People vs. Adeser GR 179931, Oct. 26, 2009

Fact:

Private complainant testified that sometime in November 2002, the agents of Naples Travel and Tours, introduced Palo to appellant, owner and general manager of Naples, to discuss employment opportunities in Australia. During their meeting held at the Naples office, appellant and the spouses Tiongson informed Palo that for a placement fee, she can work as an apple picker in Australia. Thus, complainant went to the Naples office and gave Roberto Tiongson and Lourdes Chang, operations manager of Naples, ₱15,000 as first installment for the placement fee. Palo was issued a voucher signed by Roberto and Chang stating therein that the ₱15,000 was for Palo’s visa application. Complainant returned to the Naples office and paid ₱58,500. She was again issued a voucher signed by Roberto and Chang stating therein that the amount paid was for Palo’s visa application. Palo insisted that the voucher should indicate that her payments were for “placement fees” but they were able to convince her that it is not necessary because they know her. After making her payments, she was required to submit her resume and pictures and was promised that she would be employed within three months.  More than three months passed, however, but Palo was not deployed to Australia. Neither did she get her Australian visa. Complainant learned from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that Naples had closed down. NBI likewise informed her that Naples had no license to operate and deploy workers abroad. Upon advice of the NBI, Palo filed a complaint9 against appellant, the spouses Tiongson and Chang.The trial court rendered a Decision finding appellant guilty of Illegal Recruitment and Estafa. Appellant appealed her conviction but the same was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, Hence this appeal.

Issue:

Whether Illegal Recruitment was committed by the accused even if his signature did not appear in the voucher issued to the complainant.

Held:

Yes, illegal recruitment is committed when these two elements concur: (1) the offenders have no valid license or authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers, and (2) the offenders undertake any activity within the meaning of recruitment and placement defined in Article 13(b) or any prohibited practices enumerated in Article 34 of the Labor Code. Under Article 13(b), recruitment and placement refers to “any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not.” In the simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority from the government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad for employment purposes. llegal recruitment is committed when these two elements concur: (1) the offenders have no valid license or authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers, and (2) the offenders undertake any activity within the meaning of recruitment and placement defined in Article 13(b) or any prohibited practices enumerated in Article 34 of the Labor Code. Under Article 13(b), recruitment and placement refers to “any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not.” In the simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without authority from the government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers abroad for employment purposes. Neither can the Court sustain appellant’s contention that her participation in the recruitment is negated by the fact that her signature does not even appear on the vouchers issued to Palo. Even if Palo did not present receipts signed by appellant, this would not rule out the fact that appellant did receive the money. This Court has consistently ruled that absence of receipts as to the amounts delivered to a recruiter does not mean that the recruiter did not accept or receive such payments. Neither in the Statute of Frauds nor in the rules of evidence is the presentation of receipts required in order to prove the existence of a recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal recruitment cases. Such proof may come from the credible testimonies of witnesses as in the case at bar.

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