145.
26People v. Chua, G.R. No. 187052, September 13, 2012, 680 SCRA 575, 590.
27People v. Basao and Apole, G.R. No. 189820, October 10, 2012, 683 SCRA 529, 543.
28 374 Phil. 575, 586 (1999).
29People v. Ballesteros, 435 Phil. 205, 228 (2002).
30 331 Phil. 64, 77-78 (1996).
31People v. Temporada, 594 Phil. 680, 714-715 (2008).
33 Amounts less than P10,000.00 are already disregarded.
34People v. Ballesteros, supra note 29 at 231-232. In Nacar v. Gallery Frames (G.R. 189871, August 13, 2013, 703 SCRA 439, 458), interest rates on loan or forbearance of money where none is stipulated is fixed at 6% per annum to be computed from default, i.e., from judicial or extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provision of Article 1169 of the Civil Code. In addition, when the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the rate of legal interest shall be 6% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction.